Saving God

I had a recent exchange with someone who wanted me to “level” with him on what my position was on Jesus. It caught me by surprise because I know I have blogged about Jesus a number of times and thought I was clear on how I felt. So, this is how I responded:

I believe Jesus was a real man who really existed and do not relegate him to just being a mythical figure. Clearly he was a great teacher and given the lengths his followers went to spread his message he may have performed extraordinary feats that through the lapse of time have become exaggerated. As to whether he was the messiah, I take a somewhat Jewish position on this. You will find that aside from the Chassidic and other ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects, most Jews have a very favorable opinion of Jesus. Most believe he was a great teacher and may have performed the miracles attributed to him. The reason they do not believe he is the messiah is simple – the temple is still destroyed, Jews are still scattered across the globe, and nations still raise their ‘swords’ against one another. Does this diminish the message of Jesus and what he tried to accomplish? I don’t think so. I think the New Law he taught was intended to save all of us from the rigidness and complexities of the Old Law and to a greater extent religion in general. The problem as I see it, is people still hold on to ancient traditions and superstitions that completely deflect the focus of the message and thus creates just another confusing collaboration of doctrines and dogmas, which is what I think Jesus was trying to “save” people from in the first place.

Then came the question of what I believe about God. Well this is indeed the tougher question because anyone who knows me, knows my views on this often drift with the wind. As inflammatory as this may sound, I personally believe that the God depicted in ancient texts like the Bible or the Koran only exists within the confines of those books. The late bronze/early iron age God, for all intents and purposes is dead. There have been no divinely appointed prophets with super powers and no unexplained nature defying miracles in at least 2 thousand years (assuming there ever were to begin with). We have put men on the moon, have telescopes that return images that are billions of miles away and yet, there is no sign of a Divine Destination where Elijah flew off to in his fiery chariot (2nd Kings 2:11) or where Jesus ascended to after his death and resurrection (Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51). We have documents and tablets that predate the Bible which contain a moral code and similar cosmological myths (Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Tablets of Hammurabi) . The ancient writings must be weighed on their merits rather than on emotional tradition. The idea of a talking snake (Genesis 3:1-5) or a talking donkey (Numbers 22:28-30) is laughable to the modern mind (nowadays we have the ability to make it possible with computer animation or robotics). If I were to tell someone I was swallowed by a fish and lived in its belly for 3 days (Jonah 1:17) I would probably be committed to an asylum. So while at risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water, I must take the position that it would be better to not study the Bible at all then to take a fundamentalist or literal approach to it. Context is key. All ancient people had their own god or gods and they justified their actions no matter how atrocious by stating it was either their god’s will or the doing of the gods themselves. If you witnessed the destruction of your temple, city, the deaths of loved ones and friends, and were forced into exile in an unfamiliar land and forced to serve a tyrannical king you would be hoping for a supernatural savior too. If you did not have the knowledge of the universe that we now have and looked to the stars in the sky without the bright lights of an overpopulated city, how could you not think that the heavens proclaim the glory of God (Psalm 19:1)?

I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings. (Albert Einstein)

Just as the Jews changed from the polytheistic concept of “our god is better than your god” to the monotheistic concept of “our god is the only god,” our concept of God must evolve in order for God to remain relevant with the vast amounts of scientific discoveries. More and more people are walking away from religion than ever before and it is for a number of reasons. Whether it is because of the despicable actions of men who are supposed to be holy or the glaring absence of a “God who protects” in the wake of young children being slaughtered like animals by a deranged gunman; the God that most of us were taught to believe in, is quickly fading into obscurity.

Yet, when I look into my children’s eyes and am filled with love or when I see a kind act by someone to a complete stranger and am filled with joy or when I am in despair and need hope, that is where I find God.

The order from chaos..

The calm that precedes and follows a storm..

The breeze against my face on a sweltering hot day..

The sound of the tides mixed with singing of the sea gulls..

