The Magian Age
Kingdoms of Sand, Wannabe Prophets,
and Obsolete Religions
The Unholy Land,
Crumbling Sand Castles, and Tainted Religions
1. Moral Religions: Built Upon Sand
Most people are brainwashed from birth into a religion. The stories we are taught, some of them entirely false, eventually become a solid pseudo-reality that progressively shapes our lives and view of the world.
Religions are essentially theologies or theories that explain the universe and the afterlife. There are two very different types of theologies, moral religions, which deal mostly with sin and morality, and spiritual systems (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.), which focus on personal growth and enlightenment.
In their explanation of the universe, spiritual systems described a model of the atom over a thousand years before science did. Although eventually overtaken by the latter, spiritual theologies were built on a solid attempt at the truth.
The explanation for the physical world, including its creation, of all major moral faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) has been proven to be totally false by science. If the premises of a theology are false, its theistic hierarchy (God as creator, the Holy Trinity, etc.) and values are likely to be false or off in one way or another.
As such, it should not be a surprise that new generations are leaving moral religions for either secularism or spirituality.
Where is the inspiration in a religion when, after 2000 years of leadership, it is caught in one child abuse or paedophilia scandal after another?
Where is the inspiration when problems are not dealt with in a straightforward manner: cover ups, decades-late acknowledgement of responsibility, excuses, legal manoeuvring, etc.?
Where is the inspiration in a religion when it has the death penalty for leaving it (apostasy), when people have to literally escape from it, or when it has no freedom of thought, jailing individuals for criticising it.
Major moral religions are in crisis today, either crumbling under the weight of disinterest and scandals, irrelevance and wars, or violent springs followed by more violence, simply because they were built upon sand from the start.
2. Following Followers Rather Than Prophets
Being the birthplace of major religions, the land of Israel and Palestine should be a symbol of faith, renewal, peace, the coming together of different peoples in the name of God, or whatever you prefer to call it. Yet, it has become the most desecrated place on Earth, the Unholy Land. Think about the various killings and massacres of the crusades for its possession. Think about all the deaths directly related to the current and continuing conflict over it. Think about the related external wars pitting the Middle East against the West in its wake.
In February 2019 the Vatican had a conference on Robotics and AI. What do these things really have to do with Jesus of Nazareth?
It is but one example of clericalism, where individuals who are not prophets take control of a religion, make new rules, and transform it into their own version, often splintering and tainting, or even adulterating, the meaning of the original faith in the process.
The next thing you know, a religion is no longer based on the teachings of the prophet but on those of clerics and power seekers.
As part of my journey, I read the Koran. To my surprise, I was told by a Sunni Muslim that they "did not follow the Koran but the Sunna", a mix of traditions and teachings of the Koran. This is not necessarily bad, but it is no longer pure Islam, it is a mix of clericalism and Islam.
In addition to the above, clerics are not always right. They can interpret the scriptures incorrectly. As well, before the invention of printing, books were transcribed manually by individuals. It was easy for a zealous scribe to add, remove, or exaggerate things, all for the glory of God.
There is nothing wrong with a cleric pointing people to original scriptures or giving them copies of holy texts. But, the moment they add or change one word from the prophets or make new rules, they adulterate the religion. They assume that they know better than their prophet. Who are they to do this? Clerics are neither inspired nor prophets, otherwise, they would have started their own religion. They are followers of prophets.
The same goes for adding traditions or other materials to a religion, unless the prophet has done so, or interpreting scriptures to others, in which case they pass on to them their own meaning. Who knows how close it is to that of the prophet? You do not accept second best when dealing with faith.
Sectarianism and schisms within religions are on account of clerics as there is only one prophet. And, these have been deadly in the past and continue to be so today. In fact, they are major causes of war.
If there were no clerics, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam would all be one religion.
In monotheism there is only one God!
Even after well over a thousand years of clerical religious leadership, children of God are still killing children of God for the glory of God!
Not only are major moral religions built upon sand rather than the truth, but after prophets die, followers and wannabe prophets take over.
Going straight to the original scriptures is the thing to do, but that is problematic as seen above and as we will see in the following section.
A Kingdom Built Upon Sand
1. Jesus: A Tale of Deception
If your are a Christian, you were probably taught that Jesus of Nazareth was conceived miraculously and born in Bethlehem, was the Christ of the Jewish prophecy, did many miracles, and resurrected after being crucified. Or, at least, this was the gospels' story according to the Church. When I actively started researching my faith, several things about this made me angry.
Firstly, the four gospels were actually all written anonymously. Their authorship remains speculative to this day. The first, the Gospel according to Mark, is about the teachings of St. Peter and thought to have been authored by a second-generation Christian about 70 A.D. That is a long time in which an oral story has had plenty of opportunities to change and become exaggerated. In addition, it is third-hand information. It was neither written by Jesus nor any of the twelve apostles.
The gospels of Matthew and Luke are actually synoptic or copies based on Mark's own gospel. As such, they have no value in terms of corroborating evidence. They include extra material from what is believed to be mostly, if not only, oral tradition, making it unreliable. (Wikipedia, Historical reliability of the Gospels, April 10, 2019).
