Bad Scientists and the Question, “Where Did God Come From?”

bad scientists

Chapter 1

“Where did God come from?”

People toss this question out there like it’s the Ace of Spades– like it’s some sort of trump card against Christianity, proving their alternative beliefs are more logical than “that horrific children’s story” found in the Bible.

I guess I can’t really blame anyone. With so much information out there, it’s hard not to think we’re on the cusp of explaining every mystery away with science. Some seem to have read just enough one-sided headlines and memes to think we already have explained it away. Information is everywhere and yet no one seems to really be interested in actually studying anything that can challenge or potentially confirm their worldview. A nine-minute YouTube video is pushing it, so forget about a full documentary or an entire book. On top of that, seeking something out intentionally sounds too much like a project from work or school, so we basically have to stumble across it or have a friend send it to us directly. We can hunt down the best deal on Amazon or Etsy, no problem, though. We’ll read reviews for a solid hour before finally buying that $40 blender. Hunting down the best answer to our eternally-impactful questions is apparently still best left to apathetic chance (pardon the sarcasm).

This has become the great irony of our culture, in my opinion. We’re obsessed with science, and yet we are horrible scientists.

Chapter 2

The scientific method goes like this:

  1. Form a hypothesis
  2. Test the hypothesis and observe the results
  3. Modify the hypothesis based on our findings and continue testing

Science says this is the way to come to trustworthy conclusions. It’s how we learn things. But when it comes to our own beliefs, we seem to lose interest somewhere between forming our personal hypothesis and testing it out to see if it actually measures up against reality.

Forming a hypothesis is incredibly easy. We can do that in the shower or over a lunch break with absolutely zero knowledge or awareness of anything that’s ever been discovered or provided before us. Despite science being entirely built on the value of knowing what has already been discovered and tested, and despite being more equipped than any other generation to find and use such information for our own benefit, none of that apparently matters anymore.

Admittedly, testing our hypothesis takes a bit of work and commitment. It means reading some books and articles (from multiple perspectives) and tracking down new questions that come out in the process. It’s not enough to stick with sound bites from speakers we know we already agree with– or want to, at least.

But we don’t like doing that. It’s too time-consuming, unsettling, uncertain… something. And yet, science must have the answer, even though so few believe the scientific method is reliable enough to apply to our own beliefs.

We are, without a doubt, the worst scientists in the history of the world.

If we want to know truth–truth that is unaffected by other theories– there can be no threat to considering any and every opposing perspective. Freedom to consider and learn more from the testing of our hypothesis against others is how we gain more confidence in what we believe. It’s how we gain a greater ability to relate to and respectfully converse with others who disagree.

Chapter 3

There’s this growing mass of people who grin as they drop these ultimate questions like “Where did God come from?” into the conversation as some sort of proof that every theory which includes any form of supernaturalism is misinformed and ill-advised. But here’s what no one likes to admit: regardless of what we believe, and whether we like it or not, every belief system must answer some kind of ultimate question that really doesn’t have an answer our brains can comprehend. Whether our theory goes back to matter and evolution, or recyclable positive energy, it all has a beginning we can’t explain.

If we’re all the product of evolution, where did matter come from? We’ve proven there once was nothing. Science has inconveniently confirmed matter cannot create or cause itself. Every action, in fact, must have a cause. So what caused dust to start breathing?

It might sound innocent enough to say life is all about bringing positive energy to the world, but it also completely ignores where matter came from. And forgetting for a moment that this theory has no historic or scientific context whatsoever, what is it exactly that’s powering the universe’s positive and negative energies? Does this Energy Source or Universe have a mind or the capacity to be known? Because if it does, isn’t this theory just a way to recreate God into something we can manipulate and don’t have to answer to?

Chapter 4

The truth is, if you claim to exist, you must explain how you know that to be true, and why people should consider your profound ideas to have something to do with truth. This is more difficult than you might think, since without God, truth is baseless, morality is a chemical reaction that no one can be held accountable for, and the concept of inherent value is an inexplicable illusion. The great irony in all of it is that it’s only with the existence of a Creator God who provides consciousness, value, and purpose that anyone can try to claim their rebellious ideas are universally true and profound in the first place.

Not one theory of origin or higher power can supply an answer to their ultimate question that allows us to measure or understand it. And so deists are inevitably left with the only “logical answer” to this question that is honest enough to follow.

God, who is beyond nature (super-natural) and therefore outside of what science can observe or measure. God, who is outside of time because time began with and is inseparable from matter. God, who therefore has no beginning that can be explained by the numbers or brains He created.

So then the real question becomes, “Which religion’s god is the true God?” And if you find yourself wanting to affirm all of them as equally true, I’m glad to hear you’re open to considering more than just what you were raised to think, but Aristotle’s law of noncontradiction says you’ve got a lot more testing to do.

 

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16 thoughts on “Bad Scientists and the Question, “Where Did God Come From?”

  1. Very good Kyle and well thought out…though you were hitting the limit of my “nine minute YouTube” attention span…. Merry Christmas to you and your bride, 🙂

  2. Where did God come from?

    In my book ‘Tao Te Ching Revisited’ . . . (an interpretation) of the original Chinese where Lao Tzu answered that question at the very beginning of his treatise . . .

    Verse one:

    Before the beginning there was the Unknown.

    In the beginning the Unknown split into two parts. (big bang?)

    One part remains the unknown, (the multi-dimensional spirit world)
    the other formed the heavens and the earth. (our known universe)

    Man, unable to understand the Unknown, either worships it or denies it’s existence.

    There are some things in life that must be experienced in order to understand them. (using our five senses)

    Listening to music.

    The taste of a fresh peach.

    The touch of a lover.

    The scent of fresh rain in a forest.

    The view from the top of a mountain.

    In all these cases, to deprive the senses from experiencing, is to deprive the knowing.

    The Tao (God) must also be experienced.

