Truth and Christianity. January 2005.
Tilak B. Shrestha, Ph.D. < >
Satyam eva jayate – Truth always triumphs.
Socrates – unexamined truth is not really truth.
Dhateko kura, kate pani mildaina. Artha ni bartha, Gobinda gai.
Mero goru ko barhai takka. Khai na pai, chhala topi lai.
[I had the dubious honor of meeting a few Nepalese missionaries claiming to be theology scholars. This article is in response to our conversation on Christianity. Please feel free to make any comments and to forward it to interested friends.]
I respect all the people and all the religions. I also expect respect to be mutual. However, the missionaries come with a simple proposition, “Brother, your God is no God, only my God is God. Sister, all Christians go to heaven, no matter how evil. Brother, every body else goes to hell, no matter how virtuous. Sister, all your ancestors have gone to hell. Brother, if you want to go to heaven, you better believe and do whatever I tell you.” Should not a person with any intelligence and integrity ask, “How come?” Wayne Johnson, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida, 1988, writes, “Hinduism of India, yoga, meditation, psychological therapy and self-help are the lies first told by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.” The Southern Baptist Church published booklets condemning Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native African religions in 1999. Should not some body stand up and yell, “He you, Emperor, you have no cloth?” We Nepalese are poor, so what? Is poverty of mind or money? When I was studying in Florida, I was challenged many times over by all kinds of Christian activists – Southern Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Evangelists, Presbyterians, Seventh day Adventists and Ninth day Ciphers as well. They made me curios enough to read about Christianity. If any body tries to preach over me now, I do tell them real truth about Christianity. Truth is antidote to these aberrations. I am a student of science, not of theology. I have only passing interest in religion. However, I have not met any bright theologian yet. I wonder why? I think it is because only in theology the ridiculous doctrines are defended. Only in theology, the theories are not created out of facts, but facts are twisted to fit the theories. Only in theology the doctrines, not the truth, are sacrosanct. Please do point out any errors in objective facts and logic used here. I remain grateful.
I do assume that every body is interested about truth in general; and theologians in the truth about Christianity in particular. I expect theologians to have a general knowledge about all the religions and Dharmas. I also expect scholars to be intellectually honest, to make opinion according to the facts and to have respect for the truth. I also expect theologians coming from Nepal to know some thing about Buddha Dharma and Hinduism in general. If you have all the time to read Bible, but have no time to read our own. Is it because of some deep seated psychological inferiority complex? You even did not read Bible objectively. Otherwise you would know both the stories that Jesus was born in Bethlehem are demonstrably lies.
What Christianity is all about? Jesus taught to love our neighbors and even enemies. I do appreciate Jesus, and his teachings of universal love. That precisely Christianity is not about. Suppose there was a Jew who heard Jesus ‘a Jewish Rabbi’ preaching and practiced loving neighbors and enemies. Then according to Jesus and all the right thinking people he will go to heaven. However, according to Christianity he will go to hell. True or not? Be honest.
According to Christianity only way to heaven is to ‘believe’ that ‘Jesus is Christ’, or else you stand condemned. Here is the defining doctrine of Christianity:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus
John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. But he who does not believe is condemned already.
This is the crux of the problem. To hold a belief, whether it is true or not, does lead to nowhere. What happens if you believe two plus two is ‘four’ or ‘seven’? Nothing really. You do not go to heaven or hell by believing ‘this’ or ‘that.’ As a scholar, how do you connect the belief ‘Jesus is Christ’ with sins being forgiven and going to heaven? This absurd Christian fundamental doctrine leads to the conclusion that all your good and honorable non-Christian parents and all your ancestors have gone to hell. True or not? I do not think so, nor you should. Believing a fact is relevant only and to the extent the fact is used in making a decision. For example if you buy a ten dollar worth of item believing you have same amount of money, then you will be embarrassed, nonchalant, or happy if you really have nine, ten or eleven dollars. If you are playing tennis then believing in ten dollars is irrelevant. God created and loves all of us regardless of our color, race, gender, nationality and religion. Good guys go to heaven and bad guys go to hell – a simple metaphor. You go to heaven by practicing ‘good heart inside’ and ‘good deed outside.’ The mantra ‘be good, do good’ leads to heaven. Being a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim or an Atheist makes no difference. Any way, on what basis do you believe the Christian doctrines? What facts and reason do you base upon? Because, ‘believing’ is not a voluntary act. Look at a dog and see if you could believe it a cat, then a camel. By the way, Jesus is evidently not the Christ.
