The Jesus Secret

11/13/2017

The enduring question is this: How can a religion be built around someone who does not figure prominently in that religion’s holy book? I’m talking about Christianity and Jesus, of course.

In order to better understand this question, one has to first go back to the beginning – to Qumran and the origins of Christianity. In biblical times, a small, monastic group of Jews (usually referred to as Essenes) lived in isolation, in the wilderness near the Dead Sea in a place called Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found there some 60 years ago, make quite clear that the origins of Christianity lie in Qumran.

The Essenes were very religious and lived their lives strictly according to the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible (Old Testament). It was out of this community that Jesus and most of the disciples would come. Jesus is commonly referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, but Nazareth is a corruption of the term Nazarene as the Qumran people were sometimes called Nazarenes.

 

Fast forward to immediately after the crucifixion

At that time, the Nazarenes carried on the teachings of Jesus through what was called the Jerusalem Church, which was under the direction of James, the brother of Jesus. It was called the Jerusalem Church because Qumran was considered by the Nazarenes to be the “New Jerusalem.”

After the crucifixion, there were competing versions of the story of Jesus (see Luke 1:1-4). For example, the Jerusalem Church was highly critical of Paul for his false teachings (see the Book of Acts).  In 325 AD, some three hundred years later, a vote of sorts was taken at the Council of Nicaea to finally settle the debate between the competing factions as to which version of Jesus would make it into the Bible. The losers in the vote got branded as heretics.

 

The resurrection

Central to church theology is the story of the resurrection. The mystery of the resurrection is a riddle wrapped inside of an enigma. The only meaningful resurrection account in the Bible is found in the Gospel of Mark and that account does not include any details with respect to the actual resurrection itself. This is where the mystery deepens as almost no one during the time of Jesus believed in a physical resurrection. Yet, there it is anyway in the Gospel of Mark. So, let’s look at what the beliefs of the time about the resurrection actually were:

The disciples

The disciples, themselves, were Jewish and they lived their lives by the Torah. According to prophecy, the messiah that the disciples were expecting was a flesh-and-blood man (like King David), rather than a divine messiah who could resurrect himself after he had died.

Paul

Paul did not believe in the resurrection of the physical body, but rather the spiritual body alone (e.g. he never mentions Jesus having been resurrected in the flesh). Given Paul’s concept of a Christ risen into a new, spiritual body, the resurrection becomes simply an article of faith – a path to inner spiritual knowledge. For example, Paul stated that the body that rises is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 44) and that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 50).

Origen

Early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria (in On First Principles) said that the resurrection related to the spirit, not the mortal body. He considered the concept of a physical resurrection to be for those that did not have eyes to see and ears to hear. The eyes to see and ears to hear, of course, is a famous parable attributable to Jesus. In other words, the resurrection of a physical body was strictly a surface story for the unenlightened.  The real story of a spiritual resurrection could only be understood by those that were very enlightened (and had been initiated into the Mysteries).

Other biblical writers

The gospels of Luke, Matthew and John do not have a resurrection story nor do the epistles of James and Jude, both brothers of Jesus. Of course, there are stories of appearances of Jesus in the gospels but there is no way of knowing if he had died and had been resurrected or if he had simply survived the crucifixion.

Jesus

According to Christian theology, Jesus was crucified, dead and buried (in a tomb).  Later, the tomb was mysteriously opened and Mary Magdalene was told that Jesus had risen. However, immediately thereafter, Mary Magdalene saw Jesus outside of the tomb and Jesus said that he had not yet risen (John 20:17). Obviously, then, he was still alive.

 

Even the one account of the resurrection in the Gospel of Mark has been called into question. The oldest bibles, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, do not include a resurrection story in the Gospel of Mark (the resurrection story in Mark can only be traced back to the Vulgate which is a late 4thcentury text). Further, the authors of the gospels of Luke and John do not contain a resurrection story even though they used copies of Mark (an earlier work) as a source. Therefore, the original Gospel of Mark could not have had a resurrection story in it. It had to be added very late in the game (after the Council of Nicaea in AD 325). Therefore, a central tenet of Christian faith is essentially missing from the Gospels.

