I want all the readers of this blog to understand why I have chosen to share all of these thoughts with the public. My object is clear. My father was taken from me at the age of 19 in a very unorthodox manner. While sitting at a stoplight at a busy intersection, a school bus went out of control and took his life, along with another man's. This event has propelled me into a spiritual journey that probably doesn't resemble that of most 24 year old men. My father was a VERY wise man and a spiritual man, always thinking of how he could help the less fortunate and cognizant of the amazing miracle that is life. From a very young age I was introduced to as much information as he could expose me to. He was not biased or judgmental in any of his teachings nor did he encourage that behavior. He grew up in a strict Nazarene family. Upon growing older, he had many unanswered questions. Straying from the dogma of his childhood religion, he began exploring the universe from as many angles as he could. Knowledge became his religion and drove him. He was incessantly pursuing ways to better himself and to relate to less fortunate individuals. I'm the luckiest boy in the world to have had him as a father, which is why I never want his life to have been in vain. I believe in his philosophy and I am dedicated to sharpening the essence of it so that I can one day clearly present it to the world. For now, this blog is a collection of previously written reflections, essays and sentiments of mine regarding education, philosophy, religion and the pursuit of self improvement. Please read with an open mind and feel free to post ANY comments... Thank you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Moderate Faith

Cults and new religious movements in literatur...Image via Wikipedia
Premise: If A and B, then C
A: If we can show with reasonable certainty that sin is equivocated with animalistic behavior almost exclusively (i.e. it is of animal nature to mate with several partners and doing so as a human is sinful) and
B: If we can show that certain practices/beliefs of Christianity are primitive/animalistic in nature and therefore "sinful" to a reasonable degree of certainty and agree to modify them, then
C: It may be possible to unite all religions.

The principle way in which I believe Christianity contradicts itself is in the area of thought.  It is its own self-defeating means.  It teaches not to sin, which in essence is to not behave like animals and to use our human brains that god has given us to overcome primitive desires and urges.  "Sin" can be looked at as actions that animals do that as humans we should be able to control, (i.e. the Ten Commandments).  Therefore sin can be described as the absence of thought, for only by conscious thought alone can we conquer our animal instincts.

My argument is that in some specific areas of Christianity, (and all religions), adherence to the traditional dogma, or doctrine if you prefer, requires less thought process  than we are currently capable of applying.  With all of the scientific findings of our physical world in the past 2,000 years, it should be easy to come up with a more realistic explanation of how humans, our planet and the universe came to be than merely saying, "God created life in 7 days".  It is reasonable to understand a society thousands of years ago believing such a statement because there was absolutely NO scientific or empirical data to lead them to believe otherwise.  The most common explanation for unknown phenomena was magic, miracles and God.  It was so far beyond any one mind's ability to conjure up the idea that we are all made of tiny particles called atoms, etc.  The Enlightenment in the 17th century was truly a turning point in humans' understanding of the physical world.  Descartes' Reductionism and  Newton's Laws of Nature laid the foundation for all physicists and scientists after them to explain how our world is put together.  From that point on, we should have been trying to tweak our religious systems to include these explanations as part of their doctrine, rather than take a defensive stance and try to counter these findings with metaphors and different interpretations of theological texts.

  If thinking is what separates us from the animal and not thinking is synonymous with sin, then might it be sinful to stick with obsolete explanations of LIFE rather than stepping outside of our comfort zones to reshape our minds and put our cognitive ability to the test by truly contemplating our universe via the modern scientific findings.  Because to me it truly is humbling and a religious experience to think about the vastness of this universe and how much had to have happened so that I could exist today to think about it.

  My hope, in the end, is to develop an argument so clear and cogent that this statement alone is unable to be disagreed with.  If that is the case,  even the most devout of religious people would see where I am coming from and be willing to listen to what I have to say, maybe even change their point of view.  If this were to occur, I predict that any long-time patrons of any religion would be less likely to change any beliefs, so my hope is to impact my generation of parents so that the next generation might be edified indefinitely.

