Saturday, 7 December 2013
The God Defence
THE GOD DEFENCE We humans are a funny lot. From a very early age we discover that life is not all peaches and cream. As children we are quite often prevented from doing what seems natural to us by well-meaning adults. At an early age we perceive this interference to be designed specifically to admonish us for admonishments sake and may seem to us unreasonable. We become unhappy and automatically, without further rational thought, associate our unhappiness as being caused by the person doing the admonishing. Explanations of morally or socially acceptable conduct do not apply to us as we have yet to develop those concepts. Later, as we get older, we concede that we must comply with a certain behavior and begin to understand that our actions have consequences. This does not prevent us, however, from finding blame outside ourselves when things do not go quite the way we envision or plan. We have been conditioned by our upbringing to believe in powers greater than ourselves or anyone else for that matter. When things turn out to be complete disasters, we lose our ability to look too closely at events that may have led to these and search instead for the easiest place to shift the blame. If the disaster is big enough and the suffering unabated, i.e. a house fire, car accident, business failure, relationship problems, death of someone close to us, then we permit ourselves to blame an invisible force which, depending on our culture, will range from fate to God. We do whatever is necessary to distance ourselves from the responsibility for the outcome. In this essay, I will concentrate on the “God” protagonist since this is where we place most blame throughout our lives. God is blamed for everything! Of course, for some, God is also responsible for all good things in their lives, although many people tend to forget the God connections when things go well, preferring instead to take direct credit for positive outcomes. The disparity is obvious to any observer but is quite often overlooked in the excitement of success. So, God is only relevant when things go wrong and ignored when things go well. God makes an excellent scapegoat. The reason that “God” is a scapegoat is that we have learned through our religious upbringing that HE is the beginning and end of all things. The buck truly stops here. In addition to being the ultimate cause of all things, God is also used as a defense to denigrate all those whose image of life differs from our own. If someone’s lifestyle appears offensive or negative to us, it is generally because our Judeo-Christian sense of morality has been approached in ways that make us uncomfortable and therefore is considered inherently evil to us. This gives us license to judge and treat people with impunity in spite of the apparent disparity with religion’s teachings on love and compassion and tolerance. Tolerance is the first of the Judeo-Christian values that is discarded by the wayside, followed closely by love and compassion. We do not demonstrate compassion or love to someone we find intolerable. So, “God” is used as justification for behavior that is hateful and harmful because the teachings will contain passages that support us. Here is the problem with this point of view: ALL of the writings on the subject of God, Allah, Jehovah, or whatever name you choose, are written solely by MEN! “God” did not write anything at all! EVER! Although there is no clear historical reference to the age of the Old Testament, it is fair to surmise that it is at least 3 or 4 thousand years old…perhaps older. That does not make it any more valid. On the contrary, we should realize that, based on currently acceptable knowledge, science and proven hypotheses, the ancients who wrote these texts would be considered uneducated, even ignorant of the mechanics of the world we live in. The lack of basic knowledge about the world around them led them to speculate in their own ways about how the universe functions. I was recently reminded of a very graphic example of this when a meteorite landed, with some rather disturbing results, in northern Russia. The event was captured on film by at least a couple of dozen observers and quickly made the internet buzz. Scientists were quick to describe the event in terms that virtually everyone on the planet understood because the explanations contained only phenomena that were completely proven. Aside from the spectacular nature of the event, no one doubted the explanations. In ancient times, such an event would have been considered an act of God and someone would have attached a reason based on His wrath. No educated person has attached any supernatural meaning to the more recent event, although some ignorant observers have chosen to blame the “gays” who have recently been blamed for every disaster no matter how valid the scientific explanations! Most of what they thought all those years ago has long since been relegated to the annals of history and mythology. With the expansion of human knowledge, we now better understand the workings of the universe and because of these advances we are able to continue to study and observe with an objective eye. We no longer need to rely on the God effect to understand. Yet far too many people continue to insist that everything in the bible is true and holy by choosing not to apply modern knowledge to ancient events. Far too many people also refer to bible passages to support any argument that they present, choosing only those which make their viewpoints acceptable and avoiding those which disprove them or that do not suit their own lifestyles. The truth of the matter is that men are fallible. No one throughout history has ever been recorded as the perfect and flawless human being. No such human has ever evolved. They spoke with the tongues of their own times and attempted to establish order in the midst of chaos by aligning themselves with an invisible, unfathomable “GOD”. Once they had established themselves as the true voices of “God”, then no further argument could be advanced. Unfortunately, things are much the same today. Those who continue to align themselves with “God’s will”, do so in spite of the conflicts that this