Posts Tagged ‘God’

Among the Many Names…

June 29, 2013


Scientists are studying a very large subject these days. It is also a very old subject.

They call it “dark matter” and claim it makes up 95% (give or take) of the universe itself. The parts of the universe they can see (and measure) are the remaining 5%.

So, why is science – who prides themselves on only studying what can be quantified – worrying about something they admit they cannot measure? They say the existence of the “dark matter” can be inferred in many different ways but they cannot get a hold of it.

In their researches, they have noticed patterns that imply something behind the tangible, parts of the processes that cannot be stopped and studied.

It’s actually a little humorous.

Early philosophers noticed patterns in nature that underscored such a concept. Pythagoras built his philosophy on the subject. Isaac Newton designed his calculus in the same fashion.

It is the reason why mathematics has always been known as the “universal language”.

But the ancients and renaissance thinkers did not call this stuff “dark matter”, they preferred the much more common term: God.

By whichever name you chose, it is the bulk of the universe surrounding us and establishes all the patterns we can measure.

It is this subtle interchange, this background interactive structure that I call our Conversation with the Almighty.

It has always been around us, awaiting our notice, acting as an invitation to join in the conversation.

a Rationalistic View

November 24, 2012

I mentioned before that for most of my life I have been content to let people think I was an atheist.

That is a word that will immediately conjure up the pictures of hell-fire and eternal damnation in most Christians but I believe such a destination is really far from the case.

Most atheists I know – including two sons – are not strictly atheists by definition. They are most definitely anti-religionists and that should not surprise anyone as there are even a large number of theologians who have noticed the trend even among the faithful to stand apart from organized religion.

Being against organized religion is not the same as atheism as most “atheists” are actually still looking, still searching for answers, still… hoping. That they have not embraced the answers offered by the Christian faith does not make them “lost”.

A case in point is Uta Ranke-Heinemann. She was born a Protestant, converted to Catholicism, educated in the same class as the current Pope and the two studied together and discussed doctrinal issues for years. She graduated to become a university professor at a prestigious university in Germany.

Everything went fine until she had what some people called a “crisis of faith”. She contends there was no crisis. It was more like an epiphany. Still, she lost the Catholic Chair at the university.

She came to the rational conclusion that there was no actual “virgin birth”.

The article of faith, she said, was just that: an article of faith, and not a physical truth.

She has issued what she calls a “negative creed” and it is very rationalistic in its view. It includes seven points and I include my own meager commentary to each:

1 – The Bible is not the word of God but the word of men. This is really a “no brainer”. Anyone who can understand several words strung together can see fairly quickly that there are not only a few “discrepancies” in the text but one heckuva lot of definite contradictions. The purported “word of God” sounds as if He is confused, regardless of the conviction coming from the pulpits. And if God is not good enough to keep the story straight from one end of such a small work as the Bible, I doubt He could be trusted with anything as massive as the whole universe. But as He is in charge of the whole shebang, the book has to have been written by fallible Man. And even by those who claim doctrinal infallibility.

2 – That God does exist in three persons is imagination of men. This whole Trinity thing has always perplexed me. Where did we get that idea from? Well, from Paul, of course! You remember him? Saul of Tarsus, who stoned Stephen and troubled the earlier disciples before he “found religion” got converted and announced he knew more about Jesus than anyone else. What a heck of a guy he was, huh? But did it come from Jesus? Or from God, perhaps? Not a chance.

3 – Jesus is man and not God. When asked repeatedly – and he was, of course – Jesus denied being either God or “the Son of God”. He said he was “Son of Man”. Of course, theologians now say that the phrase means “Son of God”. Then why didn’t Jesus just come out and say so? Was he being – ahem – duplicitous, circumspect, lying? I don’t think so. As for him being God, why would he keep talking about God as someone other than himself? Why wouldn’t he have prayed “Me, who art in heaven, hallowed be my name…”?

