Cass Midgley and Matthew O’Neil converse. Cass and Bob had Matthew on the show back in March of 2017, episode 142. Matthew is a prolific writer, activist, theologian, and teacher. He has an MA in Theology from Saint Michael’s College and is a certified Humanist chaplain and celebrant. He is the author of several books including his latest, “Attrition” (through David G. McAfee’s publishing company Hypatia Press). It’s a fiction book that sheds light on the awful nature of the God character in the Bible as well as playing with the ideas of free will and determinism.
We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, we offer these podcasts freely. And your support truly makes a difference. You can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge a monthly donation through Patreon. that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.
We taped this conversation on Oct 17th, 2018.The intro music is by Dave Weckl called “Just Groove Me” The segue music on this episode is “Handyman” by AWOLNATIONThanks for listening and Be a Yes-Sayer to what is.
Matthew O’Neil’s books:
- “What the Bible Really Does (and Doesn’t) Say About Sex: The How, When, Why, and With Whom of Scriptural Prohibitions and Permissions.“
- “After Life: Solving Science and Religion’s Great Disagreement“
- “Adam and Eve: Questioning the Historicity of Biblical Human Origins“
- “You Say That I Am: Jesus and the Messianic Problem.“
You can also find Matthew on Twitter.
If someone were to ask me what the most central and solid truth is I would say “life is hard.” Everything we do is in some way a form of coping with its hardness. 24 hours a day. Even sleeping. But awake, working to give ourselves meaning but even more important, money. Laughing to stay sane, learning to add tools to our belt, skills to propel us forward and above the pack. Drugs, alcohol, religion, porn to make us forget how hard life is. Constantly hurling through space. Ever since the Big Bang when our slumber was interrupted. When our unity, connectedness, oneness and belonging was blasted into a billion pieces hurling into space at the speed of light. Are we expanding or contracting? Every atom always moving, gyrating, bouncing, bounding. The nucleus full of positively charged particles, and negative charges surrounded it, just like our lives. Electrons move in large empty space of an atom in set orbits. sleep, wake, eat, shit, work, play, fuck, read, watch TV, sleep, wake, etc. They say even the atoms of a wooden table are always moving. But never touching. We never touch anything. Particles are, by their very nature, attracted to particles with an opposite charge, and they repel other similarly charged particles. This prevents electrons from ever coming in direct contact, in an atomic sense and literal sense. Their wave packets, on the other hand, can overlap, but never touch. Nothing ever touches anything. We try, we press, we make love, we wrestle, we hug, we dance, always moving, never touching. We attract and repel. We have a love/hate relationship with everything. We delightfully bask in the warmth of the sun as it burns our skin and creates cancer. When we’re tired of being alone we crave being with loved ones only to soon crave being alone for the fatigue of being together. We hate humans smells and love them. We love onions and hate arm pit odor. We’re repelled by skunk smell but love the smell of coffee, we hate the smell of farts but eat hard boiled eggs, (and we rarely pinch our nose at our own farts), we eat cheese that smells like smegma, and what’s our relationship to fish? Why does our blood taste like iron? Our we the elements of the universe? Dirt and rocks and metals and fungus? Are we shattered stardust that misses its mommy? the pre-big bang warmth of our womb? to nurse at the teat of the cosmos? separation anxiety? abandonment issues? Why do we try to get inside each other? with our tongues and fingers and dicks and dildos? why are comforted by large bodies of water? by the ebb and flow of the tide? by going under water? the amniotic fluid of the silent cosmos? the muffled beating of our mother’s hearts? What do we need from each other? Why are we always lacking something? Something is always missing? We’re always missing something? what’s that snack I’m craving, what’s that emotion I miss, what need was temporarily met by that person, that song, that career–all fleeting and unpredictable like the wind. The wind that makes trees hiss and also rips them out of the ground? we’re afraid of the dark and drawn to the light, chilled by the cold, warmed by the fire, DOES NOTHING EVER STOP? IS IT ALWAYS PUSH AND PULL? IN AND OUT? HIGH AND LOW? No wonder all animals have to sleep every night! it’s exhausting being alive! like clothes tossed about in the dryer, the tumbling 24 hour cycle of our rotating earth, and her annual trips around the sun, the gyroscope motion of the planets and the atoms inside a pin-head, always moving never stopping, even our sleep our minds are creating stories, fantasies, horrors, and sex scenes, where the push/pull of intercourse is desperate to get deeper inside another, in a primal dance between power and vulnerability, tenderness and violence, pleasure and pain, and out of these frictions of rubbing two sticks together or flint rock on steel, a star is born, a seed finds its egg and it all starts over again in a climax of fireworks and big bangs and booms in the unending, unpredictable thrashing of wind and rain, fire and ice, time and space, work and play, laughter and tears, grief and elation, life and death, generation after generation, now worm food in the earth in a compost make rich by the carbon salad of every plant, animal, insect, human and bird who ever fell in that spot and rotted, making space for new life that will crave to be together with those we love and at war with those we fear, but the show must go on, I go to work tomorrow, I make small talk tomorrow, I eat, shit and sleep tomorrow just like today until my consciousness stops in a long awaited rest that I will not experience. And my skin, this skin, that I can smell on my forearm, and feel the little hairs on my nose and the muscle and bone underneath will contribute to the cycle until the next big bang. Yeah, life is hard. But its all there is. I’m literally nothing without it. And so here we find ourselves. Big picture perspectives like this make me love you. Help me forgive you. Provoke me to laugh at you and all of us and everything. Maybe the best advice from a silly source that was entirely lost on me: “row row row your boat gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.” Is it any wonder that we sing that in the round?