Jesus paid for our sin? Not really, it is a pure wishful thinking. What a delusion and attempt at irresponsibility. A sin cannot be transferred. A crime can not be paid by some body else, much less before the event. It leads to the absurd conclusion that you can do any crime you want to. It is already paid for by Jesus. What if we forget to commit crime? See if you can transfer your headache or a bad school grade to Jesus. See if you can talk police into keeping your retired father-in-law in prison now and you doing commensurate crime later. Consider the Biblical doctrine of scapegoats paying for other’s crime. Imagine a prison full of goats and sheep doing time in lieu of other convicts. It is such a mind-boggling absurdity. Christianity offers only a false sense of security and wishful escapism. The natural or divine law is each of us has to face the consequences of our own deeds, both bitter and sweet.
Jesus was sacrificed for our sin? As a theologian perhaps you can explain it properly. Who sacrificed Jesus? To whom? Does God demand sacrifice of a lamb or his own son to forgive us? Or God sacrificed his own son for us? To whom? Can not God forgive us without the stunt of sacrificing his own son? What happens to all the humanity before Jesus, or the multitudes of non-Christian people? Do you think torture and murder of a lamb or a person a good idea? How does that please God? How does it serve any purpose? How does such sacrifice result in forgiving sin? Is not taking a life another ethical crime? How a crime will pay for another crime? Be honest.
Jesus died and resurrected? Not really. Jesus resurrected proving he is God. He is God therefore he was able to resurrect. What a classical tautology or the circular argument. How can God die? Is not immortality the hallmark of God? God sustains the whole world. God is beyond birth and death. If God dies then the whole world will cease to exist. Will it not? His disciples saw him crucified and later he visited them. If they were of normal intelligence, first question they would have asked Jesus would have been, “How did you survive?” However, they assumed he died and resurrected. It merely means they were not so bright after all. Given their circumstances and educational level that may be understandable. How about us? Are not we primary school graduates? Take the one half of the tautology that Jesus resurrected because he is God. So far it is plausible. However, Christianity states ‘whoever believes so will also resurrect.’ You do not have to be a God to resurrect, but mere believing ‘Jesus’s resurrection’ suffice. Try this: Whoever believes Jimmy Carter was President, is also a President. What about resurrection? According to Christianity, all and only Christians will come back alive with all his or her body restored to original form, and live for ever. Suppose there is a fat, bald and old Christian. Perhaps he does not want to live like that for eternity. Perhaps he wants to be a gorgeous and sexy woman. Do you want him to condemn for eternity to be a fat, bald, old and married to a cross-eyed woman? Can you imagine poor Hitler living for eternity with shame and embarrassment hanging on his face for loosing the war, if not for commencing? What kind of heaven Christianity envisage without Socrates, Pythagoras, Einstein, Gandhi, Buddha, your parents and friends; but with Hitler and Mussolini? Personally I wish to achieve salvation that is beyond birth and death. However, the important issue is ‘births and deaths are natural events’, ordained by God in this world. Resurrection is merely a wishful thinking without any basis.
Another Christian doctrine is so-called the ‘Original sin’. I think if a person commits crime then only he or she should be punished, not any other innocent people. However, according to Christianity, Adam committed the crime of eating the apple of knowledge, therefore we all are born in sin and will go to hell. You may rest assured babies are not criminals and we are all born pure. It violates the most fundamental principle of justice. Which, even a dog understands. For example if two of us were walking together and I happen to kick a stray dog. Then the dog will try to bite me, not you. Because the dog understands that I am guilty and you are innocent.
This doctrine is the product of Paul’s manipulation of a sensible Greek mythology ‘Adam and Eve being the parent of all humanity’, that is we are all one family ‘Bashundhaiva Kutumbakam’, to a nonsensical guilt trap. Why is eating ‘Apple’ of knowledge a sin? Rather eating ‘Orange’ of ignorance is. Do not we all go to school? Believe me, God wants us to be educated and wise.
Thus, Christianity fits the swindling ‘the good cop and the bad cop’ model. A strong man comes in with a dumb story but with a big threat. Then another comes along to help you out of the threat. The weak-minded person is relieved from the threat and is obliged to the second. Here comes the Adam and the Original Sin, that you are guilty and born in sin. Then comes the Jesus who pays for it. All of sudden you are obliged to Jesus. Truth is a person cannot be punished for another’s crime. Neither we are responsible for Adam’s sin, nor Jesus can pay for ours. Such swindling technique works only on weak-minded fools. Is it about seeking truth or spirituality? None whatsoever.