In fact, the miraculous virgin birth and nativity story that we have all heard is not in the Gospel of Mark. It is found only in those of Matthew and Luke, which suggests they are fraudulent additions as their gospels are based on Mark's. Is it really possible that such miracles and a story that sets Jesus as the very messiah of the Jewish prophecy may not have been known by Mark? Absolutely not. That Jesus was the Christ is central to the Christian faith!
In fact, Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” (2013) and well respected religious commentator argued in a Washington Post article (Reza Aslan, Five myths about Jesus, September 26, 2013) that Jesus may not have been the messiah of the Hebrew scriptures. The prophecies required that the messiah,
be born in [King] David’s city: Bethlehem. But Jesus was so identified with Nazareth, the city where most scholars believe He was born, that He was known throughout his life as “the Nazarene.” The early Christians needed a creative solution to get Jesus’s parents to Bethlehem so He could be born in the same city as David.
He goes on to dismiss the Roman census story in Luke's gospel as untrue as the census was not carried out in Galilee but only in Judea, Samaria and Idumea, and was for the purpose of taxes assessed based on place of residence, not birth, just like today.
It looks like one of the most fundamental stories of the New Testament and Christianity is false. Scholars have also found that Matthew's and Luke's additions are not even consistent with each other, for example, having contradictory genealogies. See Nativity of Jesus for further details.
The Gospel of John does not have the virgin birth and nativity stories either. Was its author also out of the loop about the core event of his own faith? Most scholars believe that it was written even later than the other ones, around 90 to 110 years after the death of Jesus, again, making it an unreliable source. Its authorship is also in dispute, in addition to the fact that John would have been over 100 years old when he wrote it.
As well, the text is reported to be very different from Mark's gospel and problematic, featuring interpolations, which are errors, non-authentic additions, or alterations made by scribes sometimes centuries after the original writing. Interpolations have also been found to be a problem in other gospels. See Wikipedia, Historical reliability of the Gospels, April 10, 2019.
2. Deception, Power, and Truth
There are two major layers of deception in the story most of us heard in church. In the 10 years I spent as a Christian, there was never even once a word of caution about the anonymity of the gospels or the question of reliability and authenticity of some of their accounts. It was always presented as a perfect and seamless miraculous story.
The second layer of deception is that by cherry-picking pieces of information from different gospels, clerics created a story that looks fantastic on the surface but is effectively false. Worse, they did so in full awareness of the issues regarding the inconsistency of the so-called sacred texts. All of this led me to feeling deeply betrayed and that I could not trust the Church about anything to do with faith.
One of the implications of the fantastic but ultimately false story is that it leads to the worship of Jesus--which is idolatrous, hierarchist, and ultimately destructive as expressed earlier rather than to the values in his teachings, which is constructive. Of course, similar criticism can be made about Judaism and Islam. No major moral religion is immune to the problems of clericalism.
If you look at today's major moral religions based on symbolism, worship, and hierarchism, they are either floundering under one scandal or another or at war with others and even with themselves.
On the other hand, we are increasingly seeing that some people have chosen to focus on the values behind their faith. They are abandoning organized religions--the buildings, the clerics, the rituals, the hierarchism--and are slowly weaving the meaning underpinning their faiths into the secular fabric of society, making the world a better place (see Deserting Religions for Spirituality).
As a result, Western secularism and godless Europe--to use the words of Pope John Paul II (see Deserting Religions for Spirituality)--and people everywhere else that are following their lead are becoming a truer legacy to Jesus of Nazareth than Christianity.
The bottom line is, we do not really know what is true and what is not in scriptures.
Prophets, Clerics, and Obsolete Religions
1. False Prophets and False Leadership
The Parable of the Tree and its Fruits (Matthew 7:15-20) says:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits."
The fantastic story taught in Church gave Christian authorities immense power, but in the wrong hands, power leads away from God. Think of the Cathar Genocide. Think of the sexual abuse and paedophilia scandals and their cover-up by the Church hierarchy. Think of the centuries of Medieval Inquisition, which involved the papal-sanctioned torture of people belonging to minority faiths, heretics (Wikipedia, Inquisition, September 14, 2019). Think of the centuries of condemnation of and resulting hate towards the LGBTQ+ community.
When exactly did Jesus of Nazareth order all of these things?
Power is only a good thing in the hands of true leaders. It results in abuse, hate, and destruction in the hands of false ones.
Economic wars may not always be avoidable, but in faith-based conflicts, children of God are involved in murdering other children of God over their clerics' different interpretations of the same scriptures.
There are many prophets in the scriptures. Some are real and actually prophetic. That is, they put forward values that are true, constructive, and liberating and will still be so even a thousand years later. Others are at least inspired and will bring changes that are in part beneficial. Others yet are simple religious leaders that were glorified by people as prophets for one reason or another. They leave a legacy of rules that may be constructive for a time but no longer make sense and become oppressive later on because they are not prophetic.
Prophetic values are inspired. Others are thought out by men and women and become problematic in the long run especially when frozen forever into a religion because they are not timeless.
Clerics are not inspired prophets. If they were, they would be called prophets, not clerics. When they declare non-prophetic values to be the Word of God, those continue to be applied centuries later even when they become oppressive and harmful.
It can be difficult to tell whether someone is a true leader or not. Think of politics. Both good and bad politicians make grand promises, but only the former deliver on them. The Parable of the Tