I first wrote this essay in 1997, with only minor modifications since then. It sets out a ‘location’ on my spiritual path — a story of where I was and how I got there — and it still reflects much of my belief. The most significant changes to my understanding of the answer to the question, “Who am I?” relate to the physical aspect of reality, and that God is not some separate being, not out there nor in us, but literally is us, is everything. Please read this essay, then also read my latest essay, Lucid Dream.
Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
– Oscar Wilde
I believe in God. This is something of which, as with only a handful of other things in my life, I have been aware since I can remember. This is a major aspect of my life – something which moves, motivates and guides me.
One of the struggles I’ve had in my life is escaping the straight-jackets of conformity, of people’s expectations and prejudices. It took me quite some years to realise that just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I have to fulfill some stereotypical expectation people have of gays. Similarly, in ‘coming out’ regarding my belief as it were (with many parallels as a prelude to my coming out as being gay), I have had to deal with what my family’s and friends’ images of what a Christian is. For a long time, I felt I had to justify myself to those people, or prove that I am not like their stereotype. But what troubled me was that, in doing so, I felt I was pandering to their opinions and indirectly lending credibility to their prejudices towards ‘the others’. In the end, I’ve found the ‘least worst’ approach is to try to walk my own path and avoid being labelled, and I celebrate those who walk their own path.
I was raised in your average loving family, but one in which an active faith was (is) not present. My parents vaguely believed in Christian Science (not to be confused with Scientology!), however this manifested itself more in a form of superstitions regarding medications and doctors than in a belief in God.
Whereas some remain with a ‘niggling doubt’ that there might be no God and their efforts to be ‘good’ are a waste of time, I always remember having a ‘niggling belief’ in God, and I began to actively explore that belief after I left home to attend university. Simply put, whatever doubts or questions I may have, I remain with a fundamental belief in God. Not to be confused with fundamentalism – I am far from that – but a soul-deep awareness of a greater presence. I recognise that this is vague and that there’s some distance between ‘greater presence’ and Christianity.
When I go to a ballet and witness the interaction between the dancers, orchestra, lighting, sets and audience, it seems so absurd to me to say that this is some chain-reaction of cause-and-effect, some bumping of atoms against one another absorbing and releasing energy in the form of light and sound waves which, when impacting upon the retinas and ear-drums of the others trigger electro-chemical reactions which cause them to react in just the right way, and that this chain reaction is part of a bigger reaction which has successfully continued over millions of years. Life is full of such complicated interactions – such as me typing this essay and you reading it -, and it strikes me as terribly simplistic – indeed, denial – to conclude that we are nothing more than cogs in a cause-and-effect deterministic, or quantum-mechanically-random, machine. (Indeed, I think our consciousness is distinct from the brain, and is in fact the “observer” which wills outcomes in the physical brain, but in the context of this essay I digress. See my article on Consciousness.) This seems blind to the wonder about us; just as blind as the fundamentalists are, who deny archeological finds because they are afraid to consider the creation story in Genesis as anything but a history text.
I’ve had some sort of intrinsic belief – I’ve prayed – since I was only a few years old, but as I grew older I went through a phase where I felt a need (pressure?) to justify my faith. Since my early 40s I’ve felt much more secure in my belief, and have a desire to explore and discover more. So although I have always ‘known’ there is more, the above argument forms the more reasoned basis for my belief that there is more, that there is some purpose and that there is some supernatural presence.
Horizontal and Vertical
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
– Oscar Wilde
I believe that the “fruit of the Tree of Knowledge” of which mankind ate, written of in Genesis, is in fact the transition we made from being simply conscious, to being conscious of being conscious. Other living things are conscious, aware; humans are conscious of our consciousness, aware of our awareness. When we became conscious of being conscious – when we tasted that sweet fruit – we became aware of our nakedness, literally and figuratively, and we got shame, guilt and inhibitions. That fruit is the source of our sin, as it were, because without it, there is no sin – neither a lion killing its own cub nor an alligator killing a child is a sin. Yet it was this fruit which also caused us to ask questions, to philosophise and to go in search of our Creator. This fruit is both our blessing and our curse.
Ironically, the vast majority of people live their lives as any other animal: conscious of living, but not conscious of being conscious. Most people spend their lives – and I spend much of my life – busy with the day-to-day activities of working, shopping, socialising, conforming and moving with the pack.
Every once in a while however, I look with a ‘fresh perspective’ at everyday things; I look upwards toward the stars and I marvel at the glorious beauty; I consider the flames leaping off a star at this very moment, lonely and unobserved, trillions of miles away; I visit a quiet church in the middle of a busy city, while smelling the incense and watching a small flame flicker in the darkness; I experience real joy in dancing; and I am overwhelmed at the mystery and the wonder of this existence. Most of our lives are spent thinking horizontally, and it’s on occasions such as these that we think vertically. In a society concerned mainly with mundane, horizontal business, I think it’s important to take the time to look up to see the heavens – both literally and figuratively.
He, She, It
Truth be told, I am uncomfortable with the term “God”. It is, in fact, a generic term, and a remnant of a time when there was a belief in many “gods”. The word “god” is used so often in our language, in so many specific and generic ways, that we can’t help but have preconceptions and prejudices when it’s used. For the remainder of this essay, I will generally refer to Him with the term The Name (conistent with biblical tradition that we are all known by our name, and His name is too holy to be uttered) in an effort to mitigate some of those preconceptions.
I believe that, in addition to matter and energy, there is also consciousness which precedes and transcends time and space. I believe this eternal consciousness has an “I” which can equally say “We”, and He has will. He is The Eternal I Am. Using terms from quantum mechanics, He is the Ultimate Observer who determines the outcomes.
I do not believe The Name has a particular sex or sexuality, but I do believe that our sexes and sexualities are contained within His presence. I fully appreciate the desire by many people to see and understand more of The Name‘s multi-faceted nature, instead of only through the limited lens of our earthly languages. People may ridicule political correctness, but it is just as ridiculous to deny the subtle connotations, history and traditions – the politics – contained within words. Political-correctness’s prime failing, however, is that it knows no boundaries: By their very (limited) nature – in that they identify and define things -, words will exclude others.
I cannot refer to The Name as “It”, for it lacks a dignity, and the indication of a living ‘personality’. At the same time, the studied replacement of “He” with “She” in the Bible strikes me as a denial of history and historical context, like a vegetarian trying to remove all biblical references to animal sacrifices. If we are to grow in our understanding, we must go forward to make new history, rather than looking back to change old history. I would advocate finding a new word, to take it out of the political arena, and reflect our evolving understanding of The Name. In the absence of which, in this text, I use “He”, which I sincerely intend as politically neutral.
He is Consciousness, He is the essence of Being, He is Presence, He is that which Knows, He is The Eternal I Am, He is the Ultimate Observer
I believe this is The Name, and that our consciousness – our soul – comes through and from Him and we are thus created in His image. The Name is in, and acts in, and indeed is, all that is sentient. We are evidence that this consciousness has power within the physical world of time and space, matter and energy, after all, our consciousness has a will which is able to control energy (electrical nerve impulses) which in turn controls a physical object (our body).
Furthermore, while I do not believe literally in Creationism as described in Genesis, I do believe that the consciousness which says “I”/”We” is the ultimate source, responsible for the calling into existence of all that we see in our space-time universe. He is the ultimate “observer” which wills the outcomes.
I believe that these mortal, physical bodies which we inhabit are not who we are, but ‘simply’ vessels which we inhabit, and that which is good in us, that which seeks truth – not simply facts, but life, love, laughter and light – will reside with(in) The Name after the passing of our bodies. Like an ocean of living waters, and we are vessels into which that water is poured: individual and yet still of that ocean. And when the water from our vessels is poured back, the ‘identity’ of the water that was once in the vessel is, paradoxically, not lost, and yet becomes one again with the ocean and with the water from other vessels.
That which is not good in us – that which has sought death, hate, despair and deception – inevitably consumes and destroys itself.
The fact that Truth and Good create, build and amplify, is how one can know The Name is the source of Creation.
A Chosen Path
So why Christianity? Part of the answer is, unquestionably, that I was born into a so-called ‘Christian’ culture. But in such a culture full of traditions and centuries’-old presumptions and tired interpretations, it can be even harder to discover what Christianity – Christ’s message – is really about.
I must say that I’m willing to consider many different views on ‘what this is all about’, and that I believe that Christianity is one of perhaps many valid perspectives on the answer, like a house with many windows. Also, I have come to realise that there are as many ‘Gods’ (i.e. opinions on what God is) as there are believers; that there are as many versions of ‘Christianity’ as there are Christians: this is intrinsic to the very personal nature of spirituality. No two people hold exactly the same perspective and beliefs.
That said, I have personally found the most Truth in Christ’s message. Whereas many religions are passive and/or selfish (i.e. self-centred), Christ advocated an active love for The Name and our neighbour (i.e. our neighbour in the broadest sense). Whereas many religions advocate violence for conversion or punishment – and even many Christians have perpetrated violence supposedly in the name of God – Christ unequivocally denounced violence, and practised forgiveness and acceptance. I believe Jesus’s soul was one with The Name, saying and doing things so profound that they shook his world then, and continue to shake our world today. His is the greatest story ever told.
I must also admit that the most fascinating and intellectually intoxicating element of Christianity is that Truth is always revealed in contradictions and paradoxes, and this so resonates with my own experience in life. One finds oneself by losing oneself; one is born by dying; one becomes spiritually rich by being spiritually poor; one receives in abundance by giving in abundance.
I think the questions of being saved if born ‘under the right conditions’, outside of one’s control, are human inventions, struggling to understand something which is infinite and time-less, within the constraints of a two-dimensional time-line. If we, as simple humans, see the injustice of this, then The Name surely sees this.
So why do bad things happen to good people? That’s a big question, and one which I’ve struggled with, avoided, and later confronted. I had a couple of major confrontations with this question which were devastating earthquakes to my frail house of belief. One of those confrontations was 9/11: I could not comprehend why the prayers of thousands – the people in the World Trade Centre and the passengers aboard the planes – went unanswered, and yet apparently the prayers of the killers were answered. The confrontations led to my world almost caving in. They played a big part in causing me to re-examine my so-called belief(s) – and indeed much of my life – from the ground up: What was I doing and saying, what was I believing, and why? The process of rebuilding and of (re-)finding myself and my belief has been slow. As paradoxical as it may sound, the acceptance of doubts and unanswered questions has resulted in a sense of self and faith which is stronger, and less ‘anxious’, than before.
This question needs to be asked, this question needs to be confronted (although perhaps not answered?). To respond to it, I have to first deal with two issues, namely power and prayer.
Let me start by saying that I believe The Name is omnipotent (i.e. all-powerful), not in the traditional human way of seeing power – as physical strength over another – but in the sense that Truth is all-powerful: in being able to stand and move in the face of any opposition. Falsehoods can be exposed and eliminated; Truth can never be defeated. People who (need to) see The Name‘s omnipotence as physical power get tied-up in questions such as whether or not The Name can create a stone too big for Himself to move. Coming to understand The Name‘s power in His Truth has been very liberating for me.
Secondly, I do not believe in a God which answers our prayers to heal someone for our sakes, or give us a passing exam-grade after the fact, or one who saves our loved-ones in an aircraft disaster. It simply does not make sense to me that a compassionate and loving God would not rescue someone until I called upon Him to do so – and leave the un-prayed-for victims to die; or that He would retroactively change exam-results in such a manner as to satisfy all the people who prayed.
Would a loving God create a child born with an open spine? Would He heal that child only when someone prayed, and otherwise not? Would a loving God heal only some brain tumours or save some earthquake victims as a sign, that we might believe? These would be petty and childish acts, and don’t befit the wondrousness of the Spirit in which I believe. In my opinion, only an insecure god would need such acts to get and keep its believers.
I believe prayer is a way of opening ourselves to The Name‘s power – that is, His Truth and compassion – to learn and understand, to be humble and help others. To paraphrase the character Tess, from Touched by an Angel, “Faith and prayers are not for getting around problems, but for getting through them.” I believe that prayer can be used as a conduit to others, through The Name, and in this way our prayers can help and heal others with The Name‘s Truth. As such, prayer can be a very strong force in our lives.
I believe that prayer is a healing force, in all senses. I don’t understand the nature by which The Name acts on, or as a conduit for, prayer, but I believe that we are all connected to and through The The Name, if we allow that to happen by opening ourselves. I don’t know how it can make sense that The Name would only act when one is prayed for, but I think it can only make sense in the idea of building some ‘strength’ and in our lowering our defences to allow it in. I suppose it sounds a bit New-Age-ish, and I’m no doubt limited by seeing The Name through human eyes.
After power and prayer, there is the issue of free will and responsibility for our actions. We desire free will, and at the same time pray for The Name to step in to save us when everything goes pear-shaped. For every right, freedom or privilege, there is a corresponding responsibility. Free will is the ultimate right, freedom and privilege, perhaps the most sacred thing bestowed upon us by The The Name, and the ability to choose our path(s) carries with it responsibilities and accountability, at the very least to ourselves. If He did step in and change things, fix everything, what exactly would be the value, the worth, of our free will?
Remember that The Name did not save His son on the cross, despite his son’s prayer, and that certainly has to rank up at the top of bad things happening to good people. We know that Christ died as a result of others’ actions and decisions – of their free will. An intercession by The The Name would have ultimately meant nothing: those who did not grasp Christ’s message before, would not have been more likely to truly grasp it as a result of his being spared. I believe The The Name honours His sacred gift of free will, and that He will not intercede as a result of a prayer to limit someone else’s free will, however He will always intercede when hearts are freely opened to Him.
Similarly, I am often struck by the absurdity of praying for such things as world peace, an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or an end to hunger. Why do I find it absurd? Because we’ve already been given absolutely everything we need to resolve these things. What more could we possibly need, other than to change people’s free will, to make people want to resolve them? And if we do not change our free will ourselves, it is meaningless – we might as well be unconscious drones. It reminds me of the parable of the man who, upon hearing of an impending flood, sits atop the roof of his house, praying to be kept safe. Before the flood-waters arrive, a car comes along, then as the flood-waters come and rise, a boat comes along, and finally a helicopter, but each time he refuses to leave, saying “God will keep me safe.” The flood-waters rise and rise and engulf the house and the man drowns. In heaven, the man asks God why he did not keep him safe, and God replied, “I sent a car, then a boat, then a helicopter…” Praying is not just about asking The Name for help, but about opening our hearts to how we can apply what we have already been provided.
Somehow, though, prayer is not just passive. Prayer is the conscious willing of outcomes, it is our consciousness – the thing which makes us observers – asking the Ultimate “Observer” to observe and determine a particular outcome.
Finally, I believe that if we were to truly know – to have faith, trust – in our hearts, that the souls of our loved ones go on after death, and are in the presence of The The Name, then we would have neither anger nor resentment nor anxiety about whatever bad thing might have happened to them, but only a sense of thankfulness and peace.
That’s as close as I’ve got to the answer to the question of ‘bad things and good people’ so far. The Name is not some mechanic, constantly tinkering with free will in answer to people’s prayers. The Name is not vindictive, is not pushing people into bad situations nor causing bad situations to happen in their path. I believe His real power – Truth – and our prayers are able to help and heal, if we understand what helping and healing are.
Sun or storm, I begin every prayer with:
Thank you God, for everything.
Thank you for the good fortune in our lives and even for those things that seem less fortunate.
Thank you for life.
Thank you for memories, for the experience of now, and for anticipation and trust. Thank you for sustenance and abundance.
Thank you for love.
Thank you for those whom we love, and those who love us. Thank you for those who care for others. Thank you for your love.
Thank you for laughter.
Thank you for joy, fun and humour, and for the crazy contradictions and paradoxes in our lives.
Thank you for light.
Thank you for inspiration and learning, for knowledge and inquisitiveness, thank you for your light which shines in others and, hopefully, in us.
Thank you God, for everything.
Also, I really love this prayer from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (I’ve modified some of the “we/us” to “I/me” to make it more personal):
Most merciful God,
I confess that I have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what I have done,
and by what I have left undone.
I have not loved you with my whole heart;
I have not loved my neighbour as myself.
I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy upon us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name.
Fact or Fiction
Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.
– Oscar Wilde
I do not believe that the Bible is a science textbook. Instead, I experience it as a rich tapestry which can’t be appreciated by study under a microscope, but rather by the weave, the colours and patterns. Many fundamentalists argue that science is wrong and then attempt to use scientific methods to prove the Bible’s validity. The Bible is plainly part story, part history, part fact, part poetry; it was written by people seeking The Name, within their historical contexts. My belief is that one should not to be so fixed upon facts that one misses the Truth.
I believe the Old Testament is about Man searching for The Name and seeking to understand His nature, and is essential in understanding the context for the Gospel. I believe Genesis is poetry about what Man thought The Name must be, and we see this in how the ‘God’ in Genesis evolves. The God described in Genesis creates a world, then realises He has not created what He wanted and destroys and rebuilds: This is not the perfect god fundamentalists would have you believe. But look at Genesis as a people searching to understand The Name and explain what they see, and I believe a new trust and faith will open, one which is secure enough to be vulnerable.
I believe that the four accounts of the Gospel contain the essence of the whole message. I must admit that I sympathise with the Bishop of Durham in saying that the stories, for example the virgin birth, are not ‘necessary facts’ for my faith. Like the Christian Scientists who focus on the stories of healing, the miracles are not the main point. Christ is the point, and if you consider his message you will see that he was thousands of years ahead of his – or, rather, their – time. Today, some 2000 years later, we still don’t fully appreciate just how powerful, how simple and how Truth-full his message of love is. The Ten Commandments were an attempt in the Old Testament to describe the perfect law, like describing a person’s journey by the footprint left in the sand. Christ distilled the laws into ‘first-principles’, and these first-principles are the basis for what I believe is a timeless morality.
I believe the Epistles in the New Testament should be understood as very different in nature from the Gospels. Unfortunately, in my opinion, many see the Epistles as law; like canonising someone else’s love-letters and believing that love can only be expressed in a manner consistent with those letters, regardless of the lovers involved or historical context. I believe they are about early Christians discovering what it meant to live according to a Christian faith, and are useful in forming our own spirituality.
While it may feel comfortable not to have scepticism, and to just ‘be able to believe’, as it were, I think scepticism has helped me to probe deeper. If, in the end, I don’t believe, then at least that’s honest. I’ve spent too much time fighting the ‘comfortable misconceptions’ society has which keep homosexuals locked in their closets, to then resign myself to my own set of comfortable misconceptions. Still, I have that ‘niggling belief’. To say I am sceptical about parts of the Bible, for example, and as a result throw it all out, would only lend credence to the fundamentalists that say that it has to be seen as 100% fact. The people who wrote the Bible were themselves on a journey, and we can’t lose sight of the fact that they were human and fallible, just like the holy men of and women of today. I don’t see the Bible as the end of my journey, perhaps with the exception of Christ’s message, which I do see as (part of?) the destination.
While I may be accused of interpreting Christianity to suit myself, I would point out the dangers of not interpreting Christianity and your beliefs of The Name based on your observations and views. Not to do so, is to deny that the people who wrote documents a few thousand years ago were human, just as fallible as you. Thousands of years of slavery – even ‘endorsed’ by the Bible – doesn’t make it right. Thousands of years of misunderstanding about the Earth being the centre of the universe, or of the intricacies of human sexuality – don’t count for one gram in the scales of Truth. The challenge is to try to do it in a way which you think takes into account both their and your prejudices. Even if a parent were not to change, still the children in growing up will change and understand things differently, and thus understand their parent in a different light. Change requires time – without time there is no change – and since The The Name is outside of time, He does not change, He simply is. But we are within time and do change, and so while He does not change, our perception of Him changes as we learn and grow. The challenge is to remain open to learning, and always let Christ’s two laws be the ‘thumb on the scales’.
Take as example the following: I believe that man may very well all be vegetarians within the next couple of centuries. People may then look back on their meat-eating ancestors and simply not be able to comprehend it. Will Christianity die, because people read in the Bible of animal offerings and sacrifices, and believe that no God could be consistent with that? If it survives, what will be the reasoning? I know that I can still believe, because it is consistent with people learning, growing, searching for The Name – about a faith maturing. The Bible is not God, it’s about people feeling about in the darkness, as the lights are slowly turned up.
But is The Name necessarily bound by science or logic? I am reminded of Ptolemy and Copernicus: Ptolemy had a model of our solar system in which everything moved about the Earth, and everything seemed to work out fine, for as much as we could see or understand at the time. Then Copernicus comes along, and devises a much simpler model which also works with newer discoveries. Logic and science may just be models which work, but don’t actually explain the whole picture… we are so convinced nowadays that they are perfect – as convinced as the Catholic church was that Ptolemy’s model was perfect – that perhaps we’re blind to the big picture. I truly think we are “looking through a glass darkly”.
Is there such a thing as one, fixed morality? Or should we apply situational-ethics or moral relativism? In my opinion: Both.
Is theft always immoral? What about a person whose child is starving and so steals a loaf of bread? In this sense, I subscribe to the idea of situational-ethics: The situation – both physically and mentally – in which our action takes place, are critical in determining the morality of the action. Nevertheless – and this is what I believe is the divine nature of Christ’s message – the first-principles of morality are,
|Mark 12:30 ff||Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength […]
Love your neighbour as yourself
I believe that every moral law, every answer to a moral question in any given situation is based – i.e. can find its foundation – on these two laws. A ‘sin’ is not a state of being or a quality: Sins are exactly those actions which violate either of these laws. I try to use these first-principles to guide me, regardless of the situation. Yes, I often fall short.
I believe The Name is the very essence of Truth and therefore perfection. The ability to forgive is an element of perfection, and such a surprising element of Christ’s message, which further alludes to his divine nature. I have known many people – including myself of course – who have done bad things, but if I were sitting before them in judgement, I could never condemn them to some sort of eternal punishment. If I can forgive, if I could show compassion, how could The The Name, who is so infinitely more perfect than I, not? Could I condemn someone to an eternal punishment for not believing in me? What kind of ‘loving’ parent could cast their child into eternal punishment? These are questions I’ve struggled with. At the same time, I do believe that we are somehow accountable for our actions, or more precisely, that our spiritual condition determines the eternal outcome.
I don’t believe in the popular image of Hell as flames roasting us for eternity. I believe the original texts referred to a refuse-pit, where garbage was burnt. The ‘flames’ of destruction may burn eternally, but that doesn’t mean it’s some sort of eternal pain and revenge. Furthermore, if Hell is some place, then it means there is a place where The The Name is not, for he could not be in Hell: I believe The Name encompasses all there is, and therefore Hell can be no place.
I believe The The Name judges us, not as a human judge would, but as a purifying fire. I envision The The Name‘s Truth as a white-hot fire within which we shall all be proven. Those parts of our souls which are loving, forgiving and compassionate – which reflect The The Name‘s Truth – will endure, and those parts which are our darker side, our impurities, will be burnt away. What could be a more eternal ‘punishment’ than our selfish souls being denied the presence of The The Name‘s Truth? Not a continuous torture, but ceasing to exist. It is the Falsehood in us which consumes and destroys itself. The irony is that while The The Name‘s ‘fire’ is our judge, we are the ones who pass our own sentence. And so a just and fair God.
And what of the two people who are honestly and lovingly committed to an issue, but to opposite points of view? I believe that humility – the willingness within our souls to accept the Truth – when we are within the white-hot fire, are key.
Truth and Lies
“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.
I maintain a healthy scepticism of religious organisations because – as is the case with all human organisations – they are faulty. Nevertheless, I do believe that in order to enrich our spirituality it is necessary to share, challenge and celebrate our faith within a community of others who are searching. I have an aversion to evangelists – I suppose mostly due to the hypocricy of the modern breed -, but I believe no one has ever been converted from the outside in – nobody has ever been baptised by force; I believe it is always an interaction between one’s own spirit and The The Name, and it starts with a (re)quest from within.
A safe organisation – one in which it is safe to explore your belief – is one whose doctrines and doors are free and open to all: Anyone may have and examine the doctrines without secrecy, no secret signs and exclusion, no payment is required to gain more ‘knowledge’, questioning is encouraged and welcomed, and doubt is permitted. The asking of questions is often more important than the having of answers, and people who ‘have all the answers’ have simply stopped asking questions. Remember that Truth can sustain questions; it is Falsehood that cannot.
The word ‘family’ used to be a warm, inclusive, welcoming word. It has been turned by fundamentalists and conservatives into an insular, exclusive word – excluding people, rather than welcoming them. This struck me once when I saw a sign, “Family Restaurant”, and realised how it now made me feel unwelcome. Christ’s message was not about exclusion and making people feel unwelcome.
Beware of false prophets. Recognising false prophets is often remarkably straight-forward – just ask yourself why the infinite Creator and Consciousness of the universe would require you to do what that so-called prophet says; determine if what he says is consistent with, or contrary to, the infinite, creative and life-giving essence of The The Name. The The Name does not call on you to kill or harm others, nor die for Him, for both are acts of destroying His creation. Any religion or sect which claims that you are called upon to carry out mutilations or killings as punishment on their god’s behalf, is a lie, for if their god is omnipotent in the way they say, why would it need you to carry out its judgement or destroy what it has created? The only death The The Name asks of you is figurative: as Christ said, to die to those things which physically or spiritually harm you or others. Any religion or sect which condones violence, whether physical or mental, is in contradiction with The The Name. The infinite Creator of the universe, time, space, stars, planets and all life is not really interested in whether or not you have a beard or a piece of skin on the end of your penis: what is important is that the reasons for having these things is in your heart. The God of Truth and Revelation who gave you consciousness and inquisitiveness does not call on you to cloak what He has created nor forbid learning to some people, simply based on what sort of genitals they have. Ask questions, be critical, relentlessly seek consistency in what you believe, don’t be afraid to doubt, and discard what is inconsistent. However satisfying a particular belief may be, if it is inconsistent, then it is not true, and therefore not of The The Name.
If you are involved in an organisation which denies what The The Name gave you – namely your free will and inquiring mind -, intimidates you for seeking the Truth honestly, charges you money before revealing its ‘truth’, promotes a message of exclusion or superiority, condones violence, or threatens you with physical punishment or death for leaving, then I urge you to escape, and not to look back.
The Bottom Line
Note to Atheists: The God I believe in, is not the one you don’t believe in.
People who say there is no God, generally have a preconception of what the god is that they say doesn’t exist. In other words, the god that doesn’t exist is the god that fits their expectations (“If there was a god, he would do this, this and this“). Well, no surprise there, when you think about it. But to those with eyes and ears and other senses, we are surrounded by evidence for The The Name. Furthermore, not believing in The The Name because He does not exhibit the properties you expect, is like saying, “I expected you to have green eyes, but you don’t, so you do not exist.” The other possibility, of course, is that the atheist’s presumptions and expectations are incorrect, and that he is blinded by those prejudices.
Atheists typically rely on science, yet – as I point out in my essay on Scientific Faith – science itself is actually faith-based. Furthermore, scientific principle states you cannot prove the non-existence of something, so science cannot be used to prove The The Name does not exist. And since there are things science cannot do, it follows that science can never give us the whole picture. So for someone to say, categorically, “God does not exist,” ironically involves more faith – belief without proof – and less scientific principle than when I say The Name exists and I have evidence.
While an atheist may say s/he sees no proof of God, when it all comes down to it, there is in fact no proof for anything – existence could just as easily be a dream I’m having. In fact the only thing I know for certain is, as Descartes said, I think, therefore I am. I know I am – I am conscious, I know my consciousness exists and therefore information exists. Absolutely everything else I believe in, including science, is ultimately based on faith and trust.
A person who refuses to modify their world-view in the face of evidence which contradicts their beliefs is a fundamentalist, and there is no difference between a religious fundamentalist and a scientific fundamentalist – both lack true understanding of their respective faiths.
So if you have the faith that the universe is real, then anyone who sees innate matter (flesh) become conscious and express a will and show love, knows there is more. And, if you are at all inquisitive, once you have concluded that there is more, you have to set out on a journey…
Your Own Path
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
– Oscar Wilde
I believe it is so important to walk your own path, even if it sometimes feels very lonely while everyone else is trying to be like everyone else. As comforting and reassuring as walking in a group may be – as much as it may take your mind off your personal doubts and insecurities – you have to be true to your own heart. If you simply conform, you will have wasted the greatest gift of all: a drop of unique existence in an eternal sea. Strive to be a ‘vertical’ person, and to be secure enough to be vulnerable.
If you’d like to discuss anything as a result of reading this essay, please feel free to send me e-mail at Scott@ScottOwen.org. I promise to handle your messages in the strictest confidence.
copyright © 1997, 2004, 2005, 2011, 2013, 2017 Scott Owen