In the end, the goal would be to start an intellectual movement, one that would carry over into the generations to come that would promote world peace and unification of spirituality, culture and the idea that we are all components of an overarching presence in this Universe that collectively is God.    

Christianity could break the mold of dogmatic religions and lead the globe by example by means of acquiescing certain beliefs so that its principles become more attractive and less repulsive to other nations around the world. This set of principles and manner of surrendering ancient traditions, (for the betterment of the whole), could apply to any and all religions, therefore rendering all religions compatible with each other. This is done by shaving off the outer layer and focusing on the nucleus, or core, set of principles within each religion, for were not  they formed out of a sincere attempt of a group of humans to develop a standard by which to live a fulfilling and prosperous life? Is this not the purest of intentions from the purest source of energy- our soul?  The intent of each religion arose from the SAME source and only after thousands of years of separate growth are the principles different enough and powerful enough to create such animosity- even hatred- between the various countries of the land.  This stubborn adherence is what I am claiming to be animalistic and therefore "sinful", which is not what the religion should be doing if the idea is to stray away from primitive behavior.

If we were to regress, in a sense, take a look at what is really important and realize what is at stake (the existence of mankind perhaps), we might all be able to find common denominators that are strikingly similar. Imagine, if there were a world religion, how much quality of life might rise globally. Prayer, when associated purely with religion, has a negative connotation to outsiders because they think, "What good is prayer? No one is listening? In fact I've prayed before and nothing has happened!" when in fact prayers is just another way detaching our minds from our physical self and relating to the underlying force, God if you will, that lies in repose at the base of our being.  Thus no effort to center the mind and realize we are all but one entity dispersed among billions of organisms is made. Prayer and the ability of the mind is powerful, however, and unless we get a majority of this planet to engage in some sort of unified "prayer" for the same cause, its likely we will either end up annihilating one another or not be able to come together efficiently enough to overcome a global threat, be it alien or viral.

For thousands of years we have built off of the work and progress of those before us. Mathematicians, physicists, astrologers, philosophers, theologians-you name it- all have relied on the work of those before them as building blocks for formulating new and better theories of the mind. Sometimes it took 2,000 years before what was generally accepted as truth was antiquated due to advancement in technology and the sciences. It follows that religion "evolves" too, and must if the population is to have any practical use for it.

It is my argument than an evolutionary step is needed now. Now is the time, but who is so bold as to suggest that Christians might have to take charge in this matter, which would mean almost inevitably the denouncement of Christ as God Incarnate and acceptance that he was a man, like us, who behaved in such a way that God-like qualities were exuded by his presence, unfounded and far above anything his era was able to conceive. In essence, he let God shine through HIM, far more than anyone of his time was able to. So yes, we was divine in that way, but we all have the possibility of letting God shine through us. We are his machines and must provide a malleable mind for Him to grab hold of and direct us in a divine manner. This is precisely what Jesus was.  The fact that our feeble minds at the time could not grasp this fact in any manner led us to form a dogmatic religion, which for sake of the matter was paramount to the continued existence of our society.  But, again, our society is much different now and as Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese warrior/philosopher teaches:

"Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively.  They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow.  They have form but are formless.  They are skilled in both planning and adapting and need not fear the result of a thousand battles, for they win in advance, defeating those that have already lost."

We must do this with our religion! It has a purpose, an overall course, 
 but we must adapt its flow.  Jesus was able to put a percentage of our race 
on the right path. 
 This is the same for all the prophets of religion. They were all role models to a certain class of homo sapien, ahead of their time, and so influential that religions were formed around them. There is no doubt that if it weren't for this process that civilization would not have progressed and exist as it is today, however, they have grown too far away from each other for too long and must reunite- get back to their roots. With the way technology is today, nothing would be hearsay and events could be recorded accurately. This eliminates speculation and scrutiny of events that occurred in the past. A new religion would not be based on blind faith and would be able to direct us using empirical data, not relying on ancient, untestable and unprovable claims.

I believe it to be true that because Christians vehemently claim that Jesus was God incarnate and that salvation is attained only through HIM, that it puts us in a position where those around the world who see their religious figures as "gifted human beings" see us as, well, jerks.  And for us to say that "Everyone has a chance to seek HIM out and it's their fault if they don't," is narcissistic.  And to say that those who fail to seek him out will go to hell is only a defense mechanism designed to justify our own thoughts and secure in our minds the idea that WE are saved.  We are so afraid of the idea of eternal damnation that we will go to great lengths to dissolve it.  We must devise a Utilitarian faith- one that is good and can work for everyone, not a narcissistic faith!

We think our guy was GOD himself and chose to bless OUR people and is better than the rest? Are we really so narcissistic as a nation to continue to claim that only our religion bears truth and salvation? We are breaking one of Dale Carnegie's essential principles in "How to Win Friend and Influence People". This ingenious book gives an individual profound insight on how to get along with others and work towards a solution that is preferable to both parties. NO ONE wants to be condemned and told they are wrong and it is a careless practice if one desires to either change the behavior and/or beliefs of the other person. This fundamental principle alone yells at me and begs to be implemented into our religious practice. "If you want honey, don't kick over the beehive!"

 Do we really ever expect to reduce terrorism or animosity between the U.S. and the middle east by sending thousands of troops over to "keep them under control"? What if we were to fight a spiritual battle? For is that not the source of hatred towards Americans for people of the Islamic faith? WE claim our guy to be God- they claim Mohammed to be a prophet, a messenger of God's word. How pretentious of us- and that is one example.

People of the middle east, all over the world for that matter, have been persecuted by other nations and killed in the name of God for thousands of years. Their resentment runs DEEP into the hearts of their ancestors and they turn to what is familiar, the indigenous religion, for consolation.
What if Obama were to declare before all of the world that the U.S. no longer had a national religion and that a time has come for all people of all faiths to unite under an umbrella of spiritual principles? Although our nation was founded by Christians and Christian beliefs, I believe the time is near that we honor those forefathers by making the necessary adjustments so that our nation and all other nations may live to see the future.

What if he were to state that our education systems were to be modified so that children were taught to appreciate the conception of each religion and to view them as different formulas to the same problem: finding a better way to live...  Imagine the power each religion has for its patrons. Now imagine the power possible if the central ideas of each religion were extracted from the fluff surrounding it and verified against each other from an objective viewpoint. What set of principles might arise from this process! If the world, especially people of no faith, were given a non-dogmatic, hypocrisy free, objective, technologically and scientifically paralleled set of moral principles to follow, "religion" would be appealing to a much greater percentage of the general population. Of course the cental theme, as I believe is truly the central theme to any true religion, is to love thy neighbor and see the other people of this world as your spirit in different disguises, thus truly learning to love the unlovable as they are as much a part of this universe as you are.

Would this not have profound effects on the economy as well? Wouldn't a nation, or planet, that truly sought to teach their youth, not one, but all religions (moderate faith) as a means to implant the sentiment of global harmony/unity, find easier ways to recover from recessions or prevent them from happening all together? A bold statement, I realize, but to me anything seems possible if our race were to truly unite our souls, brain power and mission to save humanity.

 If Obama, or any president were ever to do this, I predict almost inevitable assassination and chaos throughout the county. But as 311 says, "From Chaos comes Clarity..." . Slavery created a big stink, although for just reason. So did Galileo's heliocentric model of the universe. My point is, what is right often, if not always, sends a shock of rage throughout a population of people who are accustomed to a certain comfort zone and unwilling to surrender comfort for a whimsical idea. That doesn't mean it doesn't need to be done.

