Can anyone “prove” God exists?

In the months since writing the post entitled Divine Science I have had a number of debates as to whether or not it is possible to prove God exists and I have never made the statement that God is a scientifically proven entity.   The evidence of the existence of God has long been an argument.  However, since there is no evidence to the contrary naturally it still remains a logical possibility.  This is not a scientific debate though; it’s a spiritual (or subconscious/emotional) one that Finger of Godif provable would propel the enigma of why evil exists to the forefront.  Part of the problem I think with the argument on proving the existence of “God” is the very defining of what “God” is or is not.

I, personally, am not a believer of an anthropomorphic deity.  You know the one that billions of people believe in and atheists completely detest and reject.  The God that judges and has had fits of rage that result in global flooding or fire and brimstone raining from heaven is an irrational concept to grasp or believe with any sense of reason.  Nor do I believe that God was a man who walked among us 2,000+ years ago in the flesh that had to subject himself to execution in order to forgive me for sins I hadn’t committed yet because that was the only way he could forgive me.  When you put God in a delusional dogmatic box like that, most rational people will not truly believe.  In fact, the only reason many people do believe it is because the genetic lottery caused them to be born into a family that believes it and thus the indoctrination as a young age begins.

That being said, something still compels many people to still believe in God even though they have managed to discard youthful things like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  Part of it is obviously the fear factor – lack of belief in Santa or the bunny will not result in eternal damnation and proving they were myths was easy.  Yet there is also something within a person’s soul (or mind) that makes a distinction between God and the average run of the mill myths or beliefs.

Theists can be classed into one of three genres –

1. Unquestioning dogmatists, who believe exactly what they are told the Bible (or other sacred text) says.  By all outward appearances there is no questioning the existence of God, the infallibility of scriptures and the supernatural events that are attributed to God and those sent by God.

2. Cafeteria believers, who observe the major holidays and abide by the traditions (baptism, bar mitzvah, etc) because it is their “religion”.  They say they believe yet they couldn’t tell you what the primary doctrines are or even understand concepts like predestination or atonement.

3.  Heretics.  These are people who do not follow any religion and use either a comparative religious theology or a personal theology that is nondoctrinal and antidogmatic.  (Yes, I am often considered to be a heretic and I am proud of it)

Most of you know I study the “sacred texts” of numerous religions.  The Hermes archetype has existed since antiquity and will so long as people require hope for things not rationally obtainable.  Hermes was a transitional deity that acted as a messenger, intermediary, and conductor between the divine and mortal worlds.  The idea that mortal men could commune or speak with the gods was made possible through Hermes.  Oddly enough Hermeneutics, which is the art of textual interpretation, is derived from the name Hermes, who could also be considered the interpreter of the gods to men.  So whether you adopt the theology of the Odinist, the Wiccans, the Jews, Christians, Muslims or the Pastafarian you will not find “anything new under the sun” as theology and religion has been an ever evolving process; just like nature.

I have found that one of the best ways to put a reasonable argument around the existence of God is by blending multiple schools of thought together.  There are 2 primary schools of thought in Judaism – rabbinic and mystic.  In my opinion it is these 2 schools of thought that encompass what is needed to come to a sensible perception.  The Rabbinic thought is based on – “I shall be what I shall be” (not I am what I am).  The mystical side is based on the concept – “God is everything and God is nothing.”

When you incorporate these two together you get:

“I shall be everything and I shall be nothing.”

So, I really think it is a choice that each person has to make for themselves.  If you choose not to believe in God, then God does not exist to you.  If you have an inherited and shallow view of God, then you will have a shallow almost nonexistent God that is more an abstraction then reality.  If you truly and deeply believe in God, then God exists and makes a difference to you and how you live .

The Path to Thanksgiving

For a very long time Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. Even though it is somewhat secular in practice and today seems to be more overshadowed by the need to go shopping before the meal is even digested, it is clearly a lasting testimony to how the early settlers were believers in a Heavenly Father who not only watched over them, but guided and provided for them. While not all of the actions of early American history may exemplify the divine law of “Love thy neighbor”, it is very clear that they truly believed that the Hand of Providence was with them and that they were subjects to the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe.

