To accept the concept that God created everything requires one to accept that there was a time and a place before there was anything other than God. I am using Sir Isaac Newton’s concepts of time and space in this portion of my discussion on the nature of God because they correspond and conform to the manner in which humans perceive the cosmos. However, to subject this analysis to Einstein’s explanation of the way the universe works and how it exists does not change the outcome of this analysis. The concept of an intelligently designed universe created by an objectively “good” intelligent designer, then, yields the simplistic description: God was; God thought to Godself, “I’m bored; let Me make some stuff.” Then, God made the universe.
Where was this God before God created the universe? God had to have existed in a realm outside the universe. For convenience sake, let’s use the term “God’s home.” “God’s home” may be synonymous with “heaven” for some, but not for others. That is why I choose “God’s home” over a term like “heaven.” This place, “God’s home,” must have been in existence at least as long as God has been in existence. If “God’s home” has existed as long as God has existed, God could not have created “God’s home.” If God and “God’s home” are both eternal but “God’s home” preceded God so God could arise in a place (or “God’s home” came into being simultaneously with God) and therefore was not created by God, then God is not the ultimate creator. However, if God created “God’s home,” then where was God’s residence before the creation of “God’s home?”
One might ask, “Why does there have to be a place where God resides, or at least resided, before God created ‘God’s home?”
If God is the creator, God is the “Prime Mover,” meaning God has a consciousness and created the universe from that consciousness for God’s own purposes. If God does not possess a consciousness, then God has no intelligence. If God has no intelligence, the term God cannot fairly be used to denote an objectively good, thinking creator who created from a willed purpose. Rather, God is just The Big Bang, and everything which followed is accident. In such a condition, the use of the term “God” instead of Big Bang still does not provide meaning to creation, existence, consciousness or life. Within the framework of a belief in God, for creation, existence, consciousness and life to have any meaning, they have to have been created by this conscious being.
Consciousness requires self-awareness. It is only possible to be aware of self if there is something other-than-self of which self can also be aware. All notions of self are derived by dividing the world into things which are self and other things which are other-than-self. Distinctions arise in the awareness of relationships between self and other-than-self. This something which is other-than-self of which God would have had to been aware in order to also be aware of “Godself,” by definition, would have to have been the environment in which God arose. That environment is the place where God dwelt/dwells.
What it all boils down to, quite simply, is that a monad cannot have self-awareness. Without self-awareness, consciousness cannot exist. Without consciousness, there cannot have been a willed creation with meaning. Without a willed creation with meaning, everything which is exists by accident. If everything exists by accident, there is no God.
The word “monad” was a term first applied by a variety of ancient Greek philosophers from the period of human history dominated by pantheistic cultures (including Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras and Plotinus) to denote the concept of “first being” or the totality of all beings. Once Western Civilization became dominated by monotheism the term applied to the idea of God as a single, supreme being. Gottfried Leibniz used the term to denote the basic unit of perceptual reality. Bertrand Russell subscribed to a theory of knowledge which he based on the concept he termed neutral monism and which was an outgrowth of his earlier theory of logical atomism and was influenced by dialogues he shared with Ludwig Wittgenstein. Essentially, neutral monism provides a framework for dividing up the known and the knowable based on the idea that the universe is comprised of only one kind of stuff, neither physical nor mental, but comprised of neutral elements. This was, to Russell, an objective reality. Russell theorized this objective reality existed a priori (before we came into the world), and do not exist by or in the mind. Russell sought to create, and did create, a new kind of logic by which the subjective reality can be converted into the objective. His method for this was to substitute mathematical symbols for subjective words, and convert a philosophical analysis of any topic into a mathematical equation. In this way, Russell believed the subjective mind could analyze the objective reality which exists outside our minds and when is rendered subjective when considered by the mind. I am incorporating all those ideas in my use of the word.
For everything to exist due to a God-willed act of creation, I contend God cannot be a monad, because I disagree with Russell’s premise that the objective can ever be considered by subjective minds even when employing his method of extracting human subjectivity during the process of analyzing and considering the objective. My reasoning goes a step beyond the platform from which Russell based his criteria for contemplation of a monad. My point is that the monad cannot be conscious in and of itself. As stated above, consciousness only occurs by juxtaposing self with other-than-self, and once we enter that platform of consideration, the monad is rendered one element of a duality, and suddenly subjectivity colors every aspect of that universe. Consequently, if God was a thinking being, then God had to exist as one element of a duality, and God had to be one of two eternal elements – God and God’s environment (Godself and other-than-Godself). Since God had to have an eternal environment for God’s consciousness to exist, that environment had to exist a priori, without God having created it. Consequently, the idea of a God as a conscious, ultimate creator is an impossibility within the parameters of consciousness only being able to exist within an environment also containing something other-than-self as the other part of that duality. Hence, it is impossible for a conscious, ultimate creator to have ever existed. Thus, no single, conscious creator of everything can exist.
To be fair to Bertrand Russell, he did not subscribe to a belief in a conscious creator who created from a willed creation, either. His impulse was to accept the universe as a non-thinking neutral monad, and then to do his best to find a way to try and fathom as many details about that neutral, non-thinking monad which was the universe at the moment of creation and as it then developed. He wanted to reconcile physics, cosmology and human understanding.
God as a Perfect Being
For God to be perfect, God’s creation would also have to be perfect. The universe is far from perfect. Many examples of the imperfection of the universe exist. I will present just a few for convenience sake.
Science has recently discovered that there are super-massive, black holes at the center of every known galaxy. These super-massive, black holes suck up matter and energy which come into close enough proximity. However, they will not suck up all matter in their galaxy. This is one imperfection. If viewed from the idea that God has incorporated the super-massive, black holes as a means of gathering parts of creation back into “Godself,” then the imperfection lies in the failure to set up a system whereby all of God’s creation will eventually be returned to “Godself.” Since the Universe is expanding, it will actually end up with a far different fate, one in which all black holes will eventually die, all energy will be used up, with the sole remnants existing as inert, icy cold bodies drifting off into (or more likely, finally finding a motionless resting place within) the oblivion of eternity. If, on the other hand, setting up a system guaranteeing the return of all of God’s creation into “Godself” is not the purpose, and if a thinking God created this system as part of his plan, then God is imperfect because God has created a system whereby the universe destroys itself willy-nilly – creation is in a constant state of self-destruction – and that is illogical, hence imperfect.
The Sun will, in approximately 5 billion years, burn out, meaning there is a finite period during which life on our planet will be capable of existing. This reveals another imperfection because one observes a limitation on the possibilities for life in our solar system (and consequently, also on our planet). If life on our planet has meaning, to place limitations on the potentialities for that life is a negation of that meaning as well as Free Will unless: 1) God has predetermined a length of time during which meaning will, can or must unfold (in that case God has placed a limitation on both Free Will and meaning), 2) God has a finite period of existence (in which case God cannot be God), or 3) God already knows what is going to occur and when the end of life on Earth is reasonable to occur (in which case there is no point to creating anything since the outcome of everything is already determined – again, displaying a negation of Free Will).
