Monday, 3 September 2012

Religion and Language

In the Graphic Novel "Promethea", Alan Moore speculates that without langauge there could be no God (or at least, no idea of God, yet alone religion) because there would be no way of expression an experience of the Divine to others, no means of communicating that relationship.

"Promethea" explores various faith traditions, including Paganism and Jewish mysticism, especially the Qaballah. He has this to say on the monotheism of the Abrahamic religions:

"Monotheism is, to me, a great simplification. I mean the Qabalah has a great multiplicity of gods, but at the very top of the Qabalic Tree of Life, you have this one sphere that is absolute God, the Monad, something which is indivisible. All of the other gods, and indeed everything else in the universe, is a kind of emanation of that God. Now, that’s fine, but it's when you suggest that there is only that one God, at this kind of unreachable height above humanity, and there is nothing in between, you’re limiting and simplifying the thing. I tend to think of paganism as a kind of alphabet, as a language, it's like all of the gods are letters in that language. They express nuances, shades of meaning or certain subtleties of ideas, whereas monotheism tends to just be one vowel and it's just something like 'oooooooo'. It's a monkey sound."

Sunday, 2 September 2012

More "God" ponderings....

 God is not an object but an idea. The object of God is extinguished in the mind when we realize that All / Everything is God. God is the whole of the Universe in action. God is not a separate thing. God is Everything The bigger and bigger we find the universe to be, the farther and farther away any God actually seems to be. All current religions are worried about that. I'm not, of course, because I'm a Unitarian, I have grown to understand that God is not what mankind has thought God to be. There is no Creator God Being in the traditional "Genesis" sense, but there is a Life Force of the Universe that is at work in all that we do, see and have.

 When  you realise God is everything, you can consider that God is nothing, but when God is everything, I consider God to be everything. So the Life Force of the Universe is for me the perfect way to express this God in everything. Then instead of praying to a God, worshiping a God and caring about a God - we can begin to pray to and for others, worship and respect all others as well as all creation, and care about others and all of creation, which is God. There is not God and us, there is only God as us and everything else as well.

 God is the Spirit of Life Itself everywhere present throughout the Universe, that connects all Life to all other Life, and that created and continues to create all that we know and have, that's the real God. The Life Force of the Universe, which for me explains what God really is

Whatever God is or might be, and certainly no one knows anything for sure about the concept we call God, we do know, or should know, that God is Universal. God does not take sides. The sun shines on the good and the bad. The rain falls on the crops and the weeds. When God is seen to be for everybody, when God is seen with an "extra O", as in Goodness, then the world can start to become the Kingdom of God, that all religions say they want, but only humans can make it so.

All scripture is innerant

On the Unitarian facebook group recently, a Conservative, Literal Christian posted the well-known and well-abused passage from Timothy: (2 Timothy 3:16) “All scripture is inspired by God ...”

But the Greek text raises a number of problems:  πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν, πρὸς ἐλεγμόν, πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν, πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ

First of all, there is no “is” (ἐστίν) in the Greek text, and there are a number of different ways one can construct the syntax.

Second, the term γραφή, which is often translated as “scripture,” is just the basic Greek term for any “written text.”

Third, the Greek term θεόπνευστος (often translated as “inspired by God”) is a pagan term meaning “inspired.” Indeed, in the New Testament there is no definition of “inspiration.”

The New English Bible (my preferred translation) translates the first part of 2 Timothy 3:16 as: “Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching…” But it could just as easily be translated as: “Every writing, both inspired and useful, is for teaching …” Thus the claim that 2 Timothy 3:16 claims that “All scripture is inspired …” is debatable. Furthermore, in the context of 2 Timothy 3, the written text in question does not and cannot possibly include the New Testament because it did not exist: it had not been written yet! It might refer to the Hebrew scriptures as they are now known, and certainly not to the Chrsitian Old Testament.  Rather it refers to the texts which Timothy may have read from early childhood and were in use in Judaeism in the 1st Cenutry CE. We don’t know what Timothy read from early childhood, but it might have contained some Old Testament book, and it might have contained other non-canonical books of the early Christians.

Thus, as Rev. Ant Howe pointed out, the Unitarian stance that "All scripture is inspired by God" (i.e. more than just the Bible) can be seen as just a valid interpretation - if not more so - than the Literalist view that "All Scripture( i.e.Bible only) is inspired....."

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Naming "God"

When we were kids in Sunday School, we were taught that God was a white man with a beard who sat on a throne and did nothing but have people stand around him and bow and tell him how amazing he is.

A Quaker friend of mine asked this question “What sort of omnipotent, omniscient God demands to be worshipped?”. Well, none. But just imagine if you applied the traditional imagery and personality we apply to God to a human being: all-knowing, all-powerful but yet with such low self-esteem that they want others to tell them how amazing they are, even try to control you and if they don’t get it they hate you. You’d send them for therapy! Would you want to even be friends? But yet this is the image many have of God: and indeed I and my atheist friends do not believe in exactly the same God – the one outlined above!