What To Ask Of A Religion
Copyright (c) 2004 by Heidrun Beer - all rights reserved
Although there is a growing percentage of people who don't feel a need for religion - they do have ethics and they do have spirituality, but they can live without any rituals -, there is a whole bunch of obvious answers to the question "Why religion?"
"My mother talked me into it with her lovely tales of sweet Jesus" - that answer is good for many generations. Believing in sweet Jesus equals being in a cozy union with Mummy, in the childhood environment where everything feels so soft and smells so nice. How could one be wrong if the other is so pleasant and they always come in a package? (By the way, there would be nothing wrong with Jesus if the Christian churches were still teaching his genuine message - see the work of Laurence Gardner.) Religious concepts like hell or heaven built into early childhood education are strongly imprinted on a child and it would not be wise to fight them at a later point in life. They might fall apart if challenged by logical thinking, but basically mental training can succeed without questioning them.
"I was kept in it by the power of group agreement and the fear of losing my peers" - another good answer. Nobody wants to be out there in the jungle of life without a powerful group of peers to back him up. And unless the whole group of peers decides to start questioning the religion in which they have been brought up, the chances are small that anything will change. Asking the question "Is tradition correct" or even "What would be a better alternative?" is a very dangerous thing to do for anybody in a group. He even might get something better than the group's tradition, but at the same time he would lose his group. A very hard choice to make.
"My mother sent me to Quran school so I would get to eat at least once a day, and there my religion was beaten into me with brutal force" - not a good answer but very convincing when there is nowhere to escape to! And the less materials I get to read that would provoke me to do some independent thinking, the more liable am I to satiate my hunger for information with inadequate teachings. How do I know that they are inadequate? We will come to this in a moment - when we define what to ask of a religion, and count all the religions that fulfill these requirements, the inadequate ones will become visible at once.
"My teachers told me so": a very good answer. After all, what are teachers for? Why would I distrust them? Haven't they been appointed by society, and aren't they paid by society to teach me everything I need to know? If among 100 correct informations they give to me there are 5 incorrect ones, isn't that an acceptable ratio? Yes, it would be an acceptable ratio - if the 5 incorrect informations were not key informations that set my course into a destructive direction.
Now, why would religion be inadequate, incorrect or destructive in the first place?
In The Beginning, There Was The Word...
...and the word was misunderstood. Read here in how many ways the word "God" has been misinterpreted by human beings, and how the ancient extraterrestrial astronauts who have created the species of "homo sapiens sapiens" (modern man) in a petri dish have made themselves the object of our worship, instead of properly teaching us the truth about our (and their own) roots in the Supreme Being, the truly divine parent that evenly embraces as its offspring all of existence.
It is totally logical that religions which are based on a misunderstood concept of God can not have the potential of teaching us true spirituality, and that they can not help us to improve our connection to our spiritual parent, the Supreme Being.
Existence sprouts out of God like a tree - from one root there extend many branches, some of whom are neighbours while others are directly opposed to each other. Any religion that explains this model and shows how God is at the common root of even the most opposed individuals, is a valid religion. If it teaches respect and tolerance, it is a valid religion. Jesus Christ has already stated that what we do to our smallest (least important) "brother", we are actually doing to him. In his own words, he says that whatever we are doing to somebody else, we are doing directly to God. Any religion which explains this principle is a valid religion.
On the other hand: Any religion that favours only one group or nation of humans and presents other parts of humanity as inferior or even enemies, is a partial religion. Its spirituality is incomplete, if it exists at all, as it is based on old misunderstandings of the word God, and most probably developed out of the contract made by one extraterrestrial astronaut with a "chosen people" whom he would help against their enemies in exchange for their services in his army - instead of being a body of wisdom and tradition that helps an individual to discover and refine his connection with his spiritual origin in the Supreme Being.
A well known example of a religion that is based on such an exclusive contract between one group of humans and one ET astronaut is the Jewish religion. There is ample evidence of its adventures in the Old Testament. Of course such a service contract would require a people to serve only one master; but this master is a mortal person, not the Supreme Being, and serving only one ET astronaut is absolutely not the same thing as believing in only one God (the Supreme Being). It would be a big mistake to confuse such a national contract with a generic, basically non-historical religion that teaches all-inclusive spirituality. In fact, using the same word "religion" for both concepts is probably the one error where all the trouble starts.
Truly spiritual religious teachings must contain information about God embracing the most opposing extremes. No matter what their historical writings, their traditions and rituals, first and foremost they must explain the Supreme Being's unlimited all-inclusiveness. As soon as we encounter exclusive concepts - one of the most prominent examples would be the concept of a devil or satan, but also the idea of an "infidel" or "gentile" or "pagan" -, we know that this religion is not teaching all of the truth. It might still teach parts of the truth. It might have a good set of laws that regulate conduct, or good ideas about nutrition, or some useful mental training tools. But as it has not understood God's all-inclusiveness, it is only a fragment and must be seen as such. On the tree of life that grows out of God as its common root, it would be just a branch that does not explain the concept of the whole tree.
Why Not Just Forget All About Religion?
Now, if everything is growing out of God in the same way, couldn't we take this fact completely out of our talks and considerations?
In fact, there are some life forms who exist beautifully without ever saying a prayer or contemplating the line, or root, that connects them with their spiritual origin. They are so firmly embedded in the Supreme Being that there is no need to waste time or energy on a philosophical discussion of whether or not God approves of them.
If you have ever watched an ant hill or a bee hive, the certainty (or should we call it faith?) which is expressed by the busy lives of these insects is stunning. They don't need to search for God, they are God - one of his many branches - in beautiful bloom. Why reflect on something that is omnipresent and self-evident? We may call these animals unconscious, unaware, not "in the know" - but why should they know about their god-parentage if they demonstrate it so effortlessly all day round?