It is a statistical imperative that at some future point in time a large object from space will impact the Earth and destroy all life on the planet. Actually, science is sure this has happened at least once, and science is coming to believe perhaps many times, in the planet’s past, revealing an obvious imperfection as the argument folds back into a recapitulation of the discussion regarding the Sun above.
Disease exists on our planet. If God created everything, then disease is also one of God’s creations. Disease is an impediment to the potential for individual consciousnesses to reach whatever those consciousnesses’ ultimate states might be, exhibiting yet another imperfection.
Stillborn consciousnesses (the term being used is not meant to include aborted life; the term “stillborn consciousnesses,” as used here, only intends to relate to natural stillbirths) exhibit an imperfection in “God’s perfect plan” insofar as those consciousnesses never have any opportunity at all to achieve any of their potential. If the bodies of such stillborn life are merely potential vessels for consciousness but not yet containing consciousness, their creation and death prior to becoming imbued with consciousness is also an imperfection since that means there was no point to the creation of any stillborn fetus at all!
Young children die before having a chance to discover their potentialities let alone the opportunity to aspire to reach any of those potentialities. What is the point of that? There is neither fairness nor equability toward providing full opportunities for the expression and experience of life to some “souls” and not to others, exposing yet another example of imperfection in “God’s perfect plan,” since it indicates God plays favorites in terms of one soul over others.
Some people are born into relatively affluent, free and productive societies. Other individuals are born into abject poverty, rife with disease and possessing little or no chance for any real improvement in the quality of their lives. Again, we are presented with an example of an imperfection in “God’s perfect plan” due to preferential treatment for some souls over others. Why would God play favorites? If God does play favorites, then God has biases, making God a bigot, imperfect, and again, in that case, not God.
How about the continued presence of an appendix in the human anatomy? Why did God give us one if we never needed it? If we did need it at one time, we don’t any longer. So, why does God force humans to keep being born with an irrelevant organ which sometimes leads to death? Requiring humans to continue being born with an appendix expresses another imperfection in God’s creation.
These are just a few examples relevant to God being imperfect. I do not believe there remains a need to provide more. In a God created universe, which would have to be exemplary of a perfect creation containing a plan for humanity for God to be perfect and have created a perfect plan, that universe must, by its very nature, provide equal opportunity for all of God’s creations to realize the ultimate meaning inherent in God’s plan. Since the universe which exists does not provide that framework, the creation itself is imperfect. If the creation is imperfect, so is the creator. If God is imperfect, God is not God, and again, God does not exist. So, in either postulation, God cannot exist.
God as Eternal
For God to be the ultimate creator, God must have always existed and must always exist. That means God is timeless, extant prior to the beginning of time and beyond the point when time will cease to exist.
Before we can analyze this concept, it would behoove us to define time. Einstein proved that neither space nor time is a separate entity. Space and time are interwoven into a single, unified whole which science now calls spacetime. I don’t believe it is incumbent upon me to recapitulate the Einsteinian explanation of the universe in minute detail. I do want to relate the famous story of what led a young Einstein to fascinate on the apparent incongruities pertaining to Newton’s explanations of gravity and then give a brief explanation of Einstein’s findings. To do so, I will relate a brief synopsis of the famous story on how Einstein sought the answer to the riddles of what are space and time, and how he comprehended gravity and light functions.
Einstein came to his discoveries as a result of conducting research into a puzzling quandary upon which he pondered as a teenager. If one could travel at the speed of light, one ought to be able, then, to look at and perhaps grasp a particle of light which would be traveling along next to one at the same speed. “What would that particle of light look like?” he wondered. The point of view Einstein was trying to arrive at is: if he and light could be traveling at the same speed, then light should appear motionless in relation to him. However, according to the equations formulated by James Clerk Maxwell in the 1820s, it is impossible for light to appear motionless, even to an object moving at the same speed as light and even if moving in the same direction. Einstein’s goal was to make sense of that paradox.
One of the conclusions of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is that light does not require a medium through which to travel in order to be able to travel. In other words, light can travel through emptiness. If one takes a particular beam of light heading in a particular direction, logically, that beam should appear to be traveling somewhat less than 670 million miles per hour relative to one’s own movement and perception if one is chasing that beam. However, just as logically, that beam of light should appear to be traveling somewhat faster than 670 million miles per hour relative to an individual’s perception if the individual is running in the opposite direction, again relative to one’s own speed (the definition of speed being the distance traveled divided by the length of time elapsed while traveling that distance). Every experiment conducted out from that logical basis (that logical basis being the Law of Gravity according to Isaac Newton and the properties of light and light speed as revealed by James Clerk Maxwell) still explained that light always travels at 670 million miles per hour. It does not matter if you measure the speed of light against a stationary object or an object in motion and it doesn’t even matter in which direction the object might be moving. The speed of light is constant to everything.
The only way for Einstein to approach this paradox was to arrive at some different conclusions from those Newton had regarding the nature of space and time. Einstein made a brilliant leap of deduction. Space and time are relative. They are relative to that which perceives them. Einstein discovered that space and time adjust themselves to whatever attempts to perceive them. The relativity can be explained in the following way. Everything in our physical universe moves through both space and time. If a thing is stationary in space, it is still moving through time. However, when something changes from stationary in space to at motion in space, some of the motion through time is converted into motion through space. Likewise, if something is moving through both space and time, and then comes to a stationary position in space, the process of motion through space is slowed and correspondingly converted to motion through time.
This is how Einstein showed the relativity of the spacetime continuum. One cannot exist in space without also existing in time and an individual’s motion through one dimension affects the corresponding motion through the other dimension. The degree one moves through space affects the degree to which one moves through time. The fact that they affect one another indicates that the two are inextricably interwoven. Hence, they are not two things, but rather, two expressions of interrelated properties of one thing. Space and time are a singularity: spacetime.
Now, let’s get back to the question regarding the possibility of an eternal God’s existence. The result arrived upon from understanding Einstein’s discoveries is to realize time is not a thing. Time is a measurement relative to the existence and location of matter. Since time is a process, not a thing, nothing can be said to be eternal. Since God is not matter, God has no relationship to space, time or spacetime other than the unsupportable allegation that God created them. Furthermore, God cannot be reduced to being a measuring device, which is all time is.
The only apparent way to perceive time, as science has recently discovered, is through a place in the core of the brain which constantly beats as it also constantly requires specific neurons to fire. This activity records the passage of time in the brains for all life which has a brain. Plants and microbes also have encoded in their DNA mechanisms for marking the passage of time. If God is not physiological, then God cannot even perceive time. To define God in relation to time reduces the whole concept of God to both a contradiction and an absurdity.
