What is the world coming to?

One of the biggest problems facing the human race is intolerance and ignorance. Both are equally dangerous and counterproductive to any form of progress we can make. One only has to turn on the evening news to see gridlock in government and violence in the name of God to see that humanity as a species is just insane. Yes, insane. Why do I say this? Well, ask Mr. Albert Einstein..

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein.
Think about it. How may times has corruption caused economic collapse? How many wars have been fought over religion? Look at what is on TV. An over abundance of “Reality TV” that is hardly reality but, distorts the viewers into actually believing that it is. How pathetic are we that people publicly lower their own moral standards on national television to “win the heart” of the bachelor or bachelorette who has been sleazing around with the other hopeless romantics the whole time as well?
 
To add to this continual dumbing down of society it seems the capturing of a bully beating up on a young kid or a homeless person on a cellphone so it can be uploaded to YouTube is now dubbed as “cool”. We see morally disturbing shows like “Toddler in Tiaras” and other forms of sleaze TV and then wonder why our children get in to far more trouble than we ever did. I may be crazy but, does any one see a similarity between UFC fighting and the Gladiators of Rome?
Humankind has advanced from living in straw huts and hunting with spears into a technologically advanced and literate race, capable of flight and erecting massive buildings and even going into space. Yet we have begun to digress as we progress. I watched a video in which people were interviewed about historical figures and events and I was completely blown away by the fact that dozens of people didn’t know who Adolf Hitler was. These same people couldn’t tell you who the Governor of their own state is or name the current Vice President. Of course, when you asked them who Simon Cowell is, you got a quick answer. OK. I get it, history may be boring and educating yourself on things like economics and government may not be high on the priority list for many people but, those who don’t learn from their history are doomed to repeat it.
 
I recently had the pleasure of yet again hearing someone refer to me as an ignorant heretic. I considered the source and it didn’t bother me but, I decided to engage in a debate (surprising, huh?). The debate started over his belief that all Muslims are evil and that the Islamic faith is all about violence. He is a Christian and I reminded him that the man he worships was very clear about not judging, loving your neighbor as yourself, and even loving your enemy (turn the other cheek). He then proceeded to tell me about all the violence that the Quran advocates and when I asked him if he ever read it… you guessed it, he answered No. This is an example of both intolerance and ignorance – how can you be so sure about something you have absolutely no knowledge of? I could have told him how the church really grew (by the sword not the spirit) but, instead I asked him if he would ever consider reading the Quran. He told me “Absolutely not” and I told him that unless he did he was really ignorant on the topic and would be better off shutting his mouth. He then did the usual and pointed to Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda and other terror networks. I then reminded him that there are over 1 BILLION Muslims in the world and that if the religion was really about violence, we would have a lot bigger problem then we do now. I then pointed to various passages in the Bible where violence exists and is condoned (yes, it’s there in both testaments). He then told me it was different because it was in the Bible. At this point I realized the level of intolerant ignorance I was dealing with and told him to either read the Quran or stop trashing it. He said “Never!” and I said “What would Jesus do?” Wow, what a look he gave me.
 
We all go through life trying to find some kind of purpose. Something to give us hope and meaning. As our society becomes more and more secular we are also becoming less ethical and morally corrupt. Look at divorce rates. Look at the number of single parents and teenage pregnancies. As we continue to advance in science and medicine people have begun to lessen their dependency on believing in something greater than themselves. The danger in that is very clear.. When there is no God, then to whom in humankind held to account? All of us are born with just enough light to seek the truth. There is more than one way to find the truth and more than one path to the Divine. The allegory of the Tower of Babel teaches that multiple paths are actually part of the divine plan. From what I have read, the closer one gets to the truth the more the paths begin to weave into each other. The more one studies the foundations of all religions, the more they find common tenets and principles. With the advancement of science the scope of the Divine appears to diminish but, only when one dismisses the concept that everything has a source. There are many things that man has yet to discover and prove. Our emotions and our ability to reason will likely never be explained by science as those are the most divine of all gifts given to man. When we use one of those gifts more than the other, we lose our balance and get off course. When we believe that our personal beliefs have a higher moral authority then the beliefs of someone else, we cower in our own hypocrisy. We must all learn that within everyone is the ability to help others and the maliciousness to destroy them. Rather than focus on the faults of others or your own personal perception of the infidelity of the path that they may follow – focus on your path and what it is you are doing that may make the world a better place. We are finite as beings but, infinite with our actions and our ability to pass on what we know to the next generation.

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light

Killing in the name of God – part 1

I have heard, to almost the point of nausea, that the Quran is an evil and horrible book and that the entire Islamic faith is about nothing but, murder. The irony of course is that the majority of the people who say this have absolutely no right or authority to do so as they have never read the Quran, and I doubt if they have even read their own Bible.

The Jewish and Christian religions have their foundations in the Torah. The Torah is said to have been written by a man named Moses. Now, although many Christians ignorantly claim that the Old Testament contains the “old law” and that it is no longer relevant, they have obviously forgotten what Jesus himself says in Matthew 5: 17-19, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

So unless Jesus’ words mean nothing, Christians are to abide the “old law”. So, does the Bible contain instructions on killing people?

In the book of Exodus the following commandment is given by God to Moses:
Thou shalt not kill.– Exodus 20:13

(This conveniently follows the 10 plagues and genocide (or Passover) committed in Egypt as well as a few incidents before)
In the exact same book, in fact in the very next chapter, the following orders to kill are done with God’s approval.

Exodus Chapter 21: God orders killing:

12 – He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death
14 – But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.
15 – And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.
16 – He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.
17 – And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.

Now this next one may not be a command for killing but, the message here is just detestable. It is my belief that an all-loving God would never, under any circumstance, condone slavery.

Exodus 21:20 – And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.

OK, Now back to the permission to kill in Exodus:

Chapter 22:

18 – You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
19 – Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.
20 – He who sacrifices to any god, except to the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
22-24 – You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

There is a small break where (according to the author) God describes how to decorate the tabernacle, which of course has a primary function of slaughtering, I mean sacrificing, animals for God. Then the orders to kill return again:

Exodus 31:14, 15 – You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Here is an order by Moses given after he returned from his meeting with God in the mountain. Why Moses was not immediately struck down for giving this genocidal order is beyond my comprehension:

Exodus 32:27 – And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.

Remember, no working on Saturday:

Exodus 34:2 – Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

That wraps up the orders to kill in just the book of Exodus alone. There hundreds of instances in the Bible where God gives the command to kill, kills, or someone invokes the “will of God” to either kill or order killings.

So the hypocrisy is pretty clear to me. Jews and Christians condemn the Quran for being violent and they either haven’t read their own Bibles or feel for some hypocritical reason that there is some viable explanation for what is written in the Bible in regards to killing in the name of God.

More to come on this subject…

© Nelson Rose, The Quest for Light (All Bible quotations were taken from the NKJV)