Aside: The additional verses added to Mark say that Jesus ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father. One has to ask the question: Who observed this? Exactly who was in heaven to know that Jesus sat next to God and that he specifically sat on the right side of God? Furthermore, how could you possibly give such a commentary without covering the real story – describing God himself?

So, why does any of this matter? Well, without a resurrection, there is no proof that Jesus was divine. The secret concerning Jesus and Christianity is that the church didn’t need the spiritual teachings of Jesus. They simply wanted a messiah in order to sell their religion to the masses.  Accordingly, Christianity would become the new pagan religion of the gentiles.  To gain new converts, they offered up the idea of a universal messiah who they said had come to save the entire world.  In stark contrast, the prophets wrote about the coming of a Jewish messiah who would come specifically to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel. It’s a dirty little secret that you’re not supposed to know…but, of course, now you know.

 

Epilogue

Incidentally, an empty tomb (see above) proves nothing other than Jesus’ body was not there. There is nothing mysterious about his body being “missing” since when Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb, the tomb was open and immediately thereafter she found Jesus standing outside of the tomb. So, his body was not inside the cave/tomb as he was already outside of it. Obviously, he could have been risen at that time only if he had already died first. However, as the Gospel of Philip says, “Those who say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died.”  To understand that passage from the Gospel of Philip, you need to know that the author was concerned with the spirit rather than the body. The physical world was simply something that had to be overcome by resurrecting one’s spirit while they were in the physical world.

So, too, the message of early Christian luminaries like Paul and Origen were hidden under a veil of allegory and symbolism. Only the highly enlightened who were initiated into the Mysteries might be able to comprehend the underlying message.  Similarly, Jesus’ teachings were disguised as parables.  The bible clearly shows that even the disciples could not understand his message. So, why do Christians today believe that they understand his teachings when the disciples didn’t. After all, for the last two thousand years, all that Christians have ever gotten is a bible.

 

 

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:”

    – Paul (1 Corinthians 2:7)

 

“He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them (the masses)…This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.'”

    – Jesus (Matthew 13:11,13)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How was man created? Apparently, in this country there are only two schools of thought – evolution or creation by the Christian god. However, there just might be a third way.

To start with, I disagree with Christians who say that God created the world in seven days and I disagree with atheists who say that there is no God and that we are, therefore, some random, unexplained cosmic accident. So, at the risk of alienating everybody, here’s why I disagree…with just about everybody.

Christianity is a fine religion. I should know since I was raised in a Christian family.  However, there is just one small problem with Christianity. It does not agree with the Bible. Yeah, that’s a problem, isn’t it?

The history of the Church’s teachings has all of the twists and turns of a Dan Brown novel. As Christian theologian Brian McLaren put it, “One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.”  So at the risk of oversimplifying, here’s just a few of the problems with Christianity:

  • The concept of Original Sin is disputed by the Bible itself (see John 9:2-3 and Genesis 8:21).
  • The teachings of Jesus are, for the most part, missing from the Bible.
  • The idea of a messiah was hijacked from Judaism. In the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament), Jewish holy men proclaimed the coming of a messiah but their messiah was totally different from the one that Christianity later promulgated. For example, the messiah of the Old Testament was to be a man, not a divine being, and he would come not to save the entire world but rather to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel.
  • The concept of the Trinity isn’t in the Bible at all.

The Bible, itself, isn’t even an original work in at least one important aspect. The stories about the Garden of Eden and The Flood in the Book of Genesis, which are central to Christian theology, were based on older Sumerian writings, namely the Enuma Elish and The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Enuma Elish, which is sometimes referred to as The Seven Tablets of Creation, was written on seven tablets with the seventh tablet devoted to honoring God. Thus, the origins of the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, from the Hebrew word shabbath (that means day of rest). The use of Sumerian literature by the Hebrew scribes in penning Genesis is quite logical since the Israelites were descendants of the Sumerians through Abraham (as stated in the Bible).