One can assert that the statement, “God is eternal,” is just another way of saying God transcends the measuring device of time. One can even go on and say, God transcends both measuring devices: space and time, or in the world according to Einstein, God transcends spacetime. I accept each of those statements in the sense that I agree, both would have to be true for a God to exist. If a God exists, that God cannot be of the physical universe because that God would have created that physical universe and the creator cannot also be that which the creator created. Hence, God could not have a relationship to space, time or spacetime other than to have been their creator if, indeed, God exists and is the conscious, original creator.
As previously indicated, spacetime is nothing more than a measuring device anyway, and God cannot be reduced to a measuring device and remain a sentient, conscious being. I would also have to point out that is all any of these concepts are, measuring devices convenient for humans to use in order to impose some sense and order amid chaos, to quantify and qualify human experience in terms humans can comprehend, and to facilitate ways of exchanging information between one another. Consequently, neither space, nor time, nor spacetime can be used as a definition for God or as principles or qualities which express God since none has any relationship to any non-corporeal thing or being. God cannot be eternal, since there is no such thing as eternity and God cannot be merely a process, quality, attribute or measuring device and still be a sentient creator.
I would like to introduce one last point on this topic. If we accept God as the creator of everything, then God created spacetime, and that act of creation occurred, logically, before God created anything else. To qualify something as eternal is to define something with relation to time. In other words, to say God is eternal would be to qualify God in terms of that which God created. The creator cannot be the creation, nor can the creator be quantified or qualified by the creation. God cannot be space, time or spacetime because those are things that God created. Since, under this view, God created spacetime, God cannot be spacetime or eternal in relation to spacetime because eternity is a quality, concept or quantification found only in spacetime.
God as an All-Knowing Being Who Granted Humans Free Will
These two qualities and principles used to express God are mutually exclusive, which is why I combined them. If God is all-knowing, then we cannot have Free Will. If we have Free Will, then God cannot yet know what we are going to do. Hence, in that scenario, God cannot be all-knowing.
The reader may wish to assert that God is eternal (neither defined by time nor bound by time) and gave us Free Will, but because God is eternal, and God, being God, is capable of time travel, God has already seen what we will do with Free Will, and in that sense God remains all-knowing. If that is the case, there is no logical purpose to creating anything. In that scenario, God already knew what an eternity of human activity would reveal, even during the moment of creation. So what was the purpose to making all of us suffer when God already knew the outcomes of our lives? If one answers, “To make sure,” then one reduces God to either being imperfect, to not being all-knowing, or both.
One might also assert that God exists outside space, time and spacetime; where existing outside means that God would have to be other-than-physically manifesting as either energy or matter. In such a scenario’s supposition, God would have created the universe and everything in it as a willed creation. However, once created, God would lose the ability to affect the progress of creation. “Why?” you might ask. God, by being other-than-physically manifesting, could neither be energy nor matter as well as neither dark energy nor dark matter. Hence, Godstuff, whatever, where ever, and whenever that may be, would have to cede the ability to have an effect on the creation which is made up of energy and matter. God cannot affect energy and matter if Godstuff is neither matter nor energy.
I would like to interject a side topic which is casually related to the above discussion. The inability for any other-than-physically-manifesting-God to affect spacetime, results in the understanding that no attributions to gods and goddesses for abilities to exert control over certain functions, relationships and natural phenomena can be made as having any foundation in reality since such claims become irrational and impossible. Likewise, the ideas that some Creator had conversations with humans like Abraham or Moses, or that such a Creator could cause miracles to occur in battle, form stone tablets out of rock, or cause to occur any other erstwhile impossible event or occurrence, are just as much also irrational beliefs in impossibilities. Furthermore, the Creator could not have expressed God’s word into the minds of those who wrote God’s book; nor could this Creator have sent God’s “Son” onto the Earth to sacrifice himself so that humanity would be lifted from the burden of “original sin” which was bestowed upon everyone equally. Again, each of these allegations are founded on beliefs in irrational impossibilities since that Creator is neither energy nor matter, and consequently is incapable of interacting with energy or matter.
Besides, what kind of unjust God is still making people pay for Adam and Eve taking a bite from a piece of fruit off a tree? Of course, we know, the bite of fruit was actually a metaphor for sex. Still, why would God forbid sex (or make of it a taboo) in the Garden of Eden, and yet, once Adam and Eve were expelled from their home, why would that same God tell them to go forth, be fruitful and multiply? These are incongruous inconsistencies emblematic of having been conceived and written by fallible humans and not some kind of actual historical description of the machinations of an infallible God. The concept of original sin was a great way for religious leaders to make sure all succeeding generations would be indoctrinated with the same propaganda, thereby perpetuating the influence of a priestly aristocracy of the wealthy and well-positioned over everyone else.
To be all-knowing, and therefore cognizant of the outcome of all efforts and processes throughout eternity, and yet to have continued with creating everything, evinces no degree of rationality or logic. For God to be God, God must be perfect. To have created from an illogical and/or irrational perspective of causing suffering, especially when knowing the incredible suffering which would be inherent in the creation, renders this God the Creator irrational, illogical and sadistic. If God acts illogically and irrationally, then God is imperfect, and hence, not God.
Why would an all-loving creator bring us into a world of suffering? There is nothing truly loving about that. Why would an all-loving creator provide greater opportunities for personal expression and experience for some over others? I don’t see anything truly loving about exhibiting preferential treatment for some over others, to do so is to express biases. An all loving God would not have endemic prejudices. Why would an all-loving God create a world contaminated by disease? There is no love in subjecting the objects one loves to diseases which run the gamut from mildly annoying to painfully fatal. Why would an all-loving God allow anyone to be born in areas where famine exists? There is no love in starving one’s own creation. Why would an all-loving God allow some infants to be stillborn? That would not be the expression of a truly loving being, since it reduces God to being a “degifter” (the term “degifter” is a variation of the term “regifter” coined and used by the Seinfeld television show) – one who takes back one’s gift before the recipient can enjoy any benefits of the gift.
Given the universe God has allegedly created for us, if there is a single Creator, that single Creator, God, cannot be all-loving.
God as a Being Who Has a Plan to Allow All Humans to Ultimately Join with God
I only see three modes of expression through which this can occur.
One possibility, yielding two modes of expression, is that God created a “heaven” where all the “good” people go when they die. In this theory, humans have to be permitted either one opportunity to earn a right of entry into heaven [mode of expression one], or multiple opportunities (reincarnation) [mode of expression two].
