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The mechanics of fear in fostering faith
Fear has been a great motivator for manipulation since the dawn of human relations. The ancient priest classes in religions all over the world capitalized on that fact. If the hunt was unsuccessful; if the crop failed; if pestilence or famine hit the population or if invaders subdued the people … the reason was never the priests’ fault. It was always because: a) the people displeased their definition of “god” in one way or another… and … b) they needed to get back on the good side of their “god” through tithes, sacrifices, donations, free labor or some other such payment system. If they don’t, “god” will punish them in mean and merciless ways. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. Of course, the payments would be collected and utilized by the priest class for the benefit of themselves and the ruling hierarchy. The people had to be made to feel guilty, afraid and convinced that the punitive disaster was, is or will be their fault!
Why does it work?
To take a closer look at why this system works requires an understanding of a very intrinsic part of our human nature… the spiritual dimension of our being! We really are religiously vulnerable. The need to feel in harmony with the Infinite and All Encompassing. The drive to be one with the Power in which we live, move and have our being makes us open to manipulative forms of systems for worship.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we each have a spiritual dynamic to our nature. Some people, unfortunately, are insensitive to this quality of being and prefer to believe that it doesn’t exist. Most people, however, are aware of it to some degree or other and sense a need to express it in their lives. It is this dynamic that can connect us … our consciousness … with the Creative Force that originated and drives the cosmos. Some call it Vibratory Creation. Some call it the cosmos or the Big Bang. Some call it “God”. No matter what the label, there is no good reason to believe that the nature of this Creative Force is anything like the nature of a mortal human being. No reason to believe that it can become angry, or happy, or sad, or jealous or, even, tired with a need to rest after working hard and take a day off. No reason to believe we need to “appease it” with dead animals, aromatic fires, sacrificed babies, sacrificial virgins, pure hard cash or whatever else may satisfy the temple treasury as part of the repentance for our “sins”. This ancient and superstitious approach is plainly wrong and needs to be addressed.
Still, the innate desire to connect with and be in harmony with the spiritual dimension of being and with the grand scheme of Creation does generate longings for a soul satisfying system of expression.
Therefore, the need to be in touch with and empowered by “god” in a beneficial way is what lays beneath all spiritual systems. It is the fundamental core of all religious ideologies and gangs who organize into priest classes are fully aware of this. As far as the bible is concerned, Yahwist priests who created the bible elaborated on the pre-existing invention of a “human like” god and wove it into the tapestry of their theology. They defined their deity as one who could and would dole out “blessings” including national security, national prosperity and military acquisitions as in this typical quote from the book of Deuteronomy. This was the carrot.
The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity – in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground – in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. v.12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. v.13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. ~ Deuteronomy 28:11-13 NIV.
But, also, the very same “god” could and would dispense “curses” such as famines, pestilence, natural disasters and/or crushing conquerors as in these horrific curses from the same book of Deuteronomy. This was the whip.
15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:16 Cursed [shalt] thou [be] in the city, and cursed [shalt] thou [be] in the field.17 Cursed [shall be] thy basket and thy store.18 Cursed [shall be] the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.19 Cursed [shalt] thou [be] when thou comest in, and cursed [shalt] thou [be] when thou goest out.20 The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.23 And thy heaven that [is] over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee [shall be] iron.24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. etc., etc., etc.
On and on and on …. dangle the carrot and crack the whip. Enough horror to scare the bejeezuz out of any true believer! According to this scenario, “god’s” positive or negative actions depended on the behavior of the people (or, sometimes, simply their kings) as defined by the Yahwist priest class who created this theology in the first place. The bible, including the Pentateuch, the prophets and re-written history all come to us in their present (or near present) form during the post-exhilic period while the priest class was under the employ and supervision of the Persian Empire. Why? Because Cyrus The Great had a handy method of controlling his outlying satraps through the channels of their existing priest classes.
In Judah, they fashioned elements of dimly remembered folklore and legends together with their understanding of historical events and geography into a re-write of Israelite theology which has persisted like a nightmare on the mind-set of humanity for thousands of years! That theology is embodied in the bible. That theology defines god as a judgmental and unreliable dangler of the carrot and cracker of the whip. It fosters fear of god by listing examples of ferocity into the deity’s character.
The important thing to understand is that these examples of god’s ferocity never actually happened. They are lies!
- There never was an original sin. There never was an Adam & Eve. There never was a punishing curse placed on humanity because of their so-called wrong doing. Defining “god” with this obvious unpardonable lie is actually blasphemy.
