Defending God: The Paradox of Violence And Faith

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons, or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?”

– Job 38:31

Despite how one feels about God, or how one defines God, or if God even exists at all, the idea that He needs defense seems a bit weird.

In the quote at the beginning of this post, we see God asking Job if he could change the nature of constellations. Why is this important? The God of the Bible is saying that he was in control of everything. If God plainly says he is in control, then why does he need defending? Why is it that we see him giving a mandate to the Israelites for genocide in the Old Testament? Does it really makes sense that the God of love is asking people to commit acts of war and murder on his behalf?

The paradox runs through the bible in odd ways. For instance, King David was not allowed to build the temple in Jerusalem because he had too much blood on his hands, despite the fact that God was the one who led him to the slaughtering in question.

1 Chronicles 22:7-8 says:

David said to Solomon, “My son, I had planned to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood in my sight on the earth.

He claims to be in absolute control, so why can’t he just make bad people disappear? One answer to why God would have his followers slay other people is that he wanted them to be a part of his plan through cooperative action rather than through passively viewing his work. In the past I justified this nonsensical idea by saying that God was holy and pure and therefore had the last say in moral judgment.

Now it seems obvious that one of two things is going on: Either the Biblical God was incapable of performing these tasks himself, or people just used God as an excuse for genocide. To me, either reason is a faith-changer, especially when the inerrant nature of the word of God, the Bible.

In discussions I’ve had in the past, I found myself getting riled up and upset when someone came up with a point I could not argue myself around. It felt like a direct attack on God and subsequently on me. I immediately would feel self-conscious that I was going to become lost in confusion by a clever argument and would lose my faith. When people become upset like this, they can feel pressured to take up the banner of faith and defend God: a God that should require no defense at all.

We’ve seen the dark extremes that this mindset can bring, and it has been this way since the dawn of Christianity. You see, the side of Christianity that we see today is the side that won out by literally killing off the other side. That other side was the Gnostics, and it was in the loss of their teachings that this violent paradox took root.

Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock addressed the early relationship between the Gnostics and Christian fathers – and the former’s suppression – in their book The Master Game;

“In 1945 a great hoard of hitherto unknown Gnostic texts from the early centuries of the Christian era was found at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. Since the translation and eventual publication of these texts in 1977 it has become apparent that Christianity’s relationship with Gnosticism goes back to the very beginnings of the Christian cult in the first century AD. Likewise, it is now obvious, and widely accepted, that, ‘Christian Gnosticism’ was not some offshoot from the mainstream of Christianity. On the contrary it was part of the mainstream-perhaps even the major part.”

What led to the great schism? What manner of doctrine could have provoked the move toward suppression and how could this have led to the paradox of violence and faith? As it turns out, the Gnostics had a highly controversial (to modern mainstream Christianity) perspective regarding the bloodthirsty God of the Bible.

They believed that he was an evil demigod – the demiurge – and not the true God of spirit. To the Gnostics, the physical world was a literal hell and that the flesh entrapped the spirit in perdition. Jesus, they believed, came to show us an example of how to live this life, and that his death and resurrection were an illustration of God’s victory over the fleshly world.

Such a belief system was threatening to the authority of the nascent church. It had to be eliminated. By 325 AD, the Council of Nicea had put together the Bible the way they wanted it to be and excluded Gnostic theology and teachings.

Bauval and Hancock continue:

From the beginning of the fourth century AD, as it acquired state power, the Church undertook a radical change in direction. The freethinking and sometimes anarchical approach of Gnostics began to be frowned upon, their allegorical interpretations of the scriptures were dropped in favor of literal ones, and persecutions for heresy began almost immediately.

This was a great loss for Christianity and the world at large. As the religion gained a foothold among the powerful it became a weapon of ideological oppression and a cause for bloodshed. Gnosticism could have brought a balance between violence and faith.

When you see words like ‘Jealous’ repeated ad infinitum in Old Testament prophecy and scripture, one may come to the conclusion that these traits seem too human to be truly divine. Such is the consequence of the Gnostic suppression. Paradoxically, when violent and women men defend the God of the Old Testament, they’re making sacrifice to the same blood-soaked monster that the Gnostics tried to warn us about.