Jewish tradition has always used one particular Psalm as “THE” Psalm of Thanksgiving. The Psalm is Psalm 100 and I have included it below:

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands!

Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100)

Sometimes it is difficult to be thankful for anything when our current state of affairs may not always seem to be playing in our favor. Maybe you have felt rejected or forgotten. This is most often a choice, arguably a subconscious one, and you have the power to change whatever it is you are feeling. Once a person learns to control their emotions instead of letting their emotions control them, they obtain the balance in life that leads to happiness. Once a tight rein has bridled the passions, a clear course can be drawn to a life that is more fulfilling. Of the many gifts we have been given, our ability to choose (or free will ) is perhaps the greatest of them all. It is that gift that enables us to forge our own path and chart our own course. The path of life is a narrow one and there will always be forks in the road that may throw you off course. Sometimes the path less traveled leads to where you want to go and sometimes the destination is merely an entrance to yet another path. Whether you choose to walk alone, or pick up the lamp at your feet to light your path, is up to you.

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. – Voltaire

(Only on The Quest will you see the Bible and those against it woven together for a common message)

Today marks the 2nd Anniversary of this blog and I want to thank all of you for being on this Quest with me. I hope that all of you enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving with your families.

Deciphering the Divine

I had a recent exchange with a number of folks and it seems that there was a misconception that I was anti-God, anti-Bible, and a hater of religion. If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know I am not an atheist or someone who completely rejects God or Jesus. What I am is a person who doesn’t easily suspend reason. When someone uses Reason and Common Sense, God can be a pretty silly idea. I completely agree that it involves faith, however faith in something does not in any way make it true. As a veteran who has seen his share of bloodshed, poverty, and scooped up children from the Straits of Florida whose parents were eaten by sharks in front of them, my view of the “order of things” is a bit different then the common latte sipping iPhone addict. If you knew me, you would know that I have many sacred texts from Hebrew copies of the Torah to Greek copies of the New Testament. The presupposition that I have never said “God please enter my heart” or “Please guide me to you” is an indication that you do not know me.

The human mind is capable of entering a state where it can shut off the outside world and create its own reality. A reality where you are the author of the events, and the narrator of the story. You play the starring and support roles as well as play the role of director and producer. We enter this state, whether or not we recall it, on a daily basis. It’s called dreaming. In almost every instance when God is revealed to man (especially the Christian Scriptures) it is by way of a dream. Could it really be God? Sure, but it can also be one’s own imagination. Believing in God and knowing God to be real, can be very easy for some and almost impossible for others. I have seen enough in my lifetime to know that an anthropic creator deity is very unlikely though. Notice, I did not say it was impossible as only a fool (or a sith) deals in absolutes and to me that is a narrow and simplistic way of thinking.

The concept of God, if that is even a relevant term, has been debated since before the time of Jesus and even before the time of Abraham. Before Yahweh was Zeus and before Zeus was Osiris, Horus, Ra, Hermes and the list goes on. Man has always been looking for the answers to the biggest of questions – WHY? This is the great enigma and the unanswerable question for all. Even if one were to turn wholeheartedly to God and view the Bible as infallible, the “Why” question still goes unanswered. The Book of Job is a masterpiece in theodicy and philosophy which has often been used to put a box around the question, but the question still remains unanswered.

As a father I go with what I know to be the real God and that is pure and unconditional love. The one that holds no grudges, keeps no records of wrongs, does not boast, and does not judge. Love is greater than just some chemical reaction or a silly emotion. Any good father knows this. So, when I think in terms of God, I do not think of a Controlling Creator or a Divine Judge. I think of Divine Thread that weaves us all together. Some people are stitched tighter together than others and have a closer connection with the Divine. As far as Jesus goes, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

A Skeptical Twist

English: Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deu...

English: Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy 6:1-15, illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A young Jewish boy was riding home from Hebrew School when his mother asked him, “So how was class?”
“It was stupid mom.”, he said.
“Come on sweetheart”, said the mom, “it couldn’t be that bad. Tell me what you learned today.”
“Well, we learned about Moses“, he said, “and how he motivated the Israelites to rise against Pharaoh and leave Egypt. Then Pharaoh chased them and they were trapped at the Red Sea. Then Moses told the Israelites to build a bridge over the sea. They planted explosives on the bridge as they crossed it and when Pharaoh’s army got on the bridge they blew it up.”
“Wait a minute honey, I don’t think that’s how the story goes.” said the mother.
“I know mom, but if I told you what the Torah really says, you’d never believe me.”

Logic, reason, and science have long been the biggest foes of religion. I have been accused by many of “thinking” too much about things and being overly critical of Biblical accuracy and relevance. “You have to learn to just believe” and “The Lord works in mysterious ways” are the defenses and pleas of my well-intended Christian friends. My all-time favorite is when I posed the question of Theodicy and got the tired old “Sin is the reason bad things happen.” Oh I get it, so because “Eve” took a bite out of a piece of fruit millions of children are starving or neglected and abused. Here is the paradoxical question – If God is in control, then why isn’t anyone blaming God? If God really had control, why did “Eve” listen to the “talking snake” in the first place?

What about intelligent design and the perfection and balance of nature? Is nature really perfect when children are born with cleft lips or dysfunctional organs? Is nature perfect when a tidal wave washes away people who had no idea it was coming? Where is God when people sit huddled in their houses when a hurricane or tornado threatens to destroy them? If he is huddled there with them, why wasn’t he with the family that perished when the roof collapsed on them? Is their really evidence for intelligent design when a woman’s body viciously tries to destroy sperm before it gets to the egg and then continues to try to destroy the embryo until the placenta eventually forms an impenetrable barrier?

All my life I have believed that there is a God. It has been a view that has flip-flopped between Christianity, Judaism, and Deism, but there was always some kind of a belief in a higher power. I have studied scripture tirelessly, not for the purposes of debunking or making cheap shots, but because I had a hard time believing the concept of the Abrahamic God to be true. I truly wanted that “spiritual” connection to happen and I long believed that to be possible when someone sincerely digs into the Scriptures. I studied the cosmological, ontological, mystical, and evangelical concepts of God for the purpose of solidifying my faith. Studying Scripture to me meant more than just the feel good writings of John and the dogmatic and veiled writings of Paul. The Bible, much like the world, contains a lot of violence and pain and suffering and to me reading the many books that are less than happy in their message was an essential aspect of understanding the whole.

I’ve said before that I view the Bible as a collection of writings of men who were just as confused as I am. The Psalms are a perfect example. There are 150 individual poems, songs, and laments that range from praising to doubting and anger to joy. The Psalter (who I believe to be more than one person and not just King David) could not maintain a solid position on whether God was always good and loving or forgetful and forsaking. So after much effort and examination, the results are a weaker faith than when I started. I think what continues to draw me to the Bible at this point has become more of a philosophical exercise than a spiritual one.

What about God though? Well, that is the million dollar question. With all the pain and suffering throughout the world and the glaring an inconceivable injustices against the innocent – mainly children, one could easily reject that God exists. After so much time and study I have, admittedly, grown very skeptical and almost adopted an agnostic viewpoint. I will not be so bold as to say there is no God, but I do completely reject the concept of an all-powerful magical old man in the skies. Perhaps what “God” really may be is an incorporeal cosmic force that interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. This is a pantheistic view that I have begun to consider as an alternative to the corporeal, personal and anthropomorphic conception of the Divine. Perhaps the time has come for the Quest to shift into a broader exploration of ethics and metaphysics.

Who is in control?