    Give her (him/she/it) a name and she becomes a religion. (we created God into our image)
    Ignore her and she will never cease knocking at your door. (God is synonymous with the known universe as well as the Tao. God is the physical revelation of the spiritual unknown . . . In this place we can touch Him . smell Him . see him . hear Him . taste Him . . . the great I am . . . the all in all . . .

    We continue to look for Him in the unknown and mysterious spirit world, when all we need do is open our eyes and gaze upon His face. . . .

    • Interesting thoughts here.

      A few questions to follow up, just from a curious Christian’s perspective. What source describes the Unknown splitting into two parts. Under what authority was that revealed and how is that event known of? I wonder how necessary it is to phrase this so differently from God (or the Unknown) choosing to create the heavens and the earth. It seems as if it’s a largely parallel explanation to the Judeo-Christian beginning but with an unnecessary level of mystery. Intrigue and wonder, absolutely. But it’s confusing to me to rephrase a familiar story in order to make it sound different from what we’ve already been told.

      To say that God is manifested in the material of the universe is to say that God IS the child, the grass, the pencil, the fingernail clipping. But it must also follow, then, that God IS the cancer, the poison, and the bullet. If God is manifested in our thoughts and dreams, then God is also synonymous with murderous revenge, thoughts of suicide, racist bigotry, and terrorist plots. That is a problem for me, from a Christian perspective. We inherently know there is a distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, honorable and shameful. Was Jesus then driving God out of people when He cast out “unclean spirits”, or teaching that God is bad or undesirable when He told us to repent of our own ways and embrace God’s ways?

      Finally, this just gets me thinking about what the story of Israel and eventually the gospel story reveals to us about the character and nature of God. An all-powerful, all-creating, all-sovereign God choosing to become knowable by revealing Himself. This tells us that God wishes for us to know Him… He gave us a conscious and a mind that craves Him, that us curious to find Him, and is unfulfilled without Him. Mysterious, yes. His ways are still other than our own. But the uniqueness of the Christian gospel is that He chose to manifest Himself through Jesus alone. The boat that Jesus slept in before calming the storm, the ground He walked on as He cast out unclean spirits, the songs sung to Him as He entered Jerusalem, and even the shriveled hand He healed… they were not equally God with Jesus. He had authority over those things, meaning they were part of creation. Created by God to give glory to God. We don’t need to keep looking, as you say. Jesus was given to us so that we may know Him and take comfort that He knows us and took it upon Himself to rescue us while we are still trapped in the brokenness of ourselves.

      This just reinforces to me that what you are saying cannot be equally true with the fundamental claims of Christianity. We cannot cast a net for all religions and call everything that comes back in the net a different version of truth. The nature of truth is non-contradictory.

      • Unknown splitting into two parts: My interpretation of Lao Tzu’s creation story. The original was hard for the western mind to understand and actually the reason why I attempted to simplify it. My intention was good, but I may have done him a disservice, I suppose.

        Under what authority? The creation story has been written many times by many peoples and even many more as they sat around the campfire. I would venture to say that since the caveman days there has been a creation story for mankind to ponder.

        Under close scrutiny they all seem to fall short because of the fact that we are all limited and just don’t know. Christianity is no different in that respect. What I attempted in the two part example was to quickly separate the unknown from time and matter and show how that mysterious entity we call God chose to reveal himself to his creation. . . . the artist creates.

        One thing I see here is that you are assuming the Judeo-Christian account is somehow the basic foundation of creative thought. It’s not even close. And the Hebrew bible is the higher authority . . . it’s not. When it comes to creation stories it seems imagination is the highest authority.

        Mythology is a great study, especially the works of Joseph Campbell. Some creation stories are really weird, the garden of Eden is one of them. Unless one realizes the account is allegory.

        I know many believe the literal account of Eden as well as every word in the Christian bible as being Gods word. If that’s the case then the bible is the absolute authority . . . it’s not. Even today it is a continual argument as to actual vs allegorical vs plain mis-interpretation.

        To say that God is manifested in the material of the universe is to say that God IS the child :

        No . . . to continually create God into an image we can understand is creating havoc on this planet and causing huge conflict as we battle to reveal ourselves as the chosen ones. We have all taken ancient stories, innuendoes and mythological accounts, and created religions around them.

        We love to say we have the truth, we are the chosen, we have the authority, we have heaven – you have hell.

        As long as we continue along this pathway chaos will follow and warfare will continue to be the fruits of our labor. In Asia we dehumanized the “gooks” because they were Buddhist. (I personally, because I lived among them, found them to be far more peaceful and accommodating that the slugs who sent me there) I am not a Buddhist, but I honor their belief system. The Tao is as relevant to me as the bible and I know the bible quite well as I once studied it diligently . . . not just read it, studied it and found it to be a great book, full of intrigue and mystery and wonder and downright magic.

        The Tao is straightforward and practical. . . as is Buddhism. Zen is a bit of a force with it’s Koan and such, but I am led that way probably because of my personality.

        To the point: In order to teach god placed us in a dual environment where everything has a duality to it . . . so yes God has placed evil opposed to good . . . love opposed to hate and so forth . . . why? We are here on this plane to experience, observe, learn and grow. Why? The truth would scare the bejesus out of a Christianity that has been taught all their lives that they are unworthy sinners in need of salvation. Why are you being saved? You must leave the womb to know and understand that, nobody out here to teach you, that’s for sure. Though many try, the lone trail is just that. . . .

        Verse Two . . . Tao Te Ching Revisited

        We only know beauty because there is ugliness.

        We only know good because there is evil.

        Without this duality how would we learn to make the right choices?

        How would we grow in wisdom?

        How would we experience the joy if we had not the counter weight of sorrow?

        For every positive in life there is a negative to accompany it.

        A wise man understands the necessity for duality, but he does not succumb to its negative influence, rather he seeks a perfect balance between the two.

        A wise man enjoys the learning curve he must take to create the object far more than it’s completion.

        A wise man has the ability to see both sides of an argument.

        He knows that perception leads the hearts of men, and makes allowances for it’s deception in others as well as himself.

        He is empathetic towards those who take the opposite view, and never glories in prideful conceit.

        His success goes with him and his works endure forever.

        God is not the child He just is . . . we, as well as all of his creation are a part of God . . . God is the universe and everything lives within him. He may manifest in a person, but He is not an individual hovering around heaven somewhere. As long as that fact cannot be realized . . . nothing changes and nothing works.

        This just reinforces to me that what you are saying cannot be equally true with the fundamental claims of Christianity.

        You are correct . . . and I have no wish whatsoever to push you my way. You may move past religion one day, but that will be your choice. I am not prostalitizing here . . . merely explaining my position. BUT Christianity has had many years to prove itself . . . as has Islam . . . Hebrew . . . and all the others . . . any yet all remains the same.
        Anyway it’s been a joy, enjoy your life and I will be reading answering you blog from time to time. I don’t pray, but if I did I would pray for your ministry never to get caught up in the greatest spiritual farce of the day . . . the prosperity message. We are here to observe, experience, learn and grow . . . you don’t need a mercedes benz to do that! . . . . highest regards J

      • I’m genuinely enjoying our little back and forth here. Very interesting for me to hear these ideas. What’s even more interesting to me is that I agree with much of what you explained. There is apparently a lot of wonderful wisdom in your path, and I would say it is common wisdom since it crosses over worldview boundaries and is still considered reliable and true even from another lens.

        A couple responses and then a question for you. I would not say the authority of the Torah or the Gospels is found in and of themselves but rather in the historical events behind them. That is one of the things I love most about Christianity is its unique foundation in a verifiable event. We can at least have confidence that Jesus of Nazareth taught amazing things and was crucified. And we can use the same textual criticism we apply to other historical records and conclude that Jesus’ followers were wholly convinced that He rose from the dead– so much so that they were willing to be killed themselves before recanting their views (which never promised any Mercedes or anything other than a very difficult, harsh life of persecution to begin with). That is as compelling as it gets for me. And it’s what differentiates Jesus from other religious systems, which are built either on ideas or on events that have no way to be verified. My thought is that if God intended to give His Creation a revelation, He would allow that revelation to be tested and verified by the scientific formulas and algorithms and logic He allowed us to have.

        I am very sure that you and I would enjoy a good cup of coffee or a beer together if we had the chance.

        I completely agree with you that God is not a singular person floating around heaven somewhere. What you describe sounds much like the Trinity of Christianity… impossible to fully understand apart from the bits of revelations we’ve been given. Jesus even told us point blank that God the Father is spirit and should be worshiped and treated as such. God the Son is that Being and Authority represented in flesh. God the Spirit is how we can know and follow and believe.

        And finally, my question. What do you mean by your statement that Christianity and other religions have had many years to prove themselves and yet all remains the same? That is quite a loaded statement and my mind started all kinds of different trajectories of how to respond, but I wanted to wait and hear you dig into that first so I don’t become irrelevant.

        Appreciate this dialogue and thankful for your time, sir.

      • Hmmmmm . . . now you have me thinking, . . . so in a somewhat disjointed and personal account I will tell you of my adventure into Christianity as well as why I chose to exit it.

        First of all, we all come to Christ for a reason and many times that reason is different than others reasons.
        In my hippie stage I experimented with LSD and because of those experiences I began to see things differently. In a very short time this elite airborne soldier from the projects did a complete reversal and morphed into a spiritual, caring, artistic type person. My come-to-Jesus moment came a couple years later.

        I went into Christianity with a vision of unity among all men . . . Jesus was going to save the world . . . the killing would someday stop and peace would prevail . . . same stuff all Christians believe I suppose. . . . I soon realized that these well meaning people were lost in rules and look good, but meaningless doctrine . . . and going in circles. I learned through experience that it’s a hell of a lot easier to expound upon Jesus and worship him than it is to follow his teachings. And this is the crux of the matter and why I left the Christian church.

        I never worried about being saved from my sins, or going to hell or heaven, or any of that stuff the church has build themselves on through the years. My concern was then and still is to this day . . . the unity of all men and their taking up the cause that I believe we were all created for in the first place. . . to be caretakers over this planet and all life upon it.

        All the feel good, glory and prayers, and piles of bullshit don’t fit when I look around and see what we, the caretakers, have done to this planet in the name of greed. And really, if we can’t even TRY fulfilling that calling what the hell are we good for?

        Jesus was a great TEACHER, perhaps the greatest ever. What is the goal of every great teacher concerning his students? Do they want worship? No. Do they want a class of students who have learned and excelled to greatness because of His teaching? Yes. (the works that I do you shall do greater because I go to the father)

        I believe Jesus was a real guy who had a real message . . . the rest of the stuff can be argued, but it seems to me we should be more concerned about our duties as caretakers than whether we get to heaven or not. . . . especially when (as I believe) heaven is right here. . . . hell is right here. . . . this our place. There is no escaping it for a paradise in the sky. We are far more than we have been taught. We have far more spiritual power than we have been taught. We are creators in our own right. Creation has given us our Heaven and we are quickly re-creating it into our Hell.

        We have been kept down and in our place by those who have convinced us that we are unworthy and corrupted. Sinners in need will never take up the banner and charge the hill, they are only good for the local bar and the telling of war stories inundated with bullshit and half truths.

        I have found this work must be done from within and all the ‘show and no go’ does little but keeps us in the prison house of doubt.

        I have dedicated my future life to myself and my reawakening to the mission. (that mission is as different to each man as his fingerprints) I am learning my mission as I go and I am committed to it with all my strength of soul. . . . (that’s what I mean when I say the lone trail) that’s why I say the church is going in circles and all religion has fallen short of the calling. The call to arms is not the call to prayer and devotion . . . it is the call to arms.

        Anyway that should answer your question. 🙂

      • I, too, have unfortunately seen how many within the Christian Church seem to be consumed by following rules as a form of display and to feel good about their own righteousness. Thankfully, Jesus was harshest with those types of folks, though. From a teaching perspective, He hit something much deeper than “follow these rules and you’ll spare yourself the fires of hell.” You’re absolutely right that it’s much easier to “worship” Jesus and talk about Him than it is to actually follow Him. He even predicts this to be the case and calls it out on multiple occasions. But make no mistake, Jesus didn’t come to unite the world in peace. Light cannot be united to darkness. Good cannot be united with evil.

        This is probably among the most common misconceptions of Christianity. As you inferred earlier, we tend to project our own wishes and values onto religion and the object of our worship often becomes an image of ourselves, or at least an image of what we wish ourselves to become more like. We crave unity and peace, and so we imagine Jesus as an altruistic guru who just wants everyone to be happy and to love their own lives. That’s not at all what Jesus taught. He is quoted more often about the reality of a coming judgement than He is about the importance of doing good deeds and showing love. And even the verses where He does tell us to be involved in good deeds and loving our neighbors, it must remain in context so we can see that Jesus meant these things to serve as an illustration of God’s love for us, and that serving others is a way for us to point to the way Jesus served us. It was all in accordance with the Greatest Commandment of loving God more than we love even ourselves– especially more than we love ourselves, actually. That’s the entire point. And it’s frustrating for me to see those within the Church take this command to love out of context and separate it from the name of Jesus. I think I could rephrase what you said and say it’s much easier to do good things while conveniently leaving Jesus out of the conversation. To keep His name directly associated with our obedience is where things get controversial and not-so-fuzzy-feeling. And the interesting part is that this is exactly what Jesus was intent to prepare His followers for. He told them they would be ridiculed, attacked, mocked, and even killed. That doesn’t sound much like a promise for earthly peace to me. So I can understand how you were disenchanted with Christianity if your goal in going into it was to find that. It simply isn’t there.

        But this is actually the strength of Christianity, in my opinion and experience. It’s honest. And what I mean by that is that it’s true to what our experiences are in the world. You actually said it yourself in a way: mankind is jacked up. We don’t do what we know we should. We have this annoying characteristic of pointing to and calling something “good” and then in the next breath doing the exact opposite and making decisions based on a P&L sheet. In many many ways, we simply fall short and miss the mark of what we know is expected of us. That is the most basic definition of sinfulness. It’s all around us and easy to recognize. Christianity doesn’t depend on us changing and leaving our sinful/broken nature behind. It serves as the solution TO our sinful reality.

        The purpose you say we’ve been created for is a natural “should be” perspective. You’re absolutely right. We should all be concerned with caring for humanity and for the earth. But as you can see, the overwhelming majority of us still choose destructive self-centeredness (even as we say selflessness is best). You’re actually proving that we are sinful and are incapable of pulling ourselves out of it by our own spiritual realizations. And this is why we call the message of Christianity “good news.” It resonates to what we know is true and needed. It’s not a set of new rules or chants or sacrifices. It’s a set of events that took place which have eternal implications.

        I’m confused by your understanding of Jesus as a good teacher and nothing more. The scripture that record those good teachings paints a very different story of who Jesus is. I’m sure you’ve read where those listening to His lessons and wisdom picked up stones to kill Him– specifically because He claimed to be God. And the times where He made it clear that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth, putting Himself in equality with God and therefore invited and confirmed worship of Himself. As CS Lewis wrote, Jesus was either God or a lunatic. We cannot scratch out half His teachings in order to embrace the other half, especially when they’re right next to each other and written by the same author. Either He was killed under the charge of blasphemy or He wasn’t. And either He rose from the grave or He didn’t. We cannot demote Him to be the same kind of teacher as Confucius or Siddhartha Gautama or even Muhammad, who each pointed beyond themselves to the truth. Jesus was different and unique in that He pointed to Himself.

        And lastly, you confirmed my suspicions about why you said every religion had its chance. It seems as if you assumed that Christianity intended to have some sort of peaceful effect on the world where all suffering would be wiped out and mankind would somehow use this wise teaching to rise to its full potential. That is the version of Christianity some practice, but unfortunately such a version is founded more in humanism and wishful thinking than the scriptures that contain the actual teachings and events of Jesus. What stood out to me as I researched other religions (as honestly and openly as I could) was that Christianity doesn’t aim for this goal that other religions strive for. It’s not a system of DIY humanity improvements. It simply confirms for us that God is at work in doing something we could not and can not do ourselves, and that what we know as correct deep in our souls is what God intended for us. This work, though, is entirely on His shoulders to complete. In the meantime, we have the task of trusting in the promise He made to us, of illustrating His nature and truth in our lives so that others can see it and glorify God with us for what He is doing, and of continuing to be as honest and alert as we can about what we are experiencing.

      • you: Light cannot be united to darkness. Good cannot be united with evil.
        me: But in a system of duality good/evil are opposites sides of the same coin. so if you deny duality aren’t you denying the basic glue holding this dimension in its place? How can we learn love without hate . . . peace without war, etc.? How can we deny duality and still see ourselves as emotional beings?

        you: But as you can see, the overwhelming majority of us still choose destructive self-centeredness. You’re actually proving that we are sinful and are incapable of pulling ourselves out of it by our own spiritual realizations.

        me: I believe that because of wrong thinking, wrong goals, wrong teachings, we, from childhood on up, are merely creations of our past generations subjugation . . . even if we had started out perfect from birth, by the time we reach grade school we will all be totally indoctrinated into the ways of our culture ( which happens to be a culture that revels in sin) . . .and if you think that is impossible, look at the peoples of North Korea where the people are puppets clowns for the Great Leader, Nazi Germany where Adolph was considered by many to be the savior of the country, capitalistic US . . . (in this country gold is God, it’s obvious and we worship Him fervently)

        so we can either believe that we were born into an environment with two strikes against us and the necessity of needing a savior (for what? ) or an eternity in Hell . . . or we can believe we are in this body to learn, to experience, to grow into the nature of Christ. . . . I choose the latter.