- There never was a global flood. There never was a punishing curse placed on all of humanity because the population of the entire planet committed world-wide wrong doings. Defining “god” with this obvious unpardonable lie is actually blasphemy.
- There never was a destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah in one night because of “god’s” wrath. Defining “god” with this obvious unpardonable lie is actually blasphemy.
- And the list goes on and on. Yahwist priests began blaspheming the Universal Force of Life with manipulative lies about punishing curses. Defining “god” with these obvious unpardonable lies is actually blasphemy.
- Christian priests added the Zoroastrian idea of damnation, Hell and the need for “salvation” by a Savior from on high to the mix. Defining “god” with this obvious unpardonable lie is also blasphemy.
We can conclude that from a truly spiritually sensitive point of view, the bible is a misinformed, misleading and spiritually inhibiting blasphemous book.
Let’s re-evaluate the bible!
The bible presents an untrue and misleading definition of the Creative Force that initiated time, matter, space and self aware life forms. The bible promotes division among peoples on the planet. It formulates elements of fear, frustration, guilt and anxiety as part of the baggage of belief. Worst of all, the bible defines the human race as “damaged goods”, a self reproducing swarm of inhabitants that are doomed to Eternity in Hell if they don’t or won’t fall in line with the dictates of today’s version of the Yahwist priest class. The organized Abrahamic religions…Judaism, Christianity and Islam!
We need to focus on being spiritually sensitive people who see science and technology as aides in determining a real and verifiable truth. We need to develop a new and believable system for soul satisfying spiritual expression. We need to develop a theology that unites rather than divides. We need to recognize science and technology as tools for enabling our evolution as spiritually sensitive human beings. We need to explore a better path!
In previous blogs, I have tried to make the point that institutionalized religious organizations which represent themselves as the “spokespersons of the Creative Force of Time, Space and Conscious Awareness (God)” need to be seriously re-evaluated. They need to be re-examined in light of our evolving knowledge and understanding of who and what we are and our relationship with the time/space continuum in which we live and have our being.
Furthermore, I strive to make the point that this re-evaluation should clear the air of long held definitions of deity. I refer to definitions that instill guilt, fear, frustration and anxiety in the religious relationship. And, on that note, I strive to expose the priest class and/or ministers who utilize these elements for mass manipulation. Who, for power, prestige and profit, bang believers over the head with these invented and self-serving motivators. Again, I am referring to:
a) Guilt (according to the Yahwist priests) due to ”original sin’ and other acts committed or omitted.
b) Fear (according to the Yahwist priests) because of God’s wrath out of vengeance, punishment or sometimes, simply indifference.
c) Anxiety (according to the Yahwist priests) because we can never know exactly where we stand in the ‘eyes’ of this definition of God anyway.
d) Frustration (according to the Yahwist priests) because, in truth, nothing we may do in terms of prayer, piety or profession seems to make any difference.
And, yet, we are culturally conditioned into clinging to these spiritually debilitating ancient and superstitious concepts by institutionalized religions that perpetrate them through the malleable minds of children generation to generation via Sunday Schools and Catechism classes. Based on so-called ‘lessons’ in the bible!
Punching holes in the bible
So, I punch holes in biblical traditions, legends and folklore to help open the door to new forms of spiritual expression which view humanity as an evolving and refining expression of the Creative Scheme. With a universality as opposed to biblical selectivity (chosen people). I present a view of religiosity that elevates and ennobles the practitioner with a spiritual resource that enhances personal empowerment. I allude to a point of view that dovetails what we are learning through science and technology with what we can experience through the spiritual dimension of our being.
Having said all of that, the hole I am punching today concerns the notion that ‘God’ decreed a generational line of kings from the “seed of David” to ultimately establish a holy kingdom on planet Earth. The kingdom would be the final preordained and prophesied stage of a tiny country in the area of Palestine and, on fulfillment, would be the leading political entity in the world with material riches … gold, silver, precious gems and whatever … pouring in from all four corners. Of course, the citizens of this country (Israel) would all enjoy the ‘good life’ par excellence as God’s ‘chosen’!
But, in order to continue being the ‘chosen people’ and remaining on the ‘good side’ of God, they would have to conform to the dictates of the priest class which included worship, sacrifices and the donation of other forms of riches to the Temple. Money, gold and silver would not be refused in this endeavor. Apparently God appreciates a little gelt with the guilt.
This notion is called, “The Messianic Hope”.