There is no reason for Christians to continue to serve the monster born in violence and oppression. Did God not give us the minds that we currently have? The past is beyond our reach, but we can change now and try to create a better tomorrow. We must teach that if God is really God, then he can take care of himself.

Gabriel D. Roberts is author of the forthcoming book, Born Again to Rebirth, available Feb 15 at GabrielDRoberts.com.

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  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    I think God created a Universe governed by Physics. This creates a possibility for the existence of autonomous beings.

    • kowalityjesus

      I actually really value that notion. God was the ‘person’ who tweaked the rules of physics such that we should get subatomic particles, and with different combinations of those: atoms, and with different combinations of those: molecules and all the crazy shit above, below, and in-between. It is nearly incomprehensible, but human beings can scratch the surface enough to realize that the Universe is ‘too good to be true’ in terms of the magnificence of creation and the potential for dynamic interactions among its constituent parts. He has even made the universe so profound as to make it not only worthy of stars and supernovas, as well as micro-organisms and eagles, but also for the Periodic Table and the Well-Tempered Clavier. Hence, I have come to the conclusion that God is the inventor of all things and therefore it is just another level of “really interesting” (outside of stars and animals) to watch us play around with his creation, because he sees a little bit of himself in us, lolol.

      • Kevin Leonard

        I take particular exception to attributing the Well-Tempered Clavier to God. That was Bach’s doing. The Pythagorean tuning is much more harmonious with universal principles, just makes it harder to change keys without changing instruments.

        • kowalityjesus

          bah

          Johann would have given you a piece of his mind for saying such tripe

          • Kevin Leonard

            of course he would, but the devil wanted him to play different keys ;-)
            i’m still studying this. i find it fascinating.

          • kowalityjesus

            Well in a way you are right that the “perfect sound” would come from a piece played in pythagorean tuning in a central key using perhaps closely related modulations.

            But Bach uses the well-tempering to dynamically move between distantly related keys in the same piece, which with strict Pythagorean tuning would sound quite off at times. But this entire line of conversation is very far below the cruising altitude of my original comment, if you would re-read it.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Sorry, i was being a bit tongue-in-cheek about the Bach thing.

            I appreciate the sentiment of your original comment, if I may have semantical/ tautological issues.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Sorry, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with the Bach thing.

            I appreciate the sentiment of your original comment, though I may have semantical/ tautological issues.

          • kowalityjesus

            don’t be afraid to criticize. I learn when you learn.

          • Kevin Leonard

            It wouldn’t be a criticism, really, but it would get really deep, really fast. And judging by your intelligence, knowledge and fortitude, it would go on for a long, long time. And, honestly, I don’t have the energy for it right now and am not inclined to have the dialogue on an open forum.

            There’s no way to PM through Disqus, is there?

          • kowalityjesus

            hmm, I appreciate your frank synopsis, and will take on good will that there is some valid discrepancy with my position that you hold. I also concede that I am in a rather uncommon position to devote copious thought- and time-resources to these types of endeavours.

            If you want to just email me, feel free but dont feel obligated warrenite1000@gmail.com

          • Kevin Leonard

            I’ve copied your email address, if you want to remove it from public scrutiny. I’ll likely open a dialogue with you. I’d like to hear your take on some things. Peace.

      • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

        Yeah, the reasons you state, are some of the reasons why I reject the multiverse hypothesis.

        • kowalityjesus

          I think the three hypotheses for the huge discrepancy in the likelihood that the universe as we know it exists and the fact that it does exist (as paraphrased by me) are:

          1)The Anthropic Principle – our universe exists with such exceptional rules of physics because in order for sentient beings to develop and exist in it, there must exceptional rules of physics though our universe is one of many or infinite number.

          2) God – a creator intelligently designed the physical universe to have exceptional rules of physics so that sentient beings could develop within it.
          3) some unknown theory that accounts for the infinitessimal calibrations necessary for all of the elements of the universe to play out in the drama which is physical existence.

          I read this in a String Theory book, and this is about as far as I got cause they started doing math. But supposedly String Theory is a nebulous alternative to the previous two options.

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            Yeah, there is a lot too that. A lot of Cosmologies are about trying to explain away one and two. The problem is that they mostly just make up stuff.

