One of the things I find quite disturbing and arrogant about theologians, apologists, pastors, and many “religious” people, is their belief humanity is somehow, some way, something “special.” That is not to say all individuals are not special in their own unique way. Indeed we are. Still, while the “religious” often criticize scientists for being arrogant, I can think of no greater arrogance than the assumption of many “religious” people we are somehow “better” or “more valuable” than other species or life forms on Earth. That is a level of arrogance even the most elite scientists cannot claim. Within Judeo-Christian tradition, there is also the belief in the superiority of certain individuals, namely the Old Testament prophets and Jesus Christ. The belief Jesus Christ is more “of God” than anyone or anything else is an illusion since All is One. Some may be more aware than others, but nobody and nothing is more or less of God than anyone or anything else, a fact and Truth Christianity completely misses.
Christians believe, as in Genesis 1:27, …”God created man in his own image…,” as if the grass, the trees, a chimpanzee, or a cat is not made in God’s image, and is “less important” than human beings. Even Jesus reflects this belief in Matthew 10:31, “…you are worth more than many sparrows.” This notion of “superiority” of human beings over creation can be further found from Genesis 1:28, “…fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” This notion creation was made for us, and not the fact of us being a part of creation to be shared equally with all creatures, is yet another manifestation of the narcissistic egotism of Judeo-Christian thought. This notion of entitlement and superiority as the “chosen people” or “chosen species,” is anything but Godly and Holy. It is arrogance, and a pathetic embarassment to Truth, since there is not a shred of Truth in this viewpoint. Even scripture speaks to this, contradicting the above passages, from Ecclesiastes 3, 19-21, “Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”
I had a good chuckle while I listened to a pastor once preach about the Genesis creation story and the reason why animals and plants died before the dawn of Adam and Eve. He said it was because they were not human, making them subject to death, while Adam and Eve were originally made to “never die,” as if human beings would have never known physical death had Adam not eaten the apple, as if human beings are something “special” and “different” from other life forms. It is astounding to me a guy with a doctorate can believe with all his heart there is a fundamental difference in the cellular chemistry of human beings and any other living organism. There is not. The same cellular chemistry which drives a mosquito, dog, cat, whale, or any other life form is what drives a human being. It is all the same, as creation is One.
Genesis’ notion of “original sin” to “explain death” in humans as literal fact is a complete fiction. There is truth in the symbolic vision of how humanity “ate the apple” when we evolved into a creature who could measure change, create time, opening the door to the entire human condition. We evolved from purely instinctual animals, to animals living instead for ideas and concepts rather than instinct when we symbolically “ate the apple.” We “ate” from the “Tree of Knowledge” when we evolved into an animal who could measure change, create time, and in doing so, inherited the inevitable responsibilities which come with the intelligence of measurement. The intelligence of measurement is the apple, and it is no coincidence the apple has been always known as the “fruit of knowledge,” a fruit students used to give their teachers. As the Genesis creation story symbolically illustrates, our “eyes were opened” when we “ate the apple” in that we could now, through the acquisition of the intelligence of measurement, make value judgements, conceive of notions of “morality,” create calendars and clocks, etc., characteristics which are unique to human beings. But our evolution into a being with these unique characteristics of humanity never had anything whatsoever to do with “original sin” and “displeasing” God. “Original sin” is not why we die. We die because all life forms die. At the essential level, what is true for one life form is true for all life forms. Contrary to Judeo-Christian belief, we are not “special” with regards to what we are at the essential level. All is One.
The only essential difference between human beings and any other organism is a degree of intelligence, nothing more. Human beings possess the intelligence of measurement, the ability to measure change and create time in a way other organisms do not. We are not different from other organisms because we are “made in God’s image” as opposed to other organisms, nor because we have a “soul” or any other make-believe abstractions. To disregard this fact and believe human beings are “special” as distinct from other organisms in their fundamental makeup is the epitome of ignorance, arrogance, and delusion – a delusion which once exposed for the lie it is, allows the totality of Judeo-Christian belief to crumble into the dust from which it came.
