V. Moral Problems of Christianity
It has become a trend for those of a “religious,” “spiritual,” or “New-Age” bent to use the oft-quoted phrase, “there are no coincidences.” They say this with the implication that all things happen “for a reason,” meaning nothing happens “just because,” but rather it is a part of a bigger, grander, larger “plan,” unintelligible to the human mind. Those who buy in to this way of thinking believe there are ever only two options – either the things in the world which happen are chaotic, random, and unpredictable, or they are the result of a divine “plan” of God, who is responsible for everything which happens in our lives, good or bad. This way of thinking follows in the spirit of the theistic and atheistic mindset, neither of which considers the middle path of truth, as Buddha is said to have discovered. There is in fact, a third option many do not consider – that things are neither chaotic nor random, nor a part of a “divine plan,” but are instead the inevitable product of determinism – the perfectly ordered consequence of that which came before in an endless cycle of cause and effect, as was explored at length in the past chapter, “Free Will.”
When we examine this entire notion of being part of a “plan,” and all things happening for some “divine reason,” is it not clear this idea is simply nothing more than a means to rationalize our ego’s need to believe in its illusory self-importance? In a sense, everyone is “special” in that we are all unique manifestations of the same One, but to think we are special because a God in his Heaven designed us “for a purpose,” is an entirely different matter altogether – a grandiose overvaluation of our egotistical selves. The other problem with this notion of a “plan,” is we then have to deal with the uncomfortable contradiction why a “loving” God’s “plan” includes so much tortuous suffering and misery, with millions of innocent children dying every day from starvation, neglect, abuse, abortion, genetic defects, disease, natural disasters, etc. What was “God’s plan” for them and for their caretakers? How can we rationalize a “good God” with this cruel suffering, especially of innocent children, women and girls who are raped, and boys who are molested? What about “God’s plan” for Hitler, or child molesters, murderers, rapists, crooked politicians, and all the rest? The problem with believing we are part of a “plan,” is we can always say we are in “God’s graces,” or we made the “right choices” if things are going “well” for us, and for those whose lives are not going so well, we can always say they must not be in “God’s graces,” or they made the “wrong choices.” Both notions are completely self-centered, egotistical, and childish, revealing the disturbingly narcissistic notion of some “divine plan.” In short, the notion of “God’s plan” is all about me.
While much of what happens in our lives is the result of our choices and the choices of others, there are millions of people whose lives are ravaged with natural disaster and other tragedies which have nothing to do with any “choices” they made, nor any other fault we may wish to assign them in our lame attempts to rationalize a “loving” god’s “plan.” If what we experience in life is part of a “divine plan,” it actually more resembles a “divine tragic comedy” if we are honest about both the good and bad that happens in everyone’s lives. God cannot be responsible for the good, and not the bad at the same time, so to say “God’s will” is always “good” and does not include the “bad” is an illusion since according to the Judeo-Christian conception of God, all things ultimately come from God – which by definition must include natural disasters which kill millions through no fault of their own. According to Judeo-Christian belief, God also created imperfect, sinful human beings who create so much suffering and misery. At the same time, the entire notion of a “perfect” being creating what is capable of imperfection is a logical contradiction and an impossibility, as stated previously in this book.
Even if we take the Christian myth of creation at face value, as we have also explored previously in this book, an “omnipotent God” did not have to make us capable of sin, and therefore misery. He could have made us perfect to begin with, without the ability to sin, sparing him the necessity of becoming a mass murderer by wiping out almost the whole of existence in a flood, then later having his son brutally tortured and crucified to satisfy his need for “payment” for the transgression of Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit. Had God simply responded to Adam and Eve with love, compassion, and forgiveness, instead of judgement and condemnation, perhaps the course of humanity would have been different. But God, in his omnipotence, chose not to do this, nor did he choose to make us perfect, incapable of sin. If we are to believe Christian doctrine, the reason he failed to do this was to make it possible for us to “prove” our love and obedience to him, meaning God cares more deeply about being egotistically validated and “loved,” than sparing his creation he supposedly “loves” from all the horrific nightmares and most miserable sufferings imaginable. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The fact is, if we accept the premise there is a loving God who “has a plan” and designed us “for a purpose,” the price for this belief is enslavement to an endless list of justifications, excuses, and rationalizations when God inevitably fails to live up to his promises in scripture, appears to not have a “plan,” allows horrendous suffering, or appears to “act” in a way which completely contradicts everything we know to be true about that which is loving and life-affirming.
The truth is, what happens in this world is neither chaotic nor random, nor the result of some divine “plan” we cannot decipher. Both views are not truthful. Everything which happens does indeed happen for a “reason,” but that reason is essentially the laws of physics – the phenomenon of cause and effect and the choices we inevitably make through the natural course of determinism, not some “divine plan.” The two are not even close to the same thing. As we learned previously, consciousness is an aspect of Oneness, manifested in everything within existence. This accounts for the illusion of the notion an “external intelligent being” is responsible for setting the wheels of existence in motion. Consciousness, which is the principle of stasis, ultimately manifests itself in form, structure, intelligence, etc. The principle of change is the other principle of Oneness. Both are without beginning and without end, whose interplay result in countless manifestations which are ever-changing and endlessly evolving. In other words, everything is consciousness, with varying degrees of awareness and intelligence. As stated previously, the fundamental principle of stasis, or consciousness is synonymous with order and form, and is the reason they are forever a part of all aspects of existence, and why the notions of “chaos” and “randomness” are illusions – not because an “intelligent supernatural being” is behind it all. The reason there cannot be such a being is because the very idea of a self-essential, “permanent,” and “unchanging” being is itself a contradiction, as we have discovered several times before in this book. Form, order, and intelligence are all manifestations of consciousness – the principle of stasis, which along with change are the two inseparable principles of Oneness, as we have also discovered several times before in this book.
