Archive for February, 2011

Distinctions of Faith

Posted in Atheist, culture, faith, freethought, history, random, religion with tags , , , on February 23, 2011 by chouck017894

The concept of a Creator-God that was envisioned by visionaries in antiquity is far removed in time and conditions from the insight of universal principles that science has unlocked and revealed to us today.  Long gone, for example, is the Pharisaic and rabbinical tyranny that kept the Jewish faithful “pure” behind a cult-policy of  isolation.  And long departed is the anxiety-ridden challenge to the world that oozed out of empirical Rome, and which was subsequently injected into the medieval monastic communities.  Later the vicious certainty that slashed its way across Arabia and then hacked its way through such territories as Spain convulsed into a regime of continuous indulgence in regimented participation in public posturing as spiritual insurance. 

The failure of these three western organized faith systems that remain so intent upon spiritual enslavement was insured by their habit of twisting and distorting the shared myths upon which each of them developed.  Each of them claims “divine” approval by pointing to a lineage that supposedly issued through and improvable ancestor featured in the myths of Genesis—the character named Abram/Abraham (or Ibrim).  That these claims of godly partiality are traceable to ancient Sumerian/Babylonian myth goes unacknowledged even though the city of Ur from which Abram allegedly went forth into life is a known prehistory Sumerian seaport town. (For more on Abraham see Concealed Background of Scriptures, Jan. 2011.)

For more than two millennia the port city name of Ur has been passed over lightly in holy myths, but the name bore considerable information to our Bronze Age ancestors.  Wherever the letters ur were prominent in ancient words or names it referred to the phenomenon that always accompanies creative activity—which is the generation of light.  The ancient Sumerian word Ur translates in meaning as either “light” or “fire.” 

 It is pertinent to the Genesis story that the city of Ur was said to be situated at the edge of the sea, for the element of water has always been used symbolically for the boundless energies of Creation—as in Genesis.  Our distant ancestors understood that Ur represented the light which accompanies and heralds the activity of Creation.  Thus in the more ancient understanding of the Sumerian/Babylonian people, Ur and the sea emulated the creative powers out of which all life is made manifest.  (Incidentally, it is from the ancient word ur that the Mesopotamian regions of Iraq and Iran derived their names.

Unfortunately, what later emerged through the 8th century BCE Yahweh priest’s interpretation, and from which Judaism arose, was a faith system that turned its back on the human relationship with the rest of the cosmos.  In its place the Yahweh priests imposed a kind of political posturing which became measured in 613 “laws” that restricted their comprehension of the interrelatedness of all life.

The introduction much later of the movement in the Roman Empire which became Christianity (c. 65 CE) arose as something to serve as a counter measure to check the arrogance and disruptions which the Judaic populace practiced as spiritual value.  The Judaic system of belief that insisted that the Creative power, which they called Yahweh, favored them above all else in Creation brought constant conflicts with governing power wherever Judaism became entrenched.

As a consequence, what these two organized faith systems gradually came to emphasize was not humankind’s relationship to everything within the cosmos, but the egocentric claim of the alleged heaven-blessed reliability of their man-conceived methodical faith systems.  Lost in their devotion and performances was any recognition of the human dependency upon the surrounding forces of the universe and Nature: these were discounted as secondary effects that were to be brought under man’s domination.

In our modern world few persons would eagerly or even half-heartedly embrace the primitive conditions and times out of which our so-called “sacred texts” were compiled.  But implausibly the religious practices, prejudices, traditions, and judgments assembled in the Intermediate Bronze Age timeframe are held up as inspiration for today’s moral and civil conduct!  While it is true that the more extreme barbaric features that were advocated in scriptural coaching—such as the stoning to death for any sexual acts not actively reproductive, or the indulgence in slavery—are now discretely disregarded.  But the majority of heavy-handed prejudices advocated throughout “holy word” are allowed to stand and are palmed off  as spiritual wisdom.  Such outmoded “authority” contributes little or nothing toward man’s spiritual enlightenment or moral advancement.  These prejudices practiced in the name of some god have “blessed” the family of Man only with continuous intimidation, limitations and turmoil. 

