Freethinking Theist (rant)

Recently someone asked on social media if anyone in the group I belong to was an “atheist / agnostic / freethinker.”

When I first heard the term “freethinker” years ago, it was in regard to a college scholarship for atheists. I inferred the term was coined to imply anyone with spiritual inclinations is brainwashed and entrapped into a certain way of thinking. With all my exploring, this couldn’t be further from true.

This post made me investigate the term again, and I found it actually refers to one who does not adhere to religious teachings or dogma, someone who comes to his or her own conclusion about faith matters. It does not strictly refer to a nonbeliever.

I commented: “I am a freethinking believer (theist). This means I don’t reject science for god; rather, I accept science as the workings of god. I also respect agnostics and [open-minded] atheists because “religion” and its ignorant blind eye to science refuses to listen to voices like mine, let alone nonbelievers who have valid points.”

Honestly, it’s no wonder logical observers turn away from the idea of God, the way religious people behave and speak.

Now, while I do believe in God, I see the validity in agnosticism. Agnostics admit they cannot know, rather than arrogantly claiming they are the only knowers of truth. Both believers and atheists are guilty of this superiority.

This is why I research scientific facts, to further comprehend the mystery and grandeur of creation, which is so complex I must conclude there is intelligence behind the design. But I am humble enough to recognize I will never know everything or know the whole truth.

I am not pantheist because I see evil acts and disease as, well, diseases of the divine body (hence, panentheist), not divine essences as well.

I still have faith in Christ as the human manifestation of God’s mind, but some of my brethren go too far with their cocky assurance in the Bible as the only source of truth.

I love the New Age phrase “as above, so below” and see it echoed in the Lord’s Prayer. The Bible translation “The Message” actually uses this phrasing. Well, lo and behold, upon searching its origins on Google, I found a blog denouncing the phrase as occult (links below). Of course someone would. Christians think New Age practices are satanic deceptions, even though I can tell you right now some of these practices have greatly enhanced my spiritual journey with God. (Upon research, I have found there are satanic usages of the phrase, referring to earth and hell rather than heaven and earth. See links below; for my purposes I am always referring to heaven and earth, as are most loving New Age practitioners.)

I am so fed up with these Christian teachers actively searching for ways to discredit New Age. Almost always, they use the word “deception” in the article or website domain name. This is so hypocritical. They are the deceivers by brainwashing believers into thinking no truth can be found outside of the Bible, that the Bible is the only collection of thoughts God has ever had (or will share), and any exploration outside of the faith is evil. And they say New Age is cult-like? If they actually took the time to speak with people of other faiths, rather than coming to unfounded conclusions based on pigeonholes, they would know New Age practitioners come from all faith backgrounds, and we are accepting and loving. We actively see the divine energies of the universe in every person.

The Bible lists what is unacceptable. If it isn’t mentioned in the Bible, it is acceptable to explore. I have heard a few televangelists talk about this, so it’s not a heretical concept. Certain scholars would have you believe if it’s not in the Bible, it’s “evil.” Such an approach would cause you to only ever speak about Christ and experience nothing. Whatever is not expressly forbidden is an invitation to learn and experience. How could a god that created the universe be limited by a single book on our dust speck of a planet?

The first article linked below states that recognizing the oneness of the universe within us all is wrong, because we only achieve oneness through Christ.

This Biblical scholar is failing to address that God is one being manifested as three persons. His manifestations do not distinguish Him as three gods. Therefore, achieving oneness through Adonai (Christ) doesn’t change that we are all one through Elohim (Spirit) and Jehovah (Father). The trinity cannot be separated. For example, an author, his words, and the reading of the words are all part of a finished document, but the document is one thing. Interpretation comes from the reading, but the reading is not distinct from the words and the author – these are what make the comprehension possible. All three as one.

I’m repeating myself to drive a point: to argue “No, only oneness through Christ,” is like saying, “No, read with no words.” It is not possible and isn’t an argument. Yes, we are one with the universe and God, and divinity is within all of us because of Christ – and Father and Spirit.

To put the metaphor in context, the Father (Jehovah) is the author. He is the originator of all existence, every soul and idea. If one manifestation is “above” the other two, this is the one. Without Him, the others would serve no purpose. This is the original, main manifestation with whom we strive to connect through Adonai and Elohim. [Embodiment: relationship / heart]

The Holy Spirit (Elohim) is the creative force. He created the universe and gifts us with the ability to create. He is the source of our comprehension and understanding of the world around us. [Embodiment: interpretation / head]

Christ (Adonai) is the creation manifestation, the physical form. He is the means by which we comprehend; our ability to interact and know God. In the metaphor, he is the words themselves. Even the Bible calls him Logos, the Word. [Embodiment: obedience / interaction / hand]

Conclusion to that bit of sidetracking: We are, indeed, one through the universe because the universe is the physical body of the one God, who walked among us as human to connect with us in a way we could understand, and to heal the universal cancer of Satan by entering the Hell dimension the only way possible – through death of the human form. My understanding is that God as deity is too pure and good to enter Hell – it would be like the resistance of parallel magnetic poles. I understand good and evil are opposites and magnetic opposites attract, but in this metaphor the similarity is in the power. Heaven and Hell are likely warded against each other, so God was obligated to become human in order to descend and defeat Satan’s “ownership” of us. Could he have done it another way from the beginning? Of course, but then we wouldn’t have this story. Do you ever watch a movie and think, “Well, why didn’t he just do that to begin with?” Because there wouldn’t be a plot and no reason to watch the movie. God is foremost a storyteller, and I’m sure there are alternate dimensions with stories different from ours. Sometimes I wonder if our lives are simply entertainment for a greater cosmic audience.

Final conclusion to all this musing: spiritual growth and maturation is not dependent on the Bible and church leaders alone. The Bible is an important starting point to understanding who God is and what our origins were, but don’t let “scholars” scare you away from other paths of discernment. Please pray for guidance to avoid true satanic deceptions, but believe me when I say New Age and other nature-oriented spiritualties are not evil. Lacking the whole truth, maybe, but not evil.

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

 

Links to claims that New Age is occult:

https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=21580

http://www.biblebb.com/files/tonyqa/tc05-186.htm (This one at least accurately describes the New Age meaning behind the phrase “as above, so below,” although it tries to claim that the concept is incompatible with the Biblical “true nature” of God. However, I find it is compatible; there are verses that confirm this: one is Ephesians 4:6)

 

Sources for further reading:

http://www.truth-revelations.com/index.php/geometry/8-as-above-so-below/ (some sacred geometry thrown in)

http://gnosticwarrior.com/as-above-so-below.html (“as above, so below” is not the full phrase – full phrase discussed here; includes science and alchemy discussion)

https://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/below_above.html (this one mentions magic and the “higher self,” which I’m not inclined towards, but it’s still a decent read; very short)

 

Note: I do not ascribe to The Message “translation” of the Bible. It is a dumbed-down version that changes the meaning of many if not all verses. My purpose in bringing it up was to refute the poor points of the articles that discussed [trashed] it. Here is an entertaining (albeit almost ridiculously overblown) dissection of The Message’s Lord’s Prayer. It mentions an angle of “as above, so below” that should be taken into consideration. When I read the phrase, I always say “as above in Heaven, so below on Earth,” to clarify my intention.

http://av1611.com/kjbp/ridiculous-kjv-bible-corrections/Lords-Prayer-to-Whom.html

 

A Spiritual Poem

There is a huge upheaval in my life at the moment, so I haven’t been able to post. I am by no means out of ideas. I just have a thousand things going on at once.

Please enjoy this poem of mine in the meantime. I will try my best to post something substantial next Friday.

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

My God, the Universe

You are the sky,
You are the stars,
You are the galaxies and the nebulas.
You are the swirls of blue on purple,
The black holes of mysterious ends.
You stretch out to the far reaches of the universe
So Your children might see Your majesty,
But You are also in the trees,
The sea, the fields –
That still small voice in the burning bush.

Yet, philosophers’ wandering eyes
Compelled You to reveal Yourself
So we could understand:
The Great Nebula inside Mary’s womb,
A small atom growing into the New Adam,
Cleansing us all of permanent stains
So our souls are truly free to sense
The galaxies
You are.

No One is “Sent” to Hell

We Christians need to work on our delivery.

“Believe in Christ or go to Hell” is over-simplified, and doesn’t interpret well. It’s easy, it’s marketable, but the negativity of it causes people who do convert to do so out of fear, not faith. Most times, it turns people away.

If you believe the Bible, you believe Heaven and Hell have always existed, or you believe Lucifer created Hell when he fell – even if the latter is the case, the evil element was already there. If God created the angels, if he is omniscient, that means He created evil. If He created evil, is He both good and evil Himself, or did He push His internal evil into an external source, or is He simultaneously God and the devil? Whatever you believe or debate, the Bible tells us the dichotomy of good and evil has always existed.

The purpose of our existence, according to Christianity, is to resist and fight evil by doing good (defined as humility and charity), until the day evil is nonexistent. While the devil instigated original sin according to Genesis, free will guaranteed internalized evil alongside good. Original sin was ordained. You can’t make a choice for good without the opposite option. Then you are a robot with no individuality or personality, or anything that makes you human. Now, I know I said the endgame is to eliminate evil. Do we become robots at that point? I hope not! God must have a plan beyond good vs. evil, but the dichotomy is obviously part of the path to that end.

So, yes, God created us knowing we would sin. Hell is not a punishment for the inevitable (how unfair would that be?) but the place where evil dwells and where people engulfed by malevolence are meant to exist. Disobedience and evil have no home in a place of eternal goodness and purity. It’s not that we’re being denied a “reward,” but that we choose our eternal home based on our decisions.

