Posts Tagged With: faith in god

IN GOD’S IMAGE

A few years back, the late author and intellectual, Christopher Hitchens, wrote a book entitled-“God Is Not Great,” which, in my opinion, contained a very provocative concept. Hitchens stated that-“God did not create man. It’s the other way around. Man created God.” His theory was that because of man’s fear of the unknown, and of death, man had to create a being greater than himself, to provide comfort from the stresses of living, and an after-life to alleviate the fear of death. Over the millions of years these belief systems ¬†evolved, first into pagan religions that worshipped idols, and then into the formal religions that we have today such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. But all these religions have one thing in common; they are all man-made. The Hebrew old testament, the Christen new testament, the Moslem Koran, etc. were all written by men. Not a single word was scripted by God. This, of course, left man, or at least the men that were writing these bibles, which went on to serve as the underpinnings of their religions, a free hand to create God in whatever image they desired. So let’s examine how man created at least one of these major religions, Christianity, since it’s the primary belief system in the U.S. And, of course, the time of year when Christianity is most celebrated.

While the new testament supposedly convey’s a message of love, compassion, empathy and respect for your fellow human beings, many conservative Christian pastors don’t quite see it that way. For example, North Carolina pastor Charles Worley (who has a huge following) recently sermonized about creating a gay concentration camp. “Have the fence electrified so the homosexuals can’t get out. In a few years they’ll die out… because they can’t reproduce.”

Or how about Kansas pastor Curtis Knapp, who, during a recent sermon about homosexuality, stated-“Oh, so you’re saying that we should go out and start killing them? No, I’m saying the Government should. They won’t, but they should.” Or maybe the colorful language expressed by Indiana pastor Paul Brewster might be considered more vivid when he said-“A decision to allow same-sex marriages today lays the foundation for the definition of marriage to become silly putty tomorrow…which is a recipe for children to be made victims of all sorts of abuse, and the welfare of our society to receive a fatal blow.” I would also be remiss if I left out Maryland’s pastor Dennis Letterman’s shouts from the pulpit, when referring to homosexuals-“Kill them all. Right? My flesh kind of likes that idea.”

Perhaps we should put pastor Steven Anderson of Arizona at the top of the homophobic and Obama hate list. A few of his recent quotes will show why. “Let me tell you something: Barack Obama has wrought lewdness in America. America has become lewd…. Obscene. Dirty Filthy. Homosexuality. Promiscuity… We don’t even know what lewdness means anymore. We’re just surrounded by it. Inundated with it.” Or how about, when referring to President Obama, stating-…you’re going to tell me that I’m supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide, who wants to see young children or babies killed through abortion….No, I’m not gonna pray for his good. I’m gonna pray that he dies and goes to hell….When I go to bed tonight, that’s what I’m going to pray.”

Well, you might say. These are just small time hate-mongers preaching to like minded rubes in the hinterlands. Okay, then let’s hit the big time. One such prime-time pastor is Mark Driscoll who preaches every Sunday to over 7000 congregants at the Mars Hill mega church in Seattle, WA. Besides his attendees, hundreds of thousands more people are estimated to watch his sermons on YouTube every week. He’s been preaching for over 15 years and he doesn’t view Jesus, or Christianity as being all that empathetic. Recently he stated that-“Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist. He has a long wick, but the anger of his wrath is burning. Once the wick is burned up, he’s saddling up on a white horse and coming to slaughter his enemies and usher in his kingdom. Blood will flow.”

Can’t you just feel the love. In 2007 Driscoll sneered at Christians who “recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in his hair.” Instead he said that”Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in his hand and the commitment to make somebody bleed.” Of course, preaching a violent rather than peaceful or loving form of Christianity has a long history in the U.S. In the early part of the 20th century the Reverend Billy Sunday developed an immense following by sermonizing about the fires of hell and damnation that await all sinners, which included just about everybody older than nine. In the 1930s, Father Coughlin had a huge radio audience as he spewed forth a particularly virulent form of anti-semitism.

Not that other religions don’t spew forth hate and violence as well, all in the name of God. A prime example being the mullahs in various mosques around the world ranting on about Islamic Jihadism. But I don’t put the blame on any of these sermonizers. They’re just giving their audiences what they want to hear. As long as so many people in this world possess such huge quantities of hate and vitriol, you can bet that preachers in all religions will arise to give them what they’re asking for. If the demand is there opportunists will come forth to provide the supply. If, as Christopher Hitchens said, man created God, then man also has the option of defining or redefining God in any manner that’s suitable to his whims.

 

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IS GOD LISTENING?