What about atheism, then, and their argument that creation was accomplished through evolution? The interesting thing about the atheists’ argument is that they state that if the Christian god does not exist, then God doesn’t exist. However, they don’t make the same claim about Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or any of the other thousands of different religions. Only Christianity? Why?

The answer as Michael Ruse, an evolutionist himself, admitted, “Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality….” So, the goal of atheism is actually to replace Christianity as the preeminent religion in this country. Why? The answer is that atheism is in reality a political ideology dressed up as an argument about how we were all created.

In that ideology, God must not be allowed to be a part of people’s belief systems. The reason as geneticist Richard Lewontin, an atheist himself, explained, “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a priori commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” So, there it is – atheists cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door, especially in the field of science with respect to their theory of evolution.

Therefore in this debate, Christianity must be put asunder so that another ideology can take its place, an ideology where men have no inalienable rights that come from God, only rights that are specified by the State. And who exactly would the State be in that event? Well, they would mostly be those of white privilege, some of whom who are calling for the extinction of their own white race. Call them the elite, the 1% or whatever…of course, I’m pretty sure that, although they are calling for the extinction of the white race, they are not really calling for their own personal demise. You can’t rule from the grave, now can you?

 

Epilogue

So, if Christianity has these shortcomings, where does that leave us with respect to the existence of God. Well, in this country, many atheists would argue that if Christianity is wrong about the Bible, then God doesn’t exist. That’s such a stretch of logic, or in this case lack thereof, that it doesn’t deserve a response. However, I’ll give one anyway. That is, just because Christianity is wrong about their god, it doesn’t mean that a Creator isn’t responsible for the universe. I’m simply saying that there might be a third way. Now who can argue with that? Well… apparently everyone.

 

 

“When it comes to the origin of life on this earth, there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation (evolution). There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved 100 years ago, but that leads us only to one other conclusion: that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds (personal reasons); therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.“

– George Wald, scientist and Nobel laureate

 

P.S. Wald said there are only two ways, but he didn’t say anything about a Christian god – only supernatural (divine) creation or evolution. He must be in agreement, then, that you can have divine creation without having a Christian god. It’s what I refer to as a “third way” – an explanation for creation that has nothing to do with evolution or original sin.

 

 

The End Times

11/02/2017

Most people, whether religious or not, probably have heard about what is referred to as the End Times.  What few realize, however, is that it should be more aptly called the End of Time.

The reason for this is that when the earth and its inhabitants transition through the End Times, the new reality will not include time. Also, many of the laws of physics will no longer apply. This is a natural occurrence which has been written about in the ancient Mayan and Hindu texts. Life will not end.  It just won’t be the same as it was before. That’s a good thing – believe me.

Everything is energy which is constantly vibrating. The earth, and everything in it and on it, is electro-magnetic energy, including air, water and all life forms.  The rate that this electro-magnetic field vibrates is generally referred to as the Schumann resonance, named after German physicist Winfried Otto Schumann.  In the future, we will simply vibrate faster.

However, what is one to make of Bible prophecy, then, with respect to the End Times?  Well, if  one were able to ask Christian theologian Albert Schweitzer, he would say that the Christian interpretation of the Bible is wrong! The reason is that, according to Schweitzer, the Bible actually states that the End Times would occur in the lifetime of the disciples, and not some 2,000 years later. He would also say that Jesus said that God would send someone who he (Jesus) referred to as the Son of Man to save mankind (rather than himself).

Of course, this may sound like blasphemy to some, but, if you like, you can read it in the Bible for yourself.

 

“Jesus of Nazareth was an apocalyptic prophet who anticipated the imminent end of the age and who warned his Jewish compatriots to repent in view of the cosmic crisis that was soon to come. God, Jesus proclaimed, would intervene in the course of history to overthrow the forces of evil, sending from heaven a divine-like figure called the Son of Man in a cataclysmic act of judgment.  This Son of Man would bring a new order to this world, a utopian kingdom to replace the evil empire that oppresses God’s people.   And this was to occur within Jesus’ generation.”

  – Bart Ehrman, biblical scholar and theologian

 

So, my last post Between Science and Faith brought a chorus of boos from both sides of the aisle. Too bad, because in my opinion you deserve it…and each other. So, let’s review the bidding.

At least in this country, the battle between science and faith boils down to a debate between atheism and Christianity. I refer to it as “Dueling Delusions.” The main sticking point has to do with which side is deemed to be more tied to a “preconceived ideology”. In my opinion, that’s a toss-up since Christianity believes in talking snakes while at least some atheists, who rely on science to describe all things big and small, apparently believe that science can observe beyond space and time and that scientific formulae written on a chalkboard constitute proof.

The underlying problem for Christianity is that it is based on a reinterpretation of scriptures written by Jewish holy men whereby Christianity claims that the writers of the Old Testament (Jewish Bible) didn’t understand what they were writing.  Opposed to that, we have atheism which is an ideology centered around materialism, evolution and naturalism, and which uses cherry-picked scientific theory (not fact) to support its ideology. I say “cherry-picked” because as Nobel laureate George Wald admitted, “Spontaneous generation was disproved 100 years ago, but that leads us only to one other conclusion: that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds (personal reasons); therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.“

The larger question in this debate is why is there a debate at all and why is it only between  atheism and Christianity. Why aren’t the other world religions (of which there are several thousand) included in this discussion? The reason as Michael Ruse, an evolutionist himself, said, “Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality….” So, the debate is not necessarily about who is right but rather it’s about whether atheism can replace Christianity (as the prevailing religion).

As to where I stand in this debate, I simply contend that both sides are based on preconceived ideology. This has resulted in a debate that has gone absolutely no where. Both sides believe in their own dogma, a dogma which is impervious to falsification. As Mark Twain once commented, “It ain’t what you know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

 

Epilogue

This debate, however, is merely a microcosm of the contentious, divisive social arguments one can witness in society today.  In the end, it is not so much an intellectual argument as it is really about who gets to rule and the social/political/economic ideas that each group endorses. It’s “identity politics” at its finest. It’s ultimately about whether the rights of man come from God or the state. That’s why I say that America is at war with itself: verbally, spiritually and politically. You might want to think of it as a Second Civil War. Hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

 

 

So, Christians believe that they are living in sin. Naturally, since, it’s part of Christian theology, which is supposedly based on the story of Adam and Eve. Too bad that the Bible is in disagreement.

According to the Bible, no less than Jesus and God made statements that they disagreed with the concept of Original Sin (see John 9:2-3 and Genesis 8:21, respectively). Of course, the whole issue is probably moot anyway because Judaism doesn’t believe in Original Sin and they wrote the Old Testament – it’s their bible. Enough said.

Heaven and hell is another misconstrued part of Christian theology. It’s somewhat true, although woefully incomplete. At the risk of oversimplifying, heaven is our natural state of existence (where we originally came from if you will) and hell…well hell is right here on Earth. The story of the Fall is loosely based on how man stepped down from a higher plane of existence into this material world.

Keep in mind, the “natural state” of existence is non-physical. That is, life is energy and energy is life and, of course, energy is non-physical. As Einstein put it, energy can neither be created or destroyed. However, it can change form. Thus, if you reduce the vibration rate of energy it will condense, eventually into matter. That’s how man went from Heaven to Hell.

So, if there was no Original Sin and we are already in Hell, why did Jesus come? The better question, however, is this, “If Jesus didn’t preach the concept of Original Sin, why does the Church believe in it?” The answer to that question is that it has to do with the basis of all religions. I call it the selling of salvation. In effect, religion is a barter. You put money into the church coffers and in return you are given the so-called keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. The bottom line is essentially this: If there is no Original Sin, there is no need for salvation and, therefore, no need for a messiah.

All religions are based on a common source of abstract beliefs in the Divine.  Jesus, like other prophets before and after him, taught these “truths” under a veil of allegory and symbolism (and parables in Jesus’ case). The disciples believed that Jesus was the messiah who was prophesied by Old Testament prophets who were expecting a real flesh-and-blood messiah (like King David) who would deliver them from their enemies and reestablish the Kingdom of Israel. Of course, it never happened.