Christ came to deny the devil his citizens. He came so we could make the choice of Heaven or Hell throughout our entire lives – to give us the option to choose Heaven again even after we choose Hell. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful gifts God has offered. Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection is the next step after Creation towards defeating evil for good. We have the option to be purged of all our evil choices, purified, and allowed into the holiest of destinations.

In other words, it’s not that God will send you to Hell if you don’t love and accept His son. It’s that His son is the only one who saves us from our own corruption, from damning ourselves. Our own sin sends us to Hell, not God. Jesus did not come to send us to Hell if we don’t believe in Him.

It’s like this. You jumped into a pit for some reason, on a dare perhaps. It is deep and you are trapped. And arm appears and reaches down towards you and says, “Let me help you out of there.” If you scorn the arm, you remain in the pit, die, and rot there. If you accept the arm, you climb out of the hole and into the light. The arm did not put you in the pit, and the arm did not make you stay in the pit. That was all you. The arm is providing you a way out, a way past your mistake. And the arm will always reappear no matter how many times you fall back into the pit. The choice to reemerge is entirely yours. The hope is that by end of your journey, you will have learned how to not fall in again, and you will stay in the light until your metamorphosis.

I personally have faith in the following quote:

“To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity.”

– C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

I Hate “Blind Faith”

I am so frustrated with atheists who claim Christians “blindly” follow the “invented” instructions of their “invisible friend in the sky” without their own “moral consciousness.”

First of all, I have studied my religion for many years, and explored others, to validate that I am correct in what I believe. My faith was a choice; I was not indoctrinated or brainwashed.

Second of all, where does “moral consciousness” come from? People didn’t just invent morality, otherwise anything would be permissible. There is a reason murder and rape are always cringe-worthy. Morality comes from the personal Supreme Engineer, whether you want to call Him Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, whatever. There is a creative, divine design behind this ordered chaos. I have thought deeply about this.

(“Personal” in reference to God means He has a personality and that He is a knowable individual, not some “cosmic force.” While it can mean that He cares and wants a relationship with each individual He created, in context it does not mean this. It took me a long time to comprehend that, what with my Christian upbringing telling me, “Jesus is a personal God and wants a relationship with you.” I don’t mind understanding God as a cosmic force, however, since He is GOD and can be whoever, whatever, whenever. I believe He can be both personal and impersonal, depending on the context of manifestation.)

I have no problem with studying science as God’s method of creation and maintenance. I read a comment online in response to someone with a similar viewpoint, asking, “Why do you still call [the unknown before the “Big Bang”] God, if you aren’t really a Christian?” The writer didn’t imply that he wasn’t a Christian (only that a 2,000 year old book wasn’t the only source of knowledge about our Creator), but that aside—

Oh, I don’t know, because GOD isn’t confined by religious definitions? Because God is the term ascribed to the Supreme Being, regardless of dogma?

Excuse my biting tone.

Atheists are so concerned with pointing out believers’ ignorance that they forget to hide their own.

I’m not saying “blind faith” isn’t a thing. There are plenty of Christians I’ve known that never question or try to understand anything beyond the words ancient Hebrews put to paper, and they believe to do so is blasphemous. These believers, who see science as a threat and explain it away by claiming it is another “belief system” that exists on theory alone, are destroying our credibility. They are the reason we are seen as uneducated, unable to spell properly, and only capable of circular reasoning by quoting Scripture and nothing else. I do not understand why Christians think Scripture alone will sway the opinions of nonbelievers who see the Bible as a long book of fiction anyway.

I was up late last night looking for videos that explain how science and religion coexist. I will link a few below. Mind you, some are half an hour in length, but there are many good points if you have the time to watch. (If you are a Christian or other believer with an open mind, I recommend avoiding the videos’ comments sections – most of them are angry atheists who don’t want to entertain the idea that God is behind science, and they are there simply to troll and spew their misconceptions of Christianity.)

A five-minute video explaining how the beginning of the universe is evidence of God:

 

A five-minute video that entertains God but focuses on the science:

 

A half-hour program exploring different areas of science that support God:

 

Another half-hour program on how the universe, specifically our Solar System, exists the way it does for Earth’s benefit:

One comment from this last video I do want to address briefly is, “Why is fine-tuning called for, in any case? An all-powerful “deity” would be able to create life regardless of conditions, wouldn’t it? (In fact life’s existence, despite conditions that were absolutely inimical to it, would be some pretty powerful evidence for a Creator!) If you say fine-tuning is required, then you’re saying this “god” is bound by the physical laws of the universe–doesn’t sound very omnipotent to me!”