“Out of the seed of Jesse”
Prior to the conquest of Judea by the Babylonians, the destruction of the central Temple in Jerusalem and the deportation of tens of thousands of Jewish captives from 597 through 586 BC, there was no thought of a someday glorious future kingdom as per the ‘promise of God’. The kingdom, for better or worse, was a political fact and the priest class went happily about its business. They claimed military threats and national insecurities were punishments from their definition of God because the population was failing in one way or other. They blamed the people for any natural disasters, famines or plagues because they fell short of whatever it takes to keep on pleasing ‘God’. And, they claimed the best way to keep ‘God’ in an agreeable mood was through their priestly practices. Of course, offerings in the form of livestock, labor and money went a long way to keep things on a pleasant course. Yahweh equaled big business! It was only afterwards, among the Jewish communities in Babylonian captivity that the idea of a someday great king would once again rule a someday great Israelite nation with a someday re-established central temple as a bridge between their definition of God and the world.
While in Babylonian captivity, the legend of King David (who ruled nearly five hundred years before) became romanticized and exaggerated to an enormous degree. After all, David established Jerusalem as the center for the Yahwist priest class (who, in turn, endorsed him as being divinely selected for the role of king.) And his son, Solomon, actually built the first Yahwist temple. Plus, tradition held that all the succeeding kings were descendants of David, empowered by divine right. Since tradition held that David was the son of an Israelite named Jesse … it followed that, someday, the divinely ordained lineage of David, the seed of Jesse, would again be present on a throne in the new and re-vitalized Israel. David, the chosen by God. David, the anointed by God. David, the messiah of God.
After the deportation of Judea’s leading citizens and middle to upper social class, remnants of the population still remained in the area. Somewhat disorganized and, as such, not directly connected to the central government in Babylon. But, it really wasn’t an important matter. Feeble as they were, they represented no threat to Babylon and there was no immediate danger of foreign invasion from that quarter.
But, about fifty years after the Babylonian conquest of Judea, Cyrus, The Great of Persia defeated the Babylonian king, Nabonidus in 539 BC and became emperor of a huge piece of Asian geography which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to Western India. That included the tiny country of Judea and the Phoenician city states established on the coast.
Conquer, Control & Collect
Part of Cyrus’s international policy was to control the outlying regions of his enormous empire through the priest classes of those distant lands. He has been praised as a champion of religious freedom for not interfering with local religions. But, religious freedom wasn’t his main motivator. It was control. He made a deal with the priest class of local religions. The priests would tell the masses that Cyrus was “their salvation from ‘God’ (however ‘God’ was defined by that culture). Then, recognizing Cyrus as a divinely ordained ruler, the masses would process tribute through the priest class back into the treasuries of the Persian Empire and remain loyal because they were duped into believing that their ‘God’, somehow, wanted it that way.
Cambyses II, Cyrus’s son, had plans to further his father’s conquests by adding Egypt to the Persian Empire. He invaded Egypt successfully in 525 BC and assumed the role of Pharaoh. When his son, Darius, became emperor Egypt began plotting to rebel and regain its independence. The first Egyptian insurrection occurred in 486. Darius died in the month of October 485 BC and his son Xerxes became the new emperor. Xerxes needed a more reliable structure in the area of Judea as a buffer and launching platform with regards to the troublesome efforts of Egypt.
Utilizing his grandfather’s ploy of strengthening relations in far flung sections of the empire through the priest class, he sent the high priest, Ezra, back to Jerusalem to organize the local Jews into a reliable buffer zone. (See Josephus Flauvius “Antiquities Of The Jews”). Of course, part of the commission included, “… prayers and sacrifices for the well being of the Persian king and his sons”. Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel (the biblical heroes of the reconstruction period) were in the employ of the Persian Empire. In fact, Zerubbabel is not even a Yahwist name. It implies worship of the Canaanite god Baal … a nature god. Their mission was to effect a reliable buffer zone controlled through a hierarchy of priests loyal to Persia. Rebuilding the temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians was a great step forward in instituting this loyal religious revival. To get the job done, however, the priest class used the ever reliable motivators mentioned in the beginning of this blog: guilt, fear, frustration and anxiety!
They convinced the inhabitants of Judea … some, having lived there since the deportation and others having returned from exile … that ‘God” was mad at them for neglecting the temple (translated into, “failing to live under the tithe and tribute collecting control of the Persian paid priest class.”).
