Is the church representing Jesus Christ’s vision of the world?
Many historians and analysts cast doubts the biblical characters (Abraham, Moses, Saul, David…) really existed, since the only source is the Holy Scripts and the oldest writings found are thousand years after the events; but Jesus Christ is a different story, his teachings coming for more then one source, and his life is so inspirational that the most powerful faith on Earth started with those events, bearing his name, Christianity.
I doubt that the resurrection (that is central to Christianity) really happened, but for me Jesus’ guidance marked a turning point in humankind civilization.
Jesus was kind and compassionate, a Jewish rabbi that revolted against the other rabbis because of their greed and misconduct; actually, the only time recorded as Jesus being violent is when he turned upside-down the tables in the temple where the other rabbis received gifts for themselves, claiming the gifts are for God. Maybe this event and stories like the good Samaritan obfuscated the temple’s rabbi to a point that they joined hands to condemn Jesus to death, asking Pilate (the roman governor) to crucify him.
In a time when the law was “an eye for an eye” Jesus advised his followers ”do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”… Even today for many it is difficult to accept such a behaviour.
His vision that a good society should be based on understanding and forgiving is well outlined in the story below. Those times the traditions (and the law of the land, by the way) were very tough and unfair for women. A woman caught cheating her husband was stoned to death by the angry mob; and some of them were rather raped. Many women were forced in arranged marriage, and when they committed such an act was rather out of love, and for the man was for pleasure; still, the man got a tap on the shoulder, and the woman killed in a horrific way.
And here is the story…
A woman was caught cheating her husband and the mob ready to stone her; but someone in the crowed stopped the process, asking Jesus to be the judge. Christ was known as understanding and forgiving, but in the same time fair. Going against such a powerful tradition, and pardon the woman, would have been probably ignored by the crowd and Christ’s reputation blackened. But he could not accept such a barbarity. Jesus picked up a stone, turned to the crowed with his hand stretched and said: “The one who think never committed a sin in his life take this stone and hit me.” The crowd dropped the stones and left the plaza.
Going back to my original question… with such a positive message to the world, how comes that the institution representing Jesus on Earth have such questionable standings along centuries, involved in murders, false accusations, bloody fighting among different Christian branches (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans,…). My take: the church became an institution that fight for itself rather then fighting to promote the true Christian dogma.
I cannot tell it better than Dostoevsky did in one of his stories, and well explained in the article below in Wikipedia…
There is no doubt that religion is bringing violence. During human history in the name of God unimaginable atrocities were committed; and still happens today in some part of the world. In the Middle East there is a continuous religious war, Buddhist monks in Myanmar killing Muslims…
Are the religious texts an inspiration for the violence? Of course... All great moments in any religion are winning bloody wars in the name of God, more killings, bigger the victory; and most of the time there is no description about what the opponents did wrong, except they did not bow to the right God. Bigger the king, more atrocious wars in the name of God. King David for Judaism, Crusaders and Inquisition for Christians, Islamist militants for Islam are examples for monotheist religions violence in the name of God.
Polytheist religions are no better. Sri Lanka was born in the second century BC as a result of a Buddhist bloody war. After the bloodshed, some enlightened ones consoled the winning king… that the slain "were like animals; you will make the Buddha's faith shine".
In India, Hindu and Muslims kill each-other.
From my readings the most violent religions are those worshiping God. And that is because God’s example. All His appearances were disastrous for humankind.
And the blind faith asked of believers is incomprehensible. What kind of God will ask a father to kill his own son as a proof of faith? Well, He stopped Abraham before killing Isaac, but the example is set. A good believer (Abraham) was ready to kill his son to score a point for himself.
Modern days in our western world…
Here is a prominent example. USA is the most religious country in the western world and the most violent as well. Maybe a direct connection is too far fetched but should not be completely ignored. The TV talk shows claim the murderers are mentally ill, but this is not a good explanation for me. The ratio mental illness percentage in USA population is not larger than in other countries… and not all mentally ill people commit murders. Maybe has something to do with the number of guns owners in the country... Down the road it is the culture, and religion is very important in USA.
My last example is about baseball player, Osuna. Before every appearance on the field he does his prayer and the cross sign. After the game (if he wins) he is looking up to the sky to thank God. And this year he was the only Jays player banned for 75 games (he lost more than 2 million dollars for that); the reason is domestic violence. Now the reader may do the math, the only player in a team with deep religious feelings is the only one found violent at home.