The three organized faith systems of the western world were fashioned for a singular purpose: some material aim.  Clearly these “faiths” do not grasp the universal truths that they claim to represent.  If they each truly venerated that power within which all things are made manifest then they could not possibly be constantly at odds with each other to the point of lethal fighting.  Every violent act that they sponsor is an open testimony against their spiritual credibility, for the truly qualified spirit is one that has attained inner peace.  The religious arrogance, rivalry and intolerance of these three faith systems will never bring their followers the spiritual fulfillment that they so desperately desire.

Ministry Abuses

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, life, lifestyle, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by chouck017894

Religious huckstering is very profitable.  If in doubt, just ask Pat Robertson, Kenneth Copeland, Randy and Paula White, Eddie Long, Creflo Dollars, Glenn Lee Beck, Billy Graham, Robert H. Schuller, Jan and Paul Crouch, or numerous other televangelist “ministries” that each year chalk up multi-millions in tax-free cash and which they freely dip into for any personal expenditures. 

Religious activists are permitted to live outside the purview of federal tax authorities, and that guarantees the shafting of all tax payers in the name of some self-serving “faith” system.  From that sheltered position the holy schemers are free to intervene in partisan political campaigns while freely living lavish lifestyles.  This applies, for the most part, to the television “ministries” that pander to the stay-at-home armchair worshippers.  For the few persons who may actually be personally familiar with New Testament texts, however, that approach to “ministry” work does not properly reflect what Jesus is alleged to have taught. 

That these televangelists pick and choose the verses that are to be ignored is seen in their lust for money.  You never hear them quote from Mark 6:8 where Jesus sent out his disciples to preach and heal, telling them, “…take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no script, no bread, no money in their purse…”   Or the verses in 1 Timothy 6:10 where it is noted, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith…”  It was in 1 Timothy also (chapter 3, verse 3) that cautioned those who preach were to be, “…not greedy of filthy lucre…”  And then there is Hebrews 13:5, which says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have…”

Among the goodies that the tax exempt loophole allows faith systems is that ministry executives may freely take “housing allowances.”  That these “housing allowances” too often pay for palatial homes, multi-million dollar condos, beach houses, etc., is indulged in while the “ministers” laugh up their sleeves at their gullible “sheep.”   It is common for such ministry set-ups to include family members and friends as “staffers,” so that they may all luxuriate under the big non-profit umbrella.

This is adequate reason for all faith systems to be required to file the same detailed annual information return that any other nonprofit organizations must file (Form 990).  Simply saying that they “work for the Lord” is not enough to avoid their obligation to the democratic government that permits them to exist.  Even Jesus, whom they mockingly claim to represent, was clear about that: “…Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Mark 11:17).  In other words, the advice of Jesus is that his representatives are to understand that proper spiritual conduct depends upon church and state being honored separately: for  although both concern man’s conduct, man’s accepted forms of earthly self-government do not prevail in heaven’s diversity and liberty. 

The antidemocratic criminality that is being indulged in in the U.S. today in the name of self-serving ministries has evolved into the corruption of government that we have witnessed since the Religious Right took over the Republican Party in 1996.  Thus today we have Republican Congressmen such as Charles Grassley of Iowa actually recommending that an independent commission—led by an evangelical agency—study church tax issues.  (That commission would be the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a Winchester, Virginia-based agency.)  Included in Grassley’s recommendation was the proposal to repeal the ban on churches being actively involved in political campaigns!  Church-based politicking anchored in tax-exempt security is not democratic, and it also runs counter to the teachings of the man whom they claim to represent. 

There is today a renewed push by the Religious Right leaders in the U.S. to scrap the constitutional restriction on religious politicking, or at least undermine it.  The undemocratic aim of these holy conspirators is to establish a voting bloc for fundamentalists whose idea of heaven on Earth is a theocracy.