        you: I’m confused by your understanding of Jesus as a good teacher and nothing more.

        me: I’m going off script now . . . I once followed Jesus by rote and all the usual stuff you have brought up . . . and then one day I began the see Jesus as the first born among many brethren. He may have been the first to carry the Christ nature into this dimension but I doubt it (but for clarity I’ll say he was)

        The question then is in the bible (which is a poor reference source by the way) whenever he speaks about himself or his mission is he referring to himself or to his nature? If he is referring to himself only why would he tell his disciples that they would do greater works than he did? . . . and what is Paul talking about when he sees through a glass darkly but then face to face (that proclaims a growing into a nature that will allow him to see God clearly). . . . and other places as well in the scriptures that allude to a “family” rather than an individual. . .

        If Jesus was a lone wolf in this whole thing it soon begins to lose logic and take up magic . . and therefore must be taken by faith in things that defy common rational . . . as in virgin birth, etc. These things soon pile up and the church splits into “special” belief doctrines until it ultimately self destructs. I see that happening today.

        Now if Jesus was here as an example to teach each of us the ways of the Christ nature, and that he was merely the firstborn among many, then it begins to move on a more logical plane and the true believers in the church will be waiting forever for his magical physical return. . . .

        I believe Jesus the man fulfilled his mission and he is not coming back in the flesh because he never left. His nature once freed from his natural body has now spread upon the entire earth and will commune with any spirit that calls upon it. . . No longer in the name of Christ, but in the name of love, mercy, grace and kindness and balance

        Jesus the man is not coming back and Jesus the ‘spirit nature’ has never left. He lives on in us. Teaching and prodding and allowing what you call sin to draw us, via the law of duality, back to the pure nature of Christ within us.

        You : It simply confirms for us that God is at work in doing something we could not and can not do ourselves,

        Me: Now this is the crux of the matter and where we part the most. . .

        We are powerful spiritual beings here at this point in time to experience and learn and grow in the Spirit. We are not encumbered in and overrun by sin at all, we are using her to teach us the Way via the law of sowing and reaping (or karma)
        We are creators, first comes the thought . . . then comes the gathering of materials . . . then comes the creation of that thought into a physical object. The thoughts we think today when acted upon become the realities of our tomorrows . . . and this only hints at the glory that will be revealed to us once we get past these many traps we find ourselves in.

      • Common wisdom would accept your understanding that one must understand darkness to define light, war to define peace, evil to define good, etc. But you don’t need a religious system to accept that, since it’s part of what we call “general revelation.” Everything you’re arguing is based on the foundation that one is desirable over the other; both are not accepted as equally okay and desirable. That would be a contradiction, which would draw into question every other truth we hold fast to. In the same way, we cannot say all religions achieve the same, desired result– because they teach different desired results and different truths about what we see and experience, as well as what has happened in the past. Either one is true, or none of them are true. And if none of them are true, how do we know that what we pick and choose from each one to fit our own ideas is actually true and not as much hogwash as the rest of what we’ve rejected? Just because something sounds good to us or seems like it would be a great thing doesn’t mean it’s true. Everyday life would prove that point. Culture aside, we all do things we would rather not do, but must do, in order to survive. Duality (a two-ness that has equality with the other and yet unity within itself) is a concept that does not call for a choice between the two. The concept calls for embracing both equally as inseparable. But in Christianity, darkness is allowed by God the Creator so that we, the creation that has been given freedom, can understand what makes God worthy of worship. Injustice is allowed so that we may understand and call God just. Duality, to me, elevates this to its own religion because we can observe these environmental, common wisdom truths, and we have a tendency to elevate those things we see and give them spiritual authority. But the truth is, those things we see and observe are only meant to point us to the Author and remain in accordance with that Greatest Commandment we’ve been given. It’s not about us; it’s about Him. And everything we have and see here is to be used for His purposes over our own. One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 11:36, which reminds us that all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him… and that it all works together for His glory. In our egocentric, introspective tendencies, we drift toward thinking that it really is all about us. But that misses the entire point of why we were created. Romans, by the way, was also written by Paul…. who consistently looked to the second coming of Jesus and made the importance of Christ and the conversion of faith in Him as the only Savior His primary goal, even unto His own death. The verse of Him using a vague metaphor of looking into a dark glass now and knowing that one day He would see as if face to face must be put into context and shown that he means it as when heaven and earth have been made new and all the toil and pain of this world is taken away and the kingdom of God is restored. Even in the same verse you paraphrased, Paul qualifies the clarity of “face to face” with “as I have been fully known.” Known by who? He is speaking of Jesus and the promises we have to hope in.

        In the name of love, mercy, grace, kindness and balance. Okay… but what are those in and of themselves if they aren’t meant to point to something beyond them? Have you not just elevated those into gods? What do they promise us? How do they explain our existence? By the way, the same sources you find Jesus holding these pursuits as righteous and desirable are the same sources you’ll also find Jesus promising to return and talking about an impending judgement where our whole-life understanding and reaction to Jesus as a being would determine what happens to us. We cannot zoom in so much on the parts that can be seen as universalist without also considering the clarifying verses that make it very clear that who Jesus is and the truth He taught matters. He was not a lone wolf, as you say– He was the fulfillment of what had been promised for hundreds and thousands of years by multiple inspired leaders. He was the way that God made good on His promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed by the nation established in his line.