Well, God is the physical laws of the universe – He created them. He is not bound by them so much as they are bound by Him. Now, why didn’t He just create Earth in a perfect utopia without the need for buffers from asteroids, among other things? The video does not address this, but we know it is because of evil. Whether it is evil within Him or an external adversary, this inhibits Creative energy to a degree. God invented laws so He may follow them and “evil” cannot interfere. Even “evil” is bound by physics.

In another blogger’s words (Biblically-based):

http://wideawakechristian.blogspot.com/2013/10/blind-faith-stupid-faith.html

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

The Afterlife — Is Hell Real?

I don’t make a habit of studying evil. By its very nature, it is not a pleasant subject. But the truth is, it is part of the human dichotomy and has played a role in our history since the original decision to disobey.

I struggle with the question of whether “evil” is simply disobedience of our Creator, or if there is a demonic influence over this universal body like a cancer. Observing the cold-blooded, sadistic murders in the news certainly implies the latter. The Bible does mention “The Adversary.” But even so, did God not create everything? Is He not God of all? Does this mean He created His own enemy? Is He really that bored?

There are three possibilities I consider whenever I think about this:

  • God and the devil have always existed in tandem (Heaven and Hell have always existed concurrently), or Milton was right and the devil is Lucifer, a fallen angel that became Satan, the king of Hell – which came into existence as a result of his fall. God’s creation of the world was a way to get inhabitants for His Kingdom / souls for His army, although some choose to suffer alongside Satan through blatant rejection and disobedience. Hell is an alternate dimension like Heaven, but farther removed, having no connection to the universal body other than an entrance for demonic cancer to form and spread.

Within the body metaphor, angels are neurotransmitters and the nervous system. They have a very limited free will that allows them to intercede with humanity on God’s behalf. Angelic disobedience is like a brain malfunction that causes a disorder (e.g.  “Universal Tourette’s,” “Universal Schizophrenia”).

The first disobedience was not Adam and Eve, but Satan – that’s why Adam and Eve could not only choose to disobey, but choose to be evil (see Cain). The fall of “Lucifer” is what created the universal cancer/disorder. Note that Adam and Eve did not sin until Satan tempted them, after he fell for refusing to serve them.

As long as some people choose Evil, God’s kingdom cannot come. As long as some people choose Good, God won’t destroy the earth (“cleanse” evil from the earth).

With this possibility, the conclusion is that we must destroy ourselves, or become enlightened, before God can introduce the New Kingdom.

  • There is no Hell, merely nonexistence. Evil people who mock God and do immoral things without remorse are eliminated when they die. In other words, there is either a paradisiacal afterlife or an erasure of the soul and self-awareness, as if you never existed. This is exactly what atheists expect, so in a way, it’s “just deserts.”
  • God created the devil or is Himself both Good and Evil. Free will is His final touch on making us in His image. We have the ability to choose evil because He does. He, too, wrestles with this dichotomy, but Good reigns (Creation is the culmination of Good incarnate). God recognizes that the Evil side is “the adversary.” Perhaps it is an element of Himself that He will eventually destroy.

Whether there is a Hell or nonexistence with this possibility is debatable. If Heaven is God’s mind, Hell is (forgive my crassness) His bowels.  Nonexistence is more likely if His end goal is to destroy evil.

Perhaps we were created so He can experience suffering at the hands of those who choose evil, and surround Himself with Good in Heaven. Perhaps Jesus was sent to experience ultimate suffering in order to destroy the evil in Himself, and therefore free us from being imprisoned by that evil. Perhaps His temptation in the desert was a dissociative identity episode – He was debating with the evil side of Himself, asking Himself whether He really wanted to suffer in order for Good to win out, or whether it would be better to give in to the fleeting power and “happiness” evil could provide.

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The majority of Christians believe the first possibility (excepting the body metaphor, which is my own way of understanding panentheism and how the universe and spiritual realm function together) because it is what the Church teaches, despite not being one hundred percent Biblically-based. A lot of what we think we know about the devil actually comes from John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno.

I’d like to believe the second possibility, only because there is so much suffering in this life. I can’t stand to think there exists such a place of eternal suffering, even if only the worst of the worst go there. Nonexistence is a better way, besides, because why permit evil to go on existing? Is it not better for the universe, and for God, to destroy evil completely? Why banish it to a place where it can fester and exacerbate? But if this possibility of nonexistence is true, then the third possibility must also be true, because otherwise, where does evil come from? If there are no demons or devil, why does evil still remain a choice? The idea that God is both good and evil is hard for me to accept. I hate to think He not only allows, but ordains, oppression and suffering, but it would be foolish of me to dismiss it simply because I don’t like it.