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  1. Hi DL! This is your uncle Joseph here . . . I just found your blog . . .

    You seem to have some misunderstandings about what Christianity teaches.

    You said that Christianity "teaches not to sin, which in essence is to not behave like animals and to use our human brains that god has given us to overcome primitive desires and urges."

    Where in Scripture did you find such a definition for sin? That certainly is not a definition of sin which I recognize.

    I do appreciate your suggestion that religion should "not be based on blind faith", and that we should not be relying on "unprovable claims".

    Indeed, Christianity stands alone among religions, because it is so deeply rooted in the importance of factual history. Other religions reduce to mere moralism and blind-faith (including your religion).

    Christianity, on the other hand, stakes its claims upon verifiable historical claims. Jesus is a real man who lived, died, and then rose from the dead. He verified His own teachings by conquering death, and demonstrating His power over death.

    Thankfully, the historical facts regarding Christianity are better attested than any other fact of history. The ancient documents make the truths of Christianity far more clear than even the existence of Socrates and Plato. For every ancient voice which attests to Roman emperors and Greek philosophers, we have hundreds of documents attesting to the Truth of Christianity's claims.

    A rejection of Christianity is a rejection of history, and ultimately a rejection of logic itself.

    If Jesus was not truly God incarnate, if Jesus was not truly a human being who walked this earth, if He did not die and then rise again from death, then Christians are sadly deluded, and are to be pitied above all creatures.

  2. I appreciate the dialogue started here! This is exactly the type of discourse I wish to promote among people. We do not know enough about each others' religions.
    In response, first of all, my definition of "sin" is not verbatim, but if you look at the ten commandments alone, you can discern that many of them could be identified with the actions of animals (i.e. stealing, murder, adultery etc). It goes to show that these animalistic behaviors can be subdued by the power of human cognition, and according to the commandments we are sinning when we choose not to subdue them.
    The comment about Christianity standing alone is precisely why I started this blog. Why is it any better than any other religion? One could go on justifying it indefinitely, but the truth stands that saying "mine is better than yours" only promotes vindication, resentment and a stage for slander. This fact is apparent on the most basic of all playing fields, including a childhood playground where fights are frequently ignited when two children argue over whose (insert any adjective) are better. My whole argument is that Christians would get a lot more people to listen to the good things about the religion if we were just more open to others, because other religions sprang from people of this earth who were searching for meaning and vitality, just like Christianity did.
    I pose this question:
    If it were a fact, some how able to be proven, that if Christians (or any other religion) were to denounce their God as the "only" God, that a cycle would be started in which all the religious institutions of the world would find common ground, thus promoting true world peace, would we do it?
    Imagine what this could do for our relations with the middle east and terrorism. That is a prime example, for if it were not for religious discrepancies, I believe these problems would be reduced if not eliminated entirely. What if the only thing holding back world peace is the inclination of each religious sect to obstinately cling to ancient dogma? I think that the possibility of this being true is great!
    Although I greatly appreciate your comments, and would love more of them from others, I have to disagree with some of the dogmatic statements. By saying I believe Jesus was a great man, I'm not claiming he was inconsequential. I'm saying his life was paramount to the development of our species, but so were the other great prophets and religious figures such as Buddha, Mohamed, Confucious, etc. Is it not a possibility that man built the religion around Jesus? What if it were not his intentions to claim he were god himself, but that we placed that title upon him for lack of any better explanation of the wonders he was able to work?
    I do not know anything, and can only speculate, but I think this attitude promotes world unity more than the "Mine is Better Than Yours" attitude. Let's all engage in an objective pursuit of spirituality.

  3. DL,

    I agree that the various religions do not know enough about one another. How can we adequately fight against something that is unknown? That is why I try to educate myself regarding multiple religions.