Many try to find a way “around” this fact by saying human beings have an “immortal soul” created by God and instilled within each person that is never born and does not die, but lives forever – a part of the individual which is not subject to material, cellular chemistry. There are at least a couple of problems with this idea. The first problem is the fact it relies on the magical notion of a “soul.” As we have discovered earlier, there are no “magical” elements to creation, as it is all natural, and there is no such thing as magic. Secondly, in order for this idea to work, one must either say everything within creation has an individual, “immortal soul,” or nothing does. Why? Because creation is One and undivided. Saying some life forms get a soul while others do not is impossible since it contradicts the fact that at the essential level, what is true for one life form must be true for all life forms within creation since All is One. When looked at from this perspective, we should ask ourselves, does a bacterium get a soul? Does a fly get a soul? A bee? A flea? What happens to a bee when it dies, or a bacterium, or a tree? Do these life forms go to “Heaven?”
Many believe their pets have “souls” while wasps, mosquitos, and other “unpleasant” creatures do not. Clearly this is a fabrication and a delusion, just like “Heaven” and “Hell.” It is all about our egos pretending things exist forever which please our egos, and having those which do not please our egos either sent to “Hell,” to be separated from what pleases us, or ceasing to exist altogether. The immaturity, childishness, arrogance, and absurdity of such a notion should be immediately apparent to any rational adult. Sadly, it is not. Listen to any Christian radio program, particularly call-in talk shows, and you will hear what I am talking about.
When one begins to contemplate the notion that human beings are somehow “something special” and “different” at the essential level from any other living being, its absurdity becomes immediately apparent. Neither trees, nor bees, nor bacterium go to Heaven nor Hell, and neither do people, because at the essential, cellular level of life, all life forms are the same. This is a material fact any scientist will confirm. At the same time, the indisputable Truth is all is One. Therefore, the essence of one is the essence of all. As we have discovered before, there is no such thing as any “individual essence” since all is One, and of One essence. That essence is what makes up everything in the universe – energy and consciousness. The Oneness of All is ultimately the only Reality. So we can see, by the avenues of both fact and Truth, we discover there is no such thing as an individual, immortal soul. When any life form dies, it dies.
There are many things in life we do not like. It is possible we can name more things in life we dislike than things we like. And when faced with things we dislike that we know we cannot change, such as death, the non-healing of spinal chord injuries or amputated limbs, we create justifications and “magical” notions of how these things will somehow, some way, be “made right” in “another dimension,” or in the “afterlife.” Since there are no answers on Earth, we reason, perhaps there will be “answers” to be found after death. If only it were that simple. As we have discovered before, there are some things for which we have no explanation, and there is no such thing as “magic.”
Quite obviously, these notions are all delusions to keep us from facing harsh reality. So unspeakable, so unthinkable, and so disturbing are so many things to our egos, we simply cannot face them, and so we create ways of pacifying these incredible hurts to our ego. We all experience these hurts to a greater or lesser degree, as they are simply part of the human experience. Still, as we have discovered in our past explorations, the creation of delusions does nothing to change Reality. These things may provide some temporary pain relief, but cannot solve the source of our pain, as religion is indeed, the opiate of the people, but gets us no closer to Truth.
It is never easy for us to face harsh reality. But dealing with facts honestly is preferrable to sugar-coating reality with delusions. To use the excuse we voluntarily become delusional to deal with the pain of reality is like saying it is ok for a person to become a drug addict because it helps them “cope with life.” Society accepts the religious delusion, but does not accept the drug addict delusion. The double-standard is quite perplexing. And while the drug addict may appear to have the potential to do more actual, immediate harm to oneself and to others than those who are religiously deluded, it is clear the more we look into religious delusion, it can be just as destructive as drugs and alcohol, and equally debilitating. As Robert Pirsig stated in his book, “Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals,” “when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion.”
Every life decision we make, from whom we marry, to what vocation we take in life, our attitudes on marriage, mating, sex, raising children, how we vote, how we relate to others and the world around us, is heavily influenced by our beliefs. To have a delusional view of reality, no matter what one believes, is not healthy for an individual nor for society because if we base our decisions on delusions, we are basing them on non-reality, which only creates a contradicted, waring society. It is no wonder life as we know it is an ego-grabbing war zone full of conflict and corruption. Almost the entire world is delusional, and by Robert Pirsig’s definition, collectively insane. In light of this knowledge, is it any wonder why the world is as it is? It should not surprise us in the least. If anything, it is astounding things go as well as they do, in spite of ourselves.