Consider the account of the prophet, Haggai, supposedly speaking for ‘God’. (Hag. 1:10-11) Haggai, as ‘God’s mouthpiece, curses the Judean population for not completing the reconstruction of the temple. ‘God’ is supposed to have told them that he, personally, diminished their national productivity to punish them. That he, personally, caused droughts, famines, crop failures, diseases among livestock and plagues among people. Why? Because they did not complete building the old temple or, for that matter, fall under the controlling influence of the Yahwist priest class.
The ploy worked. Between Haggai, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah and other Persian agents, control was re-enforced and the Persian Period lasted for two hundred years. Of course, the bible depicts these events as miraculous interventions in the development of the new Israel by Yahweh (with a few Zoroastrian embellishments). The ideas of Satan, Paradise, Heaven & Hell were inherited from Persia. And, more importantly, the idea that Persian emperors were a blessing sent by ‘God’ for the betterment of the Jews was the cherry on top.
The formula for manipulating masses of people by taking advantage of the need to find an expression for the spiritual side of their nature is simple:
1.) Scare them with horrible consequences (like national disasters, natural disasters or, even damnation of the immortal soul) on one hand.
2.) Promise impossible benefits on the other (like material wealth, power and ,even, forgiveness of so-called “sins”).
3.) And, finally, convince them that all this is in accordance with the divine will of ‘God’.
This is all predicated on a definition of deity that acts like a paranoid and anti-social bi-polar child. A deity with whom you can make ‘deals’ and whom you can please or anger depending on a wide range of known or unknown extenuating circumstances. But, a class of priests or ministers must always be necessary as intermediaries and … keepers of the coin.
The bible is dripping with variations of this definition.
A better and more enlightened view of the spiritual nature of our being and its relationship with the Universal Force of Life is not beyond our grasp or our understanding. To begin, we need to look forward, not backward.
The definition of “God” that has been woven into our cultural mind-set over the past thousands of years is made up of many strands. In this blog, I want to demonstrate that the way our culture has been conditioned with regards to this tapestry of legends, superstitions and beliefs has caused incalculable harm to the spiritual potential of humanity. I want to show that the resulting “definition” of the power, force, entity or deity associated with and, somehow, involved in the process of Creation has actually instilled a negative influence on how we think, act and relate to one and other. Since the definition is skewed or in error, then, our thinking, actions and relationships with each other (as much as they are based on the influence of those errors) have become hindrances to genuine religious refinement and spiritual sensitivity. Our thoughts and actions have become barriers to the divine dimension of our being. Stumbling blocks to our sense of who and what we are in the cosmic scheme of things. Less than our actual spiritually sensitive potential.
With a misdirected and misinformed idea about the definition and nature of that deity, we could be convinced, for instance, that waging war in the name of “God” would be a glorious thing and be fully approved (if not actually engineered) by the Universal Force of Life for property, personal power, profit or partisan purposes. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”
Where are these superstitious strands, folkloric legends and misguided definitions of divinity located? The answer is … the bible!
So, let’s take a closer look at one of the most widely spread, universally sold and best known legends in that collection of ancient writings. Let’s take an analytical look at the story of the Exodus. Why? Because “God” is defined with regards to his power, his character, his plan for the future and his relationship with humanity in the context of this celebrated piece. Of course, I am using the male possessive pronoun for “God” in this case solely as a literary convention.
It must be remembered that the story, in its final form as it was crafted by Yahwist priests and scribes sometime after the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem (circa 521 – 516 BCE) was designed to sell the Exodus tradition to the populace. It was crafted with that intent. Why? Because it emphasized the idea that obedience to the so-called dictates of “God” would insure prosperity, but, disobedience would displease “God” and bring about horrible consequences. Furthermore, the steps, processes and ritualistic observances to stay on the “good side” of God could only be accomplished through the channels of the priest class. However, these priests, story tellers and scribes were not technical people. Not, even, logical in their zeal to sell the story and so, their miraculous elements left much to be desired. They never had the thoroughness to cover all the bases. Perhaps, in those times, they never even needed to.
But, today, we do. Our spiritual well being and evolution depends on it.
Why? Because the Exodus story has had a profound influence on not only the history of the Middle East, but, on the history of belief systems that, today. encompass the world! For that reason, the story needs to be analyzed with a critical mind.