    Your definition of sin is not adequate, even if we look at the ten commandments alone. The first three commandments are, in fact, *obeyed* by all the animals. As far as I know, humans are the only ones who break those. There are also a number of animals which do not kill, do not steal, and do not commit adultery. (And even for the animals which do such things, it is not sin, because God has not commanded those animals to behave otherwise.)

    Sin, simply defined, is "rebellion against God". And that is something which is uniquely done by humans and fallen angels.

    Also, sin cannot be simply "subdued by the power of human cognition". On the contrary, sin is only defeated by Christ. My "human cognition" alone is not strong enough to do the trick.

    Regarding Christianity, you asked me, "Why is it any better than any other religion?"

    The answer is that Christianity is true, while all other religions are false. Simply put, that is the reason.

    You suggested that "Christians would get a lot more people to listen to the good things about the religion if we were just more open to others . . ."

    But here is the problem with your suggestion: If I ignore Christ, then I am no longer a Christian. And if I am no longer a Christian, then why should I care about getting other people to see the good things about Christianity? Jesus plainly said that He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus himself (John 14:6).

    If Jesus was telling the Truth, and I am going to be a Christian, then I need to be just as exclusive as Jesus was. Simply put, Jesus is the only way to get to God.

    But if Jesus was telling a lie, then Christianity itself is a sham, so why bother?

    You asked me this: "What if the only thing holding back world peace is the inclination of each religious sect to obstinately cling to ancient dogma? I think that the possibility of this being true is great!"

    DL, there are different forms of "peace". Some of them are desirable, while others are not. Suppose Nazi Germany had won WWII, and eventually took over every country in the world, forming a one-world government. Suppose they were able to kill every Jew, every Christian, and every other "undesirable". Then the whole world would be at "peace" under a single, unified government, and most likely under a single, unified religion of some sort.

    Is that the sort of "peace" you want? Of course not. Neither do I.

    DL, the sort of "world peace" you are seeking does not look interesting to me at all. That sort of "world peace" would require the destruction of the Christian religion, every bit as much as a Nazi "world peace" would do.

    If you reject the words of Christ, then you reject Christ himself. And if you reject Christ himself, you reject Christianity. The egalitarian view that "every religion is OK" utterly contradicts the words spoken by Christ. Therefore your "one world religion" would require the dismantling of Christianity.

    I would rather suffer death first.

  4. DL, do you believe in absolute truth? It seems as if you are promoting the removal of any absolute standard as being worthwhile in the name of pragmatism. This is quite dangerous. I want to see wars end as much as you, but I am not willing to achieve it at any cost.

    Imagine there are 3 religions in the world. One stops at red lights, one at yellow, and one at green. Even if all 3 came to understand and respect what the other believed, there would still be wrecks at every intersection until they agreed upon one truth.

    Of course, this is an imperfect analogy. The fact is that if everyone in the world agreed that green means stop, that would be okay. But if everyone suddenly agreed that it is necessary to hold their finger in a light socket for 5 minutes every morning, the human race would go extinct the next day. Sincere, unified belief can not create truth.

    A world without absolute truth is scientifically impossible. For instance, if hydrogen atoms do not always have the exact same composition, the world falls apart. If gravity's force at a given point is randomly decided by chance at any given second, the world falls apart. If the atmospheric pressure of our planet is not an absolute, the world falls apart.

    It may seem ridiculous to imagine a universe not governed by such absolutes we take for granted. But is it not just as ridiculous to imagine that this great creation governed by infinite absolute laws was not formed by a God whose identity and characteristics are equally absolute?

    There is no room for relativism in the world which we find ourselves. I can accept a good level of tolerance, understanding, patience, etc. of varying beliefs because I believe our knowledge is limited. However, that is not at all the same as saying no real truth exists. I'm not sure I understand how one could make such a claim in face of the scientific evidence of how this well-ordered universe operates.

