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”.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, I was reading a blog that stated that at the time of the Creation God saw that it (his creation) was good.  So, I posted a comment saying that, “Eventually, however, he would repent and come to see that man was evil, that man wasn’t good after all (and brought a great flood to destroy his creation). Not very omniscient I would say.”

The rest of the thread went like this:

Blogger: Prior to the fall, man was good. The flood is multiple thousands of years after the first few chapters of Genesis.

My comment: The point was, though, that a supposedly omniscient God didn’t know that man would become evil. In fact, he should have known even before he created him.

Blogger: Where on earth are you getting this insane idea that He didn’t know what was going to happen?

My comment: God saw that it was good, just as Genesis says. What, he didn’t know that it (man) would become evil? Of course, he knew since he is omniscient. So, there are a number of possibilities (your choice): (1) God lied when he said that it was good; (2) God had a plan from before the time of creation to produce a being that would become evil; (3) God is not omniscient or (4) the God of the Bible is not truly God. Which one do you choose?

Blogger: God created a being with the freedom to choose. That freedom held within it the possibility to choose evil. That does NOT mean God created evil….

 

The problem of evil

So, if God didn’t create evil, who did? Let’s break it down.

According to the Bible, God created everything. Yes, everything, even the serpent. By definition, then, he must have created evil. Therefore, if you believe in Satan, the Devil or Lucifer, God also intentionally created them as well (by definition). Reflect a moment and consider why he would have done that.

If God was indeed omniscient, he would have known how his creation would turn out. As the Bible says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).  Biblically speaking, then, an omniscient God knowingly created evil.

 

The god of Genesis

There’s one catch, though. God didn’t really know how man would turn out (see Genesis 6:5-7). When he saw man’s wickedness, he regretted having created man in the first place and, therefore, decided to destroy his creation. It’s what I call a Frankenstein moment. God, only then, realized what a monster he had created. These verses clearly demonstrate that God was not really omniscient, or that Yahweh was not really God. Your choice.

Then there are what I call the “say what?” moments in the Bible:

  • God created the serpent (Genesis 3:1) and saw that it was good. Remind me again how something that was supposedly evil was good. I guess that God thought it was good, though.
  • God gave man the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 1:29) and later changed his mind (Genesis 2:17).  Changed his mind? How is it even remotely possible that an omniscient God could, or would, change his mind. However, he didn’t just do it once. He did it at least three times that we know of. He also changed his mind with regards to the Tree of Life, placing it off-limits after the fact (Genesis 3:22-24).  Then, there’s God change of heart in deciding to destroy his creation.

Finally, God lied about dying if one ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  Of course, he then punished the serpent for telling the truth. So, tell me, exactly who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?

What have we learned, then, about what the Bible says about the god of the Old Testament?  Let’s recap:

  • God is somewhat bi-polar.  One moment he loves us and the next he’s bringing a flood to get rid of us.
  • God likes to change his mind. We’re good, we’re evil; you can have the Tree, no you can’t.
  • God isn’t fair, which explains God punishment of the serpent (for telling the truth) and God’s punishment of Adam and Eve for a so-called act of disobedience when they didn’t have the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.
  • God lies (e.g. about dying if you ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge).
  • God subscribes to the philosophy of do as I say, not as I do. That is, he violated his own commandment about killing.

So, that’s what the Bible, itself, says about the God of the Old Testament.  Given all of that, exactly what kind of god are we really talking about here? Certainly, not one that I would want to emulate or pray to. How about you?

Truth be told… he wasn’t even God (the Prime Creator).

 

Epilogue

There is more than one god in the Bible.  Actually, there are many gods, including Yahweh, the Elohim, the Most High god and the invisible spirit (God) of the New Testament, among others.  It can all be pretty confusing to a reader of the Bible so, in my next post, I’ll try to sort it all out.

“Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?”

          – Lamentations 3:38

 

Most every day I read a blog about the evil in the world, the battle in the heavens against Lucifer, the Second Coming etc. etc. etc. Personally, it’s tiresome to continually listen to that type of dialogue.  However, the topic does deserve some comment.  So here goes.

Religions generally espouse an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God because it’s what sells in church on Sunday. People want to hear that someone other than themselves (like,say, the devil) is responsible for the evil in the world. They want to hear that God is great and will prevail in the end (Armageddon). As one Christian website proudly stated, “Some day God will ultimately and finally overcome evil entirely.”

Aside: I guess this omnipotent God must currently be struggling to prevail against Satan. That’s why they used words like “ultimately”, “finally” and “entirely.”

There are two basic concepts that most religious people don’t know, have forgotten about or find it convenient to just disregard, as follows:

We exist in a free will universe.

If you believe in God, then you have to believe that God gave you free will. Without free will, you would simply be just a form of AI created by God. In a free will universe, God’s gift to you is life. By definition, then, he can’t interfere. That is, free will and intervention by God are incompatible concepts. So, quit expecting God to save you. We all need to accept personal responsibility for the ills in the world.

Aside: Okay, some of you probably don’t believe in free will, which is no doubt attributable to a deterministic bent.  The point is that we don’t even know what consciousness is so how can one say for certain that free will doesn’t exist? Truth be told, you don’t believe in God anyway – now do you?

God created everything

Of course, that’s true, a lot of you will say. Silly me, I forgot to add that, by definition then, he also created evil. How so? Well, he created man didn’t he? Didn’t he also create the serpent (see Genesis 3:1)? You do believe that God is omniscient, don’t you?  Put simply, an omniscient God that created everything knew that he was creating evil, and did so intentionally. Yes, intentionally.

I didn’t say that the creation of evil was necessarily a bad thing, though. In a dualistic world such as what we exist in, good cannot exist without evil. So, who’s to say that evil isn’t really a necessity of Creation. In other words, how would you know what good is without also experiencing evil?

Epilogue

So, the common factor that free will and evil share….is God.  That is, if you believe in God then it’s only logical to believe that God created both free will and evil.  Under those circumstances, why be so quick to judge and complain about the evil in the world. Rather, why not do something about it. Be the change that you want to see in the world, rather than expecting God to come down here and take you on a magic carpet ride. If everyone in the world would save one person, we could save everyone on the planet. So, start by saving just one person – save yourself.  I think even atheists could agree with that!

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him….”

     – Mahatma Gandhi

The Pascal Wager states that, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible.” However, I think that it is possible to deduce some things about God through the use of logic and negative inference. So with apologies to deists everywhere, here are ten things that I know about God:

10. God is not a man. After all, men wrote the Bible and so, of course, God is always described as Him.  One does have to wonder, though, where the first X and Y chromosomes came from.

9. God doesn’t get migraines or have a bad-hair day. However, God might be bi-polar since he did destroy his own creation.

8. God is not omniscient. God didn’t know that his own “perfect” creation would turn out to be imperfect and have to be destroyed. It actually sounds more like an experiment gone terribly awry. In hindsight, though, we should have guessed as much since after creating man, God saw that “it was good”. Really, don’t you think that he should have known that his creation would have been good in advance (before he created it)? Even then, he was wrong about it being good, wasn’t he?

7. God isn’t a very good parent. In the Genesis story, God told his children not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. When they did, he punished them severely (life in prison, so to speak). Of course, since God didn’t teach them right from wrong, there was no way for them to comprehend the concepts of good and evil; in short, they didn’t understand that disobedience was bad. If something similar would have happened today, the parent would certainly have been charged with child abuse, wouldn’t they? In any event, I think that God qualifies as an absentee parent since he hasn’t visited his children in 3,000 years, give or take.