Leaving any mentioning of God away because God is omnipresent, so much that it would be redundant to keep mentioning him, works as long as everybody either doesn't have enough consciousness to make individual decisions, or makes only decisions that are fair towards everybody else. In other words, people can only afford to forget about God if they are either absolutely unaware or absolutely decent.
Ants and bees play fair. So do the other animals, even if some of them have to eat the others because this is part of their genetic design (and it keeps the planet from overpopulating). With human beings, it is a different matter. They have invented a game called "mudslinging" and developed it to perfection. Opponents or competitors are first covered with mud and then pronounced dirty - which makes it perfectly OK to do away with them as "necessary" (from the viewpoint of the transgressor).
We have seen it so many times that we should have learned all about it by now, yet the pattern is still in full bloom and no end of it is in sight. Women are of an inferior gender. Jews are of an inferior religion. Colored people are of an inferior race. This projection of inferiority onto a group - often not even a minority - is the mud that is immediately afterwards used to pronounce them "dirty" or worthless enough to make it allright to suppress or exploit them, or even wipe them out entirely.
The same game is being played in the area of spirituality, religion, or in one word: around the God-parentage of every human being, no matter to what religion he or she belongs.
The Art Of Mudslinging
We all have seen the Catholic priest or Buddhist monk who walks around surrounded by an enormous pride about the fact that he is a blessed child of God. He is blessed and "in the know" and we are the unwashed who have to feed him and pay for his shelter just because we don't have the divine blessing that he has.
Well, this is not what really happens. The truth is that this guy is a mudslinger who first throws a handful of "you are godless!" mud at us, and then holds his hand out to us to fill it with food or coins or a church tax, because he was smart enough to adorn his own head with the label "I am blessed by God (while you are not)!" The truth is that we are not godless at all. Our very existence is rooted in God, whether we think about it or not. Even the atheist's existence is rooted in God - he is just part of the atheist branch on the tree of life.
The little priest or monk is a gangster who makes us pay for our own stupidity, because if we really knew about our own God-parentage (if we "really had faith", as Jesus would say), we would just laugh about his audacity and leave it up to him (or, unfortunately, to other victims of his mudslinging) to support his lazy existence. Of course he will say that his existence is devoted to teaching you, yes you, everything about how to find God, and this is how he earns your donations: but what he actually does is the opposite, he tries to talk you into believing that there are people or parts of the world where God is not, so that they depend on his eager efforts to lead them back to God - unless, of course, he teaches and trains you how to find an all-inclusive God inside yourself, in which case a few coins might be given to him, not because he earned them but as a general gesture of friendliness.
We have done something we thought to be clever. We have simplified (as in simplifying a mathematical equation) our social relations by taking the self-evident "Child of God" label out of it. We don't mention it anymore because everybody else has the same label. It would only complicate life if we kept saying "Iris, child of God, will marry Robert, child of God, and they are planning a family with four offspring, children of God." It's much simpler to say "Iris will marry Robert and they are planning a family with four offspring". That everybody in this picture is a child of God doesn't need to be mentioned because what else should they be? If there is nothing in the whole universe that is not rooted in God?
It would be the same as saying "2 apples plus 2 apples are 4 apples". Nothing is wrong with that, except that it could be simplified by leaving away the "apple" label and saying "2 plus 2 is 4". Until, of course, some smart crook figures out that he could have an advantage from pronouncing some of the apples non-apples, after first pronouncing all non-apples inferior. Then all the apples that he has pronounced non-apples have to lower their heads in shame and serve the few remaining apples who have been clever enough to think of such a sophisticated way of getting support without doing any work for it.
He is counting on the lack of brain cells in the people he is trying to delude. How can there be a non-apple in a world where everything is an apple? Of course we have big and small apples, red and yellow apples, sweet and sour apples - but a non-apple apple is an impossibility. Maybe we are just in an intermediate state of our evolution - not really unaware anymore, but also not really aware yet. As a species, we will reach maturity at the moment where we realize that a godless child of god is an impossibility in just the same way as a non-apple apple. As soon as we have followed up on this insight by eliminating the bad habits from our daily lives that are based on considering others godless, we might even be considered adults by the rest of the universe.
Until then, we better wear a label on our forehead that publicly pronounces us an apple - or in our case, a child of God. It is much more difficult to declare somebody godless (and shoot bullets at him or bomb or nuke him) if there is a label on him that says "John Doe, child of God", than to just wipe out a random number of "John Doe's". Not that he wouldn't be a child of God without that label - but until everybody has realized that (and with all the deeply embedded misteachings that might take a few centuries), we better make sure that it cannot be forgotten.
What To Ask Of A Religion
What we have to ask of a religion follows from the points discussed above. No matter what a religion's traditions and rituals are, how they call their God or deities, what kind of statues they are carrying through the streets and whether they are burning incense or joss sticks; no matter what bodyparts they demand to remain covered, and what food they allow or forbid, and whether they grant a man one or four or twentyseven wives - first and foremost they must be asked to teach the truth about every living being's God-parentage to those who want to know, and of course to the children.
And they must be asked to carefully explain the difference between ancient astronauts and the Supreme Being.
And they must be asked to purify themselves from all the human fallibility and arrogance written into their national "religious" contracts that is bordering on fascism in some cases.
This is not an impossible task. If every living member of such a religion honestly reviews his understanding of God and the tree of life that is growing out of God, we have a chance that future generations will learn nothing of the errors and the lies anymore which have polluted the body of information of these religions in earlier centuries.
With all these necessities fulfilled, the various religious traditions on this planet can be enjoyed like any other colorful folklore that is a contribution to the richness of God's creation.
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This page last changed on: 30. Mar 13