The intricacies of our DNA..

The unexplainable phenomena of the dividing of cells to form a new life..

The sparks of joy and promise in the eyes of a child..

The laws of nature and the discoveries of science..

God is the indwelling and not the transient cause of all things. (Baruch Spinoza)

And as to religion.. Well the Biblical definition of religion happens to be perfect:

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us. (James 1:26-27)

 

Jesus, redeemer or reformer?

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11).

We live in a world where the dangers of religious fundamentalism of all kinds surround us. Whether it be a “holy warrior” blowing himself up in market place, a madman shooting people in a temple or school, or a “Baptist” church that pickets funerals of fallen heroes and other victims of violence. Religions in and of themselves are harmless, it’s when people cross the line from rationalism into radicalism that makes them dangerous.

Centuries before Jesus lived, according to the book of Isaiah, “I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). By this account, one can conclude that our Creator keeps no record of our “sins” and that all is forgiven and that we were “saved” long before Jesus ever lived. That being the case, blood atonement whether animal, man, or God himself was not necessary. Yet the temple cult continued ritual sacrifices because they believed it to be required for atonement. The Christian Church adopted the belief that when Jesus was crucified the blood requirement was satisfied, but as the verse above states it was not even necessary. For example, Hebrews 10:5 of the New Testament in quoting Psalm 40, claims that God replaced animal sacrifices with the death of the Jesus by stating, “sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me.” However, the actual text of Psalm 40:6 does not even say this; it says, “sacrifices and meal offerings You have not desired, my ears You have opened.” This refers to God’s desire that we listen to Him, as we also read in Samuel, “Samuel said, “Does God take as much pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying what God says? Surely obeying is better than sacrifice, and heeding orders than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

Fundamentalist Christians insist that the Bible is the inspired and “inerrant” word of God and readily accept the Jewish Scriptures (aka Old Testament) as the foundation for the New Testament. If they were to be logically consistent, it would follow that wherever the “Old” and “New” Testaments contradict each other, the New Testament must be admitted to be obviously the one which is in error. If that were adhered to, Jesus would be relegated to what he really is – a great teacher (Rabboni or Rebbe) who spoke of actions over words and sacrifices. He was martyred for his teachings and his followers’ followers then committed the apostasy of elevating him to being God.

The Jewish Scriptures DO NOT revolve around God becoming man to sacrifice himself to appease himself. That is invented mythology. Jewish Scripture outlines how to act (albeit some of these rules are arcane for our time and a bit extreme – thus the reason the Jews never sealed the canon until it was hijacked by Constantine for the church). Jewish Scripture also shows how when the people disobeyed the rules, they suffered and when they obeyed they prospered. After a while this cycle cost them the temple and the “land of milk and honey.” It could be that in order for the Messianic Age to come, that Jews should listen to what Jeremiah said: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are false.” (this is a slight paraphrasing of the opening verses of Jeremiah 10 – which also explicitly exposes the “Christmas tree” to be a pagan practice – over 2 thousand years before it became as common as it is now)

So what was Jesus’ purpose?

I believe Jesus was trying to be a reformer, not a redeemer/savior and his focus was on freeing us from religious doctrines and dogmas that had become overbearing and burdensome. Perhaps what he was teaching was that we could focus on simply “Loving one another”.

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Here is the real New Covenant. Less outward ritual observances and more heart-driven loving kindness towards each other. The entire yoke of Torah needed to be simplified to the original summation that was contained within it.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Here the Teacher (Jesus) spliced together Deuteronomy 6:5 with Leviticus 19:18 to give us the summation of the Torah and the 2 rules that if all of us followed, would bring on an age where no nation raises a sword against another nation and we can all finally be at peace. This would be the fulfillment of hope and bring the Kingdom of Heaven here, on earth.

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 .