The notion that we are all sinful wretches worthy of punishment and that the physical world is the dominion and under the tyrannical control of a being known as Satan, is a dogma that I have always opposed. Satan, as Christianity perceives him, did not originate until the Gospels and Epistles. The very few references to Satan in the Jewish Scriptures paint this being in a far different way then the mainstream belief of the Christian and Muslim faiths. Satan is not the serpent in the creation account found in Genesis, nor is he the Prince of the Earth (whatever that means) that we see portrayed in gospels and epistles. Satan, in Jewish Scripture, is the “accuser” and “tempter”. He is not a fallen angel, as some wrongfully interpret Isaiah 14:12 (which when read in full context is an allusion to King Nebuchadnezzar). Satan, according to Jewish Scripture, is and always has been a servant of God. The servant who test one’s faith and resolve, but as clearly displayed in the book of Job, Satan acts and operates at the will and pleasure of the Almighty God.

So where did the concept of the evil, horned, red body-suit wearing, pitch fork carrying sovereign of hell come from? Well, truth be told, the devil that billions of Christians despise and the Hell they hope to avoid by having faith in Jesus are NOT Biblical. Both of them find their origins in a fused interpretation of Dante’s Inferno, the Divine Comedy and the Greco-Roman character known as Hades. The very few references to hell that exist are all in the Gospels and Epistles and they are better translated as the “pit” or Gehenna, which was an area outside the Jewish tribal camps (and later Jerusalem) where the worshippers of Baal and Molech would sacrifice their children by fire. This was an area that the Jews knew physically existed and they feared it. If Torah observance was not strictly adhered to one could get thrown out of the camp or city and face the threat of the “pit”. How a physical place was spun into a place of eternal torment is the crafty work of Augustine and it’s purpose, one could argue, was to scare people into conformity.

Let’s now apply reason and a rational view here. If God is all-powerful than he is all-powerful and the Sovereign of the Universe that Abraham claimed the Almighty to be. This means God and only God is in control and not a rebellious servant in the fiery bowels of the earth. If we are created in the image of God, than we have all the attributes of the Divine. We could not therefore be insignificant wretches that are full of sin and because of poor choices we may have made are somehow worthy of ETERNAL punishment. Let’s think for a minute about this gross implication of injustice. Most people live less than 100 years. What kind of justice is displayed where the mere lack of believing in something for the decades we spend on earth would somehow justify an ETERNAL sentence to torture and punishment? Not a life sentence, but a relentless and unending sentence with no hope for reconciliation or even parole. Where is the grace mercy and peace of the Father? Would the very Creator who created all things and imbued us with Reason and intellect really require that faith and faith alone ensure eternal bliss? Would the divine inspiration that is claimed to have been revealed to a small number of sages in the most primitive and ignorant corner of the earth, be the only source of this critical message? If this be true, why would the message be so cryptic and have so many examples of injustice within it?

Let me propose the following:

  • You are not a filthy wretch.
  • You are not unworthy of love.
  • You are not flawed.
  • You are not a disgrace.
  • You are not worthy of punishment.
  • You are not under an inherited curse of a sin that someone else committed.
  • You are not under the dominion of a powerful evil being who’s out to get you.

What you are is a living, breathing, and beautiful person. You have good attributes and you have bad. You have the freedom to choose how you use the strengths you possess and how you surrender to your weakness. If you have read this far, than you have a contemplative sense of reason and are willing to go behind the veils of dogma and uncover the purest source of truth. Everyone has the need to feel a sense of hope and an element of higher purpose. The idea that we are merely a carbon based collection of molecules and cells that act in repetitive and sometime meaningless ways and are destined to be inanimate patches of dust, is hardly inspirational to most people. This is why people feel deep within the recesses of their mind and soul that there must be something greater than ourselves. How can the wonder of time and the majesty of nature be the product of a Divine Judge that places matters of thought over physical actions?

Am I speaking against Scripture? No. I am merely providing my view of the Divine, just like the authors of the various books of Scripture did. Call me heretical if you want, but we know a lot more now about the universe, earth, the human genome, physics, medicine, human psychology, and a host of other quantifiable facts than any of the Bronze Age authors of Scripture ever knew. There is a strong argument that Biblical inerrancy is only in context not in content.