The doctrines of the ‘original sin’ and the ‘scapegoat’ get even better. Bigger the crime, larger the sacrifice. From a lamb it goes all the way to an elephant, a whale, a man, and ultimately God. To pay for the ‘original sin’, not only you need Jesus, but he also has to be unblemished or sinless. According to the Bible the original sin is transmitted from father to children. The ancient Jews consider the father as the giver of seed or life, and the mother merely an incubator. Thus, Jewish lineage comes strictly from the father, and the mother is irrelevant. They also thought sex to be inherently bad. Thus, children born normally are impure. Therefore the doctrine of the ‘immaculate conception’ is important to satisfy both conditions of purity. The baby Jesus does not have human father, and Mary is still virgin. Matter of fact, she remains virgin even after having a number of children with Joseph. However, the doctrine is contrary to another Biblical requirement that the Christ has to be the direct descendant of King David. Some theologians even tried to circulate the seven dollars bill that Mary is the descendant of David, not acceptable to Jewish custom. Contradictions and irrationalities are not problems for the Church as long as people believe them. However, the progress in human knowledge brought another problem. In the nineteenth century, even the enemies of Galileo realized that the mother not only provides nutrition but also provides life equal to the father. In that case Jesus is still impure through his mother side. To avoid such predicament, the Roman Catholic Church in 1854 stated as article of faith that Mary had been conceived without the original sin that affects all humanity. To emphasize Mary’s purity and non-affliction from the original sin, Pope Pius XII in 1950 declared that at her death Mary’s body and soul both went to heaven. However, the humble and inconvenient question remains, “How did Pope find out, and why not earlier?” This is a classical case of incoherent doctrine inventing facts. By the way, the ‘article of faith’ means to believe without thinking or questioning.
The myth that God dies and comes back alive is a recurrent theme in many of the old world religions. Egypt has the story of ‘Osiris’, in Greece ‘Dionysis’, in Asia Minor ‘Attis’, in Syria ‘Adonis’, in Italy ‘Bacchus’ and in Persia ‘Mithra’. These myths are centuries older than Christianity. Thus Christian myth is not an original but a poor plagiarism. Once Christianity has the political and military hold of the Europe it wiped out the other religions. The genocide of Pagan Europeans, destruction of old European religions, arts, literatures, philosophies, books are the hideous and yet ignored history of Europe. This is how Christianity paid for the tolerance of pre-Christian Europe. Today’s European descendants can only look at the ‘ruins’ of their glorious past. A Pagan philosopher Celsus, 2nd century AD, criticized Christians for trying to pass Jesus’s story as original when in fact it is a poor copy of Pagan myths, “Why Pagan story is myth and Christian story is true? Nothing is unusual about Christian belief, except that it excludes larger truth of God.” In response to such criticism, Church came with the doctrine of ‘Diabolical mimicry.’ Theologians like Justin Martyr and Tertullian, 2nd century AD, explain, “Devil knew about Jesus’s life before it happened. To confuse people he created all the other myths long before Jesus was born.” Did some body ask how they came to know? Perhaps Devil told them so. Christianity stands on these kinds of arguments.
Yet another Biblical doctrine is about the covenant between God and Jewish tribe. Do you think we human beings are equal to God to have a legal contract? It is as comical as having legal paper signed between a man and a horse. How do you enforce the contract if God renegades? In which court? One of the covenants stipulates that Jewish tribe will obey Mosaic code and the God will make the tribe always victorious in battles. Is it historically true? How about Diasporas? Do you think only concern of God is to look after one tribe and beat on others? Are we Jews? How about we Nepalese? If there is a war between Jews and us, which side you will be and which side God will be? Obviously so called covenant is a ploy to militarize Jewish tribe. It is not about seeking truth or spiritual practices. By the way, any body can approach God through simple love.
These facts may be interesting to theologians and lay people alike. The relevant references are given below.
1. Jesus’s biological father is a Roman soldier named ‘Panthera.’
2. When Jesus was growing up people used to make joke about his parentage. It led him to develop a mild form of psychological disorder called ‘paraphrenia’, which makes him very sensitive toward poor, exploited and down trodden.
3. When he was about 13 years old he followed the ancient Silk Road and went to India. He studied in many places including Benaras and Leh Monastery, Kashmir. He became a well-known scholar trained mostly in Buddha Dharma and other Hindu traditions. He was important enough to be mentioned in the ‘Rajtarangini’, a royal chronicle of Kashmir Kings. His way of addressing God as ‘Father’ is directly from the ‘Dwaita – duel’ tradition of Hindus. For example – ‘Tomeva Maata, Cha Pita tomeva. Thou art mother, and thou art father.’ Jews address God as ‘Lord.’ His statement ‘Kingdom within’ is directly from ‘Adwaita – non-duel’ tradition of the inner meditation. These concepts are quite foreign to Jews and they took them merely as parables.