6. God was an “Indian giver.”  First, God gave man the Tree of Knowledge (i.e. Genesis 1:29  says, “Then God said, ‘I give you… every tree that has fruit and seed in it.  They will be yours for food.’”). Then later, God took the gift back (i.e. Genesis 2:16,17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man…’you must not eat from the Tree of Knowledge…for when you eat from it you will surely die.’” ). Of course, God lied about the dying part, now didn’t he?

          5. See the end of #6.

4. God is the source of evil. For this one a little background is required. That is, in the beginning all there was was God. Nothing else; God and only God. By definition, then, evil could have only come from God, notwithstanding the church’s absurd dogma of “creation out of nothing.” Creation out of nothing was the church’s rationalization as to how something that is evil (man) could have come from something that is perfect (God). However, as Roman philosopher Lucretius said, “Nothing comes from nothing.”

Regardless of whether or not God created man out of nothing, he certainly intended to   create evil, as he is presumably all-powerful and all-knowing. The Bible actually confirms this (e.g.“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” – Isaiah 45:7).

3. The god of the Bible has a split personality. The god of the Old Testament acts totally different from the god of the New Testament. Further, the god of the Old Testament walked and talked with Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses. He even wrestled with Jacob. To prove his godhood, he would kill innocent men, women and children. People feared him, obviously for good reason. As opposed to that, the god of the New Testament was considered to be spirit only, according to Paul and the Book of John. It is not surprising, then, that John said that no man had ever seen God. I guess one can infer from what he said that the Old Testament stories were not true and, therefore, not the Word of God.

 … or could it just simply be that the god of the Old Testament and the god of the New Testament refer to two different entities.

2. God has never interfered in the affairs of man. If he had, it would be a violation of man’s free will. You can’t have it both ways. Either man has free will or he is merely some form of artificial intelligence. For sure, God never ordered up any tsunamis.

1. The god of the bible is not God, the Prime Creator.  See prior posts for details.

The great French philosopher Voltaire said it best when he said that, “ If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” I believe that Voltaire was correct, although there’s more to the story. To be more precise, God does exist but man invented him anyway.  As John said, no one has ever seen God; so man created God in his own image.

If you’re anything like most Christians, you have lots of questions about your faith – questions that your minister never was able to properly answer for you.

The question that started me down the path of self-discovery was this: Why does one have to seek the Truth?  The Bible says, that if you seek the Truth, the Truth will set you free.  The implication is that you don’t already know the Truth, not even from reading the Bible.  If you have to seek the Truth, it obviously must not be self-evident.  So following are certain truths about the Bible that your minister probably never told you about:

  • If Jesus was born of a virgin mother, he couldn’t have been the messiah.

The reason is that, according to prophecy, the messiah had to be a descendant from King David and any lineage that Jesus had from King David would have had to have come through Joseph (since Mary was not related to King David).  If Joseph was not the biological father, then there would have been no descendancy from King David.

  •  Jehovah lied when he said, “…there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other” (Isaiah 43:10).

For example, Psalm 82:1 says that, “God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the gods.”

  • The Bible says that slavery is acceptable.

See the Tenth Commandment re. coveting another man’s slave.

  • How many Adams were there and what were their names?

There was more than one (see I Corinthians 15:45).  Even Eve was considered to be an adam (see Genesis 5:2), as the word generally referred to “mankind”.

  •  The concept of  “The Trinity” was not a concept of the disciples or the early Christians.

The word “Trinity” is not even mentioned in the Bible.

  • You have never been told about the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven or the wisdom of God.

Down through the ages, this information has always been withheld from the masses.  Obviously, that material is not in the Bible, although references to it are (see Matthew 13:11; Ephesians 3:3,5; Romans 16:25; Corinthians 2:6-8).

  •  Was Jesus the only son of God?

Apparently not. Genesis 6: 2-4 mentions that there were many sons of God, although they may be totally unrelated.

  • Who wrote the Bible?

With the exception of some of Paul’s letters, historians and scholars don’t know exactly who wrote the various bible stories. Even some of Paul’s so-called letters were probably not written by Paul.