Let’s review the elements of this story:
a) A Hebrew family found themselves in Egypt around 1400 BCE after escaping a famine that was wreaking hardships in the Fertile Crescent.
b) Over the course of the next few hundred years, that family multiplied to become a population of more than a million subservient “slaves” who were now suffering under harsh treatment by their Egyptian overlords.
c) But, one of their number (Moses), who was lucky enough to be raised in a royal Egyptian household, killed an Egyptian citizen, fled out of the country, married non-Hebrew women, became a shepherd and (one day) was told by “God” to go back to Egypt and lead the enslaved Hebrews back to the Fertile Crescent which (several hundred years before) “God” promised to the patriarchs of the original Hebrew family mentioned in item (a). It was a conditional deal. They could have the land “flowing with milk and honey” as long as they worshiped this jealous and wrathful deity. (Oh!) And killed all the people who were living in that land at the time. God even offered to supply an “Angel of Death” who would help them out whenever necessary.
d) After a number of miraculous demonstrations that Moses executed to prove the power of this Hebrew “God” failed to have their desired affect, a final demonstration … the slaughter of every first born male child in the Egyptian population convinced Pharaoh to allow Moses to lead the enslaved Hebrew people back to the “promised land”. But. afterwards he changed his mind and chased the Hebrews with his army to re-capture them and enslave them once again. “God”, however, interceded and gave Moses the power to split the Red Sea into two parts so that the Hebrews could cross over and then it would close up over the pursuing pharaoh and his army, drowning them all.
e) Forty years later, this enormous mass of people finally arrived in the country East of Palestine (the promised land) and, under the charge of a few Hebrew generals, proceeded to invade and massacre the indigenous inhabitants because “God” told them that they could and should.
That forty year period is the story of the Exodus.
Some points to consider:
a) How many people were in this mass migration? According to the bible (Exodus 12:37) there were 600,000 fighting men. According to Numbers 1:46 the total is refined to 603,550. Then, Numbers 3:39 tells us that we need to include another 23,000 Levites (Yahwist priests). Add to that a logical estimation of the amount of women, children, converts and camp followers based on the calculations of eminent biblical scholars and sociologists and you get a whopping 2 to 3 million people!
If this many people were marching ten abreast, they would form a column 150 to 190 miles long! The bible is loaded with preposterous exaggerations like this. (Why the biblical story tellers, priests and scribes felt it necessary to amplify these traditions with inflated numbers will be dealt with in another blog).
b) Archaeologists have determined that the population of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah (1213 – 1203 BCE) was around three to three and a half million. A mass migration of two or more million Hebrew slaves out of the country at one time would have caused an economic catastrophe of enormous proportions. There is no indication of any such catastrophe in the historical records of ancient Egypt.
c) This enormous wave of people subsisted on food miraculously provided by “God” as they wandered around in the desert for forty years. The food was manna in the morning and (occasionally) quails in the evening. What is “manna”?
“Manna”, also known as ‘plant lice’, is the crystallized honeydew of certain scale insects. In the environment of a desert, this honeydew rapidly dries due to evaporation of its water content. It becomes a sticky solid and turns whitish or yellowish in color. Honeydew of this form is considered a delicacy in the Middle East. It is a good source of carbohydrates. In particular, there is a scale insect that feeds on tamarisk trees. This is often considered to be the prime candidate for biblical manna.
Manna, therefore is a sticky sap-like substance produced by insects on plants. The bible tells us in Exodus 16:16 that the Hebrews were to gather an omer 0f manna for each person in every tent each morning. An omer is about four liters or three pounds. The mental picture of hundreds of thousands of Hebrews crawling around among tamarisk bushes gleaning flaky particles to the tune of (2,000,000 people X 3 pounds of manna =6,000,000 pounds) 3,000 tons over a span of more than a hundred miles every morning for forty years (!) boggles the mind and absolutely decimates credulity.
d) Exodus tells us in 14:28 that the Pharaoh was drowned in pursuit of the escaping slaves. There is no record in the archives of ancient Egypt of a pharaoh having drowned. Merneptah lived into his sixties. His mummy has been recovered and thoroughly studied. It shows evidence of arthritis and atherosclerosis, but, no evidence of having been recovered from the bottom of the Reed Sea.
The mass migration of Hebrews “brought up out of Egypt by God with a mighty arm and an outstretched hand” never actually happened. Biblical scholars concur that the legend may have some background in a vaguely remembered episode of a much smaller nature in the history of a segment of the Hebrew peoples. But, it was elaborated, exaggerated and expanded upon by the Yahwist priests, scribes and story tellers of the post Babylonian exile period who knew what they were doing!