4. When he was of late twenties he came back to Israel, a well-educated and charismatic Rabbi. He was also a Jewish nationalist and opposed Roman occupation. He also claimed to be the ‘Christ’, as understood by Jewish people then. He did not claim to have come to establish a new religion, nor biological-son of God, nor to take away other’s sin. They are the wishful thinking added later.
5. He was able to start an armed rebellion against Romans, albeit a minor one. Romans crucified him for that rebellion, a standard Roman punishment.
6. He was on cross, only for a few hours and survived. You may check with your physician friends if nailing in wrists, not palms, for a few hours will result in death or not.
7. He met his disciples and told them that he will escape to India and return for them later.
8. He returned to India, married, had children and died of old age. He was buried in Shrinagar, Kashmir. The temple built on his burial site exists even today. There are people who claim to be his descendant even today.
9. His disciples, all of them practicing Jews, vainly waited for his return. Current Christianity has nothing to do either with Jesus or his disciples.
10. Present Christianity, with all the absurd wishful doctrines, is the brainchild of Paul, who never met Jesus. And matter of fact, Jesus’ disciples including his brother James accused him of telling lies.
11. The Christian theme that Jesus came to take away others sin is neither taught by Judaism, nor by Jesus. It is the doctrine of Mithraism, where Lord Mithra pays for and forgives the sins of his believers. This copy and concoction of Paul is what you call Christianity today.
What is spirituality? It is about search for the truth and practices of improving ones inner values. Believing ‘Jesus is Christ or not’ is irrelevant, for that matter neither believing ‘Fat Buddha’ is. By believing so, what profound truth you came to know? How did it improve your spiritual values? Whether ‘Jesus is Christ or not’ is important only to the Jews. If he was really Christ, then they were obliged to obey and fight for him as a God appointed King towards liberation of Israel. It is a political issue. We are Nepalese. Is it our problem? Do not we have our own problems? ‘Khai na pai, Chhala topi lai.’
So what are Bible and its prophets? Contrary to the claims, Bible is not a scripture, nor the prophets divinely inspired individuals. Actually Bible is a subjective political history of Jewish people and prophets are their community\political leaders. They are interesting historical documents but not spiritual works. A scripture is about universal principles and spiritual practices. History of how Jewish tribe got into bondage, their freedom, in turn how they massacred Caananites and took over their land is interesting but does not qualify as a spiritual treaty. Merely spicing up the text by sprinkling a handful of words ‘God’ does not change the inherent characteristics. A prophet is judged by the content of his message, not by his claims. Please do compare these two statements: a. Newton is a great scientist because his theories are proven correct, and b. I believe Newton is a great scientist therefore I believe whatever he says. First is about the way of ‘Apple’, and second is about ‘Orange.’
A prophet may walk down the hill or come out of a cave and claim that he was told by God to tell you what God wants. Did you wonder why is it a mountain or a cave but not a rest room? Why there are fires, thunders, lightening on the side? They are dramatic effects to avoid simple questions. It is the trick in trade of all magicians, kings, dictators and professional wrestlers. If God really talked to the prophet, good for him, but not good enough for me. He may have heard God directly, but for me it is only hear say. I am sure God is perfectly capable of telling me directly. Prophet hood is nothing more than hood winking gullible people to be controlled by the Prophet. It can be easily recognized by the so called divine statements coming out of the prophet. They are nothing but political assertions given the circumstances. For example, according to Moses God tells, “I am your God, helped you out of Egyptian bondage, gave Canaan land to you, worship only me, do not worship other Gods, else I am jealous.” May we ask how they got into Egyptian bondage in the first place? Is this God only of Jews, not of Egyptian? God forbid, if the God is also of Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites et al. According to Bible, God says, ”You shall annihilate them – Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites ….“ According to so-called divine urging Jews went and massacred all the Canaanites and took over their land. Is this how divine gift is given? Can God be in competition against other Gods and be jealous? Moses is a great Jewish leader, no doubt; but not a spiritual Mahatma. Given the circumstance, Moses have done the wonderful job of keeping discipline and leading the desperate Jewish tribe. But spade is a spade. The scenario is perfectly explainable if considered that God did not create Moses, rather Moses created God. Moses led Jews out of Egyptian bondage, engineered massacre and take over of Canaan land. He wants full control of Jews and would not like them to listen to others. Otherwise he is jealous.