But Nelson, my pastor says this or Joel Osteen says that, or Joyce Meyer advocates this and Rick Warren wrote that… Well, why don’t we compare their motivational factors to mine. What exactly am I asking you for? Have I passed around an offering plate? Have I told you to call my prayer line and contribute to my ministry? Have I told you that I need you to “give all you can” and promised a ten-fold blessing from God in return for your offering? Nope. I am just on a quest for light and have welcomed you to accompany me on it and nothing more.

All I have ever asked is for 2 very simple things:

That you think with an open and rational mind.
That you love one another.

Ask yourself this question:
If this is the only life you will have and there is no resurrection or after-life, are you living life to the fullest?

One more question:
Why not?

In His image?

Life is full of trials and tribulations. We live in a world that has become so morally corrupt that many of us find ourselves questioning our own morality. The sad thing is many don’t even bother and have chosen to make themselves the center of the universe and that is a big problem. Especially when it’s done at the expense of those around you.  We elevate the most detestable people to almost god-like status and mock those who are open about their faith and believe they are accountable to a higher power, regardless of what that faith might be. We judge people without first putting ourselves in their shoes and we show favoritism to those whom we feel it would benefit us to do so.
 
Science and technology have changed the world so much that society has almost completely forgotten that there is an author of the laws of science and the revealer of hidden knowledge.  If we hold ourselves accountable to each other, while this is a valid pretense, it is not enough. The changes in culture and society have created a mindset of “I can do whatever I want and I don’t care what anyone thinks”.
 
What happened to Love your neighbor as yourself?
 
Since when did our own personal satisfaction outweigh the burden it could place on someone else?
 
Since when has aiding the distressed widow, orphan, and poor become someone else’s job?
 
When did charity become anything other than an obligation we have to each other?
 
We have lost our way and the less value we place on the lives of others the easier it becomes to turn a blind eye to abuse and to kill people because they live a certain lifestyle or follow a path we disagree with. When people feel this way, then the governments they control adjust their policies. When countries refuse to listen to each other than war is imminent.  If to many countries begin to fight each other than the results can be catastrophic.
 
The scariest part of all is this is it is a continuous cycle. Mankind goes through periods of enlightenment and then periods of darkness. In the Torah the creation account ends each day with “there was evening and morning”.   Have you ever wondered why this is stated and why it is repeated with each of the successive days?
 
Evening = Darkness
Morning = Light
 
Out of darkness came light and each day requires both to be complete.  Everything requires its opposing force in order to find equilibrium.  Darkness and Light, Good and evil, male and female, love and hate, liberty and oppression.  One cannot exist without  the other.
As people we can never be perfect.
 
Or can we?
 
What if “in His image” really meant it?  Is our Creator both good and evil?   What if “let US make man” meant a good god and a bad god?  That would go against the grain of monotheism and the concept of one Sovereign of the Universe. Some say our Creator is not evil and is all good.  Is that true?  How many babies died in the flood?  How many babies died during the Passover?  These were not holocausts inflicted by man like what the Nazis did.  This was a Divine action.
 
What if the Torah, the Christian Bible, and the Quran are just story books? Loosely based on facts, but mostly allegories and myths designed to teach lessons and an attempt to comprehend that Great Source of all things?
 
What if the concept of an interventional deity is completely bogus?  Not because of scripture, but because of what we see happening every single day.  If we were created with free-will out of love so that we would not be divine puppets, how can a loving father-like deity allow so much pain?  Why are innocent little children allowed to be molested and murdered? If Jesus, God, Hashem, Elohim, or Allah is an all loving God watching over us, why do these terrible things happen?
 
The argument against our Creator is the same argument that can be use to prove the existence.
 
As you gaze up at the stars and get lost in the cosmos, what do you see?
 
When you stare into a campfire at night, what do you see?
 
When you sit at the edge of the sea-shore and watch the tides roll in, what do you see?
 
When you walk outside and feel the wind blowing against your face, what do you feel?
 
The stars are beautiful, but an asteroid can fall from the heavens and vaporize everything on earth.
 
A fire can be hypnotic, can keep you warm, and provide energy.  It can also destroy everything in its path and cause a very painful death to any living thing.
 
