Though I don’t consider myself an apologist, I have always defended intelligent design and creationism because I believe the universe has a substructure established by a higher being – an originator and that such a being has no religion. Religion is man’s way of trying to reach who or what we call God but the will of God remains unknown. The strongest and most reliable philosophies are those planted within the emotions, they hijack the passions even before those passions reach the faculty of reason. This is probably why religion is introduced to children at an early stage and I think it is still helpful to society as long as undistorted moral lessons continue to be taught. Any direct attack on religion will backfire.
I also consider the bible a work of literature comprising biographical works, poetry, letters or essays, mythology, folklore, nonfiction and of course fiction etc. It’s not a research work, so I think to question its factual basis is neither here no there. We read such highly fictional works as ‘Harry Potter’, ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Hunger Games’and even ‘Animal Farm’ etc with keen interest and often allow aspects of the story to influence us because we discern some truths in them without requiring any proof. Why then do we dismiss such moving stories as Joseph (Which teaches the reality of sibling rivalry, betrayal and forgiveness), The Prodigal Son (Which teaches valuable lessons in life and fathering), and the story of David (Which teaches practical lessons in leadership)?
All religions teach the inspiring truth, not the (whole) philosophical truth. According to Hegel, truth in philosophy means concept and external reality correspond. It’s not always so with religion. True religion fortifies the soul and the spirit (the inner world) so that it can take on the affairs of the external world. It’s method is that of helping the individual neutralize pain by creating channels through which the individual can have hope – call it selective thinking or perceiving. Pain is severe where there is no hope of resolution. Personally, I’m more interested in the lessons or the substance in any story than its factual basis though that’s also relevant to the understanding of the story.
Note: Many years after Joseph forgave his brothers and welcomed them to Egypt, they still believed he hasn’t truly forgiven them and was only waiting for their father to die for him to carry out his revenge. So they sent a messenger to Joseph as soon as Jacob, their father, died reminding him of the promise of forgiveness he made before their father. They might have been so nervous that they soon followed up themselves, knelt before Joseph and said “we are your servants”and he wept when he saw them (Genesis 50:15). Does one really need all the material/historical facts in order to accept the emotional truth of this story?
You may have been accused, judged, condemned and abandoned by someone who doesn’t really know you. If whatever people say or think about you is not true, why worry? This is an excellent article on fear, which I think I should share. It’s spot on.
Assuming that we know what truth is and how to find it, the question then arises, are there universal existential truths? In other words different people derive different ‘truths’ from same experience of reality. Some even have their own methods of deriving said ‘truths’ and are sure about those methods. How can we tell whether the truth which we derive or perceive is experienced in the exact way as all other conscious beings?
Secondly, what is reality? Something existing in the mind or in the world or both?
You see that tree over there?
You see that kid playing?
You see the house over there?
Do you see the pot plant?
The tree – the child –
The house – the plant.
With regards to the story of the great chronicle of the ancient Israelites, arguably inspired of god and documented in the bible, the reader will notice that there is a huge difference between the god of the old testament and the god of the new. Let’s just assume for the sake of this discussion that those stories were true. One will instantly notice that Moses’s god reflected the character of Moses, a mysterious man and a murderer, whose real name, according to Freud, was Moshe (meaning drawer of water). But he was just what the Hebrews needed at the time. The new testament however reflected the sweet, peace loving, mild mannered and a more rational character of a carpenter’s son called Jesus.
Moses wrote the ten commandments himself. He was said, by Egyptologists, to have been inspired by the moral incantations in the Egyptian book of the dead which was usually buried together with a deceased in a tomb. Moses also advocated ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ mentality whereas Jesus was somewhat opposite by advocating ‘returning good for evil,’ ‘blessing one’s enemies’ and ‘turning the other cheek when slapped.’ I’m sure even the pope will repudiate the literal application of such religious principles. It’s simply too much of idealism but is there really some spiritual truth in self non-defense?
In their forty year or so exodus in the wilderness, the ancient Israelites introduced ‘The Ark of the Covenant of God.’ This was nothing but a deity similar to those found in primitive religions. Literally, a deity is an object or place designated as the dwelling of a god. As the Hebrew tribe progressed towards a more intellectualized society or as their minds could now very well handle abstraction, the gods were rid of their arts and decorations and then came the commandment: ‘Thou shall not make any graven images’…..I’m sure many of you are familiar with this commandment. Think of this. How could Moses present the ten commandments and say,’I, moses, give you infidels and Idolator’s these laws so that you can have a sense of morality.’ They will probably rise up and stone him to death. So he simply said it’s from God.
Each new prophet in the bible revealed an aspect or attribute of the Hebrew god that was initially not known to his followers. By so doing the Hebrew god gradually evolved into a coherent philosophy which needed to be internalized. This was what Jesus finished off after John the baptist. He removed all the unreasonable or unnecessary elements and replaced them with his own ideas about what ought to be or how one ought to live. He was a very rational man but also very compassionate. Note that I’m speaking of Jesus here as a historical figure and the bible simply as literature and subjecting religious writing to a rational interpretation. My conclusion is that all gods exist in and are shaped by human consciousness.
A certain level of pain is necessary for the proper evolution of our thoughts. Sometimes, you can listen to somebody express his or her thoughts and can tell whether those particular thoughts or ideas have undergone much evolution or less evolution. I think pain is necessary in directing our paths towards joy, which is the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.
I’m imperfect and exact.
I have no idealism within me, only raw
Passion – wild and lively and a little crazy.
I talk when excited or agitated.
But most of the time I’m quiet.
I know what I want and that is you.
I still have the list of things I like about you.
I know winning your trust will not be easy.
But I hope you don’t misunderstand me.
Imperfect love, that I can give you.