          • kowalityjesus

            if you talk to Micheal Cremo, he would say that Anthropologists too are making stuff up in order to explain away 1 and 2. Vedic creationists, an unlikely ally of Christian Fundamentalists.

          • Calypso_1

            They are not making up stuff to explain away 1 & 2. 1 & 2 are not even a factor in such endeavors. If the theories & evidence that anthropology deals with are contradictory to traditional mythologies that does nothing to place religious mythologies in the same category with or on par as alternatives to scientific methods.

          • kowalityjesus

            If you are familiar with the material I am referring to, you will realize that there are no scientific “models” currently capable of encompassing the facts which Cremo discusses. Just massive academic-anthropological iconoclasm, which is nominally the enemy of the enemy of Biblical creationists.

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            multiverse is intended to explain away fine tuning of the Universe.

      • Andrew

        God also created Satan.

        • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

          Did he? How about Ahriman?

        • kowalityjesus

          If he doesn’t let his angels and his humans have the choice whether to follow his will, we are mathematical equations.

          • Andrew

            And God knew exactly what was going to happen when God did it.

            Also, what’s so bad about mathematical equations?

          • Calypso_1

            That might be the case if all equations were deterministic.

          • kowalityjesus

            you don’t think even God can predict quantum mechanics?

          • Calypso_1

            Man can predict quantum mechanics. It’s a matter of probabilities.
            But if there are local hidden variables to be discovered I have serious doubts any presence of divinity will be found within.
            Theology has a rather quaint history of simultaneously disappropriating mathematical understanding for its own meager devices while discrediting those endeavors that pursue the course from which they extract further ‘proof’ of their own intangibles.

          • kowalityjesus

            on an individual particle/wave basis (not on an average) quantum mechanics is far too weird to be predicted or classically understood.

            As Nietzsche said, and I fail to find the text so I will grossly paraphrase, “there has always been a creative class upon which humanity has preyed, and upon whom they are dependent.” So the activities of theologians are nothing exceptional from such a perspective. If there is any way that I can simultaneously respectively partake and abscond in the knowledge of science without its sterile philosophy, I would count myself among the appropriators but not without the appreciators.

          • kowalityjesus

            After watching a 50 minute documentary of quantum mechanics, it is my conclusion that you are not incorrect with your initial sentence. Neither am I, though. We are more in a quantum state of correctness, hahah

            As for conflict, why should we acolytes of information have anything more than passing disagreements?

  • Ittabena

    “From the beginning of the fourth century AD, as it acquired state power,
    the Church undertook a radical change in direction. The freethinking
    and sometimes anarchical approach of Gnostics began to be frowned upon,
    their allegorical interpretations of the scriptures were dropped in
    favor of literal ones, and persecutions for heresy began almost
    immediately.”

    As a history buff I must mention that with very few word changes this could also be a description of the American Public Education system and what has happened to the American Media in the last 25 years. Anyone else feeling that your heritage has been hijacked?

    I look forward to reading your book Gabriel. it sounds interesting, and so does Bauval and Hancock’s collaboration.

  • Kevin Leonard

    People think they are defending God, but in reality, they are defending their belief system and fragile egos. ” It felt like a direct attack on God and subsequently on me.” Nobody likes to be wrong, and when the stakes are so high – an entire worldview, for instance – the fights can be vicious.

    Another point in the persecutions of the Gnostics, particularly the Cathars, is that they were decrying all-that-is-material as the product of the Devil/ Satan/ the Adversary. This made the Church, who was busy accruing land and gold, look very bad. Someone had to go.

    I’m looking foward to your book, as well. Thank you.

    • rus Archer

      koolaid!

      • Kevin Leonard

        i’m sorry, i don’t follow. is that a reference to Jim Jones? could you elaborate?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

          I think it’s just thirsty. ;)

  • rus Archer

    1. not all of david’s wars/kills were commanded by god
    2. the existance of evil or pain doesn’t make god less powerful, it just means in some cases he chooses to allow humans to do what he wants
    3. gnosticism predates christianity
    4. buddhism has way more interesting and elegant arguments for the non-existance of god than these weak and mis/underinformed arguments

    • Kevin Leonard

      4. which/ whose arguments are weak and mis/underinformed?