Note: this month my blogs talked about religion, and I was mostly critical. But I will write one more blog, sometime next week, with a positive feeling… about Jesus Christ.
Those reading my blogs know that I do not believe in a God as described in the Holy Scriptures, but I do not deny that a God-like deity might exist. I simply do not know.
Is God guilty of an overcrowded planet?
I will start with these statements:
Abortion is a sin in monotheistic religions. I asked a colleague that is deeply religious, if having as many kids as one can be right. He said, “Yes, God will take care of the problem.” I asked same question to an Indian neighbor, he is a Sikh. He said “when a new human is born, a karma is born as well, and karma survives the natural death.” From my understanding from the discussion was that if the new human will go through unimaginable pains is still OK, a karma is added to this universe, and this is good.
In my opinion both statements are the result of brain-washing, those guys did not make any effort to really understand the implications of over-population, hiding behind teachings they are afraid to challenge.
The pressure from those countries where land and resources are in serious conflict with population needs could be seen more and more obvious: the flux of emigrants toward Europe and US reached levels that led to unprecedent nationalistic and anti-emigrant feelings in North America and Europe.
Where is God to offer a solution? Well, no-one saw any statement from God so far, and God representatives on earth deny the problem, and that is no wonder. There are girls who abandon unwanted kids; where is church offering shelter for those desperate girls and their babies? By the way, God’s teaching says that we should help the ones in need, but in the city where I live the churches close their doors overnight and the homeless sleep outside at 20-30 Celsius under zero, some dying.
So, God will not solve the problem, and God’s representatives cannot go beyond their hypocrisy.
I will talk about one of the overpopulation consequences…
I saw a debate the other day on CNN about the problem which torn apart US public opinion, illegal emigrants’ kids being split from their parents. Before I say my opinion, I will state that I was ready to fight to death to keep my kids in my arms when they were babies; but I stayed away from any position that could lead to such a dramatic situation (and believe me, I saw bad times in communism where my two kids were born). Also, I agree that a solution should be found to this crisis, but in the same time a strong signal should be sent to the world that illegal emigration is not tolerated and is punishable.
So, what about the debate? Those raising the problem of the inhuman nature of the exercise of parents and kids being split were right, but came with no solution or suggestion; they looked like hysterical individuals, good-hearted people with empty heads who did not understand that a problem has a root cause and needs a solution, not finger pointing. And I think they did not dare to name who is guilty of all this: promoters of religious teachings (against birth control) refusing to adapt to new realities.
Did God do a mistake? Of course not. He is the Creator and He shaped this world as he wanted. So, why did He do it this way? Because this world’s auto-destruction was designed from the beginning; overpopulation and all that comes with it is the signature of world end; pollution and insane resource consumption generated by an overcrowded planet will lead to war, and the weapons existing today is nothing else but annihilation. But why should God design a world that will auto-destroy? Because all in this universe has a start, growth, decay and annihilation. One exception to the rule: God, He is eternal… or maybe only by our understanding?
How many of us add the good and the bad in our lives? And if the result is below the water level what do we do? A believer will ask the priest, and I actually saw such an answer, from Billy Graham, one of the best-known evangelists in US. He said hat you should count all the good in your life and you will realize how much God cares.
Now, I do not take anything lightly, and I try to understand what I am told. I found no proof of God watching over me when I had good times. Besides, some of those good times might not be God’s liking.
Besides, I am wondering if a priest really believes my good times were controlled by God, or he says whatever people will pay for (by the way many pastors are rich).
Let’s assume the good is God’s doings and the bad is Devil’s. Many will say there is more harm than good in this world, so, the question is “who is in charge on Earth?”. This is a long debate, there is no room in this blog for it… But my feeling is that neither God or Devil are watching or caring. In biblical times the God walked the Earth and talked to the prophets; not any more, He is not around. We are who we are, with the ups and downs, created by God or the result of evolution, or a combination (someone spreading the seeds of life and the evolution launched) … and now we are alone, on our own.
Do we want God to return and take a look at us?
