03 November 2013
One of the oldest and most fundamental pursuits of man is the quest for the meaning of life. Soothsayers, shamen and the leaders of the evolving more structured movements offered enlightenment on this subject to their followers. In times of limited inquiry, scientific exploration, and general intelligence the fantastic ideas and mythology set forth by these purveyors of spiritual enlightenment seemed plausible to the masses. Combined with the desires of political leaders to maintain control of territory and resources the most savvy amongst these men were able to create an avid group of followers. Thus, modern religion – the collection of organized cults – was established.
Never has a generation been more attuned to the idea of spirituality than the Millennials and their preceding Gen-Xers who challenged every realm of authority. The successive generation is now grasping at the fringes of its own identity. With advances in all scientific fields, continuing scandals amongst church leaders and the constant revision of religious dogma to get with the times or to harmonize itself with established scientific fact, it is becoming apparent to more people that organized religion is a sham.
Technology and advances in communication have always haunted religious leadership. Those who challenged religious dogma with Truth were condemned by the church as heretical. When Coppernicus proved that the Earth was not the center of the universe the Church condemned him to death or house arrest for the rest of his natural life where he would be forbidden from promoting his scientific findings. In the modern era we find the principles of scientific examination of all unknowns to be "dangerous" or treading into areas where it is intended that only God would possess such knowledge.
The very outlandish and superstitious claims propounded by the cults invited skepticism and a challenge to their authority. Keep in mind that it was political bodies that often used the cults to ordain and maintain the state authority. The challenge to the cultists has traditionally been framed as those who are adherents to the cult – believers in God – and those who are skeptics – the non believers. I contend, however, that this is simply the danger of binary options. That is, framing the argument as believing in the God of the cults or not having a spiritual life. There is a third, and more probable, option that the cultists don't want discussed.
What modern man is finding is the same as his ancient ancestors. That spirituality is a natural part of the human experience. Spirituality connects us to the world, each other, and gives us meaning. It is spirituality and finding the resources within ourselves that extract us from the depths of despair while raising us into a higher state of being -- prayer or meditation. Psychologists and other brain researchers now tell us that those who regularly engage in prayer/meditation experience the same positive effects regardless of the title that they ascribe to their action.
While unsatisfied with the empty promises of organized religion that asks for subservience by its followers but a flexibility offered to the hierarchy, many are leaving the Church to follow their own spirituality. More concisely, a double moral standard is no longer satisfying. High profile religious leaders caught engaging in homosexual affairs or prostitution while offering condemnation to followers who would do the same have brought disrepute among the Church. The highest and most enduring problem has been the organized molestation of children perpetuated by the Catholic Church. The Church still seeks contributions from followers to pay for attorneys and settle cases of abuse all the while engaging the services of marketing agencies on how to spin these revelations.
Organized religion has always relied upon exclusivity as its justification for existence. God has only spoken to a chosen few who are then to pass on that information to the masses. With noble titles and adorned by specialized garb a sense of authority was granted to these charlatans. But as Guy Kawasaki -- one of the architects of early Apple Computer -- says, "[J]ust because someone doesn't have a title, wears jeans, and drives a beat-up car, doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to her." Conversely, he says no more credit should be given to those with title or specialized garb instead saying, "Look for genuine proof of expertise, not externalities that are highly correlated with knowledge."
One way the cult leaders justify their authority is through their texts – the Word of God. But this is based upon the fallacy of circular logic. The texts claim authority in their suppositions – including that their God exists – because God who is infallible directed the writing of them, therefore they must be true, therefore God exists and directed the writing of the suppositions. This is saying that their text is self-authenticating. I recently heard Rabbi David M Horowitz of Akron, Ohio who formerly resided in Indianapolis address the various Abrahamic texts as being written by consensus. That is all are a collection of various works that were submitted for inclusion and were voted upon by men who self-appointed themselves for that position. Thus, the texts represent only what the committee at that time wanted included based upon their objectives. In science it is considered invalid to report only the results that support your supposition. This is where logical people see the obvious failings of the texts of the various cults.
What the knowledge revolution is producing is generations who are successively challenging institutions more than their predecessors. While many are resistant to change, overall change is coming and will soon engulf all of society. Certain personality types such as Feelers have difficulty seeing and applying logic and therefore will be more likely to adhere to illogical beliefs and suffer the effects of internal conflict.
Beliefs are held for four reasons. Sociological based beliefs are a manifestation of the culture of a society that are perpetuated through institutions and custom. Psychological based beliefs are held to provide a sense of security to a mind searching for answers to the unknown -- often satisfying fears -- and giving a basis for our existence in answering the question 'Why I am here'. Deferential based beliefs are the result of instruction by authority figures. These beliefs are held simply because someone in an authority position, like a parent, instructed one to accept such a belief. Hence, the importance of early religious indoctrination of children before they develop their logical senses during adolescence. Finally, the rational based beliefs are those which are adopted only after supporting evidence or proofs are offered.
The rational belief comes at the end of the belief structure system making acceptance difficult in many circumstances as the other three must first be overcome. As a more rational generation is inhabiting the sphere of influence in public debate the question is shifting to a more rational can we all know God without the intermediary cults.
Our ancient ancestors were tuned-in to their environment. Their lives were filled with spirituality and related rituals. When matter is reduced we find that it is pure energy. But when energy is reduced we find that it is thought. Quantum entanglement and nonlocality demonstrate the greater than speed of light transmission of information – instantaneous thought.
Another way that the Church has sought to control the debate and maintain their authority is in the question of our existence. They pose the question to both 'believers' and 'doubters' as “Do you believe that we were created by God [the one of their texts] or did we evolve from pond scum?” I propose that the third group should be added to the pool of participants in the debate. Those are the silenced 'Rationals'.
The Rationals offer the rejected proposition that our creator made the universe, gave it life and left us along to evolve. This is why some of the Rationals can claim to be in touch with the universal God and be healed through mediation. The cultists of course claim that they are the way to God and that to be in touch with God and to receive His healing powers and salvation one must pray according to their dogmatic mandates. But this has not been upheld by scientific rigor. Studies have shown that those who use dogmatic prayer have no better outcomes than those who use meditation in seeking medical and other favours. One study showed that those who received outside prayer actually experienced a decline in well-being. The researchers theorized that patients who were aware of vast numbers of strangers praying for them must have concluded that their ailment was worse than felt and thus their subconscious responded accordingly.
The binary choice questions have long been used to maintain control of a society and keep them from challenging or breaking from the forces that restrain them. Ample situations exist all around us. Republican or Democrat? That is the equivalent of “Who do you want to decide your lifestyle – mom or dad?” What about yourself? Recall the oft referenced 'paper or plastic?' that made its way into our modern parlance as a substitute for heads or tails. We now see that the option of paper/deforestation [although that is just a perception as paper products come from tree farms] or plastic/pollution has been rejected for the third option -- which I started using about 15 years ago – cloth bags. More common nowadays is seeing the previously rejected third options being demanded. It's no longer a head or tails world as the Rationals have demanded that the edge also be considered. Especially when that edge is greater in length than the diameter of the obverse or reverse of the coin. With these realistic options having been offered let's now go back to the God question.
We are each God. We are of the Creator and are therefore the Creator incarnate. It is through our spirituality that we connect with each other and our environment. It is when we live in harmony with our environment that we fulfill the blessings with which we were intended to live while those who seek to dominate their environment -- including the fauna within -- suffer the consequential ills. This is why we must each set our own morality. That is what can allow us to live harmoniously. A mandated morality is abhorrent to our nature and thus creates conflict which leaves us in discord with the universe. So we need not face the old scripted and limiting question about God as it was sold to us as believing in the dogmatic God or not believing. The healthy and rational question is the broader “Why should I have to use an intermediary to access the Creator who is within me and everything around me?” Once that is answered then you can move on to the ultimate question – “Did we arrive here as the result of a Creator?” That I will leave for you to answer on your own.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013
Asking if God exists is the wrong question
03 November 2013