Divine Science

Parthenon from west

Parthenon from west (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To the Ancient Greeks, Zeus was not a myth. Neither was Poseidon, Hercules, Perseus, or Hades. These were real gods and demigods. The landscape of Greece and Italy still have the ruins of the temples that once stood to pay homage to these divine beings. So what happened? The answer is actually rather simple. People stopped believing. It had always been the belief that as long as the gods were worshiped and prayed to that they would be strong. All except Hades who obtained his strength through fear. The Romans had a similar pantheon of gods and the biggest difference between the Greeks and the Romans (aside from the names) was that the Greek deities resided on Mt. Olympus, again except for Hades who lived in the under-world. The disappearance of these deities changed the religions and beliefs of ancient times into the myths of modern times. The question now is, are the current gods that are worshiped (Yahweh, Allah, Jesus, etc.) any different? Is it possible that God is just an imaginary friend to a theist and as a result completely nonexistent to an atheist?

If science is the source of absolute truth then it would seem that we have no known origin, no known purpose, and no watchful father-like deity that we can turn to. We are just meaningless globs of matter and when we expire we decompose into dust and are no more significant than the dirt we are buried in. The various emotions experienced by mankind of love, joy, sadness and hope are mere chemical reactions that have evolved over time and our sense of morality is just a natural evolutionary code of ethics that developed over time as man increased in intelligence and furthered technology. We have nothing beyond the realm of current existence and life beyond the grave is nothing more than the musings of mythology and fairy tales.

The existence of God is not provable by science. This is an irrefutable fact that only the dogmatically sheepish would try to argue. The existence of God is an argument that mankind has had with itself since the earliest of times. People have slaughtered entire villages and marched their “Armies of God” across the world to force conversion and spread their religious influence as if by divine directive for thousands of years. Even today the madness continues by way of IEDs and suicide bombers on one end and the endless intellectual and apologetic debates in the blogosphere on the other. One of the biggest arguments used to disprove Theism is the existence of evil and why bad things happen to good people. This argument is one that human perception cannot rationally or objectionably engage in, unless they look at the broader picture displayed in nature. Most theists (Christians in particular) believe that the reason bad things (or evil) happen is because of sin. They trace this back to the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. Original Sin is a flawed dogmatic doctrine of the church that is just as much an injustice to infants and children as it is an illogical and incomplete explanation. Aside from the obvious issue of children and their suffering, what about animals? Does not the sheep live in fear of the wolf? Isn’t it excruciatingly painful when an alligator rips a deer to pieces? Anyone with even the slightest amount of common sense knows that although animals may not be able to drive or write, they do have intelligence. So that means they, like man, are very likely capable of emotions and exercising free-will to a certain extent. Do animals suffer as a result of Eve’s sin or do they just suffer because that is part of the balance of nature and the circle of life? To say that the animals suffer as a result of the sins of man is ridiculous. As such, the suffering of people cannot be pointed to the sins of a mythical woman either. I am sure someone is saying that I am ridiculous to equate the murder of a person at the hands of another person with that of an animal hunting its prey. What if man is the prey? Is it an act of evil if a man is attacked by sharks and eaten alive? Well to the family of the man its a tragedy but to the sharks it was a meal. How dare I say such a thing?!? Well, when a man kills a deer and uses the meat for his family its OK right? Perhaps that deer was a mother and its babies will now die because they can no longer nurse. A tragedy to the baby deer and just another meal for the hunter. Dare I even mention if the deer is shot just for sport…

Now, I know that I used some parallels that some may think are extreme comparisons. In a world of instant gratification, reality TV, self-help speakers, and personal conveniences it becomes almost impossible to realize that we are just specks of dust in relation to the enormity of the cosmos and that our own little realities are irrelevant in the grand design. So just as we pay no mention to the colonies of ants we destroy when we spray pesticides, the tides take no notice of the villages that are destroyed when an earthquake triggers a tsunami. Evil and Satan are easy cop outs (I will expand on these in my next post), but the balance of nature is the true cause.

