When it comes to Religious beliefs and faiths, the world is full of different opinions and perceptions. Mine started when I was born into a Christian home in 1953. As soon as I was old enough, I attended Sunday School, Vacation Bible school, and at the age of 5, a Christian School from Kindergarten through
8th grade. I took part in all the Christian festivities, Christmas plays, Easter plays, Good Friday activities and so on. It was at the beginning of 8th grade in 1966, that I started my Confirmation classes to become a full member of my Church. That was 5 days a week at school, and classes
in the Church on Saturdays. So when it came to my Religion, I was well versed. The problem was, I had questions! During my schooling I figured that I was young, and they never tell the young all the good things until it's time, and that all my questions would be answered when I joined the Church through
So when the Deaconess started off with, "This is very important, and you must pay close attention to the teachings. Your immortal soul is at stake.", I thought Great, we are now going to learn the important stuff. Then it started off with the same old material we had been learning for the past 10 years. I was not happy, and started to ask the questions I never asked before but wanted to know, and to my surprise the Deaconess was kind of miffed with me for taking this seriously as she instructed. This went on for a few weeks, and then after class at Church, she told me to wait around for a bit, and that is when she told me this. She said, this is Just Our Faith, it's what we believe, and there are no answers to my questions. And of course my response was, how can this be? Then she said that my family were Church members, and that they would be very disappointed if I didn't join the Church, and I should just believe what I'm being taught, and make my family happy.
This didn't set well with me, but I did as instructed, and stop asking questions. At the end of my Confirmation class, we had to pick a Bible Verse, and write about that verse, and read it to the Church Congregation as we became "Confirmed". The verse I picked was Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.", and I picked that one for a reason, and the Deaconess knew it I'm sure. I was looking for answers, and found none, so I would keep looking..
The problem I had back then, was that I lived in a very small town, and the only Religious game in town was Christian. We had many different flavors of Christianity, but that was it. I roamed around to many different Christian Churches, and found most to be just a bit different in the way they performed their
services, but none really had any answers to my questions. With no internet, and only books, I read up on a few other Religions, but mostly put it on the back burner for then.
Another problem for me way back then, was my Religions perception of God, and they were also some of the questions my Deaconess had no answers for. Being only 14 years old at the time, I just couldn't understand how an all powerful God would do the things my Church said he would do, and has done in the past. Why would God go through all the trouble to place a tree in a garden that would allow us free will when God was said to know all, and knew we would eat the fruit, only to punish us when we ate from it. It just didn't make sense to me at all. As I got older, and thought about it more, it was easy to see that the tree was when humankind gained freewill, something that was planned for us all along.
So it became clear to me that God wasn't at all what I was taught, but something more. I found that creation never stopped, and God wasn't such a hands on type of God after all. WE make our own heaven and hell, right here on Earth. It wasn't until the late 1990's that I found a guy that researched and taught Myths for a living. I think he said it best when he said this.
"Now, we want to think about God. God is a thought, God is a name, God is an idea, but its reference is to something that transcends all thinking. The ultimate mystery of being is beyond all categories of thought. My friend Heinrich Zimmer of years ago used to say, “The best things can’t be told.” Because they transcend thought. The second best are misunderstood, because those are the thoughts that are supposed to refer to that which can’t be thought about, you know. And one gets stuck with the thoughts. The third best are what we talk about, you see. And myth is that field of reference, metaphors referring to what is absolutely transcendent.". The man who said this was Joseph Campbell.
I had other interests growing up, such as Paleontology, Archeology, and Science. I do remember sitting in school, must have been in 6th or 7th grade, as I remember the room I was in, and thought how Science and Religion really wasn't that far apart. Science showed how God's creations worked, and that was one way to actually see how God works his magic, and understand God a little better. Other questions I had back then were of the nature of why some of the teaching were ignored today, when we were taught that these things were important. God was said to have given us this planet, and we were told to take care of it, and even back then we were destroying it at a very fast rate. No one really seemed to care the air was being polluted, and the water was being poisoned, and the land was being used as a disposal for chemicals that were not fit for human consumption by corporations for more profits. Later on as I worked in the factories, I seen how the people who ran the companies treated their workers, and how money was the most important thing, but on Sundays the Church overlooked their crimes as they placed large donations in the plate as they passed it around.
I also came to the conclusion that parts of the Bible had been misunderstood, as when God said, "Let us make Man in our Image", should have read "Let us make LIFE in our image". Not male or female, not human, animal or plant, as all life is made in the image of God. Maybe if more people thought like that, we would take better care of our world, and each other. I like that belief much better..