4 – Mary is the mother of Jesus and not the mother of God. See above. And as Uta had already renounced the virgin birth, it is included in this as a given. If Mary was the mother of a man, she would no longer have been a virgin at the birth and the birth would have been the same as for any other human being.

5 – God created heaven and earth, hell is a product of human fantasy. The “hell” mentioned by the ancient Jews was a desolate valley outside of Jerusalem… not the thing we consider today as being “under the ground”. Although there is a very healthy mythology built up over the subject it is just that: mythology.

6 – The devil and original sin do not exist. And, as I have said before concerning Satan, God – by the very definition of the concept – can have no “equal” who could be contesting against Him for the human race. The very idea is ludicrous. Original sin is a concept created by Paul and his Catholic Church. It implies that God created defective merchandise. It is nothing more than a control mechanism used by the Church to control Europe for quite a few centuries. (And, you know what? It worked for a long, long time.) And the idea that it was the fault of a woman seems a rather transparent attempt to degrade half the human race. Unfortunately, that seems to have worked too damned well. Shame!

7 – A bloody redemption at the Cross is a pagan sacrificial slaughtering of a human being, based on a model from the religious Stone Age. This may require a little more study for the casual reader but it is also correct.

Now that the rationalist view has been set forth, both Uta and I have a disclaimer.

There is nothing wrong with believing any or all these things to be correct even if any rationalist could argue otherwise.

In the final scheme of things – church rules notwithstanding – the exact and precise definition of any of these tenets is really up to you. If it has more meaning for you to think that Jesus is one and the same with God Almighty, go for it. If you think he was only the son of God in the flesh, more power to you. If it is more meaningful for you to know that he was nothing more than a very wise and miraculous human being, that’s all right too.

Uta is still a follower of Christ even if not a Catholic. I am very much the same. Jesus had some very interesting viewpoints to share with us while he was here. And one of my favorites is that the journey is really about your connection with God.

He mentioned nothing about requiring the intercession of a priesthood or a hierarchy of theological professionals, or even the ear of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

How could he even go there when he had already said that each of our bodies is the temple of God? And why would we need an organization to contact God when He is already in each of us? To deny either of those facts – in other words, to justify the existence of the church as the only way to God – is denying what Jesus said. And if you deny this part of his teachings, why bother with complaining that other people are wrong with their beliefs?

Regardless of the ideology they ascribe to.

God made us all different.

The path to salvation is wide enough to encompass every difference.

And what you believe will not hamper your advancement along the road.

So allow others their own separate beliefs and assist them in whatever way you can to help them along on their way.

Divisiveness never has and never will achieve much of anything, here or in heaven.

a Little Clarity

May 10, 2012

Today, the newswires are abuzz with Obama’s changed stance on “gay marriage”. Mitt Romney is feeling pretty good about it and is confident that the die-hard religious right will now put him in the White House.

Oh, yes, let’s give it up for the religious fundamentalists in this country. Just like the religious fundamentalists of another major religion (i.e. Muslim, in case you did not make the connection), our home grown version would like to create a theocracy in America based on their narrow interpretations of Holy Writ.

They proclaim loudly that such abomination is spurned by the Almighty!

Sure, but didn’t He also say that He was the final judge and jury, not us. And didn’t someone else in scripture talk about casting the first stone? And wasn’t there a little message somewhere about not killing anyone? Sorry, I must be a little confused because I know how ardently the “religious right” supports our troops and reveled in the judicial murder of Osama Bin Laden.

Funny. I don’t see any form of Christian-ness in that mix.

This morning, I heard a couple of comments on the radio by Pastor Chuck Swindoll. He was talking about legalisms and how many people bandied such things about to somehow salve their own wounded egos. Legalities are a way to enforce our beliefs on others – quite the wrong venue for such things – and force them into what we expect people should be like.

Only in such a supposedly “Christian” nation would such a vast number of people try to force conformity on what God hath wrought.

Yes, He made each of us different.

And it was not so half the population could force the other half to conform to their concept of normality. Perhaps if we dig a little deeper we might begin to understand why we are each so very different.