represents. They choose service to “God” over tolerance and compassion for their fellow beings. If anything in our world can be responsible for the difficulties which exist between groups of people, it is our dependence on such writings to provide us with acceptable and unacceptable standards of being and living. Organized religions are wholly responsible for the propagation of the differences between people being viewed with judgmental eyes and providing labels to identify them as evil. However, religion is not really to blame as we have sufficient information today to prove much of the erroneous nature of some of these writings, yet many continue to insist that the word is final. Here are just some of the points that we need to consider when we decide to study these scriptures. The first point to consider is the immutability of “God”. “God” is not human and possesses no human frailties or faults. This view is held by academics and theologians. However, religious types love to refer to the “wrath” of God and of things that “please” God. Of course, if “God” is immutable then he does not express emotion of any kind thereby making the concept of his “wrath” or “pleasure” untenable. The paradox of the book of Genesis presents us with God’s “punishment” toward Adam and Eve on the basis of disobedience. So, already here God is oddly displaying human characteristics. Then there is the question of “God” as creator. This can also be rejected on the pure basis of his immutability. He has no needs or desires. If this be the case then we must ask ourselves: “Why creation?” Surely the act of creation is in itself an expression of the desire to create. If desire exists in “God” then he displays a very human characteristic and therefore emotion. This destroys the concept of immutability. “God”, it is said, created all things from nothing. This is yet another example of complete ignorance of known physics and all other sciences. The point is that “nothing” cannot become “something”. In order that nothing can become something, this would mean doing away with nothing, but how do you get rid of something that does not exist? Nothing can only be defined in relation to existence. Nothingness has no reality of its own since it cannot even be conceived of in the absence of existence. If something appears, this means that the potential for manifestation is already present. This rationale is supported by all the sciences that nowadays can trace the cause of all things we observe to its lowest form and to the beginnings of the universe as we know it. All things in our universe can be traced back to 1032 seconds after the “big bang”. Unfortunately science has yet to develop ways of exploring beyond this event. However, with the rapid advances in science, it will no doubt be possible in the future to observe beyond this and thereby give us a cause for the event. History shows us that our concept of creation has shifted from age to age depending on the accepted wisdom and knowledge of the times. With every new discovery, the act of initial creation is moved further back in time to the point where further observation is not presently possible. Even those scientists directly involved in these discoveries have in the past been willing to concede God’s intervention at the point where our knowledge stops. Nonetheless, it seems clear that assigning every aspect of existence to a creator is nothing more than a feeble attempt on our part to discover a “start” point to satisfy our religious beliefs. If modern physics and quantum theory have taught us anything that cannot be dismissed, it is that every result or effect comes about due to a cause. In other words, “something” had to be present for anything to manifest. All areas of astrophysics are busily concerned with finding ways to observe both the “big bang” and its causes. It is becoming increasingly apparent and accepted that the event was not likely unique suggesting that a universe already existed. But for many orthodox believers, this is not enough. God cannot be circumvented. “God”, then, is used as the ultimate bullet that is fired to the start of existence so that we can stop speculating about the real causes of our world and saves us from taking on any responsibility for the way the world is and will be. Parallel to these assumptions, science continues its onward journey and, lo and behold, it appears that each of us acts in a way that affects the entire universe. Of course, this is a great deal to contend with when you are taught that everything you do is monitored by “God” for use on the “day of judgment”. In reality (that which has been observed by science) all of our actions have a domino effect which might eventually have consequences that we could not even imagine. So, every day is judgment day! Of course our actions have immediate consequences, either those we intended or those which arise as a result of unexpected conditions and circumstances which change their effects. Therefore it is imperative that we consider our actions at every turn so that we act in a way which is not only beneficial to ourselves but also to our environment. This means that we must consider our motives and actions in the same breath. In a way this is also promoted by most religions but too often the motivation by religious people seems to be the religion itself and not necessarily to the benefit of its followers. It is essential that we, as a species with intelligence, develop a form of spiritual awakening that clarifies our role in the world we live in. Spiritualism is not merely for the minority elite but is essential for all of humankind to develop a deeper connection with our universe, but mostly with our fellow humans. We need to understand the extent to which we truly are dependent on one another. Once this is achieved, we will be filled with a true empathy and compassion for every living thing. When we develop these qualities, we devote ourselves to the protection of all living beings and of our environment to the benefit of all. This makes us a good person whether we believe in “God” or not! Salvation is to be found in knowledge and in the tolerance and compassion that it promotes…not in superstition and mythology.