1. God. All religions, including atheism, a ‘non religion’, or ‘anti religion’, contemplate the ‘existence or non existence of God'. Apologetics in Christianity provided an extensive lists of ‘arguments’ for God coming out of the rationalist period. ‘Superstition’ refers to the ‘natural religion’ common to all people. To date ‘tribal societies’ have had a sense of ‘connectedness’ to the universe, planet, network, matrix, flow, plants, animals, rocks and soil. Locally natives refer to this ‘relatedness’ to ‘all my relations’. The ‘division’ between ‘mind and body’ with the development of ‘intellectualism’ and ultimately the narcissism of atheism was a late hot house plant in the millions of years of creation, and the last quarter million years of apparent civilized d the human sentience. But our predictions of the past are limited by our perceptions of today. Martin Buber described the ‘individual’, itself a very recent concept historically, as “I and It or I and Thou”. He saw the fundamental development one of fear and superstition to love and religion. Communists the greatest proponents of so called ‘atheism’ called the State, God, in all but word, and really shared the ‘nihilism’ so common to atheism compared with the Grace which is known in Christianity.
2. God or Gods: Monotheism. The ‘great’ religions of the world have been Christianity, Hinduism,and Buddhism. Paganism could be considered here too. Judaism from which Christianity evolved is limited by ‘tribal’ blood connections. Status within the religion is greatest for those whose mother is Jewish. It’s roots are in this world. Christianity and Hinduism and Buddhism are world religions. Islam is also a world religion but is entwined in the political message of Mohammed, world conquer. Zorastrianism which was all but destroyed by Islam is the world religion that came out of Persia. The main monotheistic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It’s hard to say that Paganism was ‘polytheistic’ because within most of paganism was a ‘ground’ or overlord or central religious figure. In the Japanese, Shintoism is the hearth religion with Shinto as the source of the interconnectedness of all. In local native tradition, the Creator, permeates all the polytheistic elements of the traditional aboriginal religions. In this way, the polytheism is not that much different from the ‘saints’ and their ‘actions’ within the Roman Catholic tradition. The key though in all is the belief that “I am not God….I may be of God….I may be a child of God….but God is greater or other than me”. A classic text on spirituality is ‘Not God,” by Kurtz. He and Ketcham also wrote the “Spirituality of Imperfection’. Spirituality has been said as God given whereas religion has been described as Man made. The truth is that religion is to god knowledge and experience as libraries are to books and study. A lot of today’s ‘spirituality’ unfortunately is egotism masquerading as Godliness whereas religion goes beyond the fool on the hill to address the politics of relationship whether it be embracing peace or making war.
3. Having decided that there is a God what action does one take to know God more fully. Interestingly the collective religions despite their different end points encourage similar practices which include prayer, meditation, fasting, praise, worship, gratitude, celebration, congregation, coming together, building together, community, etc. Child sacrifice and sacrifice of virgins is thankfully passe, though there’s a ritual religious quality about the fear driven abortion sacrifices of the last decades.
The study of God results in a profound ‘aha’ experience resulting in people describing the god experience as akin to the transformation of a caterpillar and butterfly. The poem ‘Hound of Heaven’ speaks to the central idea that while a God seeker, seeks God, God is seeking the god seeker. The classic image of this is on the Celestine Chapel ceiling where Michelangelo has Adam reaching up to God and God reaching down. There’s a sense of this earth and air or body and spirit, and the lightness of being. It’s been called a ‘leap of faith’. It’s complicated by the notion that without believing one cannot know. It’s similar with love. I cannot experience love without participation and the depth of love I can experience is limited by my trust. The atheist and his friend the agnostic are the great fence sitters who want ‘no risk’ and ‘fearfully criticize’ those who jump in the living waters and shout for joy at how wonderful the experience is. Those on the shore insist differently but don’t know. Pascal the great philosopher described the ‘gamble’ of religion.
But Satan was described as God’s first Angel who preferred to admire his own shadow than look to the light of God. Atheists are like this so much. They want attention and get it emotionally by a big ‘pout’ intellectually. Amusing. The best and latest perhaps was Hitchens but Buddhists, very godly, have gone beyond the westerners like him who Trungpa described as mere consumers and wanting to consume ‘religion or no religion’. Spiritual consumers. They stand around the heat or away from it and discuss it but can’t participate fully in the experience because of their ‘monkey mind’. Robert Heinlein the great science fiction writer described the ‘experience’ of Grokking’ creating this word to address the diminution of the word ‘knowing’ in modern western society. Knowing was a hierarchal many facetted word which like most words in the west lost it’s sacred or holy, highest meaning in the ‘materialism’ of the conceited atheist consumer societies.
4. Having accepted a God and trying to know God who is this Christ figure. Jesus was an historic man 2000 years ago in Israel, a Jew, a son of a carpenter. The Messiah was the idea of God coming again to the world. Jesus was thought to be a ‘prophet’ by Mohammed later and by the Jews of his time. But the Christians accepted his teaching that he was indeed God come to experience human life whose death would change the cosmos. The humans of the day in the Gospel, the teaching of Christians, actually crucify Jesus. Typical of human despots and totatalitarian human regimes they think they can resolve their difficulties by censorship and killing competing ideas and their proponents. But in the death of Jesus the Cosmic Christ arose and gave the power of life to followers who believed in Jesus. He died. He rose. Believing in Jesus I will die and rise again. There is a message of ‘everlasting life’ and heaven and eternity for Christians.
The ideas about life after death abound and frankly the Viking Valhalla is a lot of work. By contrast the Christian Mark Twain Captain Stormfield heaven is more appealing. Brother Lawrence the great Christian monk described the experience of the present and God in now as beyond the thought of a ‘future’ after life experience. By contrast in Hinduism men have grown with each reincarnation to become god like Avatars and eventually returning into the great sea of god. Buddha grew up in this tradition. The Jewish God, more tribal than individual and political in a sense like Islam doesn’t really have much ‘heaven literature’. Christians by contrast in the tradition of Trungpa’s consumerism have described playing harps on clouds and great orchestra parties with God whereas Islam has offered Virgins and Oasis to it’s best followers. These are all ‘details’ which can be embraced or possibly not once one has accepted God. In Christianity we say that one is born again, born in the spirit as opposed to born in the flesh, when one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord.
If one believes that Jesus was God and his life and teachings direct from God then one has the making of a fundamentalist. The Holy Bible is two books, the Old Testament which the Jews collectively agree on including as it does the Torah and prophets and the New Testament, including the 4 Gospels, the witnesses to Jesus and his early days and those right after and the teachings of Paul, whose writings expanded on the Gospel and Revelation. Fundamentalists believe the Holy Bible is the ‘word of God’ and that by studying the Bible one knows God. There are those who believe in the ‘literal truth’ of the Holy Bible and that means if it says ‘a day’ then it’s an earthly day as we know it. Other’s are for interpretation. The Catholic Church emphasized tradition and the teaching of the church whereas the Protestants following Luther emphasized the teachings of the Bible.
5. There are a lot of churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, sweat lodges, altars and high hills, all which are places of ‘worship’ and individually are devoted to ‘God’ and are used by the vast majority of people and have been for hundreds of thousands of years. By contrast atheists are a very tiny recent loud minority of critics of religions and the process, including criticizing prayer and meditation and singing and all the activities which have been part of the process of religion for time immemorial. The atheists want to destroy religions and God and the idea of God and usurp all the contributions to humanity of God and religion and spirituality. The religion of atheism to date is communism. Humanism is an atheist philosophy but has never grown to expression like communism which is indeed the main religion of aetheism.
The question of which religion to choose is a recent phenomena that has come from the migration of people as most religions arose in a part of the world and spread out from that. Islam still focuses on Mecca. Hinduism is predominantly in India but Indians are all over the world and adherents are of every race and colour. Judaism’s growth is limited to the ‘genetic’ proposition of ‘lineage’ despite it’s spread secularly and spiritually in the great ‘diaspora’ throughout the world. Ghengis Khan and his brothers had the greatest number of progeny in history and spread the seed literally and figuratively along with first a pagan religion and later Islam. Islam embraces Polygamy politically while in the west monogamy is associated with reduced political numbers.
6. Homosexuality was outlawed throughout history principally because children were the tools of , agriculture, war and industry and homosexuality could interfere in the success of a nation. Greek sparta was an exception and Alexander the Great had homosexual relationships. There was really historically no major issue with it except perhaps related to disease spread and social divisiveness as long as Kings produced children.The argument against homosexuality is it’s inability to ‘reproduce’. It’s parasitic on the main stream society and certainly adds colour and perspective but the whole issue of minority and majority and leadership is raised independent of religion.