They were fabricating a “God” myth to impress the populace for power and manipulative purposes. As employees of the royal hierarchy, they also defined Yahweh as a “war god” and extolled the adventures of folkloric mass murderers as Yahweh’s champions. Joshua would be convicted as a war criminal today for the wanton killing of civilian women and children in Jericho and Ai. But, his alleged savagery was praised by the Yahwist priests. Sampson, David, Gideon, Saul and even Moses all dealt death to any peoples who did not allow the Hebrews to occupy their farms and villages, move into and take over their cities or subscribe to their form of religious observances.
An interesting note is that these events: the conquest of Judah, the fall of Jericho, the massacre at Ai, the slaying of Goliath and so many more blood thirsty narratives in the bible have been archaeologically proven to never have happened! They existed only in the minds of the Yahwist priests, scribes and story tellers who re-wrote their so-called holy scripture after the re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem.
And, from these anti-social, paranoid, bi-polar fanatics an enormous segment of the population of the world has inherited its definition of divinity. A definition infused with guilt, fear, frustration and anxiety. A definition built around the possibility of vengeance, wrath and punishment for real or imagined “sins”.
This sad conditioned needs to be recognized, re-evaluated and reformed.
The ancient biblical writers cited many alleged miracles as “proof” of Jesus’s divinity. The reasoning was that Jesus had to be a divine personage … either a direct manifestation of the Universal Force of Life that initiated Creation, permeates Time & Space and drives the bus …or, in fact IS God, himself! Otherwise, he wouldn’t be instrumental in the forgiving of “sins”. “Sins”, of course being actions, omissions or thoughts that are displeasing to the Yahwist definition of God. This idea was demonstrated with miraculous tales such as bringing dead people back to life (Luke 7:11-17; Matt. 9:18-20; Mark 5: 21-43; Luke 8: 40-50 and John: 11:1-44); getting money out of the mouth of a fish (Matt. 17-24); walking on the water (Matt. 14: 22-33; John 6: 16-21) and curing blindness with spit (Mark 8: 23; John 9:6).
Pretty petty parlor tricks for an entity that allegedly could create billions of galaxies with a “word”; devise and engineer atomic structure and initiate intelligent self aware life forms with the capacity for creative imagination!
Yet, the “miracles” cited by the ancient biblical writers and early Christian proselytizers have been promoted for more than two thousand years to demonstrate Jesus’s divine powers which culminate in the power to forgive sins; save “sinners” from damnation to Hell and give them entree to the gates of Paradise. As a divine personage, himself, Jesus was in a position to make a deal with God. The deal was that he would offer himself as a sacrificial lamb and allow himself to be killed by human beings (at least, for three days) if God would reverse his curse for original sin … perpetrated by two mythical beings (Adam & Eve) who never existed in the first place.
God said, “OK.” to this.
This story has been drummed into the malleable minds of billions of kids through Sunday Schools since the days of the Roman Empire! It has been used to brainwash them into becoming victims of a spiritually damaging mind-set that fosters guilt, fear, anxiety and frustration (you can never be sure that you’re good enough) and marshaled millions on millions of believers into the self serving institution of the church. Organized religion, which I believe was the very thing Yeshua bar Yosef of Nazareth, the man behind the legend, was originally preaching against.
Having said that, let’s take a look at one of his most spectacular miracles: The feeding of 5,000 men plus the families that were with them! Women and children.
What a picture! Here, we have a pastoral scene. Jesus, standing on a hill top and preaching to this enormous crowd who followed him from nearby towns and villages. That’s a lot of people! How much space would 5000 people occupy? Well, if they weren’t actually breathing down each other’s neck, you could arguably allow a five by five foot space for each man, averaging some with a wife and kid or two, some single.
That would be a five by five space multiplied by 5000! Or 25 square feet times 5000.= 125,000 square feet! Compare that to the size of a football field. A football field (including the end zones) is 57,240 square feet. (You can look it up on Google). If you divide 125,000 square feet by 57,240 you get 2.18!
Jesus would have been preaching to a crowd occupying more space than two whole football fields! Actually hearing him speak from such distances would have been a bigger miracle than getting the food.
But, according to the story, they did get the food. Multiplied from five loaves of bread and two fish. Now, if you do a simple time and motion study, you will see that the action of breaking off a piece of bread, blessing it, putting it in a basket that presumably was held by one of the disciples then, breaking off a piece of fish, blessing it and putting that in the basket, too, … you will see that the best Jesus could do (with a certain amount of divine decorum) was about five helpings a minute. Non-stop! Multiply that times 1,000 for the men and, say, another 1,000 for women and children and you get about 2,000 minutes of non-stop breaking bread / blessing it/breaking fish /blessing it and putting the snack in a basket. 2,000 minutes! If you divide 2,000 by 60 to get hours, the answer is 33.33 hours! Not counting the time it would take the disciples to carry all those baskets full of fish and bread around an area the size of two football fields after the crowd had been divided up into convenient groups of about fifty people each. If you divide 33.33 hours by 24 to get the amount of days, the answer is 1.38 days!