The ocean can be soothing and provides life to billions of animals.  It can also create massive storms and tidal surges that can decimate everything in its path.
 
The wind can provide comfort on a hot day.  It can also form into a tornado and within a matter of second destroy everything that feels its touch.
 
Our every action has a corresponding reaction. Words once spoken can never be taken back and a heart once broken can never be fully mended.  The allegorical evils attributed to the Divine in all forms of scripture are myths. They are always tied to an evil provocation and the intent is to show a measure for measure form of Divine justice. This too is an allegory that shows that we have both darkness and light within us and that we ultimately decide our path.  The path we take does not just impact our own life but every person around us.
 

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

The Illusion of Atheism

Contrary to what an atheist may try to convince others and even themselves, the entire concept of atheism is a mere illusion.  Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher are all very public about being atheists and are antagonistic to the adherents of any and all revealed religions.  However, I can provide a strong argument that neither they nor anyone else can possibly be atheists with 3 words:

Eyeh asher eyeh

See, three words.  I will assume some of you don’t know what these words mean so I will explain them.  Eyeh asher eyeh is Hebrew for “I shall be what I shall be” it has also been translated “I am what/that I am.”  This statement is as brilliant as it is cryptic.  No actual name is given, no definitive divine description, just an open-ended concept of indescribable and ineffable supremacy.  There is a misconception amongst people who consider themselves to be atheists that the rejection of an interventional deity means they also reject the concept of a supreme intelligence or ultimate reality.  The use of “Reason” and “Intellect” is a valid approach to such a topic and given the advancement of science and technology over the past few centuries (especially the last decade) we have seen the scope of the Divine drastically diminish.

The Ultimate Source

Galileo shattered the long-held belief that the earth was flat, the sky was a canopy, and the celestial bodies were mere lights in the canopy.

Astronauts erased the concept of heaven being a paradise amongst the clouds in the skies, thereby casting serious doubt on chariots of fire and men “ascending into heaven”.

Medical advancements have saved people from death, even brought people back from death-like states (ie. coma).  Stem cell research has now advanced to the state where scientist are capable of manipulating and even splicing cells to regenerate organs.

Carbon dating has identified artifacts that date the age of human civilization far beyond the Biblical timeline.

However, the idea that the rejection of any religious text, creed, or doctrine or the literal or scientific debunking of them eliminates the concept of Deity is inaccurate, ignorant and irresponsible.  Regardless of how far we go with science or how many theories we develop we still have not been able to discern the origin, source, or “author” of the various laws of nature and science.  We have not been able to explain or discover the power that allows these laws to be executed in endless perpetuity.  No explanations exist for the reason or cause of human emotions or our ability to discern the basic precepts of universal morality.  This origin and this perpetual source is that supreme and ultimate reality that mankind has tried to understand.  Whether through scientific exploration or theosophic study, the Divine is ineffable and we are not capable of understanding.

Where our intellect and reason falls short

For most of recorded history mankind has made many attempts at understanding this source.  Our inability to prove or disprove the source or origin expels us from the right to deny it.  The belief that this source is an interventional God is the belief of over 3 billion people and it has been for thousands of years.  The concept of an interventional God is not based on facts though.  It is based on faith.  If one chooses not to believe in an interventional god that is fine.  It does not rule out the fact that there is a an original and perpetual source of the universe though.  If you base your belief on science, than nature or science is your deity.  If you believe there is no source and everything just happened then chaos is your deity.  However, out of chaos came order.  Where did this order come from?

Our sense of reason can serve as both a gift and a curse.  While one can reasonably discern various laws of science and morality, you can also box yourself in to your own limited knowledge of the universe which limits the greatness of it.  The Age of Enlightenment gave rise to skepticism and literal criticism of religious texts but, it did not render them obsolete.