 

Unfortunately, when some theologians attempt to answer questions like these they start from the premise that dogma is correct.  They then work backwards in coming up with want they think is a “plausible” response which coincides with their dogma.  For example, if one were to ask what the Bible says about who created man, the obvious answer is God.  However, the obvious answer is really not all that obvious since Genesis 1:26 tells us, “And God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’….” and Genesis 3:22 says, “And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil”.  Those two verses make it quite clear that God had help when he created man and that the others had the same image and likeness of God.  Talk about an inconvenient truth.  Some deists explain this by saying that it was actually the Trinity who created man – the very same Trinity that is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

The Bible says that the Kingdom of God is within.  Within, where?  What is it and how does one access it?  By now, it should be pretty obvious that I am going to say that… these are things that your minister probably never told you.

“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.”

– Brian McLaren, leading Christian pastor and theologian

 

The Illogic of God

08/26/2013

Somebody once said that there is nothing more uncommon than common sense.  Likewise, there is perhaps nothing more illogical than logic, especially when talking about God. As the Pascal Wager states, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible… Reason can decide nothing here….”  However, that never has stopped people from trying.

Case in point is the Greek philosopher Epicurus who posed this logic problem: Either God was (1) willing to prevent evil but was unable – in which case Epicurus stated that God wasn’t really omnipotent, or (2) able to prevent evil but not willing – in which case he was malevolent, or (3) both willing and able to prevent evil – in which case where did evil come from, or (4) neither able nor willing – in which case why call him God.

As logic problems go, this one was well constructed. The thing is that Epicurus wrote the problem in such a way that, no matter how you responded, he would win.  You see, the person who frames the debate has a huge advantage.  So in this case, Epicurus constructed a logic problem in such a way as to produce the outcome(s) that he wanted.

However, Epicurus made a number of assumptions in his logic problem.  For example, he assumed that (1) evil is a bad thing; and (2) God would never have created a world with evil in it.  These assumptions are further based on yet larger assumptions that man can (1) properly understand his own reality and (2) comprehend the Absolute with his finite mind.  Now, Occam’s razor is a well-known principle in logic which has been attributed to a 14th century Franciscan monk by the name of William of Ockham, although its origin goes back to Aristotle.  One of the tenets of this concept is that in logic one should make as few assumptions as possible. Epicurus should have taken note since there’s nothing like an assumption or two (see above) to mess up a logic problem.

It’s been said that good is good because evil is evil. It’s the Yin and the Yang, a natural symbiotic relationship of Creation.  Under those circumstances, it’s illogical to try to ascribe logic to the concepts of good and evil.  The only “logical” conclusion that can be drawn is that we do, in fact, exist in a world of good and evil.  As a result, we can not experience good without also experiencing evil; we were apparently meant to experience both.  So to answer Epicurus, there is no incompatibility between the existence of evil and the existence of God, assuming that you can define either.  Again, assumptions, assumptions, assumptions.

Epicurus’ last, and perhaps fatal, assumption is that if God was able to prevent evil but was not willing, then he (God) had to be malevolent.   That’s completely predicated on the assumption that evil is something to be avoided and is un-Godlike.  After all, it’s completely possible that God allows evil in order to achieve a greater good. In that case, evil would no doubt be considered a necessity of Creation.  That is, how would you ever know what good is, unless there was evil?  As Neale Donald Walsch so aptly put it, “In the absence of that which is not, that which is, is not.”

Man has been blessed with both intellect and curiosity.  However, we have never been able to adequately explain the world that we live in, let alone comprehend the unknowable, the Absolute.  How arrogant of us to even assume that we can read the mind of God. William of Ockham admitted as much when he said that, “God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone.”  Logic is a great thing, except when it’s illogical.  Epicurus, of all people, should have known better.

We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determines events completely for some supernatural being, who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it.  However, such models of the universe are not of much interest to us mortals.  It seems better to employ the principle known as Occam’s razor and cut out all the features of the theory that cannot be observed.”

        – Stephen Hawking/A Brief History In Time

 

When our daughter was just five years old, she told us about God and His creation.  Needless to say, we were floored.  I couldn’t have said it much better myself.  Furthermore, we were completely blown away when she added,  “So who created God?”  I guess that’s what Jesus meant by out of the mouth of babes!

Of course, the answer to that question depends on just how you define God.  If you define God based on the Bible, then you get an answer that you might not have otherwise expected. In the Bible, it’s made pretty clear that God created man.  But, which God?  Is it Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim, El Shaddai or just plain El?  Is it all of them or perhaps even none of them?

The biblical record

So, let’s start at the beginning (Genesis).  In Genesis 1:26, it says “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness….’” There are several points here.  First, God was obviously not alone!  Second, he didn’t create man by himself!  Furthermore, the beings that God was with had the same image and the same likeness as he did.  But how could God have any image or likeness?  Doesn’t it say in John 1:18 that no man has ever seen God?  Then how could Adam and Eve have seen and talked to God?  For that matter, how could Jacob have actually wrestled with God (Genesis 32:24-30)?

The same pattern of multiple gods reoccurs in Genesis 3:21 which says, “And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us….’”  How’s that again?  Man has become like God (one of us)?  As shocking as it may sound, Jesus actually confirmed the point that men are gods (see John 10:34).  It all comes back full circle in Psalm 82:1 which says, “God presides in the great assembly, he renders judgment among the gods.”  So it’s critical to come to an accurate understanding of who the god(s) of the Bible really were.

The Bible says that Adam (first man) was created in approximately 3750 BC (which corresponds with the beginning of the Jewish Calendar some 5,700 years ago).  Anthropology and archaeology, however, have convincingly proved that man’s roots go back much further, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of years.  Obviously, the biblical chronology is suspect, to say the least.  Beyond that, the Bible stories (the Old Testament, that is) covered a period of over 3,000 years and, during that period, it’s clear from archaeology and ancient scriptures that the Hebrews/Israelites worshipped many gods.  Even the Bible tells us that after Adam and Eve mankind worshipped different gods and it also tells us that Abraham’s father worshipped other gods; after Abraham…ditto, and so on.   Monotheism, itself, may actually have its roots in Egypt.  Sigmund Freud, for example, traces the roots of monotheism to the Akhenaton cult religion of the god Aten (see Freud’s book “Moses and Monotheism”).  According to some people’s reckoning, Akhenaten was pharaoh in Egypt during the time of Moses and thus the tie-in to monotheism.

Archaeology and the historical record

Many of the recent archaeological finds in the Holy Land show that the historical record disagrees with the Bible (e.g. see the BBC documentary “The Bible’s Buried Secrets”).  Among the discoveries is that Yahweh was also a god among the pagan Canaanites.  Yahweh, in fact, had a female consort – the goddess Asherah.  How’s that for a twist on an old story.  As for King Solomon and King David, they seem to be mostly missing from the archaeological record, as is Moses for that matter.

In Mesopotamia, ancient writings reveal that the ancients believed in a pantheon of gods (not unlike the Greeks who would come later).  Pictures of these gods can be seen on their clay tablets and they are depicted as real flesh and blood human beings, albeit from a very advanced race.  This, then, according to ancient records was the beginning of modern civilization as we know it.

The gods of Genesis

Voltaire once said that, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”  In this case, God may have existed but he was never present.  So when an advanced race of beings took over on planet Earth, mankind was in awe of their capabilities.  They truly were our creators, they just weren’t the Prime Creator.  Even if they weren’t divine, they were no less than gods to the ancients.  However, these gods of Genesis were not exactly angels (no pun intended).  They tried to keep man from knowing the secrets of the universe ( see the Genesis stories about the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life).  The gods were angry and very violent.  In addition to the stories in the Bible where God slaughtered innocent women and children, ancient Indian Vedic texts talk about wars among the gods.  Ancient Irish texts refer to them similarly.  Over time, the remembrance of these gods in legends and folklore would be replaced by a desire to invent God – thus religion.  That’s not to say that God doesn’t exist, just that the gods of Genesis were not truly God.  Monotheism as we know it today is simply a myth – a way for mankind to relate to the Infinite which, as the Pascal Wager states, is infinitely incomprehensible.