The extreme Religious Right deceitfully present themselves as “renewed in Christ,” but they seem totally unfamiliar with their savior’s teachings.  In the earliest books of Christianity (Matthew and Mark), followers are counseled to  “…seek the welfare of one’s neighbor,” and to share compassionately.  Trying  to take over a government, therefore, is not a “Christian value.”  But today in the U.S. the self-interest of the fundamentalists is on display in their grasping for political power, and they are doing it using tax-free money.  The democratic structure of the U.S. is being threatened by an internal movement that masks itself with a pretense of piety and spiritual “guidance.”

Fortunately, the founding fathers of our democratic form of government were spiritually wise and knew that genuine faith is not a predatory fixation.

Religious Delusions of Exclusivity

Posted in Atheist, belief, culture, faith, freethought, logic, Pantheism, random, religion, Social with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by chouck017894

Since the early 1800s CE, humankind has gained considerably more knowledge regarding universal truths than man’s limited known history had previously recorded.  Natural  phenomena that once terrorized our ancestors have been studied, their interrelationship observed and calculated, and working  models based on those examinations have granted modern man a degree of forecast and control that our ancestors would have regarded as godlike.

For example, we know how hurricanes develop; how an eclipse takes place; why earthquakes occur; what the Moon and the planets are made of; how health can be threatened by bacteria and viruses; and a great wealth of similar secrets that were once regarded as holy mystery.  Inquisitive minds have stubbornly chosen to know rather than just vegetate in belief, and in pursuit of knowing mankind has questioned and observed events around himself.  And those probing minds have found that the fear of God does not adequately serve as the beginning of creative wisdom as claimed, nor is that priest-stoked fear a sound foundation upon which to build faith.  No longer must mankind endure the bogus authority of shamans, priests and theologians who pretend explanation of natural energy interactions as consequences of divine miracles which only they have been blessed with the power to interpret.

Imagining some supernatural being who conjures up all the actions that pummel human life has never provided the means to work with or around those natural energy actions in which we experience our relationship with the universe.  Listening to the superstitions of shamans, priests and theologians has resulted only in inestimable years in which billions of persons have wept over trillions of unanswered prayers.  For all the scriptures of man’s invention, not one has ever provided mankind with a definite and clear-cut grasp of how to personally achieve the attributes necessary for ascension into that quality of being that is holy wisdom.  All that those hallowed texts have offered have been moral teachings, which most certainly are vital to human societies but which are actually woven upon common sense guides for sane social conduct.  There is no need for a supernatural being to tell us—through some self-appointed interpreter—not to kill, steal, lie, defraud and such: that is obviously detrimental conduct if one aspires to achieve peaceful and creative life experiences.  Acting contrary to those common sense guides is demonstratively self-destructive.

In claiming exclusiveness to common sense guidelines, the practice of the world’s bureaucratic faith systems’ programming has generated the bulk of thoughtless evil  that has dogged man’s history.  Belief that some supernatural being favors some  group of people above others, which is nothing more than mutual masturbation of ego, has fueled unending wars and inhumane conduct within a species that has more in common with each other than the imagined unbridgeable differences.  That these faiths all boil down to nothing more than manipulation of ego is provable in how social issues are perceived, manipulated and altered over time in the constant religious contests for material power: issues such as slavery, torture, abortion, contraceptives, sexual orientation, derogation of women, etc., etc. are not heavenly matters; they are taught human indulgences used to manipulate human passion.  Only a spirit that is truly at peace with the natural diversity within the universe can step away from these discrimination practices and truly approach Creation’s wisdom. 

Isn’t it time for mankind to face the fact that man’s invented faith systems are inherently dysfunctional?  When rationality is impaired by clerics belittling each other’s “faiths” and their indulgence in a proposition that our true identity is somewhere else beyond this awareness of self, that is not legitimate worship of Creation’s wisdom.  That is simply indulgence in obsolete mythology of prejudicial and judgmental sky gods.

The creative power which is assessed as “divine” can never be stripped from the here-and-now; that power is not detached and exists somewhere “out there.”  Take a cue from Pantheist understanding; that power continues to reside in everything.

Covenants of Special Favor

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, random, religion with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2011 by chouck017894

…or Promises Not Kept.

At Mount Sinai, Moses allegedly received directly from God a list of Laws under which the Israelites were to forever abide.  But when Moses trudged down the mountain to the Israelite camp with the stone tablets of Law, he found the Israelites had fashioned a golden calf to lavish their attention upon.  In anger Moses hurled the tablets of Law at the dejected Israelites and the Laws became rubble.  There was no backup technology in those days, so Moses had to camber back up the mountain again to get a second batch of commandments that spelled out the rules by which the Israelites could make themselves worthy of God’s conditional love.  This set of stone tablets survived and were then lugged around in an ark for years and served as their battle standard during their weary wanderings, for there had been no map included with the commandments.

The rest of the Old Testament pivots upon the alleged covenants that Yahweh is said to have established with the Israelites at Sinai.  For some never adequately explained reason, Yahweh pledged to make the Israelites—out of all the peoples on the planet—his chosen ones and bestow special favors upon them.  Yahweh’s promises included a peaceful and affluent homeland.  Oddly, that land was already occupied!  But all they had to do to receive the “Promised Land” was to indulge in a bit of genocide to show their worthiness of the gift.  According to the priest written “history,” the Israelites thus received their “inheritance” by cleansing the land with Canaanite blood as Yahweh cheered them on. 

Once the Israelites were in possession of the coveted land, the Israelites had every expectation, according to their understanding of the Sinai contract, to live peacefully in their enclosed, uncontaminated region.  But even Moses apparently had neglected to note the fine-print clauses that were attached to the Sinai covenant.  The inherited land was not as peaceful as anticipated.  After years of guidance under assorted Judges, the Philistine armies routed the Israelite tribal levies in battle and took the Ark of the Covenant as booty.  The priests and “prophets” came to the conclusion that the reason for their problem was because Yahweh had expected them to set up their inherited land as a kingdom.  Sure enough, the “prophet” named Samuel avowed that indeed such was the wish of Yahweh, and the Lord’s selection was Saul to be first king of Israel.  Saul proved to have been something of a spur of the moment decision for the Lord, and it proved to be a not so omniscient choice; and even as Saul continued to reign, God was directing the “prophet” Samuel to select the youngest son of Jesse (of the Benjamin tribe), David, to be groomed for king.  The timeframe for David is traditionally placed as 1040?-973 BCE.

So how did the Lord show his favor for David?  In a combat to the death situation with a Philistine giant named Goliath.  Priest style “history” asserts that the youth David, too young to serve in the military, was the only one connected to Saul’s defense forces who was brave enough to meet Goliath in one-on-one combat.  David brought supplies to Saul’s military.  Anyway, the priest-authors of this tale noted that David shouted to Goliath saying, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with javelins; but I come to you in the name of the Lord.”  And the Lord made certain that the single small stone hurled from David’s slingshot struck the most vulnerable spot on Goliath’s helmeted skull.  Why, then, was the combat necessary?  And strangely the Lord did nothing later to assist all those in dire need who had joined up with David when he became the renegade leader of fugitives and soldiers.  After King Saul’s death, a mere 23 years later, traditionally placed about 1013 BCE, David was allegedly anointed king of Israel. 

The “word of the Lord,” according to the minor “prophet” Nathan, was relayed to David with another glorious covenant promise (1 Kings 7:12-16); it was that the house, the kingdom and the throne of David “…shall be established forever.”  The only restrictive clause in this covenant was that if the king did wrong in the Lord’s sight, the king, not the people, would be punished; even so God would not take the kingdom away from David as he had done with Saul.  This sound like an unconditional promise—the house, the kingdom and the throne of David was to continue for ever

Genuine history seems not to have followed the Lord’s plan: the kingdom allegedly glorified by David and Solomon was conquered and completely destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE, never to be resurrected as a monarchy ruled over by some descendant of David.  (By the way, something time-altering did actually occur in the general 587 BCE timeframe which forced every nation on Earth to begin recalculating its chronology.  It was not because David’s kingdom fell.)  Today, of course, there is the nation of Israel, but it is not under the rule of a descendant of David; it functions loosely as a democracy.  This means that the greatest covenant that God is said to have extended to the Israelites was another sacred promise not kept. 

That fact does not seem to register with today’s army of Christian Bible thumpers who choose to cherry pick verses of scriptures that inflate their egos.  Ignoring the unfulfilled promises in the covenants that God had allegedly extended to the Israelites (not to the Jews or to gentiles) allows them the privilege of accepting the present day democratic nation of Israel as a fulfillment of God’s promises.  This view of things allows them to indulge in spiritual lust over the New Testament book of Revelation in which Christ takes total control over worldly affairs.  Considering that the book of Revelation was composed c.135-138 CE, right after Rome defeated the Jewish rebellion in Palestine, the imagined achievement of Christ’s  unchallenged world domination strangely mirrored the empirical aspirations of Rome in that timeframe.

Concealed Background of Scriptures

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on February 1, 2011 by chouck017894

Long before the Hebrew scriptures were crafted in 7th century BCE Jerusalem, the nomadic Hebrew tribes were clearly influenced by older cultures they touched upon during their wanderings across the ancient Near East.  In their extended wanderings, often across barren regions, the creative powers that other cultures personified as gods were more easily comprehended by them as a singularly harsh deity that was grudgingly supportive.  Not surprisingly, tribal leaders found it politically convenient to insinuate that they embodied some supernatural connection to that power, and the concept of a priest-like go-between was the accepted custom. 

Centuries later when the nomadic Hebrew tribes had wandered with their herds into the more agricultural region of Canaan, the rank of priest was virtually one and the same as tribal leader.  Even in the more advanced cultures that the Hebrew tribes touched upon—cultures such as Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria—were commonly presided over by priest-kings.  The more prosperous Hebrew tribes that had settled in the northern regions developed into the kingdom of Israel as the southern secondary Hebrew tribes tended their flocks and herds in the more rugged hill country.  But the northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyrian invasion, and the priests in the little 7th century BCE village of Jerusalem, fearing a similar fate, threw their lot in with the young tribal leader Josiah who dreamed of bringing the scattered tribes of the south into a cohesive society.  To aid and abet Josiah in this ambition, the priests of Yahweh embarked upon a propaganda program to not only inspire allegiance of the people but to intimidate any neighboring cultures that entertained any ideas of taking control of the territory of Judah.

In the process of composing a “history” for their tribal region and the cult of Yahweh, the priests drew upon two teaching devices that they had collected (but little understood) in their wanderings and which were regarded as ancient even then.  One was astronomy-inspired teachings of Sumerian origin that once used  groups of stars (constellations) to illustrate lessons of creation and cosmology.  These astronomy-based educational props were referred to as “logi.”  The second device drawn upon was a text known as Ha-Qabala —a set of guide lines better known today as the Cabala or Kabala.  This is commonly, but erroneously, said to be an occult mystical philosophy of rabbinical origin, which became widely transmitted in medieval Europe.  But the analytical eminence upon which the Ha-Qabala later became interpreted in that medieval timeframe pre-dated any esoteric rabbinical interpretation of the Hebrew scripture.

There is a claim among Cabalists, undoubtedly with much justification, that a kind of religious metaphysics  was taught by word of mouth among some of the Tannaim—i.e. the earliest theology-shapers of Judaism.  Certainly oral instruction preceded the invention of writing.  Not generally known among Bible scholars is that the opening book of the Bible, Genesis, was originally presented in cabalistic script.  The key to cabalistic script lies in understanding the code that was used, which involved the use of graphs derived from twenty-two proper names and which correspond to numbers, symbols and ideas.  The difficulty in translating from this original code was formidable, for the cabalistic presentation of twenty-two proper names did not simply designate identifiable things: the names were regarded as being the things themselves!  This is difficult for most of us to comprehend who are trained in the A-B-C approach to teaching.  We do not use words that have an ontological link with the essence of the object that the words specify.  That is to say, the words that we use do not emanate from the objects that are designated.  An example is the opening line of Genesis; in the schemata of the cabalistic Genesis the words are: Bereschyt Bara Elohim.  From this the Yahweh priests interpreted “In the beginning God…”