  • kowalityjesus

    ugh, I so dislike philosophies that describe earth as a hell. As for why God would lead some to kill others, moral absolutism is the realm of the knowledge of God, however much we feel like we know whether some things are absolutely wrong or not. We ought follow his written word, but heed his spoken word first.

    • jnana

      I’d rather follow the Living Word in my heart.
      “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
      “when I will make a new covenant
      with the people of Israel
      and with the people of Judah.
      32 It will not be like the covenant
      I made with their ancestors
      when I took them by the hand
      to lead them out of Egypt,
      because they broke my covenant,
      though I was a husband to[a] them,[b]”
      declares the Lord.
      33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
      after that time,” declares the Lord.
      “I will put my law in their minds
      and write it on their hearts.
      I will be their God,
      and they will be my people.
      34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
      or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
      because they will all know me,
      from the least of them to the greatest,”
      declares the Lord.
      “For I will forgive their wickedness
      and will remember their sins no more.”
      Jer. 31:31-34

      • jnana

        It is the God of Justice who has given me the idea of Justice and the ability of reasoning to judge. Therefore, I can judge suffering as unjust and cruel. As unreasonable. Unnecessary.
        Therefore, the God of Justice did not create suffering.
        Therefore, the God of Justice, the Perfect God did not create this world, but DOES liberate us from it.

        • jnana

          Notice the irony in my using the written word as proof that I do not need the written word, solely.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

            Then ‘God’ becomes a metaphor for your inner You–ever there for you while You are you, but impossible for others to ‘know’ until You aren’t you and They aren’t themselves anymore.

          • kowalityjesus

            very interesting analysis of the archaic notion of a “personal relationship with God”

  • BuzzCoastin

    of the the 5 major religions (Xianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism)
    only Buddhism doesn’t have the tradition of killing all the infidels
    Xianity didn’t in the early years,
    but once they got a taste of being the persecutor & the power
    it was too hard to resist

    • kowalityjesus

      absolute power corrupts absolutely, thats why the ‘persecuted yet surviving’ should count themselves lucky imho

      • Andrew

        “absolute power corrupts absolutely”

        How much power does God have?

        • kowalityjesus

          “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test” Luke 4:12

          • Jin The Ninja

            incorrect usage of the passage. it means you should not say, ” g-d, show me you’re real by striking the tree with lightning.” or ” g-d, if you help me just this once…i’ll be a good christian!”
            context is everything in the bible. and understanding early christian history demonstrates g-d, jesus, the whole thing was often up for debate.

          • kowalityjesus

            That first part is absolutely true. I think though it would mean also, “do not question the purity of motivation of God,” there is no use, other than academic, and it is blasphemous. e.g. Do you think God learns?

            I used to have this psychological problem in my life where something happened that was clearly beyond all reasonable statistical explanation and I would get rebellious and Truman-Show-ish. Then I realized, this can be no human who is engineering this coincidence, this is no behind-the-scenes conspiracy, there are spiritual architects and I must be grateful for how they beneficently guide my formation… and play along with their plans for me, which ultimately stem from the Creator.

          • Andrew

            Sounds like an abusive father.

  • jnana

    “Create a better tomorrow”???
    Sounds “un-Gnostic” to me. A gnostic would not care to try to reform this world. It is inherently flawed, created by a flawed creator. Jesus said,”My kingdom is not of this world” The gnostics would have expected persecution and it’s probably true that gnosis is realized by few. “Many are called but few are chosen” “I will choose you 1 out of a thousand and 2 out of 10,000 and you shall stand as a single one.” “Blessed are the alone and chosen”
    Be wary of what is labeled as “Gnostic” or “Gnosticism”
    The Tao that is called the Tao is not the Tao.

    • Matt Staggs

      In Gabriel’s defense, I helped to edit this piece. The “create a better tomorrow” line is predicated by what I consider an argument pointing to how the violence of modern Christianity could be tempered with knowledge of the Gnostic’s take on God, not a conversion to Gnosticism.

      • jnana

        Agreed, but that would change too much, and then it would be illegal ;)
        Sorry if the post above sounded a bit rude. I often feel I have to defend gnostic ideas because I believe there are a TON of misconceptions about “Gnosticism”.