For the most part, I just wanted to better understand the world around me, and possibly answer some of the questions that bugged me over the years. Because of my outlook on life, my life can only be expressed as "Magical". Things happened when they needed to happen, and when one door closed, several more opened. I always called it, "The Invisible Hand", that would change my life, and guided me in directions I never thought to go. I didn't fight it, I just went where it took me, and I'm much better off because of it.
In the late 1980's I had a bit of a health problem. Because of that problem I figured I may need to find new employment in the near future, so I enrolled in Central Community College for an Electronics course. It was there that I found myself totally blown away at how we manipulate sub atomic particles in every day life. I guess I never really thought about it much until then. It opened up my mind to quantum physics in a way I never expected. This was getting down to the nitty gritty of God's creations. People think you need to be really smart to get into this stuff, but I'm only average when it comes to smarts, and I'm also getting old, and it's not as easy for me to learn new stuff, and even harder as time goes by. One only needs to open their mind, and imagine of how this quantum world effects our daily lives. If I can do that, anyone can. It's the being on the cutting edge, coming up with new theories, and doing the math that takes all the brains, but just listening to the people who do that kind of work will feed you all the information you need to know to understand it.
While listening to conversations between such great minds, it was clear that God even entered into their conversations too. Albert Einstein, while debating Quantum Physics with Niels Bohr, said: "God does not throw dice!", and Niels Bohr told Einstein to stop telling God what to do. Years later, after Einstein had passed, John Bell came up with a way to settle the argument, and John Clauser set up the experiment that proved Einstein was wrong, and God does indeed throw dice.
The thing was, as quantum physics was studied more, it linked up with the Eastern Religions as to how things really work. Books were written, and correlations between quantum physics and the teachings of Buddhism / Hinduism / Taoism started to form. One book, written by Fritjof Capra was, "The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism", and in the preface it states: "Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science. But man needs both.". Capra later discussed his ideas with Werner Heisenberg in 1972, as he mentioned in the following interview excerpt: "I had several discussions with Heisenberg. I lived in England then, and I visited him several times in Munich and showed him the whole manuscript chapter by chapter. He was very interested and very open, and he told me something that I think is not known publicly because he never published it. He said that he was well aware of these parallels. While he was working on quantum theory he went to India to lecture and was a guest of Tagore in 1929. He talked a lot with Tagore about Indian philosophy. Heisenberg told me that these talks had helped him a lot with his work in physics, because they showed him that all these new ideas in quantum physics were in fact not all that crazy. He realized there was, in fact, a whole culture that subscribed to very similar ideas. Heisenberg said that this was a great help for him. Niels Bohr had a similar experience when he went to China." As a result of those influences, Bohr adopted the yin yang symbol as part of his family coat of arms when he was knighted in 1947. The Tao of Physics was followed by other books of the same genre like The Hidden Connection, The Turning Point and The Web of Life in which Capra extended the argument of how Eastern mysticism and scientific findings of today relate, and how Eastern mysticism might also have answers to some of the biggest scientific challenges of today.
I often wondered how the Religion I was born into got to such a state. It seemed to have such a nice message, but the message didn't match the actions. So over time I started to dig into its history. (Remember, I was interested in Archeology as a child) What I found was things you don't get in the Religions themselves, as that would create doubt, and that's something they just can't have.
The four main Religions of today are Abrahamic Religions, and consist of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i. All religions which are defined as Abrahamic share several common characteristics. One feature shared among these religions is that they are all monotheistic. Monotheism is the practice of worshiping one deity. Although all Abrahamic religions worship one deity, each religion refers to the deity using a distinct name. These religions believe that God created the world and has absolute authority over the world and humanity. Another characteristic shared among Abrahamic religions is the belief in prophets as the link between God and humanity where God reveals himself to these select few people to offer guidance and instructions to humanity. The city of Jerusalem is also a unifying factor among Abrahamic religions with the city being of fundamental religious significance to all the religions. All Abrahamic religions believe in the afterlife where the dead are judged according to their actions with the righteous being rewarded by entry into paradise while those deemed to be evil are to be punished by casting them into hell.
Judaism was the first, and has as estimated 17 million followers, and then Christianity, and has an estimated 2.4 billion followers, and Islam has an estimated 1.8 billion followers, and newest one is Baha'i with an estimated 7 million followers. (All figures of followers are from 2019)
If one lived just within their Abrahamic Religion, they wouldn't see the conflicts at the beginning of their Religion, as again that would cast doubt. The Jewish faith was established for the Jews, and Gentiles were not totally left out, but minimized. As the word Gentile means any nation other than the Jewish nation, unless you're of the Mormon faith who believe they are true Hebrews, so Gentiles are anyone, including Jews, who are not Mormons. (go figure) Anyways, as the story goes, when Jesus showed up, he preached about how one should live their life, and even with Jesus being a Jew, showed the Jewish people the errors of their ways, and upset the leaders of the Jewish faith. Any Christian, and even non-Christians, knows the outcome of that, and so I won't get into that here.