Some two thousand years later, we’re still waiting for the Old Testament prophecies to come true. According to prophecy, all we need is a messiah named Immanuel; for the entire world to accept the Jewish god; and for all the Jews to return to their homeland. That last one is a bit problematic as the Jewish homeland, according to the Bible, is Judea and Samaria while the present day state of Israel for the most part does not encompass those territories.

If you believe in the Old Testament prophecies, it looks increasingly unlikely that a messiah will ever return. If one could ask twentieth century Christian theologian Albert Schweitzer, he’d no doubt say that Jesus should have returned in the lifetime of the disciples (if he was the messiah). At least, that was what he said in his book The Quest for the Historical Jesus. 

…and that was not just his opinion, but rather what the Bible, itself, said.

 

 

“One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.” – Christian theologian Brian McLaren

Man’s been blessed, and cursed, with the desire to know. So many questions, but so few answers. Yet, through it all, man seems to think that he knows all the answers…. How curious.

Some would say that God definitely exists and they would recall stories from ancient times about what he did and even quote what he supposedly said. Others, just as confidently, would say that a creator does not exist and that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt the secrets of the universe (the origins of life)…. How arrogant.

Fortunately, man has the capabilities of imagination and intuition. Through these abilities he can glimpse beyond space and time into the unknown. As Jung put it, “The psyche is not restricted to space and time alone.” However, what man would find there is beyond man’s brain to comprehend (i.e. the finite cannot understand the Infinite)…. Just ask Einstein.

In the world beyond, everything is upside down (so to speak). Our laws of physics do not apply there. Nevertheless, mystics and prophets have attempted to describe it. The prophet Isaiah was said to have actually seen God sitting on a throne, with his long robe filling the temple (Isaiah 6:1). Both Ezekiel and the author of the Book of Revelation also had visions in which they experienced strange, indescribable sights….So who can properly interpret what they saw?

Aside: Not even they knew of what they saw.  They simply described, in earthly terms, things that could not be described purely in earthly terms.

The sad truth is that man’s memory banks have been wiped clean and his DNA has been manipulated to restrict his evolution. He can ask all the questions he wants but he can not ever know the unknowable. All that man can really do is experience – his life that is. Although man experiences his life as being real, there is really no way to know for sure. Perhaps, we are all just characters in someone else’s movie….At least that’s what I saw.

 

 

You may put a telescope into the hands of a man who is blind, and bid him to look at some distant star, or on some lovely landscape. He tells you he sees nothing. Well, his witness is true. So the Agnostic affirms of all supernatural religion, that he knows it not. His witness also is true. But if the blind man goes further, and asserts, that because he sees nothing there is nothing to see, his assertion is untrue and his witness is worthless because he speaks beyond the range of his capacity. Such is the true value of the natural man’s opinion when he declares his mind on spiritual things.”Evan H. Hopkins

 

This is kind of an old topic, but it is one that seems to never die. That is, does God exist? The debate between deists and atheists typically is centered around the Christian god with atheists rejecting God simply because they reject Christianity.  To be fair, though, there are some 4,200 religions in the world and the Christian god, therefore, is just one of 4,200 gods .

So, I pose these questions: In order to be intellectually honest, do atheists need to reject all 4,200 gods before declaring themselves to be atheists? And exactly what makes Christians feel that their god, amongst all of the 4,200 gods, is the one and only?

While my interest in this debate wanes by the day, I feel that it’s still worth a mention. To begin with, religious beliefs are claims rather than the truth. Holy books, however, may be considered to be the truth by a believer, even if it’s based solely on their faith. On the other hand atheism, is a religion too.  Michael Ruse, an evolutionist himself, admitted that, “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion-a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality…Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”

Scientists of all stripes have weighed in on this debate. Here’s a few thoughts from some of the great minds of science:

“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

Note: According to Wikipedia, Spinoza believed that “…everything is a derivative of God,  interconnected with all of existence.” Further, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that Spinoza’s God is an “infinite intellect.”

 

“The universe does not exist ‘out there,’ independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators.”