        • Kevin Leonard

          Like the misconception, perhaps, that there is a cohesive cosmology for all “Gnostics”?

          • jnana

            Exactly.
            They were creative individuals to the core. No forced group think. But, there are certain recurring themes among the scriptures called “gnostic”. Probably 2 distinct cosmologies. One that’s called “Iranian” the other is “Syrian”
            Iranian Cosmology posits 2 eternal entities, Light and Darkness. Both exist together from the beginning and are at war. Eventually Light wins. More prominent among Manichaean and Cathar(?I think?)
            Syrian cosmology claims only Light exists from the beginning. Light emanates other beings. One being makes a mistake and produces matter/darkness. This is also known as emanations cosmogony. Crude definitions, by the way.

          • Kevin Leonard

            It is unfortunate that religio-spiritual discussion online often (unavoidably?) get reduced to soundbites.

            Here’s one:
            The objective reality includes a subjective experience for every individual.

            The Kabbalah (cabala/ qabala), for instance, makes room for both visions of cosmogenesis you have described, depending on your perspective.

  • alizardx

    I think the Romans got it right in saying “Let the Gods defend themselves”.

  • bobbiethejean

    Interesting article. I’ve long held similar thoughts. The idea that an omnipotent god would need or want mere, insignificant ants like us to defend him is absurd in the extreme. Then again, the bible is absurd on its face. If you read the bible, it becomes abundantly clear that Yahweh is absolutely indefensible. He is a psychotic, petty, rage-filled, tyrannical dictator with very human flaws that reflect the ignorant, cave-dwelling primitives he was invented by. Just spend some time on the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible site to see how utterly monstrous Yahweh really is. As an atheist, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about a celestial super-Nazi looking over my shoulder every minute of every day. It baffles my mind that people believe in such a god whose existence is utterly lacking in any kind of evidence and on top of that, a horrid, cruel, illogical psychopath of a god.

    • Calypso_1

      As a human though I think it would be cool to have ants to defend oneself. Actually I’d prefer wasps. Wasps & jellyfish.

      • bobbiethejean

        Ya know, now that I think about it, I have to concur. Though I’ll take ants over wasps. The sheer number of ants on the planet is mindboggling. Something like 15% of the Earth’s biomass is ANTS. O__O

    • jnana

      but we’re not “mere insignificant ants”. even ants aren’t “mere insignificant ants” all living beings have inherent value. it’s that materialist mindset that leads to the selfish destruction and disregard for others.
      Not every believer in God, believes He’s a “celestial super-Nazi”. Know thyself and you will know God. If God is a celestial super-Nazi for you, it’s because you’re projecting your own traits onto Him.
      it baffles my mind when people totally disregard a reality they have no proof DOESN’T exist because of their own prejudices and hang-ups

      • bobbiethejean

        Not every believer in God, believes He’s a “celestial super-Nazi”. If you believe in a general deist-type god, of course not. But if you believe in the Yahweh of the bible, you have no choice. That is what he is explained to be. Why bother believing in the God of the bible if you’re not going to believe the bible’s description of him? That makes no sense.

        Yahweh is NOT some nice, candy-dispensing, happy-go-lucky bearded grampa in the sky- he’s a monster who mauled 42 children to death. He’s a monster who wrecked the shit out of some poor guy’s life on a bet then gloated at him when the perfectly faithful and devout sod cried to the heavens for an explanation. He’s a monster who flooded an entire planet and wiped away nearly every man, woman, baby, child, and animal because they weren’t behaving like the nice little automatons he wanted them to. He’s a monster who has violated people’s free will. He’s a monster who commanded the wholesale slaughter of nonbelievers simply because they hadn’t been victimized by his brainwashing at that point in time. “Rip the fetuses from their wombs and dash them upon the rocks!” Even if you believe the new testament reforms Yahweh, it clearly doesn’t because the cruelty and horror continues- it just gets more subtle.

        But lastly, why would you even believe in the bible? It is full of complete nonsense and as a guide to life, it utterly fails. It certainly doesn’t evidence its claims and there is nothing external to back it up. So not only do these people believe in a malevolent celestial nazi, they believe in a malevolent celestial nazi who has no more evidence for his existence than Thor, Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl.

