Monday, April 23, 2007

A Difference Between Humans and Ants


“Is God Poison?” asks “Maclean’s,” a prominent Canadian magazine, on it’s April cover. I suspect that “clever” cover commanded the attention of believers, agnostics and atheists, alike — in other words, everyone that chanced to see it — while prompting a bunch of sales!

It was a long article worth discussing. Today, however, I’m only going to talk about a statement in the article’s opening page, which quotes someone named Christopher Hitchens. His new book discusses “…How Religion Poisons Everything.” Mr. Hitchens, while heartened by the world’s newfound interest in disputing God’s existence, tells us, “We atheists never thought religion would die out because it comes from fear of death….”

I agree, that’s one way to look at religion’s “origin and purpose.” But it certainly has never occurred to me, and I’ve been religious for ninety percent of my long life. If Mr. Hitchens seriously thinks that “fear of death” drove me to God, his reasoning is severely flawed from the “git-go.” I am one of the many people who go through life without giving death more than occasional thought, though I’ve had much to do with it in my family.

Of course, if Mr. Hitchens thinks that fear of death was what first prompted humans to conceive religious beliefs, that’s a plausible theory. But it is nothing more than an unproven, irrelevant theory, in company with numberless others.

As I see it, religion sets mankind apart from all living creatures on earth, as the only beings on earth (as far as we know) who can seek to identify their Ultimate Creator and contemplate why they exist. In daily life, however, religion helps us live far more peacefully with ourselves and our fellowmen than we could live without it — even though, as nations and as individuals, our “peaceful” relations with others are endlessly and violently interrupted! And all those violent interruptions happen, while a huge portion of the world’s population embraces the Ten Commandments! Imagine how we’d behave if we’d never been told “Thou shall not murder” ? And why does “Mr. Hitchens & Co.“ think we needed to be told that? It certainly wasn’t because humans seldom killed each other.

For our ancestors to need to be Divinely ordered to abstain from killing their fellowmen tells us that murder was even more commonplace than it is today, throughout the world. Humans want to be rid of anyone who really “bothers” them. And it’s common for us to severely “bother” each other! Learning how to turn our hearts to each other, as the Prophet Malachi said we must do (Mal, 3:24/4:6) is now the urgently needed “uncommon” factor in human history.

Thousands of years ago, societies worshiped more than 2,000 gods who, according to the tales concocted about them, often warred with each other — a direct reflection of human life. Yet, Abraham’s God told us not to murder, unless we were executing a person who had intentionally killed someone, “…having hated him in time past” (Deut. 4:42). To be sure, “unbelievers” describe Abraham’s God, introduced in the Hebrew Scriptures, as a bloodthirsty deity, akin to most of the other “gods” people worshiped. But the Israelites, the first people to believe in Abraham’s God, were told to war with heathens, only to claim the needed homeland God promised them; murdering their fellowmen for “personal reasons” was forbidden. And that was an UNCOMMON concept in human history, which Mr. Hitchens neglects to mention, while denouncing monotheism, in particular.

I, too, can conjecture about Hitchens as he does about me, a “believer.” So, perhaps Mr. Hitchens has suffered a fear of death since childhood and finds no solace in religion, which makes his unrelieved fear/dread/resentment of dying feed his argument against all the religious beliefs that have failed him. Or, he has convinced himself there is nothing to fear about death; our flesh decays and that’s the end of us, so he is trying to get multiple people to agree with him to convince himself he is “right.” Whatever his reasoning, he didn’t create our universe and he cannot destroy it, so he is “overpowered” by unknown forces beyond his control — and hating his helplessness. If true, that theory would simply prove that when we harbor “hatred,” we become destructive! But trying to destroy faith in God condemns Hitchens to fight a losing battle, which is a sad way to spend one’s life.

So, Christopher Hitchens, you appear to be a sad member of a species that is distinguished from all other creatures on earth by its ability to contemplate the Source of itself and all physical matter. You can “wait for science” to tell you how “the universe” happened, but the wait will exceed your lifetime. And that means you’ll go to your grave without ever “knowing faith” — a knowledge that appears to be exclusively “human.”

Monday, April 09, 2007

An Identical Role for “Believers” and “Unbelievers”


What would it actually take to persuade you to “alter” your religious beliefs? I’m inclined to think we’ll have to be sitting in the darkness of a “nuclear winter” before people seriously question their religious thinking! And when I say “people,” I do not only mean what the Muslims, Christians and Jews think! To be sure, the “self-satisfied” atheists and the “removed-from-it-all” agnostics and the “beyond-it-all” believers in “heathen” religions are doing absolutely nothing to help the world avoid the Religious War that will hurtle everyone into the prophesied “gross darkness” of a manmade “nuclear winter!”

The Prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam brought messages about the Lord God of all creation that never contradicted each other, as they introduced the world to the One Thinking Source of all the energy in existence. Their teachings have persuaded a huge portion of the world’s population to embrace one of those three “related” monotheistic religions. Yet, amazingly, many Jews and Christians actually believe that “Allah,” the Name used by Muslims for Abraham’s God, is not the same God that Abraham worshiped. That is how “elementary” their ignorance is! Worse yet, each religious “family” embraces their clergy’s interpretations of their own Holy Book. And each “family” is so certain their clergy’s teachings are “right,” they won’t even consider reconsidering their beliefs. So, will the unbelievers learn and save us?

They could, but chances are, they won’t! Even as you won’t, no matter your current beliefs. But, tell yourself the truth! Are you really so satisfied with what you believe — whatever that is — that you are more willing to suffer a nuclear war than to try to improve your understanding? Even if you’re a “non-believer” in Abraham’s God, if enough of you finally came to appreciate what ALL the Prophets taught, the “believers” of the world would finally have a compelling reason to pay attention to you! And you would finally awaken them — which is what you’ve wanted to do all along, but you lacked the “right” message! So, no matter your “religious philosophy,” you could diminish the Religious War that is closing in on every single human being, by learning from ALL the Prophets and speaking of them to others. (You could learn from the individual Sacred Books, or discover the essence of their teachings from my book. The point is, SEEK and you CAN find!)