– John Wheeler, physicist

“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

– Carl Sagan, astronomer

Note: Of course, Sagan was admitting that there is super- intelligence in the cosmos, an intelligence which can think, extrapolate… and “know itself”.

 

“Our brains mathematically construct objective reality by interpreting frequencies that are ultimately projections from another dimension, a deeper order of existence that is beyond both space and time….”

– Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe

 

“Life is the most mysterious of all the wonders of creation because atoms have been assembled in such a way so that they can ponder their own existence.”

– Martin Rees, astrophysicist

 

“The secret of DNA’s success is that it carries information like that of a computer program, but far more advanced. Since experience shows that intelligence is the only presently acting cause of information, we can infer that intelligence is the best explanation for the information in DNA.”

Jonathan Wells, molecular biologist

 

“To me, it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”

– Michio Kaku, physicist

 

“Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe that was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”

– Arno Penzias, physicist

 

“It is easy to understand why many scientists like Sir Fred Hoyle changed their minds in the past thirty years. They now agree that the universe, as we know it, cannot reasonably be explained as a cosmic accident.”

– Frederic B. Burnham, historian of science

 

and philosophers:

 

“Beyond all finite experiences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas and principles, there is an Intelligence or Mind, the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded.”

– Plato

 

and atheists:

 

“When it comes to the origin of life on this earth, there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation (evolution). There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved 100 years ago, but that leads us only to one other conclusion: that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds (personal reasons); therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.”

– George Wald

“Super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.”

– Antony Flew

 

These gentlemen hardly referred to God at all in explaining the origins of life. Therefore, I would suggest that the vast majority of concepts/perspectives about God (both pro and con) are incomplete, at best. Since the word God is generally associated with religion, I believe that it would be preferable to use the term “creator” instead.

 

Of course if there is a creator, he doesn’t have to be the god of any religion, now does he? So, if any of you are hung up over the illogic of religion, especially Christianity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no God. It may simply mean that you have been looking for him in all the wrong places and calling him by the wrong name.

 

 

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.”

Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read a post the other day where a reader commented that one should follow God’s will. That comment immediately raised a couple of questions, at least for me. First off, how do we know that God has a will? At first blush, maybe that seems like a pretty innocuous question. However, how does anyone really know? After all, The Pascal Wager states that, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible” (i.e. the finite cannot conceive of the Infinite).

That, of course, begs the second question. That is, what kind of a life form might God be? However, we first probably need to define “will,” as in God’s will. The Free Dictionary says that will is “The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action.” In that case, I suppose, God has to be considered to be some sort of a physical life form. The Bible confirms this as it says that God was a man, specifically referring to God as Him.

Aside: Of course if God was a man, then who created God?

Now, I know that some people would say that God does not have to be a Him; that God could be a She or even an It. Fair enough. However, consider this. Some researchers/historians, myself included, believe that the Genesis story (in particular the Creation and Flood stories) was borrowed from older Sumerian writings.

Aside: That was only natural, in a way, since the Israelites actually were descendants of the Sumerians through Abraham.

In the ancient Sumerian writings, God (or more accurately the gods) is referred to as Him because he actually is a man – a real flesh and blood man. This is why the Bible says that man (Adam) was created in God’s image, (i.e. the image of a male, human being).

Aside: That is, man and God have nearly identical DNA.

Naturally, all of this raises more questions than it answers. For example, is God the Prime Creator? Well, certainly, the god of Genesis was the creator of man, at least the modern-day version of Homo sapiens. As for being the creator, the Bible actually says that God is not the Prime Creator. In Deuteronomy 32:8-9, it states, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s (Yahweh) portion is his people; Jacob (Israel) is the lot of his inheritance.” This shows that Yahweh was, at best, a lower god since Yahweh was subordinate to the Most High. Further, in John 1:18, John says that ““No one has ever seen God.” Of course, John was speaking about the spirit form of God, so the physical god of Genesis could not be God, according to John.