I can’t say which possibility is the correct one. I don’t know. No one does. I find myself believing each one at different times. It is difficult to consider the nature of eternal suffering – none of us want to experience it, and we hope and pray we can be good enough to not find out what it’s like. What I do know is that no one is “good enough” to go straight to Heaven. We all disobey at some level, and do so repeatedly. The truth is we deserve to suffer. That is the wonderful miracle of Jesus – even if He is both good and evil, the good won out. He defeated evil by sacrificing Himself for our sakes; His resurrection is a precursor to the end, when God’s Goodness will triumph over Evil.

No matter what we do, we have the choice through Christ to destroy our own evil and focus on spending an eternity in God’s mind, Heaven, a place of eternal creation and perfect health.

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Supporting arguments for the Third Possibility:

https://perfectchaos.org/2015/08/01/the-devil-doesnt-exist/  (I recommend looking up the Bible verses referenced both in this blog and in the comments.)

https://perfectchaos.org/2012/03/25/morality-and-god/ (Very interesting comments section here as well; I recommend reading through it.)

https://perfectchaos.org/2016/07/24/gods-sovereignty-in-scripture/ (Yes, this is the third link for the same blogger – what can I say, he has some good points. Here he outlines some Bible verses that support God’s control over all good and evil.)

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Bible verses describing Hell (Most describe a fiery lake or blazing furnace, or reference the “realm of the dead” and everlasting destruction – these could be describing a real place. Or, they could be metaphors for the painful process of becoming eternally separate from God – or nonexistent.):

http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/hell-bible-verses/

2 Thessalonians 1:9 in particular supports the nonexistence possibility. Any reference to a “second death” by way of the “lake of fire” could be speaking of the process of the soul being erased.

…Matthew 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, and Revelation 12:7 support the first possibility of Lucifer’s fall, however.

 

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

The Afterlife — Where Is Heaven?

This is where Panentheism and the Body Metaphor falls apart.

If God is the “mind” and the universe is His “body,” where (or what?) is Heaven?

The paradox that God is both within and without the universe has to play a part here.

If God is the “mind,” then wherever He exists as such would be Heaven.

The idea that we sentient beings are the red blood cells of the universal body doesn’t make sense if this is true -– blood cells don’t “die” and go to the brain when they do. The problem here is with my metaphor and not with God’s manifestation.

Moving beyond my imperfect metaphor, how then do we understand Heaven? Ancient cultures believed the sun was god and that the afterlife was out beyond the sky. They didn’t have the technology to know what we know about space.

Yet we continue to look up.

The only way to understand the concept of Heaven is to accept the idea of an alternate dimension.

I’m not talking about parallel universes or the multiverse, which is something I can barely wrap my head around. This is reality, this is my only life, this is my soul. There cannot be billions of versions of everyone’s souls in alternate universes based on every possible decision they could have made, side by side with all the possible decisions everyone else could have made. (Whew.) While an interesting concept to ruminate over, it doesn’t make logical sense. (However, I welcome comments explaining the multiverse theory. I might consider it if I understood it better.)

Although string theory certainly tries in earnest to make the concept of the multiverse real, the truth is we cannot, in our physical bodies, experience beyond our three dimensions (height, width, depth), possibly four if we include time.

An alternative phrase for what I want to describe is “higher plane.”

I read a work of science fiction once that explained a second dimension as existing “in the spaces between atoms.” While I have no evidence this is possible, I can see how it might be. Heaven is all around us, perhaps, but in our corporeal form we cannot access it. We must wait until our souls leave our bodies to “pass through” and find the True Reality of God’s Kingdom where we are surrounded by Him. There, everything is made of His Spirit, without corruption’s interference.

C. S. Lewis had a brilliant conceptualization of what Heaven is compared to earth, which explains the higher plane much more articulately than I can. Dr. Charlie W. Starr writes:

We think of spiritual creatures (saints in heaven or angels or even God) as airy beings with no solidity like us. Lewis says we should think the other way around. We are ghosts and shadows and our world but a cheap copy of the heavenly one to come, like a landscape painting compared to the real place. In The Last Battle, the friends of Narnia enter into heaven only to find that it’s a new Narnia, like the old one, only bigger, but not really bigger—better to say, fuller, more complete. As one of them puts it, it’s “More like the real thing” (210). And because it’s more real than our world, everything in it means so much more than things do here. If you’ve ever had an experience so wonderful that it made you think, “This is how things ought to be in real life,” maybe you’ve experienced a taste of heaven, a place compared to which, Lewis says, our own world is just “shadowlands.”

Perhaps we are the ones in the spaces between the atoms of Heaven, in a temporary dimensional plane that God will erase one day as the Heavenly world evolves into the only one, once Satan is defeated.

This brings us to the question:

Where is Hell?

Is Hell even real? Returning to the body metaphor, if Hell isn’t real and Satan is the body’s cancer, where did he come from? If Satan isn’t real, why does free will provide evil as a choice? Does this make God both good and evil to provide us these options?

I will explore this in depth next week.