It's clear that the Jewish faith started with earlier beliefs, and had many of the same beliefs as the Egyptians, and Sumerians. As an example, the Ten Commandments are lifted from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, spell 125. Anyone with a computer
can find all the data pertaining to this from many different sites by just searching for the Egyptian Book of the Dead, spell 125. After all, the Israelites lived in Egypt for many decades, and learned much from the Egyptians. The oldest known copies of the Book of the Dead dates to around 1,800 BCE, but earlier inscriptions can be found on the walls of tombs from around 2,600 BCE. History says that Moses and the Exodus happened around 1,490 BCE, so Moses knew all about the Book of the Dead. The Book of the Dead was something the deceased would have to recite when they meet the Gods, and amounted to a negative confession as to what they didn't do while alive. While some of the commandments deal with Jewish laws and beliefs, that is, 1. I am the Lord thy God, No other Gods before me, 2. No Idols, and 5, Honor thy Father and Mother, the next Commandments seem to be plagiarized right from the book of the Dead.
Number 3, From the 10 Commandments - Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. And from the book of the Dead, - I have not reviled the God. (Reviled = Criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner) - Hail Carrier-off of His Portion who came forth from the Silent Land, I have not blasphemed God in my city.
Number 4, From the 10 Commandments - Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy. And from the Book of the Dead - I have not made daily labor in excess of what was to be done for me. - I have not failed to observe the days for haunches of meat. - Hail Bringer of Your Offering who came forth from Sais, I have not been unduly active.
Number 6, From the 10 Commandments - Thou shalt not kill. And from the Book of the Dead - I have not killed. Nor have I turned anyone over to a killer.
Number 7, From the 10 Commandments - Thou shalt not commit adultery. And from the Book of the Dead - I have not copulated illicitly; I have not been unchaste.
Number 8, From the 10 Commandments - Thou shalt not steal. And from the Book of the Dead - Hail Swallower of the Shades who came forth from the cavern, I have not stolen. - I have not impoverished my associates. - I have not deprived the orphan of his property.
Number 9, From the 10 Commandments - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. And from the Book of the Dead - I have not done falsehood against men. - I have done no wrong in the Place of Truth. - I have not slandered a servant to his master. - Hail Eater of Entrails who came forth from the house of thirty, I have not committed perjury.
Number 10, From the 10 Commandments - Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. - Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. - Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's servants, animals, or anything else. And from the Book of the Dead - Hail Nosey who came forth from Hermopolis, I have not been rapacious. (Rapacious = Excessively grasping or covetous) - Hail Serpent with Raised Head, who came forth from the cavern, I am not wealthy except with my own property.
This is only one of many instances of how earlier Religions ended up in the Jewish stories. There is the Flood, in which are countless, including "The Epic of Gilgamesh" from the Babylonian flood story, and the Story of Nuh from the Quran, and so many others from all around the world. Before the Religions we have now, there were Religions and Beliefs going back a Millenia, and it's clear to me that each Religion adapts itself to what's going on around them as they are written up.
Going back to when Christianity started to become it's own Religion out of Judaism, there was quite a fight going on to what it was going to say to the people. It wasn't as clear cut as our different flavors of Christianity would have you believe. You had a few groups that thought Gnosis for all was the way to go, and others who thought that only the priesthood should have the Gnosis, and just tell the people what to do and when, that effectively put a "middleman" in between the people and God..
The reason I used the word Gnosis is because that is something that describes the Gnostics of Gnosticism. It was knowledge for the people, and not being Esoteric, gave more power to the people. They, as a Religion, believed a lot of the same things as the Jewish and Christian faith of today, such as circumcision, baptism, communion, and many other rituals. Of course the Gnostics had a few flavors of their own, and one was the Valentinians. All this information came about with the discovery of the The Nag Hammadi Library in 1945 in Upper Egypt. As we dig deeper, more and more information about our past is coming to light. And knowledge was the problem according to the main stream Christianity we ended up with. Down through History the Christian Church had a problem with the people having knowledge. The did everything in their power to control what knowledge the people were allowed to have.