So, the bottom line is that (according to this “miracle”) rather than walk a couple of hours back to town, 5,000 men plus their families would rather hang around in an open field for one and a half days just to get a free fish sandwich!.
Why am I debunking the bible?
The bottom line in the bible is that the world is populated by people who are displeasing to God (the Universal Force of Life) because of their God-given human nature. (Original sin.) They need to be “saved” through redemption by a self-sacrificing God-man who’s divinity is “proved” by preposterous legends like the feeding of 5,000 mentioned above. This notion, in my opinion, discounts and negates the actual premise that the man, the unsung hero, the religious reformer, Yeshua bar Yosef of Nazareth, risked his life and was executed for:- Freedom from the self serving interests of organized religious institutions like the Temple of Jerusalem with its hierarchy of Sadducees, Pharisees, scribes and temple tax collectors. The organization that put real spiritual expression and cosmic communion beyond the reach of the common man unless, of course, he subscribed to temple rules, procedures and payments. This attitude carries over even up to today.
As spiritually evolving beings in the cosmic scheme of things, we need to move forward and that can not happen until we see the error of looking backward.
It’s not very obvious at first glance, but, the running theme in the biblical scenario from Genesis to Revelations is manipulation of the masses through fear. “The fear of God” is mentioned 84 times in the bible. “Fear of God” is mentioned 86 times in the bible. “Fear the Lord” is mentioned 186 times in the bible. “Fear God” is mentioned 134 times in the bible. That’s a total of 490 times! Jesus is reputed to have said, “Fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in Hell”. (Matt. 10:28) And Paul is reputed to have said, “Our chief sin is that we have no fear of God at all”. (Romans 3:18)
Then, if you add up all the descriptive biblical passages of doom and destruction that God had, can or will wreak on humanity, the fear factor skyrockets! Ancient religions built their foundations on fear. If you displease God, you, your entire nation (in the O.T.) and all of your descendants will suffer severely. If, on the other hand, you manage to please God (not an easy task), you, your nation (again, in the O.T.) and your descendants will be blessed and do well.
So, how to please God? The gateway is always a priest class. And that always costs goods, services and money. In biblical times, once the monarchic establishment and its royally employed priest class was in place, Yahweh became big business. The temple treasury rivaled the national treasury and, for the most part, was the same thing. King David could tap into the temple treasury to fund anything from building projects to war campaigns.
On the other hand, the priest class enjoyed power, prestige and plenty. It was a happy two way street. All that was necessary was to keep instilling a “Fear of the Lord” which is the running theme of the ancient biblical writers who (no surprises here) worked for the temple hierarchy. In the Old Testament, God could or would incur natural or military disasters in retaliation for displeasure. In the New Testament (after Zoroastrian influence following the Babylonian captivity) the stakes got much higher. Displeasure met with damnation! Loss of the immortal soul and/or pain and suffering in nightmarish conditions for eternity … until the end of time. Hell!
I have to mention that I, personally, have had a Near Death Experience many years ago. I’ll talk about that in more detail and how it still affects my life in other blogs. But, for now, I just want to mention that the major part of the experience was indescribable joy and bliss on “going home” to the Light. I have read about many other N.D.Es since then. I have yet to come across a single verifiable account that had even a hint of Hell, the devil, Satan, demons, eternal suffering or any other such nonsense.
Conclusion? The idea of “sin” as a condition that could somehow displease the Universal Force of Life is simply untrue and the figment of sick imaginations or clever mass manipulators.
Today, we’re re-defining “God” as an entity that initiated the Cosmos, permeates Time and is the Prime Mover of vibratory creation. How should we consider the notion where that deity would “get even” with a human being by instilling punishment of a nasty, mean and hellish nature on creatures evolving in accordance with a grand design? Here, on Earth? … on a minuscule spec in the grand scheme of things?
We need better answers.
Thanks to science, technology, logical thinking and (yes) even a more refined sense of intuition, we are in a position, today, to move forward in search of systems to express the spiritual dimension of being without the superstitions and the debilitating factors of fear, guilt, anxiety and frustration that have weighed like a nightmare on humanity for the past several thousand years. In a more enlightened future, the bible will be considered not as a blessing, but, as a barrier to true spiritual growth, world peace and human harmony.