And through such understanding we might actually learn to grow a little closer to the Creator.

Yes, just like Jesus told us to do.

the Word of God

January 29, 2012

The Bible has always been held up by Christian leaders as being the “unerring word of God”.

Oh, really?

Then either God is schizo, very confused, contradicts himself repeatedly, or is more than a single deity.

The God of the Old Testament is big on retribution and people bowing low before his majesty.

The God of the New Testament is very big on love and forgiveness.

I have read some interesting treatises that attempt to bring the two parts into some sort of agreement but they have to stretch a few (or more than a few) points to make it work. And it does not work too well even then.

I think even the most devout would have to agree that there seem to be some differences that even the ablest orator would stumble over.

So, why this problem?

First, God did not take pen in hand and write any of the books. He did, however, carve some rather important passages for Moses in stone, but that’s about the extent of His authorship in any literal sense. All of Creation is His opus and we really need to learn to read from that litany a little better.

Most the books in the Bible were written by people. They were divinely inspired, perhaps, but that does not necessarily mean they all got the message exactly right from the Almighty. Since we are all different, it is possible they Divinely interpreted some things different than a later writer would have.

It is far better an interpretation than that the book is 100% verifiable truth… which it most definitely is NOT unless part of these people were living in some weird parallel dimension.

Perhaps God changed over time. Or perhaps the interpretation of Him changed. Or perhaps the thing in Genesis that talked about a group of gods was really the truth and one god was in charge back then and a kinder, more gentle god took over by the time of the New Testament.

Of course, that last explanation is the route least chosen by all Christian scholars – and for very obvious reasons. They want the Bible to seem more like a religious text than a science fiction adventure.

I have spoken with quite a few people who tell me that the Bible has no contradictions.

Then they usually admit that they have not read it from cover to cover. Well, take care of that little chore first and then come back and tell me your impression. I have read the entire thing cover to cover several times and can tell you that a lot of holy writ is extremely boring, very technical and legalistic. Most of the Old Testament is the foundation for Judaism. Why the early church fathers decided to attach it to the New Testament I will never understand.

Sure it does offer up all the predictions of the coming of the Messiah, but the rest of the trappings do not seem to have any place in the whole of Christianity.

But then, maybe the early church fathers never expected people to actually read the whole text. I know the Catholic Church was opposed to Gutenberg publishing to thing or later attempts of others to translate it into other languages. What we they afraid of? Read it and weep, as the saying goes.

Especially reading it several times, and in several differing translations, and try to make sense of it.

Unerring? Not hardly! At least not to me.

Perhaps it will seem different to you.

Goodbye Satan

January 21, 2012

The concept of Satan, as viewed by Christian faiths, is the primary reason I turned away from the church as a youngster. It made absolutely no sense.

If God was omnipotent, omnipresent, etc, why would He have a problem – a competition, of sorts – with one of His creations? Having an opponent sounds like they are equals. And that is ridiculous to consider!

The word “satan” means, simply, “adversary” and could be thought of as nothing more than an opponent of the speaker. And it is not used normally in a comparison between non-equal opponents. One might think it was sacrilegious to even consider than God had an equal… and yet it is common “belief” in Christian churches.

He started as a supposed angel of God who rebelled out of an inflated sense of self-worth. Somehow he became the Lord of Hell and the bane of God. Now we have this mythology built up about how Satan came to contend with God over Earth and how he wins people away from the good side to rot forever in the fires of Hell.

And I’m afraid I just can’t buy into that fairy story.

The Almighty does not have an opponent. There is no being anywhere of comparable magnitude to even be considered an equal.


Now, using Satan and the fires of Hell as a fear tactic by the church to entice people over to their side does sound like it has the ring of truth to it. If you cannot convince people to join your church because of the goodness of God and His works, perhaps they feel that fear might turn the trick instead.

It is bad theology and a bad sales technique.

Except that it seems to have worked splendidly for two millennia.