Part 2 of the introduction for my book coming out this spring is included below, read the previous post “Does God Exist” first.
The whole concept of this book sounds pretty ominous, to dream the impossible dream. Let’s not go there, the goal is not to touch and feel the creator, it is solidify or dispel belief in God. What do I believe? We’re talking Jehovah, Yahweh, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Allah, Zeus, Mithras, Osiris, Krishna, Jesus and/or whatever name humans have given the one all-knowing consciousness. Any attempt to describe the infinite, all-knowing God displays how foolish, arrogant and uneducated one is. Whatever words I can put on paper about God just reflects how limited my mind and experience is. I make no claim that one group of ancient citizens over another have exclusive rights to the only sure way to worship God. By the fourth century the Roman Church (called the Catholic “universal” church) saw things a bit differently and used the Roman and the Papal army to enforce the view that the only way to salvation was Jesus. And of course the only way to Jesus was through their Bishops, Priests and Deacons. What I do promise is that since I believe in one all-knowing God, any of the above words to describe God – including Christ, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost (Spirit) – when used in this book are referring to the one presence of the all-knowing deity. I hate debates on syntax and splitting hairs based on the subtle differences in the meaning of words, so I will not go down that road, let all the words for God be just God. If when you see the word God, you think of Allah, Jesus, Krishna or any of the other titles man has hung on God that’s fine with me.
Given that there are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the earth, (stop and think about that statement for a second it is pretty mind-boggling), I would have thought there were more grains of sand on my little beach alone than there were stars in the universe. But no, if you throw in all the beaches, deserts and top soil on the earth, you still have not reached enough grains of sand to match the number of stars in the universe. The size of our universe is incredible. Add in the fact that our earth is a second generation solar system, which was formed billions of years after the universe began, from older stars which ran their course and went super nova – (talk about a length of time that is hard to imagine). If we stretch out a time line and let the first ten feet represent the last 100 years, then 50,000 years of human history would represent about the first mile of the timeline. This is the period where mankind has shown evidence of consciousness. We would have to walk nearly fifty miles down the timeline to even find the bulk of the dinosaurs. The rest of the line which stretches back to the big bang would go for roughly 260,000 miles. Our modern era is just 10 feet. I find it easy to justify the assumption that sentient life has evolved many times in this universe. It is even possible that life evolved to consciousness several times here on earth or a nearby moon or planet like Mars. A few thousand years is such a small slice of time compared to the billions of years the universe has existed. We toss around the word billion like we understand it, heck our federal deficit is in the billions. We don’t really understand just how big those numbers truly are. Just for a moment go ahead and assume the story of Jesus ascending into heaven – which is a neat place just outside our universe – is literally a true story. If he first flew into the sky, then into orbit and finally shot beyond our solar system how far has he gone? If he was traveling at the speed of light (or at least near to it), he still has about a hundred thousand years before he exits the edge of our galaxy and a lot more before he covers the universe. How a writer from a couple thousand years ago imagined heaven and earth worked is just that, the musings of a creative mind. It is a big place we have here, and I am sure it is teaming with life. We barely understand our little corner, there is so much more we will never know anything about. Where there is alien consciousness, I’m sure their name for God and methods of worship do not include Islam, Christianity or any theology developed by ancient or modern man.
My underlying belief is that an all-knowing God envelopes everything at all stages of awareness in the entire universe. It is so vast that our wildest imagination can barely scratch the surface of God’s realm. I hold no view of a stately being who sits in judgment of or rules mankind with laws from a nearby dimension (Kingdom of Heaven). The view I do hold is more of an ‘all-knowing’ entity that knows every deed, every word, and every private thought of everyone and everything that is conscious in the universe. My view is without substantial support, and the basis is faith alone, it has just as much support as the atheist can gather to support belief in no God. God is not out there somewhere, but everywhere, as an essential element, bringing life the very fabric of the universe. Jesus is not ascending to someplace beyond the edge of the universe but to this essence of God.