Apparently not, at least regarding the recent devastation left in the wake of deadly tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and other parts of the country. Scores of people lost their lives for the simple infraction of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many others survived the storms with their lives intact, but lost their homes and all other material possessions. Yet the most intriguing facts of these events were that they occurred smack in the middle of the bible-belt states; and that those who did survive the storms only to lose their homes and all other possessions, nevertheless, professed that their faith in God had not been shaken one iota. If anything, their faith was only made stronger by the misery surrounding them. And why not? When reality is so brutal and destructive, as in the case of these storms, the soft cushion of delusion is so much more comfortable to sink into. Keep in mind also, that the material losses these people suffered will likely be replaced by insurance companies and Government assistance. So being homeless with no possessions will likely be a short term proposition for almost all that were affected. Thus, I for one would be the last person to tell these people to forsake their delusions that God is looking out for their best interests. At this point, what else do those that so tragically suffered, (the loss of a child, for example) have to fall back on.

But it raises the question of why events that humans have no control over,(hurricanes, deadly blizzards, earthquakes, etc.) often take their heaviest toll on those who have the strongest traditional beliefs in God, as espoused in both the old and new testaments. To put it more bluntly, why do bad things happen to good people. In fact, there was a book written some years ago with just that title. ¬†Seems that the author’s view was that God was just testing the strength of our faith. Also, we only exist in this lifetime for such a small amount of time, whereas we’re over on the other side for, like, all eternity, so what difference does it make in the first place. Not very comforting answers as far as I’m concerned. So the following is my view as to why devastation occurs to some and not others, and why some people who seem to be as pure as the driven snow often die young, while other miserable, evil, lowlifes can lead full and enjoyable lives into a very ripe old age. Think Mafia leaders, serial killers who are not caught, tyrants and despots who often slaughter their own people by the thousands, and other miscreants. So here are my theories as to why all this transpires. The gospel according to me.

First of all, I’m not an atheist. I do believe that there is a higher power out there; I just don’t know what that higher power is. It could be the total collective energies of all living beings in the universe. Whatever that power is, I’m pretty sure it’s not an old man with a long white beard, wearing a white toga, and sitting on a golden throne somewhere in the heavens, as often portrayed in classical works of art. In fact, if God did have a gender, I would think it would more likely be female, since women provide the initial source of life. Secondly, I believe the bibles, both the old and new testaments, to be, basically, a collection of fable, mythology and superstition. Much the same as was written about Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, and the other gods in ancient Greek mythology. Religious fundamentalists believe the bibles to be the word of God. The trouble is, both testaments were written 100% by men, not God. Yes, there are some fascinating stories in both bibles, much the same way that Greek mythology had fascinating tales to pass on from one generation to the next. But, they were still completely written by men and contain all the fears, superstitions and myths that people over 2000 years ago possessed. And did I mention that they’re laden with one contradiction after another; i.e., is it an eye for an eye, or do we turn the other cheek.

So, in the gospel according to me, the Hebrew and Christian bibles are of little value. What is of interest, however, are a long list of near death experiences by hundreds of people, just in the past 50 years or so. While this is purely anecdotal, the similarity of these NDEs, and the volume of their happenings, would appear to suggest the existence of a spiritual after-life. And if such an after-life does exist, logic would indicate that a higher being also exists that has orchestrated this entire scenario. (Be advised, however, that some people who stopped breathing for several minutes, and then were brought back to life, did not experience the traditional NDE event. There was no light for them to go into, and no being waiting to welcome them with deep love. There was just- nothingness. So the possibility of an after-life is not necessarily a slam dunk. What you have now may be all you’ll ever get.)

But as I’ve said, the prevailing anecdotal evidence would suggest the existence of a higher being who created the mechanisms to get this whole universe thingy into motion. But once having done so, God, in effect, sat back and said his work was done, and all you living creatures out there are pretty much on your own. At least until you leave this material dimension, and enter his spiritual dimension. You may be on your own there too; who knows. Remember, it’s not just the 7 billion people on planet Earth that are involved. If God is omnipotent, then his realm is the entire universe where gazillions of planets exist housing gazillions of living creatures. It would unreasonable to expect God to be personally involved in the events of anyone of these life forms. And that is why bad things often happen to good people or vice versa.

It’s called randomness. Flip a coin a hundred times and it will like land close to 50 heads and 50 tails. Flip it 1000 times, and the 50-50 split will likely be very close indeed. So when you hear stories of how this couple prayed mightily to God to save their child who was in dire peril, and God answered their prayers and saved their daughter from some terrible affliction, remember that it could just as easily gone the other way. And often did for some parents whose children were not saved in similar circumstances. Like in the recent carnage at the school in Connecticut. I’m sure all the parents of those school children affected, prayed with ever ounce of their being that their child would not be one of the casualties, as they raced to the scene of that horrendous crime. And for most parents, their prayers were seemingly answered. But for 20 sets of parents, it appeared that God was indifferent to their pleas. Just call it the randomness of the universe. And you can take that as gospel.

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