There is an anecdote of an amateur singer trying to impress a music teacher. The teacher commented, “You really sing well. All you need to do is improve on the rhythm and the melody.” Christianity is a great religion, with problems of being false and dangerous. Consider the definitions: superstition – believing without facts, and brain washing – believing against facts. Christianity is merely a brain washing system by promoting wishful thinking. The danger of Christianity is that it does not allow people to do critical analysis. To be led by nose-rings looks good only on bullocks. To be led by bridles looks good only on horses. To parrot what was told to you or stated in Bible without any critical examination does not look good on intellectuals like you. Remember Socrates, “Unexamined truth is not truth.” If it is able to delude scholars like you, think of its devastating effect on the superstitious masses. Here are a few issues typically posed by missionaries for your meditation.
A. All the Christian countries are rich and good, non-Christian countries are poor:
Not true. Presently Japanese economy and per capita income are higher than that of comparative countries – Germany, Britain and France. According to the study by the CIA, the Chinese economy will be the world’s largest within next 15 years. By the way, USA like India is not a Christian but a secular nation. If you insist on claiming it to be a Christian country then perhaps you may also claim that God gave this land to the Native Americans and Christians stole it. However, what religion got to do with money or power? Are you assuming that Jesus was millionaire, if not billionaire? It is the intellectual bankruptcy and Christian propaganda to equate prosperity with soundness of a religion. In fact the internal consistencies, teachings of profound truths and traditions of spiritual practices are the parameters. Can you elaborate such measures about Christianity? If the means and the end of Christianity is mere believing ‘Jesus is Christ’, then what else is there to meditate and practice?
Europe did progress not because of but in spite of Christianity. Once Christianity got hold of Europe in the 3rd century, it destroyed all its illustrious heritage of countless sages like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid and who not. Christians literally burnt away all their pre-Christian heritage and dragged Europe down to the dark age of thousand years. Do you want to do same in Nepal? Scholar like Giordano Bruno was burnt alive because he said ‘the Earth revolves around the Sun.’ If you have any regards for truth and freedom of thoughts then you should mourn the martyrdom of Bruno, not Jesus. Christianity has the singular dubious honor of terrorizing Europe and world with inquisition, crusades and holocaust. Inquisition tortured and burnt alive literally millions of women. It was institutionalized by the Pope Innocent. Innocent? What a hideous joke. The crusades killed millions of Europeans and Muslims. Then it started to devour Christians them self. The war between Catholics and Protestants lasted literally centuries. The early American pioneers are mostly the persecuted Christians from Europe. These persecuted American forefathers knew the horror of Christianity too well to make sure that its ugly head does not rise here too. Their wisdom bloomed as the doctrine of the separation of the church and the state. Today’s liberal Europe is not because of the Christianity but because of the countless modern social thinkers like John Locke and others. Their ideas of human liberties and the social contracts are diametrically opposite to totalitarianism of Christianity. Is the scourge of Christianity is really gone in this modern age? The Jew baiting, progrom and holocaust of Jewish people in the 20th century is the direct result of anti-Semitism taught by the Churches from the very beginning of its creation. The Biblical lie ‘Jesus was not killed by Romans, but by Jews’ fully blossomed as the holocaust where educated and civilized Germans systematically murdered millions of Jews in industrial assembly lines. Guess from where such hatred and motivation comes from. What an irony to note that Jesus was a Jew. Churches were active not in saving Jewish victims, but the Nazi war criminals. Even today in USA, look how Churches try to poke their nose in politics, where it does not belong. These enemies of first amendment are dying to inject religion in government. They do not hate Ayatollah Khomeini but envy; because he was able to create a theocratic country. The American Christian fundamentalists are quite active for Israel. Because they believe that the second coming of Jesus requires the Kingdom of Israel. By the way, what is wrong with the first coming? Guess what happens when Jesus comes back? Jesus will send all the Jews to the fiery hell. Then whole world will be destroyed. Please write me e-mail when that happens. Then only Southern Baptists will be resurrected. Which denomination do you belong to? Bible states that there are only 144,000 seats in the heaven. Before joining Christianity perhaps you should check the queue first. Please call guys with long white coats.
The European renaissance beginning in 14th century is basically European revolt against Christianity. That paved way for the era of enlightenment, in spite of the enemies of Galileo. The 18th century on ward the mercantile capitalism and ensuing industrial revolution transformed Europe. Otherwise both the main Asian countries China and India were ahead of Europe, both in terms of economy and social institutions. However, the unholy mix of capitalism and the Fascist nationalism led to exploitation of the poor within Europe, slavery of African countries, and colonization of Asian and American countries. Exploitation of the colonies and forced accumulation of capital by European powers largely explains their industrialization and the current lopsided distribution of the wealth. The economic model of industrialization through colonization is the root cause of both world wars of the 20th century.
