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Theist, Atheist or Agnostic?

I’m often asked if I’m an atheist, or most Christians assume I’m atheist. After engaging in discussion, some will assume I’m agnostic. Often atheists assume I’m still a theist or haven’t got the guts to ditch the whole god thing.

Whichever way it goes, people want to label me as being in one camp or the other, or simply agnostic.

However, I simply can’t define my beliefs that simply. In fact I think it’s asking the wrong question entirely!

The whole premise is usually based on the assumption that we are talking about some permutation of the Abrahamic God, which is fair enough given it’s roots in our culture. This is true for theists and atheists. Because of this, most struggle to understand someone who has moved beyond those concepts entirely. As a result I get labelled as a “new age” thinker, or some other sort of spiritually nebulous wanker. Some think I’m more Buddhist/Zen these days… you get the idea.

However, I could only define myself as one who sees the “big picture”. Someone who strives to understand the interactions of ideas, philosophy, spirituality, religion, science and the empirical methodology it embraces, and many other factors. I get equally annoyed by Richard Dawkins as I do by Franklin Graham – because they both have such a shallow and ignorant view of religion. I’m frustrated by the politicising of spiritual disciplines such as Buddhism in far eastern countries. I revolted by the cults of christianity in Africa and Latin countries, and the Evangelical religious cult in the USA. I’m sure you get my drift.

My motivation in all this is a desire to understand why we need religion, and is there a better way of “doing it”.

If there was any label that was vaguely appropriate, it might be “seeker”, but even that implies I’m looking for some sort of god. The whole idea of theism or atheism is moot for me, unless you are talking about the theological constructs of traditional religions.

I hope that answers any questions about my beliefs – or not, lol. Just remember that you will often not get the response you are after from me. In that sense, I’m probably rather Zenish, but even that is just a particular viewpoint rather than a “truth”.

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Spiritual evolution?

I’ve been trying to write my next book “…But Not as We Know It” for a long time. But I’m forever struggling. Not through lack of inspiration, but because of the immensity of the subject.
 
Spirituality and religion define humanity. It’s arguably the thing that separates us from all other animals. We just can’t help ourselves.
 
We have this innate awe at the splendour and power of the universe. We create religions and philosophies to understand and process it all. Science is a direct result of this deep drive as well. Understanding, meaning, purpose – piecing together this insanely huge puzzle.
 
I’ve read so much philosophy and religious text, and the growth of our understanding through countless millennia is muddied by fear and insecurity. The threat of “existential crisis” is palpable through all disciplines. Religion handles this with magical thinking and dogma. Science handles it by ever pushing forward with knowledge. Philosophy handles it with mental gymnastics.
 
There are so many threads through every discipline, glimmers of hope that get tangled up and strangled in our deeper fears. We keep worshipping the wisdom of ancient peoples instead of acknowledging our own internal evolution and ability to build on that wisdom, or even start from scratch, or a willingness to see that no one methodology is “truth”, or the deep subjectivity of just about everything we believe.
 
There is so much, and yet in all that there is a way that transcends our cyclic futility, despite the most profound ideas constantly ending up as dogma, tradition, ritual – stagnating as their adherents refuse to use beliefs as stepping stones to maturity.
 
Religions are utterly incomplete and incompetent in their attempts to satisfy our spirituality. The moment they are formalised the vast majority see it as their final destination rather than part of our evolution as human beings. We use it as an attempt to calm our fears instead of fuel to grow.
 
Philosophies are embraced and then treated as religious dogma. Gurus, preachers, religious leaders, all dole out their glimpses of wisdom to hungry adherents who refuse to do even the most basic work of finding their own unique place in the universe. They swallow the bite size chunks and call them their own.
 
We are taught to be spiritually lazy. Our favourite teachers perpetuate the hand feeding of their sheep. And yet I believe we are slowly learning. Change is coming. I can see it. Religions are failing. Science is not answering the things that concern us the most. Philosophy runs around in circles. But through it all there is a merging. Each field is starting to embrace each other. We are beginning to see that what we have accepted so far has not worked, or ever will. We are becoming willing to break new ground and drop all dogma and preconceptions.
 
I’m struggling to express the enormity of what I see as the way forward, because it requires more unlearning than learning. It requires so much breaking down of existing paradigms that it’s almost overwhelming! And I’m constantly challenged by my own fears, in fact, even thinking that I have some sort of insight is dangerous ground in itself!
 
So my next book may be a while yet. Perhaps it won’t be me that writes it!!
 
I just ache for humanity to grow up.
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Deconstructing Jesus

I’ll preface this blog by saying that the Christian belief system is a very mature one, in that it’s doctrines have become a panacea and comfort for countless people. It provides security for our eternal future, a safe haven from our darkest struggles, hope for a better life, loving communities and a way to navigate the complexities of life. The writings of Paul in the New Testament are powerful observations of human nature and methodologies for navigating our failings. For most Christians however, it all comes down to “relationship with Jesus”.

In my own life, through all the years of crap, it was my relationship with Jesus that kept me going!

We claim that whatever people say and do and whatever claims about God people make, Jesus is real and loves me more deeply than I could ever imagine. When we experience the “living Christ” we know that we know he’s real and alive in us.

Atheists and critics tend to focus on all the absurdities of the bible and the mythical anthropomorphic god, the hypocrisy of the church and so on – all the really obvious stuff. But for those of us who have experienced the reality of Jesus none of that matters, in fact we may even agree with a lot of it! When we “know” Jesus, nothing is going to shake that belief because we experience him everyday and every way in our lives.

When everything fell apart for me, the only thing I had was Jesus. I could rest in the fact that he was there for me, speaking to me, telling me it was OK and he’d look after me. But as I began to dismantle the theology and doctrines, the historicity and veracity of the bible, church history, other religions and philosophies and especially psychology, I had to take a second look at this “relationship”.

As all the external beliefs slowly crumbled I was left wondering what this relationship actually was. What exactly was my heart “hearing” when we talked? Where did these words of love and comfort come from? It wasn’t until I had the honesty and fortitude to let go of my security in that voice that I could see it for what it is. It was me all along!

Yes, it was my deep longing for love being voiced by my subconscious desires. It was my own heart telling me I’m loved and good and to hang in there. I had taken my “innermost thoughts” and ascribed them to a deity. I had separated my heart into “me vs god”. The core doctrines of Christianity told me that my heart was deceptive and there was nothing good in us, and that the only way we could grow was to nurture our relationship with Jesus, so this inner voice, that the bible said was the Holy Spirit (which is the same as Jesus, which is the same as God, or not), was the only thing to be trusted. However, we could only trust it if it aligned with scripture!

But that opened the door for Jesus to be able to say anything to me as long as it could be backed by scripture. This was beginning to become rather a mess, because there are millions who claim to hear Jesus say all sorts of stupid stuff, backed up by scripture. So the only thing that I could say for sure was Jesus voice were the words of love and acceptance, because without that, I had nothing. I was already nothing more than a piece of shit saved by grace, God didn’t have to remind me of that all the time, so his love was the only thing that made sense to me.

But as I said, when I finally had nothing left to lose, I discovered that my own heart – desperate for love and acceptance – was really this “Jesus in me”. I decided to accept that as the reality, instead of all the complicated twisted theology of the trinity and human nature, and how God lives in us.

My heart, in it’s deepest place, is pure and loving. I’m not intrinsically broken and sinful. None of us are! We certainly lose sight of that however, as we blunder on through life, and completely lose sight of that deep perfect love, but it’s there none the less.

So I no longer talk to Jesus, or listen for his words of love and comfort. I don’t wait expectantly in prayer for that still small voice to whisper to me, or his passionate embrace of my soul. I open the depth of my heart to hear what’s always been in me – that part of me that is beyond ego, that existed before our paradigms were formed by life’s interactions and expectations. My heart knows me better than any deity, better than my scrambled thoughts, better than my deluded ego. It’s my own deepest voice that speaks love, and that is a power and strength that no deity can ever match!

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Proof of God!!

You can’t prove god exists, and I can’t prove he doesn’t!

Sure, there are all sorts of philosophical angles you can take on the issue, but in the end, no one can prove anything.

What you CAN do is present theories based on subjective observations. They can be beautiful and quite functional theories that meet some of our emotional needs, but they are theories none the less.

You can present ancient writings from other cultures that express everything from of wisdom writings through to the nature of various divinities, but you can’t “prove” that this god is actually real.

You then have to ask yourself what “proof” is. What I find extraordinary is so many christians saying that if you can’t see the “proof” in everything around you then you are [insert derogatory name here]. But of course, if it’s not obvious through examining all the evidence, then it isn’t proof at all. Proof, by the very nature of the word, means there is no ambiguity or doubt. The worst “proof” offered however is the bible. Irrespective of however one may interpret the writings in the bible, they are still subject to the same demands of proof. As I say, if the bible was indeed proof, there would be no ambiguity and everyone who read it would be convinced. The bible is like any other sacred writings – full of interesting cultural stories – myths and legends, various types of wisdom, justifications for cultural traditions etc… everything except “proof” of god.

I just recently saw a video from a highly qualified physicist who claimed that the theories about the big bang being caused by quantum fluctuations, that are pretty much universally accepted in the field, are proof of god! Sorry Mr Professor, they are simply proof that there is a greater level of physics that we don’t understand yet.

And as for atheists (yes, you don’t get away unscathed either), you can dismantle theology entirely and present absolutely convincing arguments for the non-existence of a deity, but at the end of the day, you still don’t know. At best you can only really call yourself agnostic, simply because you don’t know what you don’t know!

Having said all that (as I often do, lol) feel free to believe whatever you want, but the moment your beliefs turn to dogma and become “truth” you have slipped over into self delusion, and that’s a topic I’ll leave for another blog!

The Ever Elusive “Truth”

I was having a conversation with an on-line friend and the question came up – what is truth? – as it does, lol. My response was basically this.

That’s the million dollar question! http://img.picturequotes.com/2/208/207088/truth-is-of-course-relative-but-then-so-is-relative-quote-1.jpg

I think there are infinite truths that are unique to every situation.
Truth is dependent on our paradigms and observations.
Moral and ethical truths are societal and cultural constructs.
Religious truths are the same.
Scientific truth is ever changing as we dig deeper into the nature of “reality”.
In fact, the only truth that is slowly being revealed through science and spirituality that could be a candidate for the foundational truth is that everything is energy. Although even that is a problem when we ask “what is energy?”.
We also now know that our entire personal reality exists only as a vast complex hallucination within our brains – and that’s mind blowing in itself!

So yeah, truth is something we crave and yet slips through our fingers the moment we try to grasp it.