Epilogue

None of this, of course, answers the question of who or what is God or my daughter’s question as to who created God.  Perhaps, it was intended that we should never know.  However, one has to ask the question as to why the general public has never been told the truth about the gods of Genesis.  Our government knows, the Vatican knows and certain members of secret societies know – but not the masses.  You see they, the masses, were created to till the garden (of Eden that is).  So, why would you ever tell them?  If you did, they might just wake up and realize that they were naked.

God spoke to me last night.  He was angry, actually perhaps more frustrated than angry.  He couldn’t understand how his creation could have gotten so far off track.   Unfortunately, I had no answers for him.

The reason for his frustration was how could man build such edifices in his honor and at the same time blame him for the suffering in the world.  Aside: Actually God is rather embarrassed by this whole worship thing.  It’s totally unnecessary in his view.  He simply wanted to know why mankind can’t take personal responsibility for their own actions.  It’s a very valid point.  What can one say other than it’s easier to blame someone else.

God seems to realize, even expects, that we’ll make lots of mistakes exercising our free will.  However having given man the gift of free will, he’s upset that he gets the blame for man’s actions.  After all, what’s a god suppose to do anyway?  Is he suppose to butt into man’s affairs in violation of free will and contrary to his own Natural Laws of the universe?

Apparently, the world was never meant to be perfect and certainly never meant to be free of suffering.  After all, if the world was already perfect, what would be the point of life?  Anyway, if mankind does not like the world the way it is, we are free to change it.  As Gandhi once said, all we need to do is to “ Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Epilogue

Later that same day, my wife told me about how awful her day had been (i.e. flaky people of all different stripes and flavors).  I could really empathize with her.  She just needed someone to listen to her vent.  Wonderful (not), now I have both her and God that I have to listen to when they have had bad-hair days.

“What we are is God’s gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.”

–   Eleanor Powell

In ancient times, the secrets of man’s relationship with God was strictly reserved for a privileged few who were considered worthy of such knowledge.  Beginning with the Greeks, those secrets were passed on through what was referred to as the Mystery Schools. People like Jesus and the Apostle Paul were no strangers in this milieu.

Jesus, as was the custom in the rabbinic teaching method of his day, taught through the use of parables. The use of parables was a style of teaching whereby there was a surface story (for the masses), but which contained a hidden story of inner wisdom.  Strangely enough even Jesus’s own disciples, as the Bible clearly illustrates, could not interpret the message of their master and, in fact, the disciples often spoke of the great mysteries surrounding his teachings. When the disciples would ask Jesus for an explanation, he would frequently respond with another parable.  The true meaning, as Jesus would say, was for people with eyes to see and ears to hear; in other words, those who were enlightened enough to understand his message.

 An Historical Perspective

With the fairly recent discoveries of heretofore lost scriptures, our knowledge of the original Christian beliefs has changed considerably. In addition, new archaeological finds (e.g. The Library of Nineveh) have produced evidence that the Old Testament, and in particular the Genesis story, was based on older writings and belief systems.  Biblical research and scholarship now paints a different picture of the historical Jesus.  Following in the tradition of the sages, Jesus was a Jewish mystic who had been steeped in the knowledge of the Mystery Schools.  However, his teachings of hope, love and redemption were generally misunderstood, or miscommunicated, and became hopelessly buried under the weight of church dogma.