        You mentioned in passing that the Bible is a poor reference source. I’m curious why or how you can say that while at the same time affirming that Jesus taught specific things or had certain ideas pertaining to his nature over self. The Bible is the most scrutinized historic text, as it should be, that has ever existed. And yet an honest review of the textual criticism we’ve applied to it would reveal that it still cannot be discredited. If we did want to discredit it, though (maybe because it’s extremely inconvenient), we would then also have to throw out every other historical resource we have, including those on other religions (like Buddhism and its karma)… and we would also have to reject everything we thought we knew about other historical figures like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon. So then what source do you have that is not poor compared to the Christian Bible, which teaches that Jesus was a real man but who did NOT say He would be ransomed for many, that we could only come to the Father through Him, and that He was one with and was sent by the One True God to confirm the earlier scriptures that taught a Messiah Savior was coming and that the greatest commandment was to love God more than anything in or of ourselves? It sounds like this is coming from your own interpretation of a handful of out-of-context verses like John 14 and Jesus promising His disciples would, with the Holy Spirit, go on in their lives to do and establish greater things than He did in the three years of His ministry. Would those greater things not include something like the establishment of the global Church, which was done as promised after Jesus said that on the foundation of Himself being held as Christ, He would establish His Church? This Church included the adoption of Jews and gentiles alike into a kingdom of God, made possible by the Holy Spirit that was promised to the disciples by Jesus Himself.

        That brings me to another point you brought up. That we are powerful spiritual beings capable of creating. And if what you mean by that is that we were created with an imagination and a decree to go and cultivate the rest of creation and serve our purpose of glorifying our Creator through the gifts and systems that have been established with us, then I would agree. But I don’t think you mean that. The way I see it, mankind has not created anything– certainly not ourselves, but not even the crops we plant or DNA we splice. We discover. That is all we can do. We discover what is already there (no thanks to us) and what happens when we act in a certain way in a certain condition. The laws of science demand this, since science is purely found within the realm of observing the natural order which we have not decided. Neither you nor I can think something into existence without working (manipulating/testing within the physical realm) to make it true. If you want to talk about rising out of depression or becoming a better lover of people, we still do not control or consciously create the endorphins or dopamine that acts to accomplish the goal. The goal in itself is not a product of anything spiritual we have created but rather something we have been given by God, In order to make it possible for us to pursue the Greatest Commandment, God has given us the gift of desire, recognition between good and evil, and a supernatural awareness of cause and effect. That does not make us on par with God– as beings rather than part of His creation. To be a being does not require acknowledging where we came from. That is what we attribute to God.

        Common wisdom, which is found in the world and is not attributed to any one religion, is not to be made into its own religion. The desire to achieve peace and respect and unity is great, but it cannot end there. That essentially makes the pursuit or the journey into the point, which is something we are good at doing. It’s fine to be on a journey, but that journey better have a destination, and the teachings associated with that journey better be focused on the destination more-so than how to simply have a good journey. This glory you believe will be revealed to us in time… does it not have a singular Source, which is itself Truth? Or is this glory focused on ourselves and variable based on what we want to be true? All of what you’re saying sounds there is no final destination that is consistent with the fact that we are clearly not the point of our own existence. Through Jesus, we understand that we have been given a way to have the final unity we desire with our Source. The entire point of Jesus’ existence was to make that destination attainable, which had nothing to do what we create in ourselves (since we don’t actually create anything–and I say that as artistic person). This is a destination that He says has a narrow path and is singularly managed and led by Himself. And He very clearly promised to come back in several different ways and instances throughout His ministry, so I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that He’s not coming back.

        What you’re saying is true regarding Jesus’ teachings and Christianity is not what Christianity teaches at all. So to talk about Christ’s teachings as if you have license to mold it by ideas found outside of Him makes no sense to me. I don’t think you’re claiming it to be, but that is obviously no longer Christianity. But the way you’re adjusting the message of truth that Jesus claimed to give us is specifically warned against in the writings of the early apostles and recorded words of Jesus.

        You’re acting as if Christianity has all these holes but I’m finding that it actually has much more consistent and appropriate answers and logic than what you’re proposing. I appreciate your willingness to share what you feel is true, but it’s important to recognize that both of us can’t be right. If you’re interested enough in testing a few key arguments here, I would recommend reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (since all of Christianity hinges on whether or not He died and was resurrected as the New Testament says He was). If you accept that historical event, then the implications of who He must have been and what He was sent to tell us would follow. In that process, I believe many of your beliefs on spirituality and dualism would fall into a more consistent and proper place that makes sense with God and His commandment for us to love Him over all else and with everything we have (our purpose as His creation given freedom since we cannot truly love or worship without the freedom not to). And my prayer would be that God gives you the gift of true faith and understanding in what He has accomplished for His people.

      • You’re acting as if Christianity has all these holes but I’m finding that it actually has much more consistent and appropriate answers and logic than what you’re proposing. I appreciate your willingness to share what you feel is true, but it’s important to recognize that both of us can’t be right.

        I don’t recognize that at all as . . . truth itself is merely perception. (whether we want to believe it or not)What I perceive to be true is MY truth. . . . What you perceive to be true is YOUR truth. If neither of is lying or kissing ass we are both standing in our truths. If you don’t get that then we are just playing bat ball because in my opinion much of what you’re saying concerning duality is exactly what I am saying, only with differing words and connotations.

        I honor your beliefs as years ago I had them myself, but life (and the only advantage I feel I have over you in this consideration is my advanced age and I am not patronizing you by the way, I believe that to be true) Years of study and observation of the human condition has brought me to my current belief system and honestly I don’t think you need to feed my ego by agreeing with me on anything, but the flip side is that although you can dump it all in toilet because it does not jell with yours, I wouldn’t flush it quite yet. 🙂

        IMO there is a reason for mankind . . . and I believe that is to be caretakers over this planet and all life upon it. To me that is solid . . . all this other stuff? Especially religion? I believe all the main religions as now practiced by most believers is counter productive to that appointment. Observation and experience taught me that we love to worship but hate to do the work necessary to fulfill our obligations to the “boss” or God as you call it.