Divine Revelation

It is Jewish tradition that the Scriptures (Torah, Prophets, Hagiographa) were written by men for men and in the language of men.  A literal interpretation of the text is not conducive to modern times as many of the mythical occurrences were similar to modern-day special effects in movies.  The scribes wrote the text to instruct the simple-minded while the learned minds of the time labored for hours over the hidden meanings and allegories.  Is an intense study of these texts still required?  Perhaps for some but, the morality that has derived from their writing are now commonplace in a civilized society.  As rich as religious text are in their allegory and moral lessons, they can easily be taken out of context mainly because, unlike the US Constitution they can not be amended.   There is a revelation that continues to evolve and is infallible – nature.  A walk along the seashore, a hike in the mountains, or a rafting trip on a river display the awesome power and beauty of nature.  Gazing at the night sky on a clear night is a mind-boggling display of the vastness of the cosmos.  Taking all of this in, is it remotely possible that there was no order, no source, and that all is chaos?

Atheism advocates the absence of an orginal source or intelligent design.  If there is no source – then universe is an illusion.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

Stop talking and do something

English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un...

Image via Wikipedia

Faith does not feed the homeless, it does not assist the elderly, it does not protect the weak, or comfort widows and orphans. 

Faith does not house an injured veteran, it does not counsel the depressed, it does not provide healthcare to the poor.

People with big hearts do.

People who talk less and perform random acts of kindness are not as numerous as those who like to complain about the state of things.  Some people perform acts of kindness out of the goodness of their heart and some do them for self-gratification and recognition.  Either way it is our actions and not our personal beliefs that can affect the lives of other people. 

Many of the worlds religions rest the fate of mankind on a messianic figure of some kind.  Some believe this person will be a warrior who will defeat the forces of evil by force, some believe he already came and will return to finish what he started, and some believe that there have been messianic figures in the past and that more are to come – each one adding to the work of the other.

Instead of waiting around for someone why not look at yourself?  Every single person has the power to make a difference on their own.  There are so many stories of this happening in the past.  From Hercules, Noah, and Moses to George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. 

“Be the change you want to see in the world” ~Gandhi

It was a small group of ambitious men who ended the Divine right of kings in Europe and its grip on America.  It was a small group of people who inspired thousands to rise against dictators and topple oppressive regimes.  Why are you waiting around for someone else to “save” you or the rest of the world when you can do it yourself?  Every single one of us has the power to change the world for the better.  You don’t have to start a revolution or sacrifice your life either, it can be a simple act of kindness for a complete stranger that can start a ripple effect of kindness that can span a distance greater than you can imagine. 

 “Each person must see himself as though the entire world were held in balance and any deed he may do could tip the scales.”  ~Maimonides

I am not telling anyone to renounce their religion or any doctrines they may teach.  I am merely saying that it’s time to stop preaching about ending times and the collapse of morals in society and actually do something about it.  Sitting around and acting hopeless accomplishes nothing.  In my life time I have seen the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and people in positions of power that can do something about it (Washington, the Vatican, etc) do absolutely nothing about it.

Rather than spends billions of dollars fighting an ideology, why not spend those dollars on things like feeding the homeless, assisting the elderly, protecting the weak, comforting widows and orphans?   Maybe instead of waiting for a savior we can provide housing to an injured veteran, counsel the depressed, or provide healthcare to not just the poor but, every single person who needs it.

You can call me unrealistic, you can say I’m crazy, you can even tell me this is impossible.  If you did then it would just be a useless parade of words with little to no meaning and another example of a complete lack of action.  All of us have heard the expression “actions speak louder than words” but, how many of us actually try to help others?  How many of us show our children the necessity of having a charitable heart?  How many of us spend more time “keeping up with the Jones’s” instead of “helping out the Smith’s”?

If you think you can’t make a difference.  Just watch what happens when you actually try.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

A prayer for our time

Divine Author of all faiths,

Humbly we thank you for giving us life, family, and friends.

We pray that you watch over those who are less fortunate and guide them on the path to prosperity,

that you summon the courage within the oppressed to rise against their oppressors,

give strength to the needy,

give hope to the poor,

give happiness to those in distress.

Help all who have, learn the willingness to give.

Be with those who live for others and sacrifice themselves for the betterment of society.

Help us all to live in peace and harmony, dispensing all animosities that may exist.

