a friend of mine posted on FB
"Do People Really Care? I mean Really????...or do they just TALK THE TALK? Are People REALLY there if you have No Food? If you need your Electric Bill Paid? Need Diapers...or Formula? Or do People turn their heads and look the other way....Are You Really Selfless? or Selfish? Honest to God...I really do wonder..."
and it put a smile on my face because it's a question that often times plagues me while I'm worming around under someone's house installing air conditioning duct and chasing off spiders and dodging various kinds of poo. I have had a most unusual religious evolution and as a result, my understanding of the Bible is nothing short of Hersey of the worst kind. But it makes my world make sense to me.
I believe that all religions come and go, shrink and expand, fade and bloom because they have messages within them that speak to us. They help us make sense of this crazy world. They explain deep truths that help us survive and be better than the rest of the animals. They are very very dear to us, and most of us inherit ours from our parents.
Today we have a division between Americans, and indeed, some other parts of the world are involved deeply in very closely related issues. There are the religious conservatives who insist that the Earth is 6000 years old and it was created by the Hand of God as the special place for his only True People and it's (insert religious group here) going to heaven and everyone else is wrong. Then we have the Ancient Universers who embrace the Big Bang and scientific method.
We have everything in between and a whole bunch who don't give a dang.
So what's the truth of it? How much genuine personal thought have you put into it? Utilizing your own critical mind? Not relying on the testimony and instruction of others which has convinced you of your current belief? Using the information you have, and rendering your own opinion....
The archeological evidence is monumental. The fossil record is astonishingly measurable and predictable. DNA evidence is clearing up the amazing accuracy of Charle's Darwin's understanding of genetic heredity and species differentiation. Carbon Dating Deniers simply do not understand the math and theory involved. There is no doubt that it's not "accurate" every scientist realizes that today's measurements are subject to change if new information comes to light. But carbon dating is only off by a few percent. The believer though, cannot allow change. Or can they.
Galileo was forced to recant his teachings that the Sun was the center of the Solar System and that the official Church teaching of an Earth Centric Universe was the God's Honest Truth. He lived out his last years under house arrest and not allowed to teach. His books were banned until the late 1800's. He was lucky.
Giordano Bruno was a contemporary of Copernicus, he was one of the Great Minds of our planet and was burned at the stake and all of his writings were banned and possession of them was punishable by death.
the list of reasons for burning him were:
* Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith and speaking against it and its ministers.
* Holding erroneous opinions about the Trinity, about Christ's divinity and Incarnation.
* Holding erroneous opinions about Christ.
* Holding erroneous opinions about Transubstantiation and Mass.
* Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity.
* Believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes.
* Dealing in magics and divination.
* Denying the Virginity of Mary.
burned at the stake, alive, and books banned!
I won't take you into the detail of the Flat Earth and the Round Earth, I know we all remember that one, and how most people thought it was flat, and then things changed, and it wasn't Heresy anymore, and now we all know better.
Problem is, no one wants to live in that "embarrassing generation" that has to come to grips with the transition.
Who among us believes the earth is flat, or that the sun revolves around the earth? Seriously.
the earth simply cannot be 6000 years old. I'm not exactly certain, but from the proposed 14.3 billion year old theory, our sun has gone through a number of gathering up and getting hot phases, explosions and reformations, it's in it's 5th life cycles according to current understanding. It takes 4 life cycles for the heart of the star to make iron from the hydrogen present at the Beginning. Each rebirth creates heavier elements in the inner heart of the star. (or is it 5 rebirths, someone will set me straight.)
without Iron you wouldn't have red blood.
And before you get all defensive, look at how much they got right, without having a telescope or math with arabic numerals! "In the beginning the universe was void and without form" "And he said let there be light, the there was light." Most of the creation myth could be loosely construed as a mythilogical account of human kind's movement out of the lost paradise of the Rift Valley in Africa, which is most likely the origin of the Garden of Eden myth. It's the birthplace of our ancestors. It went away due to Climate Change. The various species were scattered to the corners of the earth just like the Tower of Babel myth explains to us.
But you see, my Book of Genesis only needs two verses. In the beginning there was the Void, and God said let there be light.
How much more Amazing is a God who simply had to make some stuff and let it happen. The scientific evidence is stacking up deeper every day that throughout this vast universe, everywhere the conditions are right, and the big rocks don't destroy, there is likely life. We live in a shake and bake universe, and to me, that's more amazing than 7 days and the Hand of God. The Universe seems to be governed from one end to the other by mathematics and predictable attractions. We're only now finding out that all visible matter only makes up about 15% of what's out there! 85% of the universe is invisible to us because it's made so differently than we are, we can't interact with it!!!
Maybe God is over there trying to talk to us? Until we look I guess I'm going to have to remain without an opinion.
Carl Sagan felt that Atheists were a little bit silly, in that their disbelief in God was just as much a Leap of Faith as Belief in God. Until every corner of the universe has been uncovered, and there is no white beaded old man glad that we finally found him, I'm not going to form any Belief on the matter. To do so is to convince yourself that the Improvable is True. I worry this could upset one's entire cognitive function. This enforcement of a contrary belief system between the obvious and measurable and the accepted and invisible.
nature is my religion and my tiny humble place in the Universe has brought me a spiritual understanding of Life I cannot really explain well.
This isn't Creation vs. Evolution, reds vs. blues, or myth v. history. And when it comes to belief systems, it is our nature to be aggressively defensive, for our belief systems have served our forebears well enough to get us this far, to change it would be foolhardy! But the Earth stopped being flat, and the Sun stopped revolving around the Earth.
The Earth will eventually stop being 6000 years old. It's just a matter of which generation is strong enough to shoulder the embarrassment of waiting so long to challenge what our ancestors have demanded we believe, or die
My "studies" have been informal, I'm no one of importance or education. My recipe for wisdom has been very unconventional. I've read some book and have some audio books about biology, anthropology, philosophy, Early Christianity, and the Origins of Satan, and some Buddhism and shallow reading on half a dozen other belief systems, a psychology text book and a half, blah blay... and a whole lot of internal, dramatic turmoil and hard knocks... slowly add the ingredients while alternately stirring and beating, but do not allow it to rest, for 44 years. And then you'll have my understanding of things! We all have a different recipe. The more recipes you know, the better cook you become.
Our "modern" understanding of God is really very insulting to my understanding of God. If there is a God in my Universe, all he had to do was clap his hands and walk away. Instead of getting angry when Genesis is accepted as myth, understand that a myth is not just fiction. Myth is something far more elegant and magical. Myth is telling a truth, with a fiction. Because some moral and philosophical concepts are hard to understand when presented as dry words to an unprepared mind.
So a myth is utilized to convey a truth. My favorite example is the part of the Bible where Jesus sends his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee while he remains behind to pray. He will catch up later. The weather is bad, and the boat is making no progress. Jesus walks on the water and saves them.
If you see the Bible as a history. Then that's exactly just what happened. Jesus walked on the dang water, and it proves he's the Son of God, and you should worship him and thank him for dying on the cross...
But what do you learn from this teaching, viewing it as a history. To fear/love Jesus' Dad, toe the line or else and you'll get into heaven. And by the way, pay your tithe and never mind what your kids are telling you we are doing to them, Satan is making them lie to you...."
If you take it as myth, you get the following from it. If you can embrace these teachings that Jesus has brought you, love your neighbor as yourself, give up your worldly belongings and help the poor and needy. Forgive your brother 70x7... etc Then you too, will be able to cross the stormy seas of life as though you're walking on dry land. No longer with the giant waves of emotional agony, and demonic lusts rule you! You will be able to take it all in stride and with gladness in your heart, just as if you were guaranteed eternal life in paradise. Amen.
I'm getting a little sarcastic, lol. I lost the original version of this in a tragic cut and paste indecent. I don't want to talk about it.
We need to erase this division between us. Is whose version of How the Universe began really so important that we must kill one another, or just judge and be hateful to one another? Dont' we have greater issues at hand that everyone needs solved, believe and unbeliever alike? For example, giant rocks from space. There's a real threat to all of us that makes gay marriage and abortion insignificant. But look at the anger and wasted time and money we spend on these things compared to protecting ourselves from what's Out There. We all know big rocks fall on the earth, and may kill us all, but whose book is True is more important to us?
Like my friend said. "Do people really care?" and for the most part, until one evolves mentally to understand the suffering of his neighbor, and not allow them to suffer if they can help it, then the answer is no.
I listened to this one audio book about Gnosticism. Certain early Christians believed that "Christ" represented the "noble character within". And if you think about it, until there is a Second Coming of "noble character within" It is going to be Hell, here, on Earth. And no matter how hard we pray, it won't happen until each one of us steps up to the plate.
I think the real reason the Jesus story spoke to so many people during it's rise to the mainstream, was that Jesus was an ordinary Joe. He was a construction worker. He really really believed in his religion, he had the balls to speak out, he was probably the first one to sell his belongings and help the poor. I have come to suspect that his public ministry began when he finished spending all his own fortune helping the poor and healing the sick.
If Jesus came into a quarrelsome house, and he spoke with the people, and instructed them in proper family interaction, he healed them, in fact, given the limitations of the language and the predominance of religion in their world view, there was only one way to explain the process of helping someone get over their anger problem was "casting out a demon of anger" it was viewed as a healing to teach someone to calm their troubled mind and get on with their life! He was a folk hero, a philanthropist who really believed in his God, and they killed him. They killed him because they didn't want the status quo upset The framed him, and killed him slow and horrible in front of God and everybody, over greed and power. And his only crime was his beliefs.
That pisses me off, even as an Agnostic! It makes me want to change my life, help people, be more like Jesus. He is a good role model, even if you don't believe.
But now we must come back to the Book. Much of it is myth now, and no longer history. How do we come to grips with this shaking of our belief system? Can society survive it? Will it ruin religion, will God die?
All I can say is, people have been predicting Armageddon every other year since Christ died. Christ himself expected the end to happen within 50 or so years of his death. When the Earth stopped being round, did religion perish? When the Sun stopped revolving around the Earth, did Chaos strike and Anarchy rule? No. But when these were all the politcal rage, those were the fears and concerns.
Just like today.
My prediction is that all but a few will be comfortable with a 14.3 billion year old Universe before too much longer. We will be educated that this 6000 year old Earth is a recent phenomenon and America's current romance with it was born out of McCarthyism and the Red Scare. During the 1800s and the Enlightenment, you would have been embarrassed to believe in creationism if you were having a talk in a restaurant. But the tides of reason change and often they're powered by emotion and greed.
And as for God and the Bible. I predict it will always be a Best Seller, and that it He will continue to speak to people and help them attain wisdom and humanly grace for countless centuries to come.