What I read from the Bible is not encouraging. In biblical times, God walked on the Earth. He did not like the evolution of his creation and wanted to destroy everything ... only Noah and his family escaped the great deluge, everyone else on Earth killed by water. Later, God wanted to teach the world that sin is a punishable offense and his eyes fell on Sodom and Gomorrah. Nowadays, the sins in these cities may seem acceptable, but God does not play the half-measures, the two cities have been erased from the face of the earth, sinful or not, old, young, and children. And there is the story of the Jewish people escaping from Egypt. How did God persuade Pharaoh to let His people go? Ten plagues on Egypt, one worse than the other, culminating with the death of the firstborn child in all Egyptian families, and God did the killings personally.
Do I believe all this happened? No. But the teachings and examples are in the most read books of our planet ... the holy books of God. And what followed is true, recorded in history; in the name of God unimaginable atrocities were committed, which my pen refuses to write. And the horror continues today in those countries where the rule of the land is the rule of God.
God is not watching and should stay that way, unless He is more selective whom to look at, starting with those in power having their hand close to a nuclear button (some buttons bigger than others).
Is our world perfect? NO, too much suffering. But a perfect being (God), if He wanted to, would have created a perfect world. So why did God create us and our imperfect world?
Here is what Cioran, the philosopher I am reading these days says:
“This world was created from God's fear of solitude. In other words, us, the creatures, have no other meaning but to distract the Creator. Poor clowns of the absolute, we forget that we live dramas for the boredom of a spectator, whose claps have never reached the ears of a mortal.”
And he does not stop here, the philosopher is angrier and angrier:
“I am displeased with everything. If they made me God, I would immediately resign.”
Can truth exist without falsehood? No, something exists only in relation to something else, ... and if God created everything, He created the lies too, painting our lives with so much color.
“If the truth were not boring, science would have made God disappear long ago. But God as well as the saints is a way to escape the dull banality of truth.”
Here are some more quotes from Cioran:
“The more we are obsessed with God, the less innocent we are… Thus, God seldom finds himself in an innocent soul.”
… and guess what? Religion is more important for non-believers, because the believers have an easy task, they believe everything without questioning…
“From the cradle to the grave, each individual pay for the sin of not being God. That's why life is an uninterrupted religious crisis, superficial for believers, shattering for doubters.”
Recent celebrities suicide opened the discussion about this troubling phenomenon.
Watching a US news channel, I learned that more than 45,000 people take their own life every year in USA alone.
In Christian faith it is a sin to commit suicide, and the result is clear, percentage wise there are less religious people that commit suicide than the rest of the population. If you ask a pessimist, he will say that a religious person will carry his cross even if life is unbearable, out of fear rather than conviction.
I am not here to praise the suicide, I think it is a very sad decision. Also, I will not enter in a debate about treatments a person needs to avoid such a tragic end, there are specialized channels to tackle such discussions.
I try to understand if faith can save people from taking their own life.
And here is the difficult part. The teaching of the faith and the examples are two different stories. The orientation of faith tells us that suicide is a sin, but if you read the stories in the Bible, there is no punishment for that. King Saul (a prominent biblical figure) took life after losing a battle because he did not want to confront the enemy, but there is no word that God is punishing him. It seems to me that we have the same old story, believe what I tell you and do not investigate.
There is a hidden tragic danger with this blind-fully following the religious leader. What if the leader asks the followers to commit suicide to achieve a certain fulfilment?
We all know famous cases in modern times, but these are not isolated cases, it happened along centuries, even millennia, see some examples in the link below.
My conclusion is that strong religious beliefs might save some souls, but does not solve the problem, in some cases might alienate and aggravate it.
Here are some quotes from Emil Cioran; his work has been noted for its pervasive philosophical pessimism, and frequently engages with issues of suffering, decay, and nihilism…
I would rather trust the sinner than the priest who will kill with his cross.
Along the history in the name of God, authorities in positions of power have done atrocious deeds, killing people in the most heinous ways. Women who have found ways to cure people using natural remedies have been accused of being witches and burned at the stake. When the Church wanted land, accused the owners of heresy, killed them and appropriated the land. The Crusaders killed at will, on their way to Holly Land, all those who remained in their way, without punishment. Many Americas indigenous people were exterminated in the name of God.
Using intimidating tactics (Hell punishment), people fear of unknown, the desire of a protective superbeing, those claiming they represent the wish of God on Earth transformed the concept of a Creator into a merciless punisher, unless… you follow their rule.