The third mode of expression arises out from a theory whereby only one consciousness exists in the entire universe: God’s consciousness. Pieces of God’s consciousness would be said to be imbued upon humans (our consciousness does not reside in our body), or transferred into humans (human bodies are the vessels which contain consciousness), enabling all people to experience as much of life as possible. At the end of each individual’s existence, that piece of God’s consciousness would then reunite with the greater God consciousness and all the experiences, thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires and actions of the incarnated consciousness would be reincorporated with, or reunited into, the collective God consciousness becoming part of God.
Let’s look at these one by one.
If we only get one lifetime to earn our right of entry into “heaven,” there must also be a place where those who are unsuccessful in earning that right are sent, in other words, “hell.” The creation of a place like “hell” would not be an expression of will from an all-loving God. An all-loving God would want every being created to ultimately find a place in “heaven” with God. For God to create a system which damns some souls to “hell” means that God created an imperfect system in the first place because God failed to create a system allowing for all beings to reach perfection. Again, if God created something imperfect (imperfect beings who cannot attain a place in “heaven”, and a system which is imperfect because in that system some beings are imperfect as well as because the system does not devise an avenue for all of creation to earn the right to enter “heaven”) that makes God imperfect, meaning God is not God, and no God exists.
If God is all-knowing, there is no purpose to proving through deeds that, as individuals, any of us has earned the right of entry into “heaven.” God would already know which of us will and which of us won’t earn that right of entry. In that case, God need only create those beings who God knows will earn their place in “heaven” and never create any of the individuals who God knows will not earn that right of entry. For God to have done otherwise only reduces God to the level of being an imperfect being who created an imperfect universe.
To assert that the creation of the beings who will not earn a right of entry into “heaven” is necessary for those souls who will earn that right of entry to accomplish their goal is to reduce God to being: 1) imperfect, because God created the imperfect souls who will not reach the goal, 2) not all-loving, because God created souls who will be damned, 3) not all-knowing, because God has to set up a laboratory experiment to prove which souls will earn their place in “heaven,” and 4) God doesn’t trust God’s own foreknowledge of events. All four items signify, again, God is imperfect, so, not God.
If one impinges awareness upon the postulation that God created all human beings, then one must come to realize that under the theory that humans get one chance to earn their right of entry into “heaven,” one uncovers within the doctrine no allowance for any evolution of the human species or soul. The failure to incorporate an evolution of the species and the soul in any spiritual system imposes a deterrent to the potential for each human to eventually reach the goal of entry into “heaven.” You see, without an evolutionary arc for humans to travel, one becomes forced to accept that all human beings are, and always will be, imperfect.
The imposition of the tenet that all humans are, and always will be, imperfect (the real intent for denying the possibility of an evolution of souls lies in the position of authority which religious hierarchies can wield over the masses and extend in direct proportion to the degree of guilt which can be imposed by those hierarchies upon the broad mass of humanity) yields commensurate limitations that a) God created imperfection, so b) God is, ultimately and eventually, going to allow some imperfect humans into “heaven,” hence, c) God is reduced to being imperfect for having created imperfect humans, imperfect for allowing some of those imperfect humans into an allegedly perfect “heaven,” and actually, “heaven” is, ultimately, also rendered imperfect because of the presence of imperfect humans in “heaven.”
Let’s look next at the theory of reincarnation. At the time of this writing, there reside on the Earth some 6.6 billion people. However, we also know there have never before been that many people alive at one time. For instance in the late 1960s, it was estimated that there resided on the Earth less than half that amount (about 3.25 billion). My initial and most obvious objection to the premise that humans reincarnate in a variety of lifetimes until each individual, reincarnating spirit has perfected itself and thereby earned the right of “union with God,” is that there is no adequate explanation for the proliferation of human souls as the number of incarnations present on our planet has grown, and continues to grow, exponentially over time. One would expect God would have created all the souls in the beginning, incarnated them at that point in time, and then the roster of souls would be slowly diminishing as souls, slowly over eons, one by one, earn their right of entry into “heaven” or into “union with God” and no longer must reincarnate.
Since that is not the case, where do all the new souls come from? Does God constantly create new souls? If not, where do the souls dwell until they have the opportunity to incarnate? It can’t be “heaven” or in “union with God” if they have not yet earned the right to reach what is alleged as being the goal of existence. It would be illogical for God to allow all the souls to exist in the “goal state” prior to having earned that right and then later force those souls to incarnate in order to earn, over eons of reincarnations, the reward of reaching the goal. When one views the ever-expanding population census, one wonders, why does God force some souls to incarnate before others? There is neither logic nor equability in that kind of system.
Another objection arises from a forward view of the theory of reincarnation. The last objection looked backwards over time. This one looks into the question of the future.
Let’s look at recent trends in population growth. There were approximately 3.25 billion people on the planet in 1970, whereas by 2005, the planet contained some 6.5 billion people. The numbers essentially doubled in the 35 year period which is called a generation. So, it seems in another 35 years we will at least double our population again. If we can’t feed, house, clothe, care for the health of, and meaningfully employ to a reasonable level of prosperity the 6.6 billion people residing here now (2008 estimates), how are we going to provide for the needs of 13 billion in 2050, and 26 billion in 2085 and 52 billion in 2115, etc.?
The refuse created by the 6.6 billion of us presently in existence is destroying our planet. The seas are becoming too polluted to sustain many coral reefs, which are the basis for life in the oceans. There are indications that the Great Barrier Reef and the coral reefs in the Caribbean are both dying. [In July of 2003, a team of United Kingdom scientists compiled data from 263 separate reef sites in the Caribbean. Their study revealed the coral cover of the reefs in the Caribbean has dropped by about 80% during the last three decades. “A lot of the important causes come from things people are doing on land, like pollution, sedimentation resulting from development, and deforestation,” said study author Isabelle Cote, a biology professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.] We are warned that tuna (and all other ocean life caught, processed and sold to the public as edible food) contains toxins like mercury which are hazardous to human consumption due to the toxins in the oceans in which the sea life resides and which is the result of human activity. We treat the oceans as both sewer and pantry!
We have depleted the ozone layer to such a degree that it is unsafe to spend much time in the sun without wearing protective clothing or sunscreen lotion. To be fair, ozone depletion seems to have started to enter a phase of reversal at this point. In a study published by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in September of 2005, scientists inform us that the decline in ozone levels stopped during the period from 1996 to 2002, and there even appear increases in some areas of the ozone. However, we are warned that it could still take decades to restore the ozone layer to its original state. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released information in May of 2006 stating that there has been a decline in two chlorofluorocarbons which cause depletion of the ozone layer, so the ozone’s outlook is trending toward a general improvement, I am happy to report. However, the new discovery in 2009 that rocket launches also deplete the ozone and the rise in the number of launches as well as the number of nations planning and executing launchings creates a potential for even greater ozone depletion in the future, so let’s not get too overjoyed about the ozone recovery just yet.