Back to the issue of God’s will. If God was an intelligent life form with a physical body, by definition he would almost certainly have a will. God then might impose his will on man, if he so chose, similar to what happened in so many of the biblical stories. The problem is that the so-called god of Genesis is not God, as in the Prime Creator. In that case, why worry about god’s will at all? Indeed, why even worship Yahweh?

…Or perhaps, the “god concept” is really just a distraction to keep us from connecting with our real Creator.

 

Epilogue

As Yahweh told man, you shall have no other gods before you. Hopefully, you can now see how that Bible verse makes some sense. That is, there were many Yahweh-type entities running around in ancient times. Yahweh was simply one of many (see Deuteronomy 32:8-9 above). In fact, the Israelites were polytheistic for thousands of years, even after Moses. Yahweh was an important god but the goddess Asherah was just as important, perhaps even more so. However, with the introduction of monotheism, the Israelites were told to have no other gods before them – and certainly not the gods of the Sumerians, the gods of Abraham.

 

The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”  – Carl Sagan

 

P.S. Of course, “the universe” Sagan mentions is not a life form (i.e. it cannot know itself). When reading his quote, therefore, you need to replace the word “universe” with the word “Creator”.

According to the Bible, man was created to till the Garden, of Eden that is.  It’s part of a recurring thread that runs through the Bible.  I’m talking about slavery, servitude or whatever term one may choose to refer to it.

In Exodus, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God. In addition, he also receives a multitude of other laws and instructions that was referred to as the Book of the Covenant (see Exodus 24:7). One of the more interesting things in the Book of the Covenant is the discussion of slavery. The text goes like this:

If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing…And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do (Exodus 21:2,7).”

The Israelites had so sooner been freed from slavery in Egypt than they enslaved others, including their own kind (Hebrews). A man could even sell his daughter into slavery. So, slavery is actually permitted by God himself; it’s even a part of the Tenth Commandment. Is there a biblical precedent for this?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact there is. In Genesis 9:24-27, it says, “And he (Noah) said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. And God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Apparently, the only righteous person that God could find believed in the concept of slavery, in this case condemning many of his own descendants into servitude.

However, the origins of slavery actually go back further, all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was in the Garden that man was created to till the garden. Yes, to till the ground, to dress it and to keep it, just like it says in Genesis 2:5,18.

Contrary to popular belief, then, man was not created for the express purpose of worshiping God, or to be fruitful and multiply for that matter. With respect to procreation, Eve was an afterthought (see Genesis 2:18-24 and 1 Corinthians 11:9) and Adam and Eve did not have children until after they left the Garden. Besides, prior to eating from the Tree of Knowledge, man was unaware of his sexuality. This is what was meant by the passage in Genesis 2:25 which states that Adam and Eve were naked and they were not ashamed.

God could have condemned slavery at any point in man’s evolution, not unlike his condemnation of taking a human life (in the Ten Commandments) or his admonition not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (in Genesis 2). Of course, free will being what it is, man was going to make less than perfect choices. That was to be expected. In fact, an omniscient God would have known that it would happen (even before he created man he would have known). However, God never took a stand. He never said that it was wrong. There wasn’t even any punishment for it. What’s wrong with this picture?

There are only a couple of possibilities to explain all of this. Stop me if you have heard this from me before. Either God isn’t very godly (in fact, he wasn’t even omniscient), or the god of Genesis is not God. Your choice. Myself, I would simply say that the god of Genesis was the very source of the cultural mores that said that slavery was acceptable. After all, he created man to till the garden, didn’t he?

 

“Much that the Bible says about him (God) is rarely preached from the pulpit because, examined too closely, it becomes a scandal.”

   – Jack Miles, God: A Biography

 

 

 

 

 

The origins of the Jewish people are a real mystery. That is, there is little to no evidence of exactly who they were, not even in the Old Testament (which is essentially a history of the Jewish race).

The Jewish people believe that their roots go back to the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible). For example, in the Old Testament, the Jewish people are called Israelites and prior to that Hebrews. However, these designations only appear in the Bible and they have never been placed in the context of ancient history. So, let’s explore who the Jewish people really were.