        Everything you’re arguing is based on the foundation that one is desirable over the other;

        No, my understanding of the Tao is that the goal of duality is to bring all things into BALANCE and in doing so the earth itself will be brought into perfect balance. I also believe that the eternal struggle to maintain that balance will always be with us . . . in this life as well as the many lives to come. We were given heaven and so far we turned it into hell, is that not a form of creativity? Hopefully we will one day wake up and realize who we are.

        As to religion: buddhism itself, on the whole, is a philosophy not a religion ( but there is now a religious school within Buddhism) I don’t see it as a religion nor do I worship it’s founder, I am only interested at this point in philosophical understanding and spiritual growth.

        Besides if Jesus were to return how would we know him? Why would we not kill him? What necessitates him to return? He has probably reincarnated in body many times already but why would he have to be Jesus of Nathareth again?

        Jesus of Nazareth has no need to return in physical form and the Holy Spirit his body carried had no reason to leave. . . . now I have already stated elsewhere that I use biblical stories because the bible is your foundation and the base of your spiritual understanding (at least I believe it to be) I personally enjoy the bible, but I find it to be so broad a base for personal interpretation as well as the many rewritings and scueing of meanings I find it hard to bet my life on them.

        Either one is true, or none of them are true. And if none of them are true, how do we know that what we pick and choose from each one to fit our own ideas is actually true and not as much hogwash as the rest of what we’ve rejected? Just because something sounds good to us or seems like it would be a great thing doesn’t mean it’s true.

        You seem to be having a problem with discerning spiritual from natural . . . allow me to try to explain what I mean.

        For many years I built homes, some of them were very large and very expensive homes and they would have a set of blueprints of maybe 35 pages. . . Everything in those prints had to gell every inch of the way or the house I was building would not work. I would spend many days and weeks going over them and I would have my partner go over them as well until we KNEW there were no mistakes, no places the architect missed. No material unaccounted for, etc. BUT the building starts and the house ultimately gets built.

        When you try to do all that in a spiritual context, you build from your gut and your heart and your experience and your observations using the creative abilities allotted you by the homeowner when he handed you a picture out of a magazine and said . . . “build me this house and I give you artistic license to do it.” I have built homes with nothing but a picture and my own creative sense . . . and the house ultimately got built. . .

        Religion builds a house using holy books and pastoral personal interpretations and doctrines created by those before them. The parishioners put their faith in all that and follow their religion into glory or oblivion depending upon the dogma they believe in . . . and of course all believe themselves to be the chosen ones of God who are following the one true religion to their promised heaven.

        I feel on a personal as well as an observational viewpoint that religion, although at first a stepping stone, ultimately becomes the stumbling block to spiritual growth because the God of religion lives without and the spiritual God lives within. I don’t know how a religion can sequester itself into the winners corner and leave the rest of the world outside the gate to perish and NOT be doing something wrong. From Christianity to Muslim to Hebrew to Hindu, etc. (I leave Buddhism out because I don’t consider her to be a religion.) IMO if a person considers themselves to have exclusive rights to the universal God . . . they need to look deeper.

        In our egocentric, introspective tendencies, we drift toward thinking that it really is all about us. But that misses the entire point of why we were created

        Depends . . . if a person sees himself as a part of an overall spiritual oneness he can never see himself as anything more than an individual in flesh only. . . . and that individual in the flesh has an unction to serve.

        In the name of love, mercy, grace, kindness and balance.

        Reaction to and absorption of those attributes as a being would determine what happens to us via the law of karma. A state of hell is what materializes when those guys are banned from the environment.

        That brings me to another point you brought up. That we are powerful spiritual beings capable of creating

        Absolutely we are creators . . . we create our tomorrows by the thoughts we act upon today. We are not preordained and preprogrammed to be or do anything except die. That is the only way it can possibly be unless we are mere robots without a will or the power to choose . .

        It’s fine to be on a journey, but that journey better have a destination, and the teachings associated with that journey better be focused on the destination more-so than how to simply have a good journey.

        In western thought ‘the Way’ is the learning curve one takes to reach a future goal . . . in eastern thought ‘the Way’ IS the goal. The journey is not at all about having a feel good journey as it is far more important to our spiritual growth.

        You’re acting as if Christianity has all these holes but I’m finding that it actually has much more consistent and appropriate answers and logic than what you’re proposing.

        Nothing wrong in that . . . if you’re comfortable in your beliefs no one should be able to budge you off that rock (and I’m certainly not attempting that) but if you refuse to move because of fear of hell or any other such nonsense you might want to question that.

      • The issue with my/your truth is that it is based on ourselves, but we’ve already established ourselves be full of imperfections and problems. My truth and your truth cannot both be right from God’s perspective. And that is the only perspective I care about. That is why I believe we must have our source of truth exist and be given to us from outside of ourselves. This will then get you into a search for credible sources, I suppose. But I’ve found no external source better than the Bible. Parts of it are difficult to accept, but that helps me trust it even more. If it was conjured up by man for the writer’s gain, it would be much easier and cater to our desires much more than it does. Instead, it seems to only grow in reliability as scientific standards increase and describes events that reveal to us the nature of God, along with promises and commands that give us the leadership we would expect a personal God to provide His creation. He made us with this longing to follow something beyond ourselves… God didn’t have to do that, which shows me that we were made to know who made us. If we love to worship, then we were create to worship. What we worship matters, then. Ourselves? Or our Creator, which goes against our nature? Based on what happens (to ourselves and to the planet) when we worship ourselves, it seems as though we were designed to worship our Creator. And if that is the case, our Creator must reveal Himself to us because, by nature, He has a different nature than us and we will not be able to find Him unless He takes the initiative.

        I absolutely honor your years of observation, however I’m curious what you have observed of the human condition aside from a brokenness and inability to do what we know in our hearts (spiritually, whether we want to admit that or not) is right. It doesn’t take that many years of observation to see that man has an illness, which is rooted in the decision that he can decide what is true for himself apart from what His creator has done or decides. I can’t help but see this exemplified in your reasoning for why mankind was created. Who told you that our purpose is to take care of the planet? And if we are God’s good and perfect plan for taking care of it, why have we failed so miserably? Did God create the planet for us, or us for the planet?