To you we owe all that we have, so to you we humbly give thanks.

Amen.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

Are we a Christian nation?

This question seems to flare up a lot lately especially with the views of many over whether President Obama is a closet Muslim and whether Mitt Romney being Mormon makes him a member of a cult. Religion has been a contentious issue globally and has created millions of martyrs. The irony is that at their core most religions are very similar.

But was the United States of America founded as a Christian nation?

Christians will say – YES!

Seculars will say – NO!

Both are wrong..

When considering this topic one must first ask themselves the following questions:

  • What was the “nation” intended to be?
  • Was a state church desired?
  • What is a Christian nation?

Well, I am going to give you my answers for all of these. These are my opinions but, I base them on known facts and common sense. You can agree or disagree. Comments are always welcome.

What was the nation intended to be?

When one researches the colonial and revolutionary era they will find that the desire of the colonies was really simple and less grandiose then we all like to make it out to be. They just wanted to be left alone. They wanted to be free to live their lives in peace without King George oppressing them through his appointed governors. They didn’t want to be taxed without having services or representation and they did not want a big brother style government controlling their every move. At best, they wanted a loose association of states, or a Commonwealth, that mutually respected the sovereign rights of each state with an overarching government that protected the states, regulated trade between them, and champion the individual liberties that were bestowed its citizens by the Creator. The majority of these people were Christians – that cannot be disputed – and they governed their lives by what the “good book” told them and while some folks owned Bibles, many didn’t and they relied on their local preacher to be their mentors. They wanted local control and smaller government, not the big federal powerhouse we have now with so much power and corruption. They knew that with power came corruption – they lived it. So here we are as a nation, not learning from the mistakes of the past and therefore beginning to repeat them.

Was a state church desired?

The colonial era was a time when the Church of England was the only choice someone had for religion. The fact that they did not want a state controlling their church or their beliefs is what brought people here to begin with. So, the last thing they wanted was another overbearing government with a state-run church. This was clearly stated in the First Amendment to the Constitution in that their would be no laws establishing a religion. Did it mean they wanted God out of their lives? NO. Did it mean that their faith didn’t influence their decision-making or even their thoughts of how governance should be framed? NO. They just didn’t feel it was the government’s place to tell them how to believe and how to worship.

What is a Christian nation?

Here is the real crux of the issue. What exactly is a Christian nation anyway?

Is it a nation where the majority of people are Christian? If that is the case then we are.

Is it a nation where the only religion allowed is Christianity and that we are governed by its doctrines? If that is the case then we would be a theocracy not a democratic republic.

Is it a nation where other religions are allowed but, the only one that is considered right is Christianity? If that is the case it makes us religiously intolerant and not a nation of liberty.

Is it a nation that allows everyone to be free to believe how they want but, govern themselves according to the tenets and beliefs of Christianity? If that were the case then it would be no different then a theocracy.

We may be a nation where the majority of the population are Christians but, we are not a Christian nation. What we are is a nation that was founded on ending the divine right of kings and empowering everyone with individual liberties. One of those liberties was the freedom to choose your religion and that it was private matter between you and your god. Something that the government could not impose on you. This is not a Christian principle because Christians are under the obligation to make disciples of all nations. This was a principle of enlightenment and the rise of personal liberty.

So be a tolerant person towards others and accept that we can be different but, still be one people.. Say “Happy Holidays” instead of making claims that the phrase is secular or politically correct. Learn about other religions by reading their various religious text before you assume you understand them. It is ignorant to say that just because someone can pull nasty quotes from a book that an entire religion is based on evil beliefs. If that were the case then the Bible itself would make the tenets of Christianity questionable.

PS – Anyone who has read the Bible – and I mean from cover to cover and not the incoherence of a passage here an a passage there – knows Christian values are borrowed from the Jewish ethics of the Torah and Prophets. The differentiator is the concept that faith is more important than actions and the messianic beliefs of Jesus.

Another PS – May the blessings of the Divine Patriarch and Creator of all things bless you and your families this holiday season.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light