As I reached retirement age and settled down with a bit more time on my hands, I decided to seek a better understanding and come to grips with my view of God. Growing up in the 1960’s, I was one of the first generations of Americans whose public education included evolution. I viewed the Hebrew Bible story of Genesis as an allegory, (a tale used by ancient man to give a framework and general understanding to origin), I viewed each day as describing an eon or age not a literal 24 hour period. Come to find out this eon/day theory dates all the way back to the Darwin’s time in the 19th Century and was widely held in both religious and scientific circles. Never did I feel there was a conflict between Genesis and evolution. The science has accumulated year after year to give an unchallengeable fossil and DNA record dating Homo sapiens back not 6,000 years but 200,000. Some claim that about 50,000 years ago, a brain expansion took place with speed which is hard to explain as natural selection. A gene suddenly appeared in our ancestors’ genome that many scientists believe is responsible for consciousness and speech. This may have been a major gene mutation or it may show outside intervention by God or his intelligent minions who jump started us to consciousness and speech. What my meager biology education did instill, is the belief that the Hebrew Bible was not filled with facts from God and perhaps could not be trusted at all. It was written more than 2200 years ago and cannot be expected to be scientifically correct. The authors had a primitive grasp of the world around them. Heck the first 20 pages give us two accounts of creation in Genesis and they contain irreconcilable differences. If the Hebrew Bible is the work of God then he is confused. Many of the stories found in Genesis are found in other ancient societies and can be dated to a time long before the Jewish bible. Some clay tablets describing creation are estimated to date back at least 10,000 years. Myths and legends of creation and the great flood were passed by word of mouth for thousands of years. The Jews just put their own spin on the stories to adopt them as their own. Many people marvel how much these allegorical tales give us many elements of the way science has described the evolution of the universe and mankind. One must ask if the wisdom of the first teller of these stories was lost in the dust of time or if the original story was a gift of divine inspiration.
Now that I finally had time to study the views on God, and decide what I really believed. The real question I want to discuss is; what kind of God do I believe in, what was his nature and how did this Jesus character fit into the picture?
When the journey began I thought it would be a quick hit, instead it has been a one year adventure that took some unexpected twists. I never expected to be reading on the spooky nature of quantum physics or all the speculation on ancient aliens.
There are many people who have spent a lifetime studying and preaching and teaching on matters of religion. Their PHDs make them intimately more qualified to write and speak on these matters than I am. The perspective they lack is what is contained in these pages. This book covers the process an educated person must go through to decide just what to believe. I was well aware of how some of the most conservative bible thumping evangelists have become deist or atheist as their PHD studies took them to the depths of the debate. Did it scare me, hell yes it scared me, but I really wanted to solidify a belief I could stand by it, even if it meant putting my faith in God to rest.
Given my level of discomfort, I thought perhaps it was time to review what is known about the earliest Christians and how the religion developed. I expected to find that the roots of Christianity would be a basic simple story which blossomed and developed over time. I found that looking back from the fourth century to the days of Christ on earth, the beliefs of Christian groups grew more and more diverse and differed significantly from modern Christian teaching. I even found that the New Testament contained two very different views of Christ.
As my study progressed I came to realize that the Christian church has a horrible past. The Christian religion has been a moral abomination to mankind. In the name of Christ, for 1500 years the Church ruled Europe, the Mediterranean and for a few hundred years some sects even ran much of the ‘new world’. Their reign of terror included the crusades, the inquisition, witch burning, the torture of Jews, infidels and anyone who challenged the Church. They took sadistic murder and crippling torture to new heights. During the crusades, massacre of helpless captured Muslims established the deep-seated, long-lasting hatred the two sects hold for each other. The Muslims of course have been happy to return the favor when the opportunity arose. The Church has fought tooth and nail against scientific advancement by denouncing medicine, anesthesia, surgery, blood transfusions, birth control, in vitro fertilization and many pain killers. Even today they fight stem cell research, cloning, and genetic engineering.
In the name of Christ, the Catholic Church suppressed all other early Christian beliefs by torture, book burning and destruction of over 2000 years of Greek and Egyptian science and philosophy. The barbarians and the Church plunged Europe into the dark ages. I ask myself, can we find the cure for cancer, heart disease and viable space travel in the next 1500 years? Sure hope so, wonder where we would be if it were not for the self-serving nature of bishops, priests and deacons and the 1500 years they stole from humanity.
Oh well, that is water over the damned. During the last couple of hundred years, Christian ‘moral’ values have taken hold and the travesty has abated. Many people can feel proud to support their local Church and the good works they do locally and on global missions. I have to suppress my laughter when I hear how the evil Muslims are corrupting our youth, boy is that the pot calling the kettle black.
In my quest, a few key questions arose; 1) what contributions did early Christians make to the understanding of God. 2) how badly did the early Church distort the scripture to serve its needs – what can be trusted and what must be dismissed as pure self-serving propaganda 3) how the heck do you reconcile the Hebrew Bible with the modern world? The Hebrew Bible was written between 600 to 2000 years before the New Testament, As a 21st Century adult it is difficult to believe a text which portrays mythical creatures, witches, sorcerers, and a jealous, self-serving, genocidal tribal God. Infanticide and support of slavery abound, which leads me to believe that much of the Hebrew Bible was authored by self-serving men, not prophets of God.
That left me with at least four things to study to formulate my view of God, five if you count Atheism.
1. What did the early Church distort and can we sort out the value in the conical scriptures?
2. Did the early non-orthodox Christians provide insight in the texts banned from the Bible?
3. Is there any value in the Hebrew Bible?
4. Is atheism an alternative?
5. Ancient aliens – Did we mistake ET for God?
Other subplots are the concept of Heaven & Hell and the idea of a God full of vengeance versus a loving God, and as long as we are hitting all the hot buttons lets also cover:
2. Intelligent Design
4. Immortality of consciousness (does the soul exist after death…).
As you journey through the pages of this book you will encounter ‘factoids’ that are bullet list items that I have uncovered or assembled from my research. I believe them to be a true unbiased representation of some major points and some of the trivia associated with this quest. Don’t feel you need to read every item and absorb every fact; you can often get the feel for the direction this book is taking by just reading a few of the ‘factoids’.
There are many scenarios on how mankind got to the 21st Century and no one can prove which story of creation is correct. Suppose for a moment that there was no God involved in creation of our universe. Everything evolved naturally from the the big bang for 13.8 billion years. Along the way an entity evolved first to consciousness and then beyond our plane of existence in the “spirit realm” to a level of an all-knowing consciousness. Where possible this God and his angels visited and tweaked the DNA of our ape like ancestors to give us the gift of conscious awareness and speech. Through consciousness God stays in touch with his creation and helps us evolve. On the other hand you can believe God was a consciousness which enveloped the entire universe prior to the big bang and his thoughts were the spark that fired off creation from the ensuing explosion. He never was a “being” in the human sense of the word. There are a multitude of possibilities at both ends of those spectrums.
You can hold fast to the idea that mankind evolved to sentient status by natural selection and random gene mutation or believe that God, angels or aliens had a hand. Science has severely limited the chance that God is a supernatural “being” out there somewhere. This is a shame since we can grasp an understanding of a “being”. An entity that permeates the very fabric of the universe and is consciousness linked to our awareness is a tougher sell. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter how we got to this point or how God got to this point, what matters is how we live our sliver of time and if we can evolve to a next level, we do so. Do you have faith that God exists? What kind of God is your God? Let’s explore the question together there is no wrong answer.
“Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think”… “It will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth.” …“The first gulp from the glass of natural science will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”– Werner Heisenberg (Nobel Prize Quantum physics)
Eight more chapters to sort this out. Coming soon to Kindle and shortly thereafter to paperback.