With the advent of DNA testing and the finding that 50% of children of divorce aren’t their fathers there is a whole new modern issue with progeny and family which religions, historically the domain of family and afterlife , are just beginning to face. Each aspect of religion has a history and a time related to it’s development. The taboo against eating pork is considered related to the parasite that pork carried that could invade humans and the tendency of pork to spoil in heat first. Much of historical writing of religious nature is thought today to be early medicine and public health. Transexualism isn’t discussed in modern religions in generals. In the play the great Kahunna, there is the great line of all time, “Jesus said nothing about women in business suits.” The history of all religions shows adaptation to the times and reinterpretation of the language and times and meaning of religious texts. Churches divided over the represntatiional art long before the advent of HD and Digital imaging.
7. C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer/?saint, encouraged one to consider whether Jesus was God or just a man and that this was the central question. Historic figures like Zeus and all the characters of the Golden Bow are different from this ‘historic’ figure Jesus. Similarly the ‘sainthood’ of the Gurus of the Siks or the Catholic saints like St. Theresa of Avila, St. Francis, or St. John of the Cross. These are recent and speak to the miraculous. Scientifists have historically been mostly religious until recently with the onslaught of atheism in it’s aggressive critique of humanity, but today Scientific Materialism prophesies all manner of things and sometimes makes the Big Bang, just another name for their ‘god’. Evolution is not inherently ‘aetheistic’ as it comes from the idea of religion, the movement from the Old JerusalemJerusalem to the New Jerusulem. It’s just one of the ‘utopian’ fantasies. It doesn’t explain ‘fractals’ or interspecies evolution or a wide range of things which we ‘accept’ in sciences as ‘empirical’ and don’t dare question but rather move on as we do in religion since these ‘detours’ can be addictive like atheism, and it’s criticism, but difficult with creation.
CS Lewis wrote “mere christianity’ and ‘surprised by joy’ and discussed Christian orthodoxy, as there have always been schisms and divisions which the creeds have attempted to address, contributing to the evolution of Christianity, much as the commentaries have contributed to the evolution of the Torah.
8. Code. The 10 commandments. Morality. Right and wrong. There are physical ‘laws’ like ‘gravity’ so jumping off bridges is likely to hasten death. The issue of ‘spiritual’ or community laws like don’t eat pork , don’t have anal sex without washing, don’t cut your wrists, do’s and don’ts of society. Even in the animal kingdom there is evidence of the ‘wise’ animal and that ‘sage’ come with length of learning. Every revolution and every generation goes through a learning period with hundreds of millions killed by the aetheistic communist ideology rejecting the learning of religion and history to impose from above ideas that usually include censoring and killing off any who disagree. The essence of religion has been to study the ‘code of living’. Divine inspiration and prophecy and meditation have all given rise to insights that have contributed to present day civilization.
9. Is it spiritual or insane?. The difference between delusion and insanity has been decided not by the ‘experience’ but rather what is the product of the experience. If a modern day pharmaceutical religious journey adventurer drops LSD and cuts off his testicles as a result this is not considered a ‘religious insight’. It’s delusional. Inherently there’s an element of “L’chaim’,’ ‘to life’ versus to ‘death’ so if a communty practices a policy of infanticide it dies out and is thought insane. Much of history is insane and trial and error. Religions record the social and experiential in the central ideas of community and family.
10. Today the media is as often part of a war of misinformation and disinformation. Free will and fate and choice are all central religious concepts which apply to the sixties idea of ‘feed your mind’ ironically. What we focus on is what we get. The university was once of place of ‘higher learning’ but with atheism comes the idea that there is no ‘higher or lower’. Discrimination is frowned on so ‘discernment’ is the baby thrown out with the bath water. Bill Cosby had an hilarious skit I heard in my youth about how man learned to eat meat and the mistakes that occurred. Tired of eating bushes the early man tried eating a saber tooth tiger who objected to be eaten so the men went back to eating bushes till the idea of eating meat rose again in a ‘refined’ way. Religion on a societal level has been trial and error and individually is a matter of trial and error.
11. I believe in God. I don’t think I am God. I believe in the interconnected relational world and the abstract.
12. I believe Jesus Christ is my Lord and I believe the Gospels teach me what God wants me to do. If I follow the teachings of Jesus I can have a reasonably good life here on earth and be assured continuing life. I believe that evolution is occurring for humanity and spiritually,I have faith. I study the Bible and the Creeds and share and commune with other religious people. I believe that we are progressing forward, as in evolving, as a people, with occasional set backs, epicurean cannibalism, as an example. However, mostly we’re following in the steps of Jesus. This is good. Thank you God for your guidance. Thank your Jesus.