More information on string theory:

http://www.superstringtheory.com/experm/exper5.html

http://www.space.com/32728-parallel-universes.html

Parallel universe vs. parallel dimension:

http://mysticinvestigations.com/paranormal/parallel-universe-vs-parallel-dimension/

C. S. Lewis’s Vision of Heaven, by Dr. Charlie W. Starr:

http://www.charliewstarr.com/c-s-lewis/charlies-lewis-essays/c-s-lewiss-vision-of-heaven.html

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

 

(Art: “Alternative Reality” by Josephine Wall)

 

Conclusion to The Problem with Biblical Literalism

I should have realized last week that speaking out against Biblical literalism would earn me some backlash from the overtly literal Christian community. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would really see it, and I definitely didn’t expect attacks to come from within my own family.

I’m going to spare her the embarrassment of repeating the argument here. She embarrassed herself enough by arguing with me publicly on Facebook. However, I found this rant I wrote a few years ago when I witnessed a stranger (on YouTube, I believe) similarly embarrassing themselves and the entire Christian community. Before I move on to other topics, I’m going to leave this here as a summary of  my “Problem with Biblical Literalism” series.

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I wish scientists and theologians would stop being so egotistical and ignorant. Both sides need to understand that science does not make religion null, nor is religion an “excuse” to not have to think about how the world works. Science explains how God works. That’s it. Science cannot explain why, nor can blind faith explain how. Science is a gift from God to allow us to understand certain processes so we can see the extent of His greatness. But we will never know everything, because then we will play like we are gods – which some have already started to do.

There is no need for theologians to disparage the scientific community, nor is there any reason to exclude religious people from that community. I’m sick of these banal and ridiculous arguments.

God created the universe, yes? Out of nothing? So He created language? Okay, so that means He created metaphors. Why would He not use these in a book He has written? Why can’t the Bible use similes, metaphors, exaggerations, and still be “infallible?” Why does the Great Flood have to literally cover the whole world? As I said before, that was probably a metaphor for Noah’s “whole world,” the part of the planet that at the time was inhabited by humans. All the animals in the area were saved along with Noah’s family. It would still take a huge rainfall and perhaps a tsunami to do this, but realistically that’s probably what happened. Story-telling allows for a bit of exaggeration to astound the audience, which is entirely logical as the Old Testament (at the very least the Pentateuch) was passed down via oral tradition before being written.

By discounting figures of speech and taking everything at face value, we Christians make ourselves look incredibly ignorant, and willfully so. It’s not fated martyrdom that causes us not to be taken seriously. It’s that we don’t even try to think anymore. God is outside space and time. Seven days is a metaphor for the earth’s time-frame. God is telling His people to take a day every week to relax for our own good. If God had to rest, obviously we do. The point is not, “The earth was created in seven days,” but, “God created everything, and even He rested on His seventh day, and so you should also rest from your work on your seventh day to preserve your energy and recoup.”

God created ex nihilo. He created language; ergo, He created figures of speech, including hyperbole and metaphors. So why is it so offensive to Christians to think maybe He used them in the Book He authored? Oh, I forgot, it’s “heresy” to question what in the Bible is literal and what isn’t. It can’t be infallible if it isn’t literal. What codswallop. Discernment is not heretical.

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

 

(Art: “A Swirl of Fog” by Eyvind Earle)

The Problem with Biblical Literalism, Part Three (Seven Day Creation)

This is going to be short and sweet, because the metaphor speaks for itself. It saddens me that so many take it literally, though, and therefore believe the Earth is so much younger than science has proven through actual evidence.

The “seven days” of Genesis are 1) not necessarily synonymous with our 24-hour day, and 2) a metaphor to encourage a day of rest and worship for the Hebrews (and later Gentiles).

God exists outside space and time. This is obvious. No one has ever “met” God (Christ’s time on Earth aside); atheists think He is our “imaginary friend.” He does not live in our physical dimension.* If we are to believe He created the world in six 24-hour days, who’s to say twenty-four hours in His realm is equivalent to ours?

I have no doubt that God’s “seven days” translated to billions of years in Earth time.

Also, consider – only the Earth has a 24-hour day (one full rotation). God created the universe. He did not create Earth first, and He was not sitting on Earth creating the universe around it. If you still believe that, you must be a pre-Enlightenment Catholic.

When I think about this, I also ruminate on how large the universe really is. My mind can comprehend our solar system, and stretch to incorporate the Milky Way galaxy, but realizing that we are one solar system in one galaxy among millions of galaxies in one universe among possibly many universes overwhelms me. How could I possibly think God created His entire creation based on one miniscule planet’s rotation?

I am not saying we are not important to Him. We are the only known planet to support life. This is no accident. Do I believe He created other sentient life elsewhere? It is entirely possible, and I would be foolish to discount it. The Bible does not tell us He did so, possibly because He didn’t, or possibly because it is none of our business. We are supposed to develop a spiritual relationship with Him, and discover His mysteries in the next life, not risk the lives we were given in pursuit of hearsay.