        • jnana

          Well, I personally resonate w/ the ancient gnostics on the matter of Yahweh of the Old Testament. I have very personal interpretations of those books. If yer interested in how some ancient gnostics interpreted it read “Ptolemy’s Letter to Flora”
          Question for you though, and anyone else who wants to chime in:
          Suppose the Orthodox interpretation of events is correct. Suppose God did create the universe and man in it. And suppose He had a plan for us. Now, what if He did allow and even cause suffering? And all suffering, for we’re supposing He’s omnipotent. But, though some reasons are inscrutable, in a lot of cases He allows suffering to teach us and guide us. Like disciplining and chastising children. Now here’s the kicker. What if at the end, when the plan is finished He ends all suffering. He even causes us to forget suffering occurred, we remember it no more. And then, He blesses us with Infinite Eternal Bliss. A bliss greater than any fleeting orgasm, any victory, any bliss you have experienced or could even imagine to experience. And its Eternal. And infinite, growing forever. Would that be OK for you? Would you be grateful to that Being who gave you that gift? Would it justify the suffering that occurred? Or would that suffering not even need to be justified if it was banished from all memory?

          • bobbiethejean

            That sounds absolutely wonderful. I’d love to have eternal bliss. But such a thing is not likely possible and there is no evidence (none that I’ve seen anyway) of any gods who are capable of bringing about even temporary bliss, let alone eternal bliss.

          • Kevin Leonard

            I know a few Vedantists and Swamis who would disagree with you.

          • bobbiethejean

            Would these Vedantists and Swamis happen to have any credible evidence to show? Because if not, I’m not interested. I have no patience for nonsense. I’m not at all averse to philosophical quandaries and discussions but when people assert things as true without evidence, that grates on my ass quite a bit.

          • Kevin Leonard

            You and I have been down this road before. We know how it ends, or rather, doesn’t end.

            You can talk about burden of proof, but if that is what you demand, most Swamis and Vedantists wouldn’t be interested, either. They also have no patience for nonsense.

            You demand proof, yet you lack honest inquiry.
            You want something you can see under a microscope.
            You will not find it.
            The greatest saints and yogis proclaim the answer is within,
            not that it is something to be measured.

            I imagine I am channeling my Kriya Yoga guru (use an Indian accent):
            “Why are you bothering talking to me? You are wasting your time… and mine. You want the truth? Go in a darkened room. Slow your breath. Focus on the fontanel. And ask for Divine Love to enter your being. When you want the truth about God as badly as a drowning man wants air, you will find it.”

          • bobbiethejean

            You demand proof, yet you lack honest inquiry. You only think I’m not because it’s easier you to mock and denigrate me than to admit that I might possibly have a point when I ask for evidence rather than just believing whatever crosses my path.

            You want something you can see under a microscope. I never once asked for something I could see under a microscope. I want SOMETHING that can be shown to me, replicated, or at least understood in some way. Otherwise anyone can pull any nonsense out of their ass, say it’s true, and call me a heathen for not believing it.

            The greatest saints and yogis proclaim the answer is within, The answer I’ve found within myself is this: Either I lack the ability to see the supernatural or the supernatural isn’t there. What is the more likely answer? I’d say the later. Why? Even if I am blind to the supernatural, I should still be able to know it is there by its effects. I could tell a blind person that there is a cat in front of her and if she didn’t believe me, she’d sure have to change her mind when she stepped on the cat, heard the yowl, felt the claws, and landed face first on the ground. Even though she couldn’t see the cat, she could sense its effects. But even if you want to go more subtle than a cat-analogy, I should STILL have some way of knowing, even if only through other people. So far, the only thing I have learned about the supernatural from the people is that you guys are really good at making shit up and calling other people stupid for not believing it.

          • Kevin Leonard

            I was not mocking you. I’m really not sure why you think I was. I may have been blunt, but I was only returning words that you sent my way. I’m sorry if I made you feel denigrated. Read some stories about Milarepa and his disciple Gampopa. True spiritual progress is difficult. It is not for the faint of heart. Or for bliss ninnies. Or for belief nazis. “There is no room for belief in spirituality.” — my teacher.