        It would be one thing if we didn’t know there was a point in time when there was no Earth. Since we know this, God as intimately united with what we find breathing and thinking in the world works only as a “part two” to who He is and how He is. Before there were things to think and give Him worship, He was just as Godly and holy and perfect. What was He doing then? No clue. But if we in our jacked-up-state somehow complete God, as in He needs us in order to reach His full potential, then He is not deserving of our worship. And very young.

        Christianity seems to offer the only logical explanation to these questions, which also happen to measure up with the reality around us– not a Utopian, hypothetical reality of what “should be” but rather what actually is happening. Only Christianity can understand that the world is not what it was meant to be and then take the critical next steps of offering a reason for why it’s not that way now, and how a good, all-powerful and knowing God who describes Himself as love and holiness in the purest form can fit into that broken, not-as-it-should-be reality.

        Back to the question of Jesus returning. I think it’s important to understand that many did not recognize Him the first time, and they did kill Him– it seems with a combined hardness of deciding what is true for themselves and a selfishness of protecting their own comfortable power (there’s that illness again). But you ask what necessitates His return now… and the answer falls squarely on one thing: He promised He would. That isn’t debatable. So either He was leading His followers on, He was completely out of His mind, or maybe the entire story was fabricated and Jesus of Nazareth was imagined. The latter possibility is what I investigated first and thankfully found sufficient evidence that such a thing was more unlikely than the virgin birth itself. The possibility that Jesus was evil or insane come down to the nature of His teachings, and the testimonies of what He did, and ultimately what He was willing to do on the cross. To say that Jesus doesn’t have to come back because we still have His Spirit with us is a contradictory statement. It confirms that He was who He claimed to be and yet denies a fundamental aspect of what He claimed He would eventually do at the same time. Both aspects come from the same source, so why the separation? At no point along His teachings did He give any inkling that He was giving us permission to decide for ourselves what to believe about Him or what was true. In fact, He began many teaching with “Truly, truly…” and followed them with something extremely difficult for us to accept if we were only looking at our own desires and selfish nature. If our nature didn’t need truth given to it, then Jesus wouldn’t have taught a single thing. There would be no reason for Him to come at all– let alone die to pay what He claimed to be the ransom our sins demand.

        I understand your problems with religion and the issues that come from it. But don’t you think it’s interesting that Jesus rubbed the most religious people of His day the wrong way? Isn’t it interesting that He talked about taking a rigid, law-based, transactional approach to God and turning it into a personal relationship? What you’re describing is why the Trinity is so beautiful: God as Creator must be outside of His Creation, but He has also chosen to step into it and personally guide us… and He initiated that relationship by sending the One who could teach us the ultimate truth and then justify our imperfections so that a perfectly holy and just God would remain so by dwelling with us.

        I want to push back a little bit regarding your view of mankind as creators. Ideas are important and they do play a role in actions, and God truly cares what ideas we act on vs. which we dismiss. But while we have a role in working to influence the actions and events of the future, none of us creates the time for them to take place in. None of us creates the matter these events use, and more importantly, we do not give ourselves the ability to think of them. Mankind did not cause himself to be born or decide to start dreaming. This was decided for us and imparted to us. I don’t see how the world can make sense if we are more than role players. We love to worship, remember? Why? If we were more than role players called to live in obedience and awe of our Maker, the only thing left to worship is ourselves. And I don’t think anyone would want that considering what we see happens as a result.

        I also don’t understand what you responded with regarding “in the name of love, mercy, grace, kindness and balance.” My point is that we must keep these attributes connected with the God who made them. They work perfectly to describe Him and help us worship Him better and understand what He means by ideas like “the likeness of Christ”, but make no sense to disconnect them and make them into individual focuses of worship.

        Finally… eastern vs. western thought. I think it’s first very important to recognize that eastern thought tends to be self-focused with no real accountability found outside of ourselves. The journey is the point because no destination of great value exists (from that perspective). I’m all for being present and enjoying our journey, but only so far as we are able to recognize and worship the God who has put a goal in each of our hearts to find something more than what we see here. There are many problems in the Church (since it’s full of people), but one of the biggest, I think, is that we do not crave heaven more than the joys and riches and even the virtues of our present lives. We aren’t longing for Jesus to fulfill His promise to come and set all things right again (a practical reason His return is important). When we believe that the journey is all there is, we lose sight of God and end up putting ourselves in His role because suddenly, all that matters is ourselves. No awe for what has been done for us already, no longing for what has been promised, and no urgency for the truth that exists outside of ourselves.

        Eastern thought that makes the journey itself the goal also seems a bit hypocritical to me, or at least misrepresented. Finding enlightenment or discovering ourselves is a goal. You are moving on a path with this in mind, which makes it the purpose and motive of your footsteps. Eastern thought has a much more introspective perspective and focus, sure… but it is not without something you are meant to search for. The problem is that what you are searching for is not God, but yourself. And we are not capable of saving ourselves… something you may deny the need for, but something I count as a must because my goal is to join my Creator in the place of perfection my heart longs for but is neither worthy nor capable of achieving on my own. The last place I would want to go when I die is a place that I could attain for myself. I know myself too well to put that kind of confidence in my own nature.

      • I think we have hit the impasse. I am finding myself reiterating what I have already written . . . and well . . . I’ll just say one more thing before I disappear into cyberland. . . . as long as you see God outside of yourself and you yourself unworthy of manifesting his nature . . . you never will. . . . I wish you well my friend . . . it’s been fun. You are much more, and have far more power than you give yourself credit.

      • I appreciate your time and your encouragement, although I would much rather give God the credit for working through me and doing incredible things that point back to Himself.

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