Shares (%) of World Manufacturing Output, 1750-1900.
Year 1750 1800 1830 1860 1880 1900
Europe 23.1 28.0 34.1 53.6 62.0 63.0
UK 1.9 4.3 9.5 19.9 22.9 18.5
Tropics 76.8 71.2 63.3 39.2 23.3 13.4
China 32.8 33.3 29.8 19.7 12.5 6.2
India 24.5 19.7 17.6 8.6 2.8 1.7
Source: adapted from B R Tomlinson, Economics: The Periphery in Andrew Porter (ed), The Oxford History of the British Empire: the Nineteenth Century, Oxford 1990.
The story of 20th century is basically the struggle of European labor against capitalist exploitation; and the struggle of Afro-Asian countries for freedom from, shall I say, Christian countries. When did Churches spoke against exploitation? They are more interested in making money and forced conversions. Many of the colonized countries still are not able to put the devastation behind. History is witness that the Churches opposed modernization in one hand and supported the exploiters against the exploited on the other. You might have heard about Churches practicing racial segregation but not a squeak for the freedom and democracy. Have you? When did Churches oppose slavery? As a matter of fact Churches have used Bible to explain away and justify slavery. Do you think Pope is leading a spiritual movement? Think again. He is sitting on a multi-billion dollar worth of financial and business empire. Yet, he has audacity to claim representing Jesus, who would have given his last penny to the poor. Why go that far, find out assets of your Church. Then find out how much it takes in from and spends out on the poor. Facts will speak for it self.
B. Christianity is true because it believes in not many but one God who tells what to do:
Not true. There is no physical proof that God exists, let alone the number of Gods. So the monotheism and the polytheism have same validity. To claim there is only one God and feel superior about it is ridiculous in both counts. However, polytheists are not hostile to Gods of other people. One more God is always welcome. The Roman\Greek Pagans or Indian Hindus do not attack other religionists. But adherents of Semitic monotheists invariably attack and try to convert or destroy people of other religions. Because, the Semitic monotheism is not about merely believing number of Gods being one. It is about straight jacketing humanity in to a certain belief system and behavior pattern. The Semitic religions are basically social institutions for tribal survival. They are not about seeking truth or improving spirituality.
Polytheism comes with the premise that there are many spiritual ways. It is a matter of personal interest and choice to follow any of them. The bottom line is the freedom of thinking and believing. However, Semitic monotheism comes with the premise that only their way is correct and other ways are inherently evil and must be destroyed. The bottom line is the brain washing and the totalitarianism. This predatory nature of the Semitic monotheism has destroyed the European Paganism, Persian Zoroastrianism, and many of the old religions of Egypt, North Africa, Black Africa, Polynesia, Australia and Americas. Buddha Dharma is wiped out from South-West Asia and Hinduism survived with many wounds. We need to understand the root cause of this unequal battle between the carnivores and the herbivores. They are the genesis of Judaism and the Semitic monotheism.
There are two problems inherent in any tribal societies including Jewish one. They are the intra-tribe and the inter-tribe struggles. A Jew may fight another Jew, or his tribe may have to fight another tribe. Jewish leaders tackled both problems by militarizing their tribe using religion as the tool. Thus, Judaism is the cultural evolution towards tribal survival, not about declaration of the universal principles. Judaism cements individuals of the tribe with strict rules and makes the tribe formidable force against others. The intra-tribe aggression is strictly forbidden and the aggression is collectively externalized against other tribes. A Jew may not kill or rob another Jew but obliged to do so to other non-Jews (Goyim, man-animals). The laws are to be enforced at the pain of death – by stoning in this life and eternal damnation after.
With this cultural innovation Jewish tribe was able to wipe out other competing tribes. Who could argue against the success and characteristics of the Judaism was set. However, it also traps people into taking religion strictly in terms of military success against others. This is the root cause of Christian and Islamic aggression against other religions. This leads to several problems. First they miss the true sense of the spirituality as search for truth and practices of internal growth. Second, the fixation also takes away critical thinking and at worst produces neurosis. Third, it keeps people of one religion perpetually antagonizing others. Fourth, a military defeat will have far reaching consequences.
Thus, the Semitic monotheism is not about the principle of ‘universality of divinity’ or of seeing ‘unity in diversity’. It is about denying other viewpoints and cultural existence. The concept of ‘your God is no God, only my God is God’ is not about knowledge, but about struggle for tribal supremacy. The Islam, a medieval, improved and aggressive version of Judaism begins with the proclamation, “I bear witness that there are no other Gods, but only Allah.”