In upcoming blogs, we will explore this line of thought in more detail.
On a personal note, I want to raise the level of spiritual sensitivity and cosmic consciousness by teaching as many people as I possibly can the experience of drawing the face of Jesus. My method of instruction allows anyone, regardless of previous artistic ability or experience to make a beautiful shaded pencil portrait even on the first try.
Drawing the face of Jesus, making physical contact through the sensitive strokes of a pencil and actually seeing the face take on shape and dimension because of the work of your hand provides a profoundly personal connection. A sense of rapport! We see the light come into His eyes! We see his slight smile become more and more developed under the strokes of our pencil. His Hair. His beard! All taking shape through our personal efforts. Jesus, coming alive!
And, it is a two way street! The idea of Jesus … the image of Jesus that the Christian community carries around in the back of the mind and the depth of the heart day to day is a spiritual reflection of something transcendent in our human condition. It is our own cosmic consciousness … the divine dimension of our being …it is a part of each one of us and, yet, … other than us.
We connect through ritual, prayer and praise, yes. We connect through doing good and charitable works, yes. But, when we connect through the tactile dimension of a contemplative touch … something occurs that is quite wonderful. The hand is an extension of the mind and heart. The pencil becomes an extension of the hand and what happens is a new devotional dynamic. And … it “humanizes” Jesus, the man, Yeshua bar Yosef of Nazareth upon whom the idea of Man and Cosmic Consciousness has been melded as a role model for us all. Regardless of the historicity connected with his actual life, Jesus has become the metaphor for the qualities of humanity that we hold as the best characteristics of ourselves and our potential. Charity, compassion and brotherly love.
From this dynamic, a more spiritually sensitive attitude emerges. An attitude focused on human harmony and global compassion because the spiritual connection, not only with our cosmic consciousness, but also, with the entire network of humanity on this planet becomes a singular, powerful and driving thing.
This is a first step on the road to salvation. Salvation from ourselves through spiritual sensitivity!
May 1st, 2014 was National Prayer Day and I attended the celebration at City Hall in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
A tiny group of people showed up. Just about half of them were the speakers, musicians and organizers who procured the space and participated in the event. I could not help thinking about the recent report that the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) issued regarding the findings of The Hartford Institute for Religious Research.
The Hartford Institute found that religious attendance is either in decline or stagnating across most of the churches in the United States. It showed that although mega churches are still growing, the reason for their growth is the assimilation of nearby congregations whose smaller churches have failed and slipped off the radar. Also, smaller churches with congregations of less than 200 are showing growth, but, they are mostly start-up churches with less than a fifty-fifty chance of still being active five years from now. With regard to that, The Institute stated 4,000 churches are closing every year.
What does that say about the spiritual character of our country? What does that say about the effectiveness of our spiritual leaders? The media, the entertainment industry, the political arena, the corporate world and, of course, the industrial/military complex are all focused on greed, vulgarity and basic human drives. Where is the spiritual element that would and could raise the mind set of the population to a higher standard with more refined ideals?
It’s becoming more and more lacking. Why? Perhaps because the religious institutions in our culture do not meet the spiritual needs of our culture. Perhaps because the orthodoxy in charge hangs too steadfastly to ancient ideas about the why and what of our spiritual nature. Too steadfastly on fundamental interpretations of scripture. Too steadfastly on traditions like biblical prophecy, the global flood, the creation stories, the mass murderous champions of god and so much more that is simply untrue and is driving the population away.
Yet, buried under the misinformation and misdirection that is woven throughout the bible, there is the promise of a Christ consciousness that is the salvation of the world and that needs to be surfaced and promoted. Now. While there is still time.
American churches, take notice. National Prayer Day, 2014 is a wake up call.
I’d like to post a quote I have used many times in lecturing and preaching about the need for a re-evaluation of the ancient religious traditions that foster (among other evils) divisionism between peoples on this planet. Earlier blogs have expressed how I feel about the ridiculous notion that warfare could or would be condoned if not actually championed by the Universal Force Of Life.
OK. Here’s the quote. It’s by Rabbi Alexander Feinsilver from his book, “The Search For Religious Maturity”.
“We need religion today … We need faith in God. But, our faith must be able to stand up under scrutiny. It must be able to weather the storm of doubt and despair. It must be able to stimulate and challenge us to nobler living. It must be able to transform us … and through us … the lives of mankind!”
Working for a religious renaissance and global spirituality