So does this chaotic cosmos have a Creator? Does God exist? Well a scientist will tell you that God cannot be proven. God cannot be seen and cannot be tested. So let’s use their logic as we review a few concepts. Can we prove why a compass will always point north? The theory is that the earth has an invisible magnetic field that causes this. Gravity is also invisible and yet it is the undisputed reason given for why whatever goes up must come down. The winds cannot be seen, yet scientists have been able to discover that the changes in atmospheric pressure (also something invisible) in conjunction with the rotation of the earth and it revolution are what causes the wind. The sun emits light that is generated from a burning ball of fire and gases in space. This light is invisible yet enables one to see. This light is invisible yet when gather through a lens can burn a piece of paper. Light from the sun also warms the surface of the whole planet.

Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who have pleasure in them. – Psalms 111:2 (RSV)

I have given some completely invisible scientific theories that have not been disputed and I do not dispute these theories, nor do I reject the science behind them even though they use unseen concepts as their basis of proof. If the unseen can be proven in scientific theory, why is it not acceptable as proof of Deity? How can one dispute the positive impact that God, whether a provable entity or not, has on the most faithful of people? Can we deny that people are moved by their faith in God to be charitable? Can we deny the fact that people are willing to give up their own lives for these beliefs? Can we deny that the truly faithful try to live a life of humility and selflessness? Can we deny the hope that otherwise hopeless people feel when they discover faith? Can we deny the inner strength a person may feel after a sincere prayer?

Faith in God will vary from person to person. It is not a conclusive science, nor will it ever be. It has been said that God is Light. Which is ironic because we can’t see light and we can’t see God either. We can feel the warmth caused by light of the sun and a believer can feel God by the warmth within their soul. Maybe God is imaginary or maybe God is calling and only those with ears to hear and are listening.

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.

I posted this long before I had any followers on the Quest. I figured it was worth dusting off. Enjoy!

The Quest for Light

The opening phrase in the Torah or Genesis 1.1 in Hebrew is “B’raisheet bara”.  The most popular translation is the rendering of “In the beginning”.  This would of course give one the belief that the creation account is chronological and meant to be literal.  While many believe this to be the case one only needs to read the next few sentences to clearly see that it is not chronological at all.  “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. ” (Genesis 1:2)  In reading this sentence literally one can find that water had existed prior to the first creation command of “Let there be light”. 

So when did God create water?  Well, the Bible does not say anything about God creating water.  The Bible only says that God separated the water – “

View original post 833 more words

Maybe, I am a Unitarian..

I am often asked if I am religious or if I am a Christian. It is a question that I have grappled with due to having a contemplative and speculative mind. None of the current mainstream religions really work for me. That being said I have been searching for maybe a lesser known system that exists or may have existed in the past that I may be aligned with, because surely I can’t be the only person who thinks and believes the way I do. I believe in God, but not in the impersonal way that Deism offers. I admire the character of Jesus, but reject the idea that he was God. I had to find a Theistic path to follow so that at the very least I could answer the “What is your religion?” question. Well, I have found an older and re-emerging system that I have a growing affinity to – Unitarianism.

First off, let me be clear that when I say Unitarian, I in no way am referring to the Unitarian Universalist system.

So, what is a Unitarian? There are no official doctrines or dogmas in Unitarianism, which is one of the things I love the most about it. There are a few general precepts that most Unitarians accept and I have included them in the following “profession of faith”:

A Unitarian believes in ONE God and demonstrates their relationship to all of God’s creation with humility and love.

A Unitarian will accept no limiting doctrine or creeds imposed on them or seek to place labels on the way to worship God or seek to restrict how others may relate to Him. They observe all of humanity as one family under the loving care of ONE God.

A Unitarian looks upon Jesus as a moral standard-bearer and takes up their own “cross” rather than pass it off on Jesus or anyone else to bear it for them. They understand that Jesus taught and lived His life to serve as an example for all humankind. Jesus was the embodiment of love and showed us how to become one with God and with each other.