  5. Joel,
    A very intelligent response. I'm not saying there should be no absolute truths at all! I totally agree with you that there must be absolute truths. That is part of the evolution of our science, or our species and I argue it should be a part of our religion. I'm not sure where I came off that there should be no absolute truths, but please tell me.
    Maybe some of my points are not fully developed, I know this. That is why I appreciate comments from others who think about this stuff. I don't believe any religion should be "dismantled", but I do believe that there is room for a new school of thought that puts in place the teachings of all the world's schools of thought- the best of the best. I am not advocating everyone should believe the same! If I appeared to before, I retract those statements. I simply believe we should be teaching our youth more at a younger age about spirituality, and separation of church and state forbids that. If there were someway to make a "generic" spiritual world view available to our youth, wouldn't we all benefit from it? I know some would argue that is the parents job, but I'm talking mainstreaming it into public school, into our nation's CULTURE. Let's face it, a lot of parents just don't take time to teach virtue, and some of the ones that do use methods of near brainwashing so that the child conforms to strict doctrinal preachings. Doesn't anyone else see a problem here? I'd like to make our culture more diverse, one that could fit in line with a world spirituality.
    I respect your faith. Never would I want you or anyone else to retract it. I just can't understand a world, or a God, that would exist to send a majority of the population into eternal damnation for not believing in ONE GOD. That is the essence of my "Problem" with Christianity, or any religion that claims they are the ONLY way to salvation. Because either by demographic, geographic or a myriad of other factors why a person is inclined to adopt the values of another school of thought, I can't believe God would sentence them to an eternal life in hell.

  6. DL,

    Thank you for your response. I think you add some good and valuable points to this discussion. I look forward to interacting with you on those points.

    First, without judging either side as being "right" or "wrong", I think it is important to recognize that each side has very different criteria for determining what is "good" and "best". Even though in theory I can applaud your desire to find the "best of the best" of each religion, you need to understand that your assessment of what is "best" is very different from my assessment of what is "best". That is the reason why the two opposing sides can never come to any real agreement.

    Your assessment of what is "best" is focused entirely on the here-and-now, and on this visible planet Earth. If something contributes to greater immediate peace and prosperity in the present world, then you consider it to be "good". You do not consider the invisible realm, nor do you consider eternity.

    My assessment of what is "best" is focused on what God says is best. I am primarily interested in the invisible realm, and in eternity. I am interested in this present visible world, too, but that is not my only concern.

    With that in mind, it is easy to understand why you and I judge things so differently. Where you see ecumenism as being "good" because it contributes to present earthly peace and prosperity, I see ecumenism as being "bad" because it contributes to the destruction of Christianity, the rejection of Christ's teachings, and the eternal destruction of human beings. It is a bad thing to pursue such things, even if it were to bring temporary world peace.

    In short: Your core values are different from the core values of devout Christians. Your "good" is "bad" to them" Their "good" is "bad" to you. And there is simply no way to reconcile the two. Hopefully you agree on this point.

  7. Second, I want to thank you for explaining your core disagreement with Christianity. You said that you "just can't understand a world, or a God, that would exist to send a majority of the population into eternal damnation for not believing in ONE GOD."

    Believe it or not, DL, I actually agree with you! Indeed, if the Nazarene Church was the only version of Christianity I knew about, I don't know if I would even want to be a Christian. Thankfully, the Nazarene Church is only a very tiny fraction of Christianity worldwide. The Nazarene Church is in the extreme minority.

    I am not a Protestant.
    I am not a Roman Catholic.

    Rather, I am an Orthodox Christian, which is the most ancient form of Christianity in existence.

    1) I do not believe that the majority of people in the world will be condemned. On the contrary, I have long believed that most people will end up in heaven.

    2) I do not believe that God "sends people to hell" in the sense that you learned from the Nazarene Church. I do not think God up in Heaven with a big hammer, just waiting to pound anyone who steps out of line. I do not believe that hell is a place where God pours out his wrath, taking revenge upon ungodly people by torturing them.