It is the very idea that the seven-day metaphor is not literally our twenty-four-hour, seven-day week that I believe evolution is not actually a threat to religion. What science is revealing is what God allows us to understand about how He orders the Earth to process. There will always be something we do not know, and that is to keep us looking to God so we do not become arrogant in our knowledge. Some still are not humbled by their ignorance, but knowing the how and the history does not mean we have the ability to imitate it. They may try (see animal cloning), but fail (clone dies within hours/days of “birth”). This is why I believe God exists.

Some perspective:

NS_MILKY_WAY_POSTER

Our solar system is located in a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way called the Orion Spur, between the Sagittarius and Perseus arms. (Link to full-size image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/6b/a2/8b/6ba28b237250fb750e34981596321736.jpg)

 

cosmos15_13

The Virgo Supercluster contains the Milky Way, among about a million other galaxies. This image contains local superclusters. The universe is even larger than this.

 

*In re: The Body Metaphor – the “mind” is not tangible and can exist on its own; He can experience the physical universe without being in it, just as we can think and dream about places and people when we aren’t around them. As I have said, it is not a perfect metaphor. The enigma is that He is both in the universe and outside of it.

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

Panentheism and the Body Metaphor

In Part One of The Problem with Biblical Literalism, I briefly spoke about the idea of Panentheism, or all-in-god. Not to be confused with Pantheism, or all-is-god, Panentheism is the theory that God exists within His creation, and His creation exists within Him. However, creation is not God. He exists outside of creation as well.

In other words, Panentheism claims God is immanent and transcendent.

Christianity also claims God is both immanent and transcendent. In practice, however, most Christians understand God only as transcendent – He created us and is separate from us. Immanence, or God’s presence among us, is all but abandoned, or briefly mentioned in passing when discussing the Holy Spirit.

Theism2

I have read a few Christian articles that denounce Panentheism as another tactic to distract us from Christ. I do not see it this way at all. In fact, the theory helps me better understand the nature of God.

A common metaphor Panentheists use is that of the mind-body relationship. I have expanded on this idea to incorporate Christianity.

The human body is necessary to live and experience, but our souls exist beyond its death.

God, the Great Soul, created the universe out of Himself as His Body – to experience and exist in tandem with His creation. His essence is within all things. While it enhances His existence, He is not transcribed by it – He does not require “the body” to be God. However, as long as “the body” exists, God is within it, just as our awareness is within our bodies until we die.

Sentient beings are like red blood cells, countless but necessary for the body to “live.” Satan and sin are cancers. Free will gives the red blood cells a choice to flow for the benefit of the whole body or be infected by the cancer (turning away and denouncing God).

Christ is the cure, the immune system of mighty white blood cells. Each infected cell (all of them since original sin) now can choose to be healed, or stay infected. The healed cells may become re-infected but always have the option to be healed again. The cells that stay infected wither, and once dead, they are eliminated from the system, never to be a part of the body again.

That is what Hell is – a complete severance from God. It is a choice, and the result isn’t a fiery inferno, but nonexistence. Since atheists already believe death is a metamorphosis into nonexistence, they get exactly what they expect.

Angels exist, too – they were created right before the body as the neurotransmitters, necessary for the mind to communicate and control the body. As I have mentioned before, they are the pathways, not the targets, and so cannot receive God’s love as we do. The brain sends these “messengers” to tell the “body” what to do. In a sense, they are Christ’s support, dictating to the immune system and other “bodily functions.” While the mind/spirit/soul (the “trinity” of the brain) is aware of the body, it cannot itself travel to the kidney or liver or heart. The Father controls the body, angels execute the control, and Christ comes to us personally with the Holy Spirit to continuously heal.

I’ll admit, this is not by any means a perfect metaphor, but I believe it is an appropriate one, as we were created in His image – not only do we have a trinity of mind/soul/spirit, but our bodies function the same way physically that His does metaphorically. “In His image” does not literally mean that He has some kind of physical form that mirrors ours.

The following article acknowledges how Panentheism could be compatible with Christianity, except that it “denies creation ex nihilo” –

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/08/whats-wrong-with-panentheism/

Of course, I disagree. In fact, I believe Panentheism because it affirms creation ex nihilo – if God created out of nothing, then it comes to bear he created from only Himself, and therefore, the universe is His physical form – His body. How is this denying Genesis?

This theory brings God closer to us, and it is more effortless to have a relationship knowing we are part of His body. Olson does make interesting points about redefining what redemption and salvation mean in this context – how it might mean God is dependent on it, rather than it being a gift for us. This is why I agree with Martin Luther’s “weak” Panentheism – God is, indeed, within all of creation, but He is not transcribed by it. He doesn’t need it in order to be God.