We make decisions to squelch stem cell research, which could help us cure many illnesses, because of erroneous beliefs in the “soul,” which cannot be proven to exist. We teach our children to be bigoted by instructing them the “only way to salvation” is to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, while all others are doomed to Hell. By teaching the “righteousness” of our silly religious beliefs, we only create further division, strife, and unspeakable, unnecessary wars and suffering. What is all this for? To satisfy our egos, nothing more. To pacify our fear of death by pretending there is “something better” than this life, giving us an excuse for our laziness and tolerance for misery on Earth, and to justify our lack of urgency to improve life in the here and now. It is amazing how we completely ignore the part of the Lord’s prayer which says, “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Most people don’t even pretend to seem interested, opting instead to enjoy “Heaven” after they die, since life on Earth is so hopelessly lost in delusion and misery.
The reason we choose to be delusional is because of fear. Ultimately, this is a fear of the fact of our extinction – the impermanence of the self, of the ego. Our inabilty to face this fact, to face the Reality of the Oneness of All, opting instead to see it as a giant ego-grab free-for-all, with fantasies of punishment for our enemies in “Hell”…(is that consistent with Jesus’ instruction to love our enemies?), and a “Heavenly” eternal ego reward for the “righteous” at the end of our physical lives on Earth, is the beginning and the end of our entire problem as a race. And yet the totality of Judeo-Christian belief does absolutely nothing to combat this war-mongering, delusional view of reality. Instead, it encourages it, and worships the very delusional notion which is responsible for all of this misery, on the notion of the reality of the self. Judeo-Christianity’s stance is to dig its heels into the mud, and attempt to “prove” and defend the lie of the self, the ego, instead of facing the Truth that the self, the ego is NOT real, is temporary, and an illusion. Once it is known the ego has no essential, lasting Reality, then the totality of Judeo-Christian theology ceases to exist, since every single essential concept within this theology, from God, the exclusive divinity of Jesus, “eternal souls,” “angels,” “Satan,” etc. are all nothing more than selves, egos. Selves are like elves – they have no permanent Reality whatsoever, and neither does any religion which relies on their reality for its very existence. This includes Christianity and Islam, whose theologies are both invalidated in this awareness.
In short, Judeo-Christian theology is essentially a huge lie from start to finish, which is why its theology so grossly fails to reflect Truth overall. It also reflects, at least in part, why the most Christian nation in the developed world in the 21st Century – the United States, is also the least healthy mentally and physically than other developed, less religious nations. Our education system is backwards and behind the times. Indeed, it has been shown to be true that the least educated one is, the more more fundamentally religious one is. The notorious track record by the Christian religion of lies, wars, the Crusades, the Inquisition, intolerance, bigotry, anti-semitism, anti-homosexuality, molestation of children and cover-ups, all in the name of “god,” are all the fruits any rational person needs to see to understand just how ungodly the Christian religion is. While not a “perfect” religion, Buddhism, which has been in existence longer than Christianity, has perhaps the best record for non-violence, unlike Christianity and Islam, who are infamous for their holy wars like the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Jihad. That fact alone speaks volumes. It is also a striking fact that Buddhism has a paradigm which denies the existence of a “creator ego-God” and the notion of the self. It is no coincidence non-violence would go hand-in-hand with Reality, while violence and war-mongering go hand-in-hand with the non-reality of religions such as Christianity and Islam, who both believe in the concept of an “ego-god,” and the reality of the self. It is reasonable to draw from this observation that the less selfish and egotistical a religion is, the less violent it is. The grim historical record of violence and destruction from both Christianity and Islam speaks for itself. And by their fruits, we shall know…
As we discovered earlier, since the self, the ego, has no permanent Reality, then Judeo-Christian belief, which depends on the permanent reality of the self for it to work, also has no reality. There are many words of Truth within Judeo-Christian scripture, but the theology of its religion is in itself almost entirely incorrect, and shares almost no resemblance to Reality, to Truth. In realizing this, I am astounded in remembering the words of M. Scott Peck in his book, “Further Along the Road Less Travelled,” in which he stated the reason he became a Christian is because he felt it approached reality more closely than any other religion. While there are some good things in this book, on this particular point, I could not disagree with him more. What’s worse is he converted from Zen Buddhism to Christianity. I am not sure which “reality” Peck is referring to, but to move from Zen Buddhism to Christianity tells me he was moving further away, not “further along,” nor towards the road of Truth.
The Truth of whether or not we are “something special” is a paradox, as is so often the case. We are special, and we are not special. We are special in that we are unique, one-of-a-kind temporary manifestations of the One, while at the same time we are not “special” in that we are no “better” nor “more” or “less” “important” than any other being or aspect within creation. All games of the ego and its justification come to an end with the dawn of the awareness of the Timeless… in the knowledge of the Oneness of All…