Have you ever seen the hate in the eyes of a hard-core believer when someone challenges God’s ways? Luckily in most countries they have to swallow their hate, there is a freedom of speech. But do not try it in a country where the law of God is still supreme.
A priest will always defend the God’s ways. What is wrong here is the difference between a principle and its implementation. If God lay-out the principles, the God’s representatives on Earth are in charge with the implementation, and they claim exclusivity, and that scares me. The principles cannot be challenged if God is our creator, He has exclusivity in what He designed… So many things can go wrong with the implementation, but God’s representatives on Earth will never admit it.
The sinner challenges the existence of God, and that is something you need courage for. Our educational system at home, family tradition, the need of a protective being is all too powerful. Here is what a last century philosopher put it:
“I don’t understand how people can believe in God, even when I myself think of Him everyday.”
I feel more comfortable to talk to a sinner than to a priest.
I do not imply here that believers are bad guys, but I know a lot of believers that are bad guys.
I will take right away from the discussion the good guys that are believers, because that is an easy answer, they will go to heaven as per the Holy Scriptures.
I talk about bad guys that are believers, they confess their sins and are pardoned. Is it so?
Then, there are those that make a simple calculation: go to church, confess your sins, and keep hurting others as usual, and the last day of their life they confess it all; they will be pardoned and go to Heaven, with God blessing. Is it so?
What I would like to know is if a good guy that refused to believe in the God of scriptures will go to Heaven or Hell.
And I will no go far to look for one. I always did what it was expected of me. I performed well in school, I performed well at work, I have a family I take care of, I did not abuse any substance, I try to be polite and not hurt others, and basically respect the Ten Commandments because I believe in society’s moral values; well, all commandments except one: worship God. I come from a religious family; I tried hard to find any evidence of God being God as described in Holy Scriptures but found none.
I remember how alarmed my grandmother was when I challenged her requests to worship God. Of course, she followed the teaching in the church threatening I will end-up in Hell. Note: the discussions were polite and respectful on both sides, still, I felt bullied. My grandmother gave up, but she kept advising me, “just be a good man”. I took that advise.
Let’s say I will go to church and confess some day. Like everyone in this world I have my sins, and as innocent as they may be there are still sins, but God should not accept that, if He is all knowing God, He knows I will do it as a calculation, not believing in the process of forgiveness. By the way, I lived most of my life in Romania, and I heard cases when people that confessed to a priest were then arrested by police; this happened during the communist regime.
And another thing: I do not see a solid scientific theory that God does not exist either, the Big Bang theory is a Big Failure (Bang!). It is too far fetched and the latest discoveries shows that the Universe is expending faster, not slower, as Big Bang theory calculated.
All other theories have too much on the assumption side that proving, science is far from coming with an acceptable concept, at least from my readings.
My advice: if God exists and you want to go to Heaven, be a good person. The church and all the plethora of traditions to keep people around is intended to make the institution rich and has little to do with an existing potential God. The bad guys go to Hell anyway. The bullies, those destroying other lives to do better in this world, murderers … all will go to Hell does not matter how much they will ask forgiveness; a fair God will not grant such a thing, asking forgiveness is hypocrisy. People may ask forgiveness to show they regret what they did, but this will not wipe out the wrong done.
Someone hurts another. And then ask forgiveness. It hurts a second time, since the wounded guy, based on his education feels compelled to say "OK, I forgive you", but the injury he / she has suffered may never heal. The end result is that the bully feels vindicated and the victim just received another shot.
This behavior has deep roots in the Christian religion, going so far as to say "God forgives you if you confess your sins on the last day of your life".
How brutal is that? A murderer will be pardoned so confessed, a hedge fund manager that ruined thousands lives getting rich will be pardoned, thieves, ruthless dictators, liars… I am just wondering how Heaven will look like?
And at the other end, you have honest and caring people who have refused to believe in a God who has never sent a sign of His presence in a convincing way. These guys can end up in hell.
What I see here is the wicked of Heaven laughing good boys in Hell.
Where does this concept come from? From my readings, the roots go back to the Middle Ages, when the Popes at the Vatican needed money, and they spread the word that, in the name of God, they can forgive the sins of the people for certain fees, of course. I totally believe that; a murderer confesses to a priest and then the bad guy has a nice life on Earth and afterlife the God will welcome him with opened arms.