    Rather, I believe hell is an experience which people choose to make for themselves. It is not God locking them out of heaven. Rather, it is they themselves who refuse every invitation to enter heaven.

    This probably sounds diametrically opposed to everything you have ever heard about Christianity. If you have the patience for a long article, you may enjoy reading this one:

    DL, said that your rejection of Christianity is closely tied to your rejection of the idea of a God who eternally tortures people. I think there are probably millions of people who agree with you.

    Thankfully, there are many Christians (including myself) who have no such view of God. I am opposed to that view of God, just as much as you are.

    Thank you for being willing to dialog about these important issues, DL. I appreciate you, and I am glad that I get to be your uncle.

  8. Thank you for the consolation.

    First of all, please explain your view on how people who do not believe that Christ is the only son of God can get into heaven. This contradicts my current view of Christian belief, not just Nazarene. I have heard many Christians say that "God gives every person a chance to find Christ", implying that it is their fault if they do not find him, not God's. Therefore, they deservedly go to hell. If this is not your view, then fancy this:
    If it is a matter of reconciliation of differences at the Holy Gates, and a person who in life was not a Christian can now can be shown the "truth" and accept it, then it goes to say that anyone can enter Heaven regardless of what we believe on Earth. I just can't seem to find another way the "Christ or Hell" mentality can be reconciled. If there is another way, tell me. But if not, and it does not matter what we believe here on Earth because we can make it right with God upon death, then all of the sudden world peace becomes VERY relevant. For if most or all of us have a chance to make it right with God upon dying, then we should also try to make THIS life as meaningful, peaceful and fulfilling as possible for ourselves and posterity. Just a thought.

  9. DL,

    Think about the parable of the prodigal son. He finally returns home, repents, and his father welcomes him with open arms. His father kills the fatted calf and has a feast to celebrate his son's return.

    But the older son refuses to forgive, and therefore refuses to participate in the feast. While the his father and brother are inside celebrating, he sits outside, fuming and griping. The father even pleads with the older brother, asking him to come to the feast, but the older brother refuses.

    If this feast represents heaven, then the older brother's self-inflicted exile represents hell. The older brother is miserable, but not because the father "condemned" him. Rather, the older brother is in hell because he would rather suffer misery than forgive his brother.

    To come at it from another perspective, I think it would be fair to say that true Christianity is a hospital, rather than a courtroom. God is not a cold, hard judge, just waiting around with a big hammer so that he can bash-in the head of anyone who sins. If that was the case, then we would be without hope! Rather, God is the doctor, and we are the sick patients. Everything he does, he does with the goal of healing us.

    Imagine that we all got sick with the AIDS virus. Miraculously, one particular hospital develops a cure. Just take their medications as prescribed, and you are guaranteed to be AIDS-free. But other hospitals refuse to use the new drug. They are determined to keep making money selling the stuff that prolongs your life, but never actually cures you from AIDS.

    Some people attend the first hospital, and end up healthy and cured. Other people attend the substandard hospitals, or else they refuse treatment altogether. These people all end up dead.

    If this were the case, would we blame the inventor of the new drug? Would we say that the first hospital is "cruel" because they only cured the people who came to see them? Are they "cruel" because they didn't also cure the people who went to other hospitals and took substandard medications? Of course not.

    This is the huge difference between viewing the Church as a hospital, versus viewing it as a courtroom. Westerners (i.e. Catholics and Protestants) have this idea that God has some sort of a merit system . . . saving those who make the cut, and damning those who don't . . . torturing people forever to "get them back" for what they did wrong. But as an Orthodox Christian, I reject that relatively modern viewpoint.

    I recognize that God offers healing to all who will take the medication. Christ is able to heal people who come to Him. Buddha cannot heal. Mohammed cannot heal.

    God is not being mean to anyone. He wants everyone to go to heaven. But you have your free will. You can either take the medicine, or you can spit it out. You can't be healed against your will.