            “Under a microscope” is, of course, a metaphor. But I agree with some sentiments in the rest of the paragraph. People pull nonsense out of their ass. This is on both sides of the argument. I had a discourse with a new friend recently who is studying a different system of meditation. We spent a long time talking about the lack of authentic tradition, and how hard it is to find an authentic teacher. It is not something that one goes about in a wishy-washy manner. You have to want it. You have to seek it. If you take the attitude where you sit back and say “prove it to me,” you will never find it. It is really that simple. Ever heard the phrase “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”? I’ve had discussions with more than one aspirant who said it was applicable to their journey.

            “Either I lack the ability to see the supernatural or the supernatural isn’t there.”
            This is a false dichotomy. I’d suggest you have either been using the wrong method, or you just need to search out a teacher. You, especially, may need a teacher with your powerful Threshold Guardians in the way. There are a few other logical fallacies in the rest of the paragraph. But I’m not trying to make you sound stupid, though I find that argument ironic because it is normally the opposite that occurs with people spout spiritual beliefs to more rational materialist-types. I’m only pointing it out because there is an error in the way you are thinking about it. But I do agree that many spiritual minded folk are irrational. Perhaps even most of them. No. It’s most of them.

            “I should STILL have some way of knowing, even if only through other people.” I’m curious about this statement. You accuse us of making stuff up. But more often than not, we are are repeating what our teachers have said. We are knowing through them. But when we repeat it without a direct experience on our side, it certainly has less impact and carries false notes because it doesn’t come from the source. Aside from that, we have to look at what they say as maps (not the territory). “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao.” There IS something inherently false about maps/ models/ and language used to describe spiritual nature..

            If you want to know something through other people, maybe you would enjoy “Autobiography of a Yogi” or Nisargadatta Maharaj’s “I am that” or Milarepa’s stories. If you are unable to suspend disbelief with the stories and want something more direct, find an initiation weekend through kriya.org, go to a Sufi gathering, take a White Tantra workshop. The eastern traditions tend to be more practice oriented than promoting dogmatic belief. Even a Reiki intensive might give you some direct experience that there is something more than what can be measured.

            I’m saying all of this not to make you feel bad, or denigrated, or wrong, or to set myself up as superior to you. I have just had a different set of experiences. Your extreme rationalism, what one of my teachers calls “strong mind syndrome,” will remain your greatest ally if you can find a degree of flexibility with it in approaching spiritual matters, if you make a few allowances. Material reductionism has a grip on modern society and on the other side there is the belief nazis (I just had a three week online argument with a Christian that did not end well). There is a middle ground. And I’m giving you so much attention here because an artist with the type of vision that you have can go places.

          • bobbiethejean

            You seem like a really nice guy. You do. I get the impression that you don’t generally mean to insult or hurt people’s feelings and you seem like you really do want to help me understand, which I appreciate. Maybe I was being too sensitive.

            I have read what you’ve written and I will look into your suggestions, one by one until I come to some conclusion. I will give an honest attempt to understand though I can’t promise I won’t come out of it with exactly the same conclusions I have now. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. We’ll see.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Thank you for your graciousness. I recognize that you weren’t actually asking for help. I just get frustrated that so many dismiss even the possibility of metaphysical reality because of the inconsistencies and irrationalities within religion and religious language and because of the hypocricies of the followers. In my cosmology, if evil exists, surely its influence extends to organized religion, which has probably been responsible for more people leaving god than any other institution. And I understand the subsequent reliance on science with its proofs, many incontrovertible.

            Siddharta advised knowing for yourself and not to “… go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This [person] is our teacher.'” Jesus said the kindgom of heaven is within. My teacher has said, essentially, you do the practices until you no longer need them.

            Dogma, ultimately, gets in the way. But sometimes maps are useful. Peace.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Thank you for your graciousness. I recognize that you weren’t actually asking for help. I just get frustrated that so many dismiss even the possibility of metaphysical reality because of the inconsistencies and irrationalities within religion and religious language and because of the hypocricies of the followers. In my cosmology, if evil exists, surely its influence extends to organized religion, which has probably been responsible for more people leaving god than any other institution. And I understand the subsequent reliance on science with its proofs, many incontrovertible.