Michael Servetus was a Spanish physician credited with discovering pulmonary circulation. He wrote a book, which outlined his discovery along with his ideas about reforming Christianity – it was deemed to be heretical. He escaped from Spain and the Catholic Inquisition but came up against the Protestant Inquisition in Switzerland, who held him in equal disregard. Under orders from John Calvin, Servetus was arrested, tortured and burned at the stake on the shores of Lake Geneva - copies of his book were accompanied for good measure.
Galileo Galilei was arrested and taken to trial, and convicted in 1633 for publishing his evidence that supported the Copernican theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun. His research was instantly criticized by the Catholic Church for going against the established scripture that places Earth and not the Sun at the center of the universe. Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy" for his heliocentric views and was required to "abjure, curse and detest" his opinions. He was sentenced to house arrest, where he remained for the rest of his life and his offending texts were banned.
And it wasn't just the Christian part of the Abrahamic Religion, as you can read about the Jewish wars in the Old Testament, and Islam did the same things that continues to this day. Each Abrahamic Religion believing that their Religion is what is demanded by God, and it's their duty to make sure that everyone believes what they do, or they must be done away with. Maybe, just maybe Religion is why the Bible predicts wars and rumors of war until the end of time.
The reason I talked about the wrongs of Christianity, is that it is the Religion I was born in, and I grew up with. I didn't grow up in Islam, or Judaism, so I leave the blasting of them sects to the people that escaped that faith. I have nothing against people believing in any Religion, but it's not for me. With the truths I know about History, and reading what's been found from the past, shines even more light on our past as humans. You can hear more about Early Christian History in a course by David Brakke, Ph.D. at The Great Courses.
I am not a Religious person, but I am a spiritual person. I do believe in God, but not the perception of God recognized by the Abrahamic Religions. My perception of God is more of a Creator, who works to create life, and then we are on our own, to make the best of the life we were given. As I study to understand more, I find God's creations simply amazing, and I'm so glad that this information is available for me to see it for myself.
While I don't care what people think about me, I do know there are people that do care about their image. They want and need acknowledgment for their accomplishments, and while most Religions think you need to worship God, maybe it's better to acknowledge God's creations by seeing God's wonders first hand. What I have found is that God is a super mathematician with a very strange sense of humor. God is not going to let humankind know the things we can't know, and even science understands that now. It's a given, that we know the things we know, and we also know there are many things we don't know, and then there are the things we know that we will never know.
I have mainly focused on the Abrahamic Religions, again, that is what I was born into, and grew up with, but found it wanting for more explanation and information. I have an open mind, but everything that comes in is not always excepted without more information. As I dug for more information, and read and watched lectures on the things I was interested in, many things came up that I found very interesting. In the beginning of Christianity, and in the writings of the Gnostics, mostly in the Gospel of Thomas, it seemed there was a bit of Buddhism written there. Now Buddhism was around for over 500 years before Jesus, and was in the area Jesus hung out in. Now I don't find that hard to believe, as there was already Religion from Egypt, and Samaria written into the Jewish Religion that was also transferred to early Christian thinking, so why not Buddhism. This has been, and still is debated, but leans towards the YES, Buddhism was part of the early Christian thought. You can read more about that on the Zen Site, Titled "Was Jesus Buddhist".
While what I believe is not for everyone, as they need the structure Religion gives them in their lives, they need to understand that what they believe is also not for everyone. They get excited over the feelings they get from their beliefs, but others don't feel the same way, and they need to understand that. Forcing their beliefs on others will not accomplish what they set out to do. It will not unite, but instead divide. One only needs to look at the state of Religion today.
In the Islamic world you have many different flavors of Islam, and some flavors want to do away with the others to make it one again. The flavor closest to Christianity is the Sufi flavor, and they are almost totally outlawed in Islam. Then you have the Shia, Sunni and Wahhabi flavors of Islam. The believers of Islam say the three are different, but in Saudi Arabia they are mostly Sunni, and teach Wahhabism. So I combine the two into one because of that. Wahhabism requires strict adherence to the Quran, and in their holly book it says: "As for those who divide their Religion and break up into sects, thou hast No part in them in the least: Their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did." (Al-Qur'an 6:159) And that is why Saudi Arabia hates Iran, and also Syria, as they are not Sunni, and don't practice Wahhabism.
The Sufi flavor of Islam is banned in most Muslim areas because of their practices of doing music and poetry. The hard liners say that music distracts from God, and Sufism says it brings them closer to God. If you want to understand this better, I recommend this video Documentary by William Dalrymple, "Sufi Soul"
Christianity is no different, and has expanded to many multiple flavors. Some flavors are less intrusive, and others are more. My Father's family were members of a flavor of Christianity that forbid them from having anything to do with anyone from another Religion, or even a different flavor of Christianity. We never heard much from Dad's family because of that, and I do remember calls from Dad's family where after the call Mom and Dad would laugh and say, "They had a falling out with the Church, so it was okay to call..." How sad that is when a Church would forbid family members from talking, just because it may cite them to leave the Church. As it was, they always went back to their Church, and the calls would stop. There is a good reason there are so many flavors of Christianity, and as History shows, when problems arise, the people who are unhappy with the teachings move on to start a flavor that is more in tune with their beliefs. This has been going on for a few centuries now, and that is why there are so many flavors.
The reason I use "flavors" to describe Religions is because they are just like Flavors. Some are appealing, some are sweet for the spirit, and others will sour you in ways that are not good, and turn you away from the answers you may need to have a good life.
So in closing this long rambling opinion, I leave you with some things you may or may not find interesting. This is by no means missionary work to convert anyone, as I really don't care what you believe, or how you worship, or what flavor of Religion trips your trigger. In the end, how you live the life you've been given, and what you do with your life is totally up to you.
I started this in the last weeks of August 2020, and even as I wrote this opinion, things that have a lot to do with what I believe came out. Dealing with how it is we see the world through our eyes, and who we really are comes down to Consciousness, and where it comes from. On August 30th, 2020 this was posted to YouTube. A Quantum State of Mind. (Now Censored by YouTube)
The actual search for how Consciousness works, seems to stem from "The Quantum Effects" of the brain, and in the quantum world, even time travel is possible. As the video above states, in the brain signals can be sent back in time, so that the future can affect the past. I know, sounds crazy, but it's been tested in brain surgery, and it's the only conclusion one can make at this time. As with Religions, Quantum Physics also comes in different flavors. Dealing with the E8 flavor of quantum physics, this video tries to examine what is Reality. What Is Reality?
To continue with the modern day way of looking at life, this documentary came out, and attempts to show how spiritually and quantum physics work together. Quantum Physicist hate it when people try to do this, but in the end, they tend to understand the "Why" people do this. After this video came out, they did an update to clear up a few things, and correct a few things that they got wrong. I have seen both, but couldn't find the update online to watch for free. So here is the full movie if you're interested.. What The Bleep Do We know?
Earlier in my ramblings I said the Bible misquoted God, and God must have really said, "Let us make LIFE in our image". The reason the Bible would say Man instead of Life is to give man the upper hand, as the Bible was written by ... Men. The Early Christians thought that Man and Woman were created at the same time, and in the image of God. When looking at the Gnostic writings you will see why they felt this way. In the Christian Bible, taken from the Jewish texts, Man and Woman were created twice. Once together before the 7th day, and then again after. Not only that, but it was after that God made Man out of the dust of the Earth, and then took Woman out of man. Got to love old texts don't ya.. So God's image has noting to do with the bodies we have, and when God created Man and Woman, they didn't have Earthly bodies, but instead were made in the Image of God. From the King James Version, Genesis 1:26-27 - "26: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." That was the first time, and he created both in Gods image.. Now in Genesis 2 God rested, then had a look around, and then recreated Man out of the ground.. Genesis 2:7 "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." It wasn't until verses 21 and 22 that God took Woman out of Man.. So you can see why the Gnostics felt the way they did. At the time, Gnosticism was more popular than the orthodox Church, but was stamped out by Constantine. (Talk about being persecuted) Anyways, you can read more about all that on the Five Myths About the Ancient Gnostics website, and the The Gnosis Archive website.
From time to time you hear something that just makes total sense. Some of the oldest Religions on this planet seemed to have the best truths when it comes to life. While I was doing my searching, and digging, and investigating, I started to understand things, and was surprised to find that it was very similar to the very old time Religions of the very distant past, and they are still practiced today. This is what I mean by that statement. Can Humans Evolve? Constructional Theory, Evolution. from Adiyogi. (Video no longer on YouTube)
When Science meets Mysticism, wonderful things happen. A dialog of information happens. How it is that both can come to an agreement is amazing in its own way. So this video is of David Eagleman, a Neuroscientist, and Sadhguru, an India Mystic, is something people interested in life should at least watch once. It gives information from the science end of things, and also the Mystics view of life. In Conversation with the Mystic
Well, there you have it. I could go on and on because I have had 68 years to study, and investigate the mystery of Religions and Self, and this is where I am today. Life is a learning experience, and if you don't learn anything new over time, you're just spinning your wheels, and getting nowhere. Even more
important, God gave you a brain that is able to think, and examine the world around you for a reason.. Don't let what god gave you go to waste..
I hope you enjoyed my opinion, but remember, that's all it is, Just MY Opinion...