Biblically speaking, the origins of man, and by definition the Jewish people, goes back to the Garden of Eden. Now, the Garden of Eden is generally considered by biblical scholars to have been in the Middle East. Where, exactly, has been somewhat difficult to pin down, however. The Bible does say, though, that Abraham and his family came from the city of Ur and since Ur was located in the ancient Mesopotamian kingdom of Sumer, Abraham was by definition a Sumerian. Since Abraham was a Sumerian, so too were the Jewish people since they were Abraham’s descendants.

Family trees aside, there is virtually no real history in the Bible prior to Abraham. For a period covering over one thousand years, all that we have is two stories, the Creation Story and the Flood Story. The elephant in the room is this. Why is there no real family history of the Jewish people prior to Abraham? Why?

Since Abraham and his family were Sumerians, let’s start by examining Sumerian history. Now, the Sumerians were perhaps the greatest civilization that ever existed on the planet up until the 20th century, far beyond that of the vaunted Greek civilization that came over 1,000 years later. What’s important to realize is that the origins of Western Civilization go back much farther than Greece. Their origins actually go all the way back to Sumer, as the Sumerians almost single-handedly invented civilization.

Samuel Kramer, in his book History Begins at Sumer, lists 39 “firsts in history” which began in Sumer, including the first written language. The Sumerians wrote the first Great Flood and Creation stories, long before Genesis was penned by Jewish scribes. Not surprisingly, many historians and scholars have concluded that the Bible’s own creation and flood stories are actually of Sumerian origin, drawn from more ancient Sumerian texts. When you think about it, why shouldn’t the Jewish scribes have patterned their creation and flood stories after Sumerian writings. The Jewish people were Sumerians, after all. The Sumerian writings were their legacy.

The Jewish people wandered around the Middle East for the better part of two thousand years – from Sumer to Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) to Egypt to Judea and Samaria (modern-day Israel) and then on to captivity in Babylon in the 6th century B.C. When they wound up in Babylon, their journey had come full circle back to ancient Sumer, as Babylon would have been part of Sumer if it had existed back then. When the Jewish people were in captivity in Babylon, the Persians ruled over most of the Middle East, the Achaemenid Empire it was called with Babylon as its capitol. The Jewish people thus became a very tiny minority within that empire.

Up until that time, no civilization on Earth had a monotheistic religion except one, the Persians. The Persians’ religion is called Zoroastrianism. Their God is named Ahura Mazda and he was considered to be omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.  Creation was accomplished in six days and began with a single couple. Just like Moses, the Persian prophet Zoroaster received God’s commandments on the top of a holy mountain. Perhaps, you can already see where I am going with this.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Up until this point, the Israelites were basically polytheistic. However, their beliefs were about to get a face-lift as Israelite culture would collide head-on with the religion (Zoroastrianism) of the ruling Persians. Furthermore, in Babylon, they came face-to-face with their forgotten past as the ancient Sumerian texts had been preserved and were available for the Jewish scribes to read.

The mixture of these elements was tantamount to cultural dynamite and the result was the Old Testament and a new radical worldview – monotheism.  Over time, monotheism would spread around the world through Christianity and then Islam.  As for the Sumerians, they have been all but forgotten… although, today, some of them constitute what is commonly referred to as the Jewish people.

 

Epilogue

A genetic study of Ashkenazi Jews traced the roots of many Jewish people to just four women whose genetic origins come from an unknown source. It appears that their unknown genetic origins may have been confirmed by a DNA study done by the Harvard Medical School, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. That study found that ancient man had sex with an unknown species. Yes, the Ashkenazi Jews and ancient man both received DNA from an unknown species – unknown to everyone, except for the Sumerians who wrote about it in their ancient texts. They referred to this DNA as the DNA of the gods. This, then, was the legacy of the Sumerians – a bloodline that reached back to the gods, a bloodline which, by virtue of its genetics, gave them and their descendants a divine right to rule.

 

“With stunning abruptness… there appears in this little Sumerian mud garden… the whole cultural syndrome that has since constituted the germinal unit of all the high civilizations of the world.”

   – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God