In contrast, Roman and Greek pantheon of Gods live like a family. Devotees of Apollo will also pay obeisance to Hera, let alone fight her devotees. A Hindu traveling from India to west will find likeness of Hindu god Indra in Greek god Zeus and Roman god Jupiter. He is not about to fight with the devotees of Zeus or Jupiter. He will understand them as manifestations of same divinity in different cultural settings. He will also expect such manifestations in other countries and cultures. Hinduism defines God as “Neti” or not that. That is, no matter how you define God, not that. In other words, God is unlimited and our intelligence and faculties are limited. Therefore our definition of God necessarily has to be partial and personal. How many ways God may be visualized? As many as human beings. Therefore there cannot be hostility between two views of God. For example, bestowing knowledge to younger generation is a universal phenomenon. It is not limited to the human specie. Even cats and dogs teach their off springs. Perhaps a boulder teaches a cobble. That universal essence may be worshiped as the ‘Goddess of learning.’ Same thing with the universal need of protection and we have the ‘Goddess of protection.’ These are merely two views of the same universal divinity. These two views are not hostile but complementary to each other.
One mistake we do is to consider all the religions being basically same. That way we are putting apples and oranges together. Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism etc. are not religions but Dharmas, and are about methods of spiritual advancements. On the other hand, semitic religions are about tribal survival, militarization of society, believing sets of doctrines without questioning, social control and totalitarianism. Most of the major world struggles are not due to the practices of spirituality, but due the totalitarianism. The practice of Dharmas are like joining college to get education. The joining religions are like joining army. For example, in Nepal we go to Buddhist, Saiva, Vaishnav or any other temples routinely. In China people go to Taoist or Buddhist or Confucius temples as they please. Now try being a Christian for two days, a Muslim for three days and a Jew for two days of a week. You will not be appreciated, to say the least. Because it is like being a soldier of American army for two days, Russian army for three days and so forth. The distinction between institutions producing scholars versus soldiers must be made.
C. Bible teaches us about God, Christ, Holy Ghost and nature of God:
What is the real truth then? In Abraham’s time people in the Middle East celebrated many Gods collectively known as ‘Baal.’ Their celebrations coincided with the agricultural cycle. Gods were supposed to grant protection and prosperity. The people also had the concept of Gods being territorial. That is equivalent of having God of Denver, God of Atlanta and so forth. People of Atlanta will be celebrating the God of Atlanta more than the God of Denver of course. However, they were not hostile against other Gods. If the King of Denver battles against King of Atlanta, he of course will pray to the God of Denver and assume that the God of Denver is stronger than the God of Atlanta. Same thing is done by King of Atlanta, albeit in the reverse order. The difference of opinion is usually settled in the battlefield. After ward they revert back to the normal setting. Obviously these different Gods or ‘Baal’ represent different level of tribal and territorial nationalism. Once the Jewish tribes were subjected to Diaspora, they had to redefine God representing people, not necessarily a territory. It is a ploy to safeguard the migrant nationalism. Also people did not think in terms of monotheism that there is only one God. They meant that their God is better than others. It is mostly political expression.
Abraham claimed to profess allegiance strictly to only one God of Israel, as opposed to praying many of them. It may be noted that Abraham is not claiming there is only one God in the world, but that he chose to align with one single deity among many. It is necessary to have allegiance with only one God for militarization of the society. A soldier cannot profess allegiance to more than one army. Compare that with the freedom of a student to study any subjects. Biblical expressions like, “I am jealous God. Thou shall have no other God before me”, are the ploys to keep dissenting Jews in check. Will God be jealous? Jealousy of what? Another God’s new car?
The concept of ‘Christ’ comes from the legend of ‘Krishna’ of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus believe that God incarnated as Krishna to teach the ‘Karma Yoga.’ It may be noted that the lesson of ‘Karma yoga’ is primary and the belief in incarnation is only secondary. However, it is also believed Krishna to state that whenever world is in pain; he will incarnate to heal it. It is a universal declaration of love of God for its creation, not a political statement. In those ancient times, though difficult, people did migrate. The people migrating to the Middle East from the east were collectively known as Hebrews. One sub-group of such Hebrews is ‘A-Brahman’. They were the erstwhile Hindu ‘Brahmans’ who quit rigors of Brahmanism and migrated to the west. In Sanskrit, the prefix ‘A’ is used to negate. Thus, ‘A-Brahman’ means ‘no longer Brahmans.’ This is the origin of the Jewish name ‘Abraham’. This group also carried the promise of Krishna as their legend. The word ‘Krishna’ Hellenized to ‘Chrisnos’. Greek language tends to substitute ‘T’ for ‘N’, and it became ‘Christos’. Similar interesting phonetic substitution in Japanese is ‘R’ for ‘L’ and in Chinese ‘L’ for ‘R’. You might have heard Chinese noodle and ‘lice’, and Japanese version of democracy and election. The Greek word ‘Christos’ became ‘Christ’ in Hebrew. The meaning of the legend also changed with the new environments. As Jewish tribe adopted the monotheism the ‘Christ’ became a man, not God; a messiah, appointed by God for a specific task. After the accent of King David, his political need further changed the definition of ‘Christ’ to the final Jewish term: a descendant of King David, appointed by God to lead Jewish people towards freedom of Israel, and reclaiming Davidic throne. This definition is believed by Jewish people and claimed by Jesus. By the way, ‘Jesus’ is known as ‘Yesu’, ‘Yusuf’, ‘Isa’ etc. in different languages.