The air we breathe contains toxins, which are becoming ever-more hazardous too, and not just to us, but to trees, plants and all other life on the planet as well. This effect extends even to our oceans. A July, 2005 report by the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s leading scientific academy, indicates that rising carbon levels caused by the burning of fossil fuels had dramatically increased the acidity of seawater. This threatens the oceans’ ecosystems. Negative effects threaten plankton, coral, shellfish and starfish. Larger marine life may face extinction as they find it increasingly more difficult to extract oxygen from the seawater and their food supplies dwindle. Climate Change and ocean acidification combine to pose a threat to tropical and subtropical reefs, such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the hundreds of thousands of species which live off them. This will also have negative effects on human communities who depend on the reefs for food and as natural coastal defenses to tides and tsunamis. Professor John Raven, chair of the Royal Society working group on ocean acidification has said that the burning of fossil fuels over the past two centuries has changed the chemistry of the oceans at a rate which was 100 times faster than occurred naturally for millions of years.
We funnel so many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that we are already seeing the effects in disrupted weather patterns, increased storm activity and severity, more severe and more numerous forest fires, and the slow but constant melting of not just the polar ice caps, but also sea ice and the last remaining glaciers in North America, Greenland, Iceland and Europe. Not only will this raise ocean levels, but it will also dry up humanity’s (and all other planetary life’s) sources for fresh water. There won’t be enough water for everyone to drink once the glaciers have all melted. Meanwhile, population totals continue to increase, using up all our planet’s resources at rates which continue to increase exponentially.
“An analysis of 20 years’ worth of real-life observations supports recent U.N. computer predictions that by 2050, summer sea ice off Alaska’s north coast will probably shrink to nearly half the area it covered in the 1980s, federal scientists say. Such a loss could have profound effects on mammals dependent on the sea ice, such as polar bears, now being considered for threatened species status because of changes in habitat due to global warming. It could also threaten the catch of fishermen. In the 1980s, sea ice receded 30 to 50 miles each summer off the north coast, said James Overland, a Seattle-based oceanographer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ‘Now we're talking about 300 to 500 miles north of Alaska,’ he said of projections for 2050.” [“Scientists: Dramatic sea ice loss by 2050”, Planet in Peril series, CNN, September 7, 2007.] By the spring of 2008, scientists anticipated that 2008 would be the first year in which North Pole sea ice would completely melt. By mid-July, Russian scientists had to pack up laboratories and return home because the sea ice was rapidly disappearing. It seems, in spite of claims made by Republicans, the Automobile Industry and Big Oil for the last 30 years that Climate Change is a hoax, projections by scientists are not only proving true, but the effects of Climate Change are occurring much more rapidly. In a study released in April of 2009, scientists had discovered that the rise in temperature of the planet had occurred to a level of 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) during the period from 2005 to 2008, and amount that scientists had not expected in their models to occur until 2070! We are roughly anywhere from 40 to 60 years ahead of the schedule previously anticipated. That fact portends some serious exposure to calamitous events in the not too distant future.
The ultimate effects of the ever-increasing accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere is, perhaps (giving those scientists hired by oil companies and automobile makers to protect the business interests of those corporations a benefit of doubt to which they really are not entitled), debatable to varying degrees. However, there is no denying we are altering the climate of our planet at an increasingly and alarmingly rapid pace. That cannot be good.
Now, why would an all-loving God, who is also all-knowing, continue to cause the planet to be proliferated with ever-increasing numbers of human souls, in a manner guaranteed to ultimately result in the elimination of all life on our planet? Is it so that God can amuse “Godself” watching humans reincarnate until each reaches perfection? Furthermore, why would this God create a system (reincarnation) guaranteed to exacerbate the problem by continuing to create new and additional souls with which to overpopulate our planet by doubling planetary population every 35 years?
If reincarnation is part of God’s plan, then the geometric increases in our population are due to God’s plan, which includes ever-increasing numbers of souls (the creation of babies would not be humanity’s fault for failing to control natural urges, but God’s for creating souls to indwell those babies as part of his system of creation as well as for creating those natural human urges which lead to overpopulation). These are signs of a fallible God, with no clear plan for humanity, who does not love us enough to protect us from our own self-destructive instincts, and who, in fact, gave us those self-destructive instincts in the first place, if indeed this God exists and created us.
Why would God even give us self-destructive instincts? After all, if God created us, he also had to have created our instincts. Why would God create a system which enables us to rush headlong into increasing levels of all these dangers as our population continues to grow exponentially with neither an instinct to control our procreative urges, nor the group will to act on the scientific intelligence which sees the ramifications of our actions and seeks to warn us so we can save ourselves from the impending calamity?
None of this is the work of either an intelligent design or an intelligent designer. If anything can be truly said about the state in which we find ourselves, it was ill-conceived, rife with imperfections, biased with prejudices for some souls over others, and guaranteed to lead to mass suicide. We are like lemmings, rushing as fast as we can toward the precipice. Unfortunately for the rest of life on the planet, we seem intent on taking all of that profligate beauty and myriad diversity right along with us into oblivion. I don’t think humanity does itself any favors by attributing everything which occurs to the will of God (instead of taking personal responsibility).
“What about the possibility which I posed where we might all be pieces of a single consciousness which is God consciousness, and we were created so God consciousness could experience the infinite possibilities of the universe, and all our pieces of God consciousness ultimately reincorporate or reunite with God consciousness after death?” you might ask.
Well, one problem with this is it reduces God to no longer being all-knowing. This God requires the experience of life to know life. Another problem is that, again, it reduces God to a fallible being, since all our actions and thoughts are the actions and thoughts of pieces of God’s consciousness, yet we are imperfect as evidenced by the imperfections of our actions and thoughts, hence so would be God by definition and extension since all those actions and thoughts would be God’s actions and thoughts under that theory, even the actions of men like Hitler, Napoleon and Stalin. It is also true, in this system, that all our wars could be reduced to the understanding of God fighting “Godself” since everything would be a piece of God and every action an integral piece of God’s experience. This of course, renders the notion of God utterly absurd.
Furthermore, that theory of existence would mean we don’t even really exist, that only God really exists. Hence, God would have no plan for humanity outside of God’s own desire to experience through human units and the only thing God could ever understand is more about “Godself.” Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise would probably ask, “Why does God need to experience anything?”
The lack of logic within this potential explanation of God’s plan as unveiling through reincarnation is patently absurd and irrational, rendering any God one might postulate as existing, and as being the creator of that system, equally irrational and absurd.