Ancient Cabalistic insight was not concerned with any specific persons, nor was it concerned about the history of any group of persons.  Neither did that insight embrace the notion of a humanlike discriminatory god.  The Cabalistic texts from which the priests worked was encoded with names such as Aleph, Bayt, Ghimel, etc., and these pertained to projections of biologically structured energies at various stages of manifestation.  In other words, the Creation process.  The ontological connection with names taken from the Ha-Qabala reveals a startlingly different understanding of Creation than the Yahweh priests interpreted it.  The subject is too vast to be adequately covered here, but consider these few names from the Ha-Qabala texts as examples of how priestly translations perverted the scientific significance of the complicated texts.

Moses:  The Cabalistic name from which the star of the Exodus tale was derived is traced to Mosheh, properly spelled Mem-Sheen-Hay. The Mem part of the name refers to water—the waters (energies) of Creation.  This was altered in priest translation to mo, the Egyptian word for water, which strengthened the association of the character to that earthly locale.  The kingdom of Egypt in the Exodus saga symbolizes the power and abundance that is the generative source of Creation.  The Sheen part of the name means “breath,” and  implies the stirrings of life which emanate from those primal energies.  The Hay part of the name referred to the activation of life.  The biblical character of Moses therefore personifies the Life Principle in its movement through the elemental energy dimensions to manifest as matter form.  The energy involvement as matter is thus presented as the destined “Promised Land.”

Abram/Abraham:  To understand the Cabalistic meaning with these two adjusted names, we have to first look at the ram part of the name.  The ram component carries the crucial meaning of “Cosmic Dwelling”—or what may be interpreted as the non-manifesting conditions out of which all diverse energy forms of matter are projected.  Thus Ab-ram (or Av-ram) indicated the stage of primal energy development out of ram, so Abram represents the Life Principle at the level of cosmic action.

For this reason the priests of Yahweh declared Ab-ram to be the seed bearer—the biological regeneration factor that is carried into manifestations of life.  These energies evolve and transform as matter forms of life, and this transformation was indicated in scripture with the character’s name being changed from Ab-ram to Abraham.  It is at this point that the four skins of matter are initiated (mental, astral, etheric and dense energies).  In the priest contrived “history,” Abraham is then characterized as a fervent, unquestioning believer in Yahweh.  The Ha-Qabala, however, stated only that the manifested life form recognized its energy alliance with the Life Principle.  This is what is declared by the priests of Yahweh to be God’s covenant with Abraham.  But to advance beyond the imperfect stage of dense matter development, the four energy dimensions from which a matter form is made manifest (the four skins of matter) must be transcended (cut around), and it is from this Cabalistic teaching that the practice of circumcision was instituted as a condition of Jewish faith.

Ararat:  The mountain upon which the scriptural character of Noah is alleged to have landed after the Deluge is given as Ararat, a name derived from a Cabalistic name that vibrates in meaning as “new cycle.”  Noah is depicted as riding upon the waters of Creation into a new cycle of energy involvement that is represented as having taken place over forty days.  This disguises the involvement with, and passage through the four elemental energy planes that manifest as matter—identical with the four energy planes mentioned with Abram-Abraham.  Thus in scriptural myth Noah’s ark was launched upon Creation’s waters to navigate out of timelessness to become grounded upon the peak of matter where a new energy cycle is begun.  The scriptural version then asserts that Noah planted a grape-vine, made wine (of life), and became drunk (intoxicated with life) all in the same day after he landed!

These few examples of the prehistory astronomy knowledge and the Cabalistic source material used to manufacture a “history” of ancestors of the Judaic faith system provide reason for Jews, Christians and Muslims to reevaluate their “holy words;” and maybe reconsider their contentious relationship to each other.