    Keeping all of the above in mind, this is why your focus on temporal world peace is misguided (even though it is commendable). If Christianity were a courtroom, then you are correct that God might give someone "one last chance" after they die, and then "let them into heaven" because they finally accept Jesus. But Christianity is not a courtroom . . . it is a hospital. And a person who makes a habit of embracing sickness and disease for their entire life on earth, is very unlikely to embrace healthful medication at the point of death. A present condition of world peace -- without Christ -- would numb people to their spiritual needs, and would result in far more people getting sick and dying a spiritual death.

    And God loves all of us way too much to let that happen. If a little temporary pain wakes us up to our spiritual need, and causes some of us to start taking the medicine that will REALLY heal us, then it is worth it.

  10. To believe anything that you haven't seen is, for the most part, problematic. No matter what religion you are talking about, every idea is based on what some one else has told you. You are taking on faith something that was told to you by a person claiming to know a deity, through a holy scripture, told by men who knew of the deity.
    no matter what the subject matter is, a line of communication cluttered with that much noise, is hardly worth arguing over.
    Have you ever played the game telephone? lets say there are 20 people sitting in a circle. I am the first person and I whisper " I am like a god" to the person next to me. That person turns and whispers the message in the next person, so on and so forth until the message is back at the sender. A good percentage of the time, the message will be slightly altered. It might sound something like, " I like God" or "I am like a hog" it could also sound like "I am god". Multiply that by all the hear say surrounding any religious doctrine.
    Multiply that by all the billions of people that have ever lived on this earth and practiced in a religion.
    Multiply that by all the wars, arguments, and cat fights ever had between believers of different religions.
    Multiply that by all the factual written documents. ( you cant deny that any written document has to attest to history in some way. It was written by someone who was there experiencing life as they knew it, and being read by you who really has no idea.)
    you know what you have? A bunch of ideals that tell you how to live a good life.
    Thats all any religion boils down to. If we are preaching love and salvation. Why is there any hate, or discrimination? Regardless of sin, or good or bad, love is universal. you may argue with what the definition of love is. but every single human being in this world knows what love is. Every single human being can understand love and experience love.
    here are a few definitions of love:

  11. I understand love as truly having another persons best interest at heart. No matter what I believe, If I am wishing them to be stuck in any negative situation, be it hell flames or a self made prison, then I am not practicing love.

    How could any religion profess to love me; "I pray that you ... may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long
    and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:17-19).

    and expect me not to love in the same way?

    Love is unconditional. regardless of what other definition you wish to use, it is unwaivering.
    Whats not fair is that most religions say that the only way to love is through god.
    This is just entrenching logic.
    When I want you to believe something, I am going to present it to you with the most enticing edge on the tale. I am going to butter you up, and make you feel comfortable. A comfortable person is a genuine person. We all are just seeking genuine human interaction. We love to want, we love to be wanted. We love the company of a genuine person. We all just want to fit, we all just want to be accepted by someone, be loved by someone.
    I have two questions;
    1: what if you had grown up all by yourself on a deserted island. You had never had any contact with any human or animal your entire life and somehow you survived. Somehow you lived to be 40 years old. What would you believe? That you wanted momentary peace now, that you wanted someone to love you now?
    OR that some imaginary man in the sky was going to give you everlasting life, 72 virgins, hot sake, and whatever other treasures religion promises, when you died?

    Shouldnt the real question be " What is the purpose of religion if all it does is segregate human beings"?

    because after all, I know that I have a brother that I love, I have brothers that I love, and Any human being is my brother in arms.Shakespeare said, "any man , who sheds his blood with me today, shall me my brother"
    We are all united in or quest to conquer life. we are fighting the battle of life together. whats the purpose of believing anything that makes it more difficult on me or my brothers?

    we all must keep the shark moving, swimming in a sea of positivity.
    Love - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    Definition of word from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary with audio pronunciations, thesaurus, Word of the Day, and word games.