It is true there are no “accidents,” but what that means is simply the fact no natural thing occurs as the result of an “unnatural” or “supernatural” reason. The only way there could be such a distinction between the “natural” and the “supernatural,” is there would have to be two essential “realities,” and not One reality. The Oneness of All is the only Reality. If there were two fundamental, “separate,” and opposite “realities,” then one “reality” would cancel out the other, resulting in only nothingness, which is obviously false, as stated several times previously in this book. All is therefore One, which is why everything we experience and observe is all natural. There are indeed some things which happen we cannot explain, but as we have discovered before, they are always the result of natural phenomena, even if we have no known explanation for it. Just because we do not understand a phenomenon or something we may label good or bad which happens in our lives, does not mean we can assume it must be the result of a “divine” or “supernatural” force. As Carl Sagan so eloquently put it, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. However, there is no hard evidence whatsoever for the “supernatural.” Hard evidence is always testable and able to be demonstrated to third parties under controlled parameters, to rule out the possibility of coincidence, or the phenomena of a subjective “internal experience,” like a dream or a vision, when we attempt to draw conclusions about the relationship between causes and effects. No such hard evidence exists for the “supernatural.” This does not mean a dream or a vision is not a “real” experience. Everyone knows dreams especially are real, and can at times be “prophetic,” in that our subconscious can warn us of possible impending danger, or help give us guidance in a difficult decision we have to make. Dreams are a way our subconscious mind tells us things our conscious mind may either not be aware of, or in denial of. Still, to draw conclusions about the “source” of these internal experiences, such as dreams, visions, and near-death experiences, concluding they must necessarily be due to a “supernatural” reason without sufficient evidence is a mistake.
What is actually happening in those instances when we speak of the “supernatural,” is we perceive a cause and effect relationship we do not fully understand, and so we draw conclusions about what happened so we feel “better” in our insecurity of not knowing. Inevitably, what we name these “forces” and phenomena is always a projection of our cultural upbringing and conditioning, whether we say it is Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Krishna, a ghost, Vishnu, or whatever other name we assign it. Christians will inevitably “see” Christ, and Hindus will inevitably “see” Vishnu. Those who have lost someone dear to them will inevitably “see” the apparition of their loved one. Visions are essentially “waking dreams,” but while many believe their “visions” are of a “transcendent reality,” everyone knows a dream is not reality. Dreams and visions are essentially the same thing, except one occurs in the waking state and the other while we are asleep. Dreams, like visions, are real, but not reality. And while dreams and visions may provide us insights we could find useful, to interpret either a dream or a vision as reality is obviously a delusion, since both are a product of our internal, subjective mind, not an external reality third parties can empirically verify, like an object. The interpretation of our subjective, internal experiences are merely projections of our conditioning and desires, our hopes and fears, which is not reality – not seeing things for what they actually are. Truth is what is, not necessarily what we want things to be. In such instances in which we lack understanding, it is much more honest to simply admit our ignorance, to say we do not know what we do not know, and search for the truth of a given question instead of making assumptions which only serve to justify our egos and make us feel better when we have no answers.
As we have discovered in previous chapters in this book, the desire to find “reason” and “purpose” for things is a desire of the ego, which rationalizes everything to justify its illusory existence. All of these rationalizations serve to do nothing more than reinforce the false “reality” of our egos because of the latent fear within us of what the implications will be if we discover the truth our egos are temporary, impermanent and illusory, just as a dream is real, but not reality. What is it we are so afraid of? What would happen to us if we discovered this truth? What are the implications? Could it not be it would signal the “end of the world” as we know it, in which humankind would finally be led in the ways of love and truth, without the games of the scheming, petty, dualistic ego? This is the True Vision of a new way to live… the Kingdom of God on Earth, as Jesus is said to have spoken of. To do this, we would all have to die to the illusory identification with our egos, but throughout history, we have seen it is only the very rare few who actually see this Reality, with the vast majority playing games of deceit and egotistic, self-aggrandizing narcissism. This is the essence of the problem with all ego-based religions and notions of reality, such as Christianity, Islam, and atheism. Christian and Islamic theology, as well as atheism, assumes the illusion of self and other to be true, which it never is. All is One. None of these worldviews recognize the truth of the Oneness of All, yet all insist on the “righteousness” of their beliefs, which are based on the false premise of the self-essential, separate individual ego, and the need to impose those beliefs on to everyone else, leading to war. This tired, old, absurd way of relating to others has always failed to bring peace and always will. Humanity can do better than we do, but not as long as we continue to buy in to the ultimate lie of the ego being a self-essential reality. That would mean all egocentric worldviews and religions, such as Christianity and Islam, would have to be abandoned as a natural result of genuine awareness of the Oneness of All for there to be true peace on Earth. It is extremely unlikely this will ever happen, but that is what it would take for true peace to be realized. Everyone would have to see the Truth All is One. We would have to know it – not as a surface “understanding” of Oneness, but have awareness of this Living Truth.
This only happens when we seek truth at all costs, with no regard for the cost to our egos and its cherished beliefs. Very few have the courage to take this journey. Very few are willing to sacrifice the security of our self-concept and its need to control, for the boundless peace when this egotistical attachment is finally severed. For that is the price of True “eternal life.” The cost is ending our attachment to our egos and the notion of being a self-essential being that is separate from everyone and everything else. As long as we hold on to this illusion, peace and true love will never be a possibility. It is only when we let go of our egos, its need to control, and the lies it tells us when we are truly free.