We don’t need our bodies, necessarily, but they are a blessing in that they allow us to experience and learn. As I mentioned in Part One of The Problem with Biblical Literalism, perhaps the all-knowing God wants to experience His existence through ignorant eyes, to see what His body/children see and create more from those experiences.

The following article explains Panentheism but refers to it as an “age-old heresy” and gets some facts wrong (I blame her source), such as “God is bi-polar,” “God is finite,” “Creation is ex materia,” and “God is changing.” These are tenets from pantheism, which dictates as the universe changes, God changes with it. This is not necessarily true of Panentheism.

http://www.rebecca-writes.com/rebeccawrites/2008/3/28/theological-term-of-the-week.html

Weak (Palamite) Panentheism replaces the idea of God’s essence with “divine energies” that permeate the world and allow God’s presence among us, without the possible interpretation that He is dependent on creation. It is more compatible with the Christian idea of God than what I have described here, and does not mesh as well with my metaphor, but it is enlightening for Christians and those investigating Christianity who are uncomfortable with how the faith tends to reflect deism and stoicism, which focus on God’s transcendence and disregard His immanence.

Watch this video for more information on how weak (Palamite) Panentheism is compatible with Christianity:

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

The Problem with Biblical Literalism, Part Two

(I actually wrote this one first as more of a rant, so I may repeat myself.)

Biblical literalists make me want to slam my head into a wall.

I just read some comments regarding the new “Ark Encounter” exhibit in Kentucky. People are vehemently arguing that dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans, saying science has changed theories several times, while the Bible never changes (ignoring of course the differing interpretations and teachings done in churches). They claim death did not exist until Adam sinned. So, dinosaurs were still around [again, ignoring 1) the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs, 2) the extinction would have killed Adam and his descendants, and 3) the earth is not 6,000 years old].

Literal death. Did not exist. Until sin.

No.

Spiritual death, yes.

Otherwise, Jesus would have made us literally immortal with his sacrifice. I’m pretty sure we are all still physically dying, yes?

Our spirits die (read: rend from God) because of sin. Jesus paid the bounty to the devil to restore our spiritual immortality alongside our creator.

Now, did God originally intend for us to live on earth longer than 100 years? Perhaps. The Bible supports this theory. But arrogance through sin shortened our mortality.

While Christians interpret literally to “prove” science wrong, atheists often are biblical literalists as well, for the opposite reason — to prove Christians are ignorant.

And, unfortunately, the atheists are successful. One pointed out for the Flood to cover the entire earth, it would have had to cover the Himalayas. Sea creatures would have died at that reach of the atmosphere.

This is true! But such mockery only works if the Bible is entirely literal. This is not true.

The flood covered the entire known world. God inspired the writers of the Bible, but humans communicating with other humans, that far in the past — they didn’t know the Himalayas existed, and obviously did not mention it. Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, is a flood plain. What with the Tigris and Euphrates rivers overflowing, along with the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Black Sea, forty days of intense rain could easily have flooded the land mass. And all of humanity likely lived within that area at that time.

Besides, what if the Ark had drifted out into the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea?

Much of the Old Testament is the history of the Hebrews. History is recorded by those who experience the events, not objective third parties who interpret evidence millennia later. Those who were there described it as the whole world because that is what they observed. As such, that became the oral tradition and eventually written word.

The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. — Genesis 7:18-20, NIV

The waters covered all the high mountains the witnesses knew about. Fifteen cubits is roughly twenty-three feet. “More than” is ambiguous but does not necessarily include all heights taller than twenty-three feet; most likely it referred to mountains that were only a few cubits taller that could not be reached to measure.

The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible. — Genesis 8:3-5, NIV

Ararat is a region, not a specific mountain. The ark may have landed on a lower ledge or hill rather than the very top of a mountain. We don’t know how rapidly the water receded either, only that it did so steadily. It is not heretical to doubt the flood covered the entire world or the highest mountains. In fact, knowing the context and geography helps align our faith with science, rather than ignorantly disputing what God is revealing.

Also worth noting is that the writer (assumed to be Moses) records Noah’s age to be over 600 years old. As I mentioned above, sin shortened our mortality. Oral tradition may have exaggerated his age. Whether we were meant to live over 1000 years, whether God blessed Noah with a longer life due to his righteousness, or whether “year” is a completely different length of time than what we use today is up for debate. Our year is based on the earth’s revolution around the sun, which was not even considered a scientific possibility until centuries after Christ. All explanations are possible.

The Real Noah's Ark

More information about the flood (historical/mythological correlative evidence):

https://ncse.com/cej/8/2/flood-mesopotamian-archaeological-evidence

http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/6746/20140128/noahs-ark-round-mesopotamia-flood-cuneiform-instructions-mathematically-accurate.htm

https://newrepublic.com/article/116287/babylonian-tablet-describes-noahs-ark-pre-bible

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.