Posts Tagged With: old and new testaments

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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THE FUN GODS

When I was in college, I was an avid reader and devotee of Greek mythology. I loved reading Homer’s- “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” and other literature about the antics of the Greek gods. They were always getting into all kinds of trouble and mischief when they sought to meddle in human affairs. There was, of course, Zeus and Hera, king and queen of all the gods, up there on Mount Olympus. Then there was Aphrodite, the goddess of love and desire, whom I’m sure you’re all familiar with, and who needs no further explanation. Apollo was the god of learning and enlightenment, although a little on the vain side, I guess because of his good looks. Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games. Ares was the god of war, always dripping with blood and causing mammoth destruction. His female counterpart, Athena, was less bloody and more of the intellectual force behind war making. And we can’t leave out Hades who was king of the underworld, where the spirit went after death. Not a fun place to be according to Greek mythology. Artemis was the virgin goddess of the hunt, sort of the direct opposite of Aphrodite. Among the major gods was also Poseidon, god of the seas. I guess we can blame major tsunamis on him. One other significant figure was Pan, god of the forests who was half satyr. He was always playing his flute, and being the playful sort, sought to lighten man’s burdens whatever they may have been. In addition, among mortals who became god-like were mighty Achilles, hero of the Trojan War, and Odysseus, another hero of that war, who encountered numerous adventures over several decades, on his journey home from that war.

I always felt what fun times it must have been to live in ancient Greece and have to contend with the exploits of these gods and goddesses on almost a daily basis. All this came to mind last night, when I watched parts of a new series on the History Channel called “The Bible.” Aside from some ham-fisted overacting, and really cheesy settings and costumes, this series tends to depict a very literal translation of the old and new testaments. And sure enough, the series shows how the playfulness and antics of the Greek gods are now replaced by the stern and wrathful actions of the Judeo-Christian god. It’s like one of the 10 commandments states that: “Thou shall not engage in any form of frivolity, whatsoever.” So there is the god of the old testament flooding the world thru 40 days and nights of rain, and killing every living thing except for Noah and his family and some animals he managed to schlep on board his ark. And there is god hurling balls of fire down on Sodom because of the supposedly wicked ways that occurred within the city’s confines. Or turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, because, heavens forbid, she dared to look back to see Sodom being turned a smoldering ash heap. Not quite the fun stuff encountered in Greek mythology.

So if the game afoot is a literal translation of the bible, I feel it leaves us with some unanswered questions. Lets start at the beginning with the whole Garden of Eden fiasco. First there was Adam and Eve, who had two sons, Cain and Abel. The world now has 4 people in it. Cain kills Abel (already mankind is off to a very bad start) and the world population is now down to three. Then some cockamamie fable is put forth that a talking snake seduces Eve into eating an apple from the tree of knowledge. God becomes wrathful again and expels Adam, Eve and Cain from the Garden of Eden. What nonsense. I have it on very good authority, that the reason for the expulsion was that Adam and Eve were underwater on their property mortgage. I mean, it’s not like Adam was a high roller on Wall Street. In fact, he had no visible means of support. He got behind on his mortgage  payments for Eden, and god foreclosed on this property the way banks foreclose on properties today. It makes much more sense than that whole talking snake/forbidden fruit gambit. But the real mystery lies in what happened after the expulsion. When we last viewed the situation, there were 3 people in the world, Adam, Eve, and Cain. But after exiting Eden suddenly we discover that there are all these multitudes of people beyond Eden’s gates. Where, the hell, did they come from? I have heard no theologian offer a plausible explanation for that one.

Let’s also examine that Noah’s Ark fable I mentioned before. God decides, once again, that mankind is comprised of nothing but despicable  lowlifes, and decides to kill them all off, except for Noah and his family. He tells Noah to build an ark, and ride out the next 40 days as the world becomes flooded. But Noah also has to bring aboard his ark one male and female member of every animal species on Earth, so life can carry on as before all this deluge unpleasantness. Laying aside the fact that you would need an ark about the size of Russia to house all these creatures, where would you store 6 weeks of food supplies. It’s not like they had refrigeration in those days. And how would you arrange it so that the lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards and other meat eaters, didn’t devour the sheep, lambs, goats, zebras, and other defenseless animals. And which family members were assigned the joyous tasks of shoveling out the shit from the animal quarters every morning. Nevertheless, there are millions of people, today, who believe in a literal translation of both the old and new testaments, and many are actively looking to find remnants of Noah’s ark, especially on the mountain where it supposedly landed.

One last thing. In both bibles, god is actively present in mankind’s affairs. In the old testament, he is continually setting forth instructions for Abraham to follow which subsequently leads to the formation of both the Hebrew and Arabic nations. He parts the Red Sea, so Jews can escape from the despotic slavery they were subjected to in Egypt. He gives Moses the 10 commandments so the Israelites can live in his ways. The new testament is, of course, all about Jesus and his teachings and ascendency into heaven. But once Jesus has risen, not a peep. Not a word, not even a fireball, in 2000 years. Where has god been all this time. He could try to communicate through some type of Skype arrangement, or at least send us a tweet or an e-mail. But there’s been nothing. Although I surmise that god is kind of an old-fashioned type of guy, and doesn’t cotton much to computers or I-Phones.

In any event, I still think that, if one is going to take religion seriously, the gods in the old Greek mythology were a hell of a lot more fun to believe in. And maybe next time I’ll explain to you why there are 10 commandments, instead of, say, 8 or 11 or 13.

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