The commonest statement I have heard since infancy is: “The Jew loves you that’s why he died to save you.” I asked them: “When did he die?” They answered: “Two thousand years ago.” Ah! but I didn’t exist then and what am I saved from anyway? What are they talking about? Dear readers, I do believe in love but I have a question. Can someone die (out of love) to save you at a time you didn’t exist?
What do people mean by positivity? Offering half truths? And hoping for the best outcomes. There is an objective reality that is much different and independent of thoughts and feelings. Different cultures have different truths but one cannot live in all cultures at the same time. One lives in only one society at a time and therefore the universally acceptable morality within such a society applies. What one feels is one’s truth but only as regards “the self” not the external world of matter.
I have encountered many people present nefarious ideas as “truth” simply in the name of “positivity”. Whoever teaches that the universe conforms to our thoughts and feelings must test his or her assertions by writing a job application, put it under his or her pillow and simply wish for a job. It’s an experiment. Or wish to travel from one location to another and then suddenly, since the universe conforms to our wishes, one’s destination is brought to one’s doorstep, thus saving one from the arduous journey. It’s another experiment. I’m sure the proponents of “positivity” or selective truths will oppose such logical applications of their own philosophy. So what then do they mean by “positivity?” Must we dilute or sugarcoat the truth? Is that not immoral? Could the scribes not have simply said that Stephen died after being stoned? Why did they write that he fell asleep. Sleep is completely different from death.
I’m a realist and I believe that in order to be sure of what’s happening in every single aspect of our lives we ought to perceive our social world with as much realism as possible. Our consciousness has to be as clear as a flowing stream. It’s the only way to perceive the whole truth to the bottom and there is some comfort and inspiration in finding the whole truth – both positive and negative.
I had argued with myself on several occasions as to why an almighty being will need rest at all. It was only six days, and he had created man, his finest handiwork and had retired the next day. I suspect he must have created the ape earlier, either to keep himself company or to mock man especially fearing that man, his finest creature, will eventually betray him and go out of control. Ofcourse gods have fears too. They fear that their subjects might abandon them and once abandoned they cease to exist. It happened many centuries ago in far away Europe where Heine attested to seeing the abanboned gods Zeus, Hera, Apollo, etc including their roman relatives in exile on a distant island with a hairless goat who later turned out to be one of thier human servants. They had been driven away by a new protestant god. Under such circumstances, the old gods lived as refugees and took on such menial jobs as wood chopping, says Heine. In Africa, things were a little different. The old gods fled in tumult and instead, took possession of rivers, rocks and trees. They didn’t flee into exile because apart from Madagascar there were no islands in Africa.
Interestingly, it was not mentioned anywhere in the bible that the Jewish god ever resumed work after the seventh day. Could it be that he never resumed work and had similarly fled into exile following the divine tragedy involving Angel Lucifer and his cohorts. Or he likely may have retired to some distant island and let humanity devise ways and means of settling their own disputes? And was that not a good thing for a god to have done for himself since he was already tired while the devil was always working? Could it be that the evil demon is more hard working since he never needed rest? If Lucifer rested a day, all of the world’s problems will be solved that very day and humanity will regain consciousness.
Anyway, so much to ruminate on this sunday. I believe I have, at least, reminded you of interesting questions as regards the genesis anecdote and god’s boredom after the sixth day. “Let there be light” and yay there was light! How amazing. Why can’t this be simply followed by “Let there be peace” for the world to experience peace and….”Let there be joy” for everyone to be healed and be happy? I guess it will be too much work. Happy rest day.
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?
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.
Hume’s answer, that, by coping with a smaller evil humanity could avert greater evil did not answer the question of the problem of evil. The question was not about how to avert a greater evil but rather “from where comes evil?”
What we call “God” and what we call “the Devil” refers to the same entity. That’s obviously a mad logic of our existence. But He says right here:
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” — Isaiah 45:7
So next time we go through some pain and suffering, let us look to the Lord. Perhaps he creates evil and causes suffering to fortify our souls. So yes! God can be benevolent or malevolent depending on who he is dealing with.
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them,
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
“An honest man has never grown.”–Socrates
“The kingdom of heaven is within you.”–Leo Tolstoy
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”–Buddha
I quote furthermore,
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven (mind), where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”
Here we can see that Jesus was encouraging his followers to acquire wisdom or something in relation to the intellect. Note that many of his disciples were practically unlettered.
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments:
Do not commit adultery,
Do not kill,
Do not steal,
Do not bear false witness,
Honour thy father and thy mother.
And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing:
“Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said:
“How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
Thus from this, I conclude that the kingdom of God means nothing other than peace of mind; in so far us we are being discouraged to pursue material comforts. If one has no property in this fallen world, then one has nothing to lose and if one has nothing to lose, then why worry? No property equals peace. And when one has peace (both inner and outer) then one has everything, for the flesh belongs to the devil and is condemned to end up in the grave whereas the soul strives towards the divine.
Note: I treat Jesus as a real man who once lived, whose occupation was carpentry and who later became a truthful preacher and a humanist.