            Siddharta advised knowing for yourself and not to “… go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This [person] is our teacher.'” Jesus said the kindgom of heaven is within. My teacher has said, essentially, you do the practices until you no longer need them.

            Dogma, ultimately, gets in the way. But sometimes maps are useful. Peace.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Thank you for your graciousness. I recognize that you weren’t actually asking for help. I just get frustrated that so many dismiss even the possibility of metaphysical reality because of the inconsistencies and irrationalities within religion and religious language and because of the hypocricies of the followers. In my cosmology, if evil exists, surely its influence extends to organized religion, which has probably been responsible for more people leaving god than any other institution. And I understand the subsequent reliance on science with its proofs, many incontrovertible.

            Siddharta advised knowing for yourself and not to “… go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This [person] is our teacher.'” Jesus said the kindgom of heaven is within. My teacher has said, essentially, you do the practices until you no longer need them.

            Dogma, ultimately, gets in the way. But sometimes maps are useful. Peace.

          • jnana

            I’m sorry to hear that. Mind is more powerful than you believe. The power of belief is great, too. It takes Supernatural Grace to transcend operant conditioning.

          • jnana

            But the question wasn’t whether you believed in eternal bliss or not. I ask you to suspend disbelief for a second and follow the above suppositions.(anyone else can reply, too. I’m curious what others have to say)
            The question is does Infinite Eternal Bliss w/ no memory of the previous torments justify those torments?

          • bobbiethejean

            It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit that we’re probably living in a cold, indifferent universe that doesn’t give two shits about us and won’t mourn or even notice our inconsequential deaths when we return to the random scattering of molecules from whence we came.

          • jnana

            It takes even more strength and courage in admitting that the creators are probably sadistic, deranged psychopaths harvesting our soul-juices.
            ;)

          • Kevin Leonard

            then what is the point of suffering?

          • jnana

            Exactly.
            Perhaps, He’s sadistic, but has some conscience. Maybe just irrational.That’s why I’m a gnostic. The orthodox and conventional view is “free will” and/or His plans are inscrutable, or even God wants to experience everything and learn(the New Age view) blahblahbaaa.
            But if I’m created in His Image, I am endowed with reason. Also, if I was going to be condemned for denouncing suffering as unjust and unreasonable, He should explain to me the reason for it, so I might not be condemned.
            Like Shiva, I denounce the creation as unjust and imperfect and worship the Creator of Perfection.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Well, it seems that I can at least agree with you that spiritual gnosis doesn’t rely on stories which can be confounding and that direct gnosis supersedes any dismissal of spiritual reality because of the confounding nature of those stories.

          • Andrew

            Perhaps your imagination is the creator of “perfection.”

          • jnana

            Exactly.
            But its not from the conditioned imagination

          • Andrew

            I disagree. Perfection is a dependent, subjective, abstract concept.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Consider the mathematical formula for a perfect circle, or sphere.
            There are no perfect spheres in the material world.
            Does that mean that they do not exist?
            Do they only exist in the mind?
            or does a mathematical proof constitute proof of existence?

          • jnana

            Who’s right, you or Plato?

            ;)

            I’ll choose Plato.

          • Andrew

            Why does He allow some religious leaders, and some parents, to rape children?

        • Kevin Leonard

          whoa. whoa. whoa. What did Quetzalcoatl ever do to you?
          sorry. couldn’t resist.

          But there is an idea here between you and jnana.

          In many cosmologies, there is the idea of a manifest reality and an unmanifist reality. And implicate order and and explicat order. A concealed god and a revealed god. And so forth.

          There is also an “in-between state” which could be termed the non-material realm. When we peer into the non-material realm, what we see is colored by our experience and our culture. In this (non-scientific) theory, a person from, say Ancient Greece, could gaze upon a deity (for lack of a better word) and see a bearded figure in robes with olive skin because they already looked upon their leaders with reverence. A person from mesoamerica might gaze upon the same deity (for lack of a better word) and see a feathered snake being, as they already looked upon the fauna around them with reverence.

          Naturally, other attributes of their culture (greed, power, jealousy, sunrise, death) could become asssociated with the deity as people tried to put words (a very material phenomena) to describe their non-material existence.

  • davakins

    Fairy tales

    • Kevin Leonard

      thought provoking

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