God Gave Human Consciousness the Means of Surviving Beyond Death
Once the brain is dead, apparently, consciousness ceases. That can be inferred because consciousness in humans is dependent on the presence of a fully functioning brain. Where ever brain functions are diminished or enhanced, we observe a like decrease or increase in mental functioning exhibited by the individual. In a coma, the mind shuts down and stops registering new data. Consequently, we can infer that once the brain has stopped functioning upon death, the organ necessary to access consciousness ceases to function. Logically, that would indicate the end of consciousness based on what we can infer from impaired and enhanced consciousness and their relationship to the brain. If, indeed, that is the end of consciousness, then there is nothing of us left to exist in an afterlife. If there is nothing of us left, there can be no afterlife. However, to deny the existence of life after death, all one need do is realize that there is absolutely no evidence of any kind whatsoever to suggest there is any kind of life after death.
Do Buddhist or Taoist Systems of Thought Provide an Apprehension of God?
Neither Buddhism nor the Tao are religions. They are more aptly described as philosophies which provide some meaning to life and offer suggestions on modes of right living. It is also true that neither Buddhism nor the Tao contain any belief in the existence of a “supreme being.” They also contain no references advocating the existence of a “supreme being.” Tibetan Buddhism does posit a realm called the Bardo which is an afterlife existence. Really, the stories associated with it are about as ancient and plausible as those the ancient Egyptians told regarding the Underworld and ancient Hebrews related concerning the hierarchies of heaven. Zen Buddhists conceive of satori, and other Buddhists conceive of Nirvana. However, these are not accurately attributed to an afterlife. They are states of perfect oneness which any individual may attain during their lifetime, but not after.
Most humans believe in a God of some type, and most of those believers are members of some faith or religion. In 1999, a Gallup Poll revealed that 86 percent of Americans believed in God and an additional 6% believed in the existence of a “universal spirit” or “higher power.” So, 94% of Americans in 1999 shared a common belief in the existence of a “supreme being” and that the universe is the result of a willed creation by that “supreme being.” One should contemplate the comfort most gain from a belief that, no matter how bleak things may be now or at any time in one’s life, God will equitably settle all scores. In a world where universal justice does not exist, the idea of an authority higher than any human who will ultimately mete out real justice makes living amid injustice more bearable.
Certainly, another factor assuring the perpetuation of belief in God and the various religions preaching God’s existence arises from the practice of parents in submitting their children to religious indoctrination prior to a time when the child is really able to grasp all the concepts under discussion, weigh out all the arguments and come to a reasoned decision on what they choose to believe. No, parents fail to respect the rights of their children to self-determination and Free Will with regard to beliefs on the issues of creation, origin, ethics, morality and what happens when one dies. Instead, they unwittingly cooperate with those who are intent on indoctrinating everyone possible into their faith, since those parents are taught to believe it is their duty to save the souls of their children. Thus, the doctrines are implanted in minds too young to argue. Then, the belief system is reinforced by the threat of an eternity of hellfire and damnation. In this way, superstition is passed on from generation to generation.
An underlying, inherently pessimistic view of humanity permeates Judeo-Christian dogma. Allow me to explain this assessment by introducing the following, brief critique. Consider that both Judaism and Christianity believe humans are incapable of evolving either as more perfect beings or into perfected societies on their own. Each suggests an end time will occur, and that only God (or Jesus, or both, perhaps even including angels depending on which version of many to which you may subscribe) will be able to settle the disputes by saving the faithful and damning everyone else. After completing the cleansing of humanity (if we did it to ourselves, we’d call it genocide), God will raise from the dead all those departed who God determines as being worthy of salvation. They will then either live forever in the new Eden on Earth or they will ascend to heaven to be with God (depending on the particulars of each religious sect).
The point is that the dogma becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is the case because nearly everyone (at least in the Western world) is indoctrinated into the Judeo-Christian belief system and, on some subconscious level whether they choose to consciously believe in that dogma or not, learns to believe humanity will never solve its own problems. They believe “The Fall” made it inherently impossible for humans to overcome their base, animal natures and urges.
Most humans already invest themselves with what they consider the knowledge that humanity will eventually destroy itself. Because of that belief, there is no sense of urgency with regard to ending conflicts, learning to get along, living in harmony with nature, reversing Climate Change, or even ridding the nations of the world of all atomic weapons. No, every potential avenue to abet self-destruction is safely guarded for that moment in the future when God wills a complete genocide of humanity. Remember, according to dogma, this moment is to be rejoiced. This will bring the end, judgment, and redemption for the worthy. Heck, why wait for God to will it? Let’s get started right now! This is how “conventional wisdom” is informed, and how civilizations commit suicide.
A particular incongruity strikes me. The “so-called” Christian Coalition (those who backed George Bush in his two runs to the Presidency, and who also supported the war in Iraq) seems to be populated by people who believe in the Apocalypse and/or the Rapture. George Bush counts himself among those believers. If these people decide to read current events as signaling the “end times,” they might abet the cataclysm. [In 2008, it was found that 22% of all Christians in the United States believe that the Rapture will occur in their lifetime and an additional 22% believe the Rapture will probably occur in their lifetime. So, 44% of Christian-Americans possess a belief which gives rise to an inherently vested interest in assuring that the Rapture does occur in their lifetimes, meaning they may vote in a Jim Jones and Jonestown-like manner to accelerate and/or guarantee the war which they believe will hasten the onset of the Rapture, or at least they are predisposed to vote in such a manner due to the influence of sermons they hear from preachers advancing that point of view.]
Here is where I find the incongruity. First, let’s assume for a moment the belief system is accurate. How would one ever be certain the times one is living through are the end times? I know there are certain “signs” to which believers subscribe which suggest the immanence of the Apocalypse, and that some of those “signs” are alleged to have recently taken place. However, there is a degree of interpretation which also must be put into consideration to determine the validity of the “signs.” What if this is not the time God has set for the Apocalypse? What if people have their interpretations wrong? (After all, people made the same claims regarding the immanence of the Apocalypse around the year 1000 A.D., too! They sure were wrong.)
These people could destroy the world before God is ready, before God’s timing for the Rapture. Would this not (to paraphrase Jim Morrison) cancel their subscription to the resurrection? Furthermore, if they acted to cause, promote, incite, exacerbate or proliferate some conflict, would they not be as culpable in the eyes of God as any other participant in causing the Apocalypse?
What is the criteria determining one’s worthiness for redemption? Is the criteria determining the worthiness of individuals merely their belief in God and Jesus? One’s complicity in destroying life on the planet is irrelevant in God’s eyes? I do not understand why believers do not see just how this particular tenet of their faith is completely antithetical to the rest of the dogma, and any sane notions of what God’s essence would have to be for the God to be as they otherwise claim him to be.
Another significant aspect of the Judeo-Christian tradition rears its ugly head in the dogma contained within the pages of the Bible stating that God selected a specific group of people to be the “chosen” people. God not only selected this group (the Hebrews of the Old Testament) but also presented the chosen ones with the gift of God’s words. A real God, a universal God who is God for all people (assuming God created all people as God would have to have done to be the ultimate creator and not just some of the people) would not select any one group over all others and proclaim that group as chosen favorites. Such a God is reduced to a bigot who intends to perpetrate genocide on every human not among God’s chosen. This kind of attribute sounds like it must come from a time when modern humans (Cro-Magnon) were eradicating their planetary competition (Java Man, Neanderthal, etc.).
Consider for a moment weighing the differences between religion and philosophy. Hegel pointed out that religions tell us what to believe and adherents must acquiesce if they are to maintain any hope of salvation. Philosophers reject the notion of accepting others’ dogma unquestioned. In philosophy, one finds a variety of systems, all of which keep evolving, and everyone is expected to subject each to rigorous scrutiny, thereby each individual works out for themselves the truths which resonate most with their unique viewpoint and total life experience. It is expected that each individual’s understanding will evolve over time, modified by life experiences, new data, and breakthroughs in science or other gains in knowledge. As each individual evolves, so does the society comprised of those evolving individuals. Consequently, societies and cultures evolve. Philosophy holds out the hope that, over enough time, humanity can approach developing an “Eden on Earth,” with or without the assistance or alleged existence of a “supreme being.”
Hegel goes on to point out in this analogy that religious cultures require the individual to sublimate the self to the whole. However, the philosophical approach would lead to a society in which the individual is required to develop their individuality through a personal approach to life which has been subjected to rigorous scrutiny. However, at all times, all that is asked of the individual vis-à-vis the culture or society is integration. In other words, one is given tools and time to work out their philosophy. One is not required to subscribe to any specific belief system. One is encouraged to be unique, to be their “true self” as opposed to an automaton-like cog in The Great Wheel of the Economy. One can do this in one’s own time. One’s significant responsibility in return is to be kind, fair, understanding, accepting and nurturing to everyone and everything external to oneself, which would be the same treatment expressed toward the individual.
Nietzsche uses stronger terms in his rejection of religion. His assessment was that religion is rooted in slave mentality – everyone becomes a slave to the code imposed by the religion. That being the case, Nietzsche informs us, no individual adherent is free to realize their true potential. He suggested that life is like a work of art, and should be lived the way a great artist would create a work of art, through will to power. The power is not over others, but evocative, impressionist, painfully honest, daring and intense. The power is beauty. The power lies in the art; not in the conclusion, but more appropriately in the method and meandering path which led to the conclusion. In other words, the value in life is in the variety and intensity of life experience, not in the ease and comfort of lifestyle or in the degree to which the individual enjoins in social integration, conformity and sublimation to group norms and expectations.
As an example of how subtle religious indoctrination can be, let’s look at the Biblical treatment of “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” God is alleged to have created a specific tree in the Garden, the fruit from which Adam and Eve were not allowed to partake. A logical analysis yields a first realization that God, consequently, created temptation, not Satan. Since God created temptation, God cannot be a “perfectly good” being! Next, Adam and Eve ate the fruit of temptation as a result of Satan’s coaxing. God banished them from the Garden for that transgression – the first ever transgression, I might add. This shows us how unforgiving God was. You don’t get a second chance, one screw-up and it’s out of the Garden.
The underlying message in this example of religious indoctrination is to stay away from knowledge, both good and evil. “Why?” you might wonder. One clear reason was because the humans who created the dogma felt a need to prevent people from learning too much in order to maintain their positions of power. Any in-depth study of nature, the heavens or interpersonal relationships would disprove much of the alleged and perceived historical accuracy and authority within the Bible, just as such studies ultimately did. Humanity is, thus, left suspended in an approach-avoidance syndrome with regard to knowledge.
Another point which demands our attention arises from God holding Adam and Eve accountable for their transgressions. This is the first lesson in “personal responsibility for one’s own actions.” When an individual does wrong, the individual doing the wrong is held accountable. However, in God’s system, not only were the perpetrators held accountable, but so were every human to follow through the doctrine of “original sin.” How can I be held accountable for what my father did, who he was and how he lived? Is that part of a fair and equitable system? No! But it is a belief to which the Judeo-Christian tradition demands believers subscribe. Sadly enough, with this as our model of how a “superior being” treats inferiors, humanity has treated the planet, all life on it, and each other. We are unforgiving, demanding, judgmental and punishing, emulating the example from Genesis (or did the example given to us in Genesis actually find itself modeled by the human author on all he ever knew – other humans).
Most believers in God raise another objection to denying the existence of God. That objection regards the broad term, “morality.” “Without a God, and heaven and hell, or without karma and reincarnation, there is no reason to live a moral life,” is the argument I hear often. These people believe that a system of rewards and punishments is required to force and bribe humanity into living moral lives. “Without that system, people would run amok,” they state assuredly.
I find this an extremely sad commentary on the level of morality at this time in history as well as a sad commentary on humanity’s view of its own basic nature. These people do not live rightly for rights’ own sake. They have to be bought off (by God or karma) to live rightly. They do not live rightly because they know that makes them a better person at the same time as it creates the climate for a better world. They will only live rightly because they fear hell or karmic retribution, or else because they seek heaven, redemption, or karmic reward.
There is no intrinsic goodness in right action if the motives are not also righteous, and quite frankly, if the motives lie solely in either avoiding a horrible punishment or gaining an amazing reward, then those motives are selfish, not selfless, and consequently have nothing to do with Universal Principles. The Christians’ suggestion lacks logic. They say, “Without a God to enforce morality, everyone would run amok.” However, the real truth in the statement is, “Without a God to enforce morality, I [meaning they] would run amok.” No one can answer that question for me or anyone other than themselves. However, by imputing to an anonymous other what one can only answer for oneself, one only, but always, delivers the deepest truths one knows about oneself.
Immanuel Kant offered a completely different approach to morality. Kant suggested a simple test for determining right action which remains selfless. His test required an individual inquire of oneself, “If positions were reversed, would I feel wronged?” If the answer is yes, then the action is morally reprehensible. If the answer is no, then the action is morally acceptable. The reader might interject that Kant’s test is a variation of the Golden Rule. I agree; it is. However, the Golden Rule is applied solely in one to one interpersonal exchanges. Kant’s rule applies to societies, cultures, nations, corporations, leagues, religions and any other kind of group, in addition to individuals.