One of the reasons for the misunderstandings were that many ancient manuscripts, including the biblical scriptures, were written with the use of a code, called a pesher code, or incorporated a cipher based on numerology (e.g. The Bible Code).  The original Hebrew/ Aramaic texts have therefore been mistranslated, in some cases because the words are based on sacred numbers which have a meaning different from the words. To complicate matters further, certain words (similar to slang) were used as substitutes for the real words, often to disguise the meaning of the scripture.  Finally, as noted above, there was the use of hard-to-understand parables.

The Ascension/Resurrection

The biblical story of the ascension/resurrection is incomplete at best.  The ascension is hardly even mentioned in the gospels. As for the resurrection, there are different versions of the story in John, Mark, Matthew and Luke.  The rest of the New Testament, including the Book of James and the Book of Jude, does not even assert that the resurrection was a core belief of Christianity.

Interestingly enough, the Gospel of Philip is the only Christian scripture which actually explains the resurrection.  It says that, “Those that say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died.” The reason for that understanding is that it is the spirit which ascends, not the body – and the spirit can ascend only after it has been resurrected.  Paul echoed those sentiments by explaining that it is the spiritual body that is resurrected and that “flesh and blood cannot not inherit the kingdom of God”.  So on that basis, it’s understandable why Jesus wasn’t recognized by Mary Magdalene and the disciples when he “appeared” to them after the resurrection.  Our physical senses can see the body, but it takes the spiritual self to recognize the Spirit.  This, then, is the real message of the resurrection…that is, we are all spiritual beings trapped in the illusion of materiality and that death is also an illusion which the spirit can transcend.  Since God is not a physical life form, it is therefore our consciousness that was created in his image.

Sin/Salvation

The concept of Original Sin in Christianity has varied over time but is generally traced back to St. Augustine and was accepted as church doctrine by the Council of Orange in 529 AD.  Since there was no separation of church and state, this was a politically useful tool as, in addition to God, the people also had to totally submit to the rule of the king and the Pope.  However, for Protestants, the issue of Original Sin wasn’t finally settled until Martin Luther, circa 1500 AD, and today the Christian belief in sin is somewhat dependent on whether one is a Catholic, a Protestant or perhaps a (Protestant) Fundamentalist.

The concept of Original Sin generally is spoken of as originating with man’s disobedience as written about in the biblical story of Genesis.  Of course, that story has been interpreted differently by different scholars and theologians.  Further, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims (and even the Greek philosophers) do not believe in a similar concept of sin.  What sets Christianity (Protestantism) apart from other religions, then, is the belief that Christ died for our sins and because of that man has been saved.  For them, faith in Christ is generally considered to be one’s ticket to heaven.

The history of the debate on sin began with one of the early Christian church fathers, a man by the name of Origen.  Now, Origen believed in the preexistence of souls (i.e. souls were created out of the essence of God).  After hundreds of years of debate on this subject, the church would finally reject Origen’s thinking.  That would lead the church to provide another explanation for why bad things happen to good people.  As a result, they turned to the idea of Original Sin instead (i.e. all people were bad by nature).  This, in turn, led to the idea that souls were not part of God, which doctrine is typically referred to as creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing); as if anything could ever be created out of nothing.  The twisted logic was all the result of trying to explain how God (who is good) created man (who is sinful).

Epilogue

The concept of Original Sin also allowed the Catholic Church to say that man’s salvation could only happen through the church.  The truth, however, was that Jesus taught that salvation could only be found through him.  By that, he meant that man had to become Christ-like in order to reach heaven (i.e. return to God).  Sin was not so much evil as it was wrong-thinking, a consequence of man’s free will.  His message of redemption was that it was within each person’s power to create their own salvation through the resurrection of their soul (before they die).  His hope was that man, as a child of God, would connect to the Kingdom of God within.  A church and a religion were not required… and never intended.

“The transmigration of life takes place in one’s own mind.  For what a man thinks, he becomes. This is the mystery of eternity.”

      – The Bhagavad Gita