A Unitarian holds the Bible in high regard as an inspired text that contains historical narrative, mythology, archetypal characters, and the most sublime truths. Unitarians also accept the validity of other sacred texts as different interpretations of the same God. They view all of creation as the purest revelation of God.

A Unitarian holds the two-part law of love as forever binding and of the utmost importance: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love everyone as you want to be loved.

It is an odd coincidence that one of my heroes, Thomas Jefferson, was widely believed to be a Unitarian as well as some of the other founders. Aside from that, I find it to be one of the only religious systems that allows the blending of Reason and Religion without casting doubt or placing one as a higher authority over the other. Clearly as a reader of this blog you are a thinker (or maybe a hater who uses me as a heretical example) and perhaps you may have been searching for answers that your religion hasn’t been able to satisfy.

Did Yoda go to heaven?

The final computer-generated Yoda as seen in t...

The final computer-generated Yoda as seen in the film. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I asked this question to a critic I was astounded to find out that Yoda never really existed! OK, all joking aside if you haven’t figured out what I am about to discuss then I will be more direct – Surely, we cannot be arrogant enough to believe that we are the only planet with life forms or that we alone are the only forms of life that our Creator has an interest in amongst the entire universe. That being said, if there is life on other planets are they too required to believe their Creator assumed the form of a being on another planet to atone for their falling short of the laws and ordinances handed down to a being on that same planet? Did these other planets have an Eden? Did they have and Adam and Eve? Do they suffer the burden of Original Sin and the threat of eternal torment because a serpent was able to derail the Divine Plan?

Science has advanced to the extent that we now know the molecular makeup of our bodies. We can fly on an airplane into the same clouds Jesus is said to have ascended into and see no heaven. We know the earth does not have four corners and the stars are not lights in a big canopy. We know that cancer doesn’t care if you are a person of faiths or a person of deeds and neither do deranged gunmen in movie theaters.

But the Bible says…

So much emphasis is placed on Biblical inerrancy and infallibility by mainstream Christianity that few people question it and even less actually read it. The claim of inerrancy and infallibility has on many occasions been refuted and the stance is highly illogical. The men who wrote and redacted the various texts are mostly unknown and no original copies exist. These 2 facts are enough to cast significant doubt as to whether they are true to whatever the originals said (not to mention the KJV Onlyist bunch). Either way, they are cryptic writings that express the opinions of the writers. Writers who openly admit to their own failings, fears, and biases. I am not saying the Bible is useless. That would be grossly irresponsible. It is an ancient text and when you can sort through the myths and the dogmas you do find inalienable moral truths and examples of historical failings that we can all learn from. It has been said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In the Bible people are killed multiple times “in the name of God” and we see when people break the laws of morality than society suffered for it and received (per the Bible) Divine retribution. We should learn from these mistakes.

The Bible is not the sole source of truth..

One can turn to the Kabbalistic texts, the teachings of the Buddha, the philosophy of Plato, and the moral code of Zoroaster to find inspiration and moral guidance equivalent to what they find in the Bible. When the printing press was invented the Bible became readily available to the common man. Is it merely a coincidence that the Age of Enlightenment almost immediately followed? As the Bible became less and less expensive is it coincidental that there was a spike in skepticism? This is not meant to be an attack on the Bible. While I am an advocate of studying it and do so myself regularly, I am not a fan of the dogma of inerrancy and the absolute authority some people feel that it has over every other text.

Back to Yoda..

The origin of the universe and its perpetuity point to a Designer. To me it is clear because something establishes the balance, authored the laws of nature, and weaves it all together. When you look into a child’s eyes you can see the Divine within the innocence. Love and compassion have an eternal thread and collective source. It is that source that according to the Zohar wishes to commune with each of us and makes us one.