The idea of ‘Holy Ghost’ comes from the philosophy of Heraclitus, circa 500 BC, Greece. He philosophized that the world is not random. He noted whether in society or in nature there is orderliness and the inner workings are governed by known or unknown logic. There is cosmic logic is every thing. He urged to understand and abide by such logic. He termed it ‘Logos’ in Greek. In the 3rd century AD, the neo-Platonist philosophers gave it a new twist. They thought God does not come to the world. Otherwise, they reasoned, God’s presence would transform the world to Utopia. However, God does help humanity using ‘Logos’ as the agent. Thus ‘Logos’ got the personality and a job to carry out God’s errands. The Biblical phrase ‘Word is with God’ is the miss-translation of that doctrine. The Jewish philosopher Philo (1st century BC) adopted this Greek idea. John the Baptist learned it from Philo and passed on to Jesus. Jesus taught the idea to his disciples. However, Judaism teaches strict monotheism without any other divine agents. The disciples of Jesus could not reconcile these two mutually exclusive teachings; and the ‘Logos’, or ‘Word’, or ‘Holy Ghost’, or ‘Holy Spirit’ was left unemployed.
It brings to the Christian definition of God given as the Nicene Creed. Wise men agree that it may be one view of God, but not the only view. However, Nicene Creed is not about insight into the divine reality, but about a political compromise under a royal decree. The Roman Emperor Constantine, a non-Christian, had to deal with the political aspects of having three religions in his empire – Paganism, Mithraism and Christianity. Both Paganism and Mithraism have trinity and the winter solstice as their main holiday. The winter solstice is the day when Sun’s southern journey ends and northern journey begins. It symbolizes rejuvenation in the nature and the divine power, and also the day of Apollo and Mithra. Christianity was then a smallest sect with no trinity and no distinct holiday. The emperor wanted to have the trinity and a single holiday to be celebrated by all the three religions together. It was a political ploy towards unity of his empire. Thus to bring Christianity in line with other two religions, Constantine convened and presided over the Christian council in 325 AD, in Nicea. Christianity then following Judaism had only one God. Jesus supposed to be God’s son. The nature of Jesus was not well defined. Literally there were dozens of Christian sects subscribing to different natures of Jesus. The mother Mary had some prominence and followers. But the Christian leaders were misogynic enough to dismiss her from any divine part. The basic problem was how to reconcile between the Constantine’s demand of trinity and the monotheism of Christianity’s Judaic root. Constantine summarily kicked any Bishops out who would not agree with his demand. The council played around with different scenarios and finally came with compromise declaration that there are ‘three’ male or neuter Gods of ‘one’ substance. God is ‘Triune’, three equal persons in one deity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The unemployed Holy Ghost finally got a job. If you cannot explain this parody of three in one God, then it is a divine mystery. It was not acceptable to many Christians. Father Arius, a prominent Christian scholar, refused to endorse the creed. Constantine banished him and soldiers took care of other disagreeable scholars. The symbiosis went further. The winter solstice also became the birthday of Jesus. The Pagan festival of fertility and rejuvenation became Christmas. Their symbolic pole became Christmas tree. The spring equinox, correlating to Sun’s return to prominence and Mithra’s ascension, became Easter. Christians took over the Mithraic temple in Vatican as their Catholic Church. The Christian chief adopted the Mithraic high priest’s title of ‘Pope’. Guess what happened to Mithraism? In 394 AD, king Theodosius I passed edict making all paganisms including Mithraism illegal at the pain of death. This is the bitter truth of Christianity. However, the basic question remains, “Can a person or a council define God?” Like the proverbial camel designed by a committee, the Nicene Creed is a political compromise, not a vision of divinity.
Next time you profess the Nicene Creed in a Church, look serious do not laugh; and please wink for me.
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