Furthermore, Kant’s rule arises from his basic understanding and the framework upon which he built much of his philosophy. That framework resides in resolving inner turmoil over right action and right living by creating a moral and ethical code according to which one can live a moral, ethical and guilt-free life. That code is built by formulating personal principles which the individual is encouraged to perceive as being Universal Principles. The methodology lies in creating a maxim, then subjecting the maxim to analysis from multiple points of view. If no irrationality or incongruity arises, one has arrived at a suitable axiom which can be incorporated into a system of morals and ethics. Incongruities and irrationalities arise if the expression of that maxim by an external entity (person, group, business, nation, religion, etc.) results in the thwarting of one’s own essential freedom and life expression. This should make it clear how distinct, further reaching, and more useful is Kant’s approach in determining right action. It arises by developing a complete and cogent, personal code of morality and consequently, infuses an individual’s entire life with that ethos.
For morality to be moral, it must be rooted in a set of principles each individual arrives at through reflection and analysis. Then, the Free Will of the individual must choose a code by which to live. When an individual makes a conscious choice to live a certain way, the individual is more apt to act morally more often because the individual will feel one let oneself down by breaking one’s own moral code. Instead of shoving religion down the throats of our children, we should give them the freedom to be their true selves at the same time as we teach them how to live by a code they build for themselves through observing the way everyone follows their own codes of moral conduct and by implementing strategies which lead to an experiential morality.
I have seen a lot of “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” bumper stickers. The underlying principle to this kind of belief in a God who pardons all one’s sins is that one begins to feel as if one can do anything precisely because one will receive that ultimate forgiveness. If one is forgiven by God merely by accepting Christ as one’s savior, one feels bullet proof. Therein one finds the real pitfall to forgiveness. If God will forgive someone any and every transgression, why would that someone care if any human forgives them or not, and what ultimate deterrence is there to the commission of sin? The answer is that this someone won’t care and there are no deterrents! Instead, nearly all individuals feel free to embezzle funds, cheat on their taxes, lie to their family and friends, or engage in extramarital affairs. The proliferation of all of those transgressions undermines the moral fabric of the socio-cultural diversity which is at its least Western Civilization and at its most spans the globe in contemporary times.
Once an individual ruptures the bubble which is their moral code, they become emboldened. Why does this happen? I reject the argument offered by many religious people who blame human failing on “The Fall” and the resulting “original sin,” which they claim cause imperfections to manifest among humanity. Those leaders would have you give up personal responsibility for your actions, accept your inability to control your own life and turn to religion.
It is endemic in all organized religious beliefs that individuals cannot have personal relationships with God. In all cases, a minister, priest, rabbi or other acknowledged representative of the religion must intercede between God and the individual on the individual’s behalf. This is the case even among “born again” Christians who hear from ministers that they need to develop a personal relationship with God, because in practice, all they are really telling you to do is reinforce the conditioning they impose on you. They suggest you can have one way conversations with God expressing a level of obeisance consistent with that minister’s interpretations of the Bible and Christian dogma. A personal relationship with God would mean a two-way communication. However, ordinary humans cannot receive communications from God. Consequently, the church to which one belongs, along with the church ministers, interprets for its members the will of God in any and every situation. In this methodology, one apprehends only the illusion of a personal relationship with God.
One may pray to their God in a personal sense, but the only answers one ever receives come from one’s clergy. In this way, there is never more than an illusion of a personal relationship with God. Nonetheless, this method of indoctrination forms an effective strategy for allowing clergy to gain control over the minds of their flock. Because the clergy members claim to speak for God, they acquire and exert the authority of God. At the same time, they also ingratiate themselves on their congregation through the influence exerted. This is an incredibly disempowering approach to spirituality. At every turn, organized religion makes of itself an indispensable and autocratic authority with power in and over every aspect of the lives of its adherents. This is slavery at its most basic level.
One last area of interest lies in the consistency of religious dogma. Christianity, over the last 2 millennia, has had to revise many of its doctrines and beliefs, such as, for instance, the idea that the universe revolved around the Earth. Christian religious authority, like that of Jewish religious authority, derives from the concept that the writings upon which their religious dogmas' are based are divinely inspired words whispered from the mind of God and expressed through mortal prophets who received God's messages. If that is true, then none of the dogma associated with those religions should ever have been wrong since they came from the Creator. Since, indeed, incredible amounts of the dogma have proven to be incorrect (such as the idea the heavens revolved around the Earth which was supposedly the center of the universe) or, at the least, so fanciful as to be absurd, the whole doctrines crumble in the pervasive presence of errors in a doctrine which should have had no errors.
For morality to express any value to both the individual and the society of which the individual is a part, the moral code must incorporate: 1) Universal Principles, 2) attunement with the natural expression of the individual’s life force, 3) integration with the overriding society or culture, 4) acceptance of the right for all individuals to express their Free Will freely, 5) a unified and consistent ideology and morality and 6) a harmonious pursuit of both individual and group goals. For a moral code to operate most effectively, all individuals must participate in defining their own code and invest that code with the conviction of their deepest and most fervent hopes. This code should describe for each individual the kind of world in which everyone will live, grow and thrive. A society cannot proscribe against killing and yet confer legitimacy for killing by the society as a whole in the forms of capital punishment and war, and still retain any degree of consistency which is necessary to be truly moral.
God has never existed because God, as the conceptualization of a thing or being, is an impossible supposition which has no roots in rational analysis. God did not create man in God’s own image. Humanity created God in humans’ own image: full of failings, imperfections, confusion, foibles and illogical dramas and dreams.
All notions of God which exist arise out from the long evolution of humanity pondering on the mysterious. The concept first grew out of the minds of our most ancient ancestors who had the first dreams and decided they had to be communications from, what else, a supremely powerful being. I’ve seen films of apes making pilgrimages and worshiping nature, just as early humans certainly did; and there is no religion on the face of the planet which would extend to apes any opportunity to unite with God. Yet, it is apparent that some apes are coming to the conclusion that a mystical force at least interplays with them in their lives to a degree causing them to feel the need to worship that force. This is the strongest indication yet that religion is nothing more than echoes from the deepest reaches of fear and hope which were paramount in the minds and lives of our earliest ancestors. The concept of God has its roots in the greatest of human fears, the fear few can face: the fear that death is final. Accepting the finality of one’s own mortality is the most liberating thing one can do.
Our insecurities, our narcissism, and our vanity, along with the residual frightened animal lurking in our subconscious all demand that we be rewarded for our suffering. We feel and believe that we must find rest and peace in another life free of strife and struggle. We fervently believe that we must last beyond our final breath.
So, we’ve constructed an evolutionary path from nature deities to Olympians and on down to a final, monolithic, singular, “supreme being” as we’ve grown intellectually ourselves. I find it highly ironic that those who hold the strictest of beliefs in religious dogma, those who believe the Bible is the unadulterated word of God, refuse to accept evolution. Consequently, they cannot see that even religious dogma has evolved in proportion to the growth in human intellect. Perhaps the best way to end this discussion of God is with Woody Allen’s closing lines from his movie, “Love and Death,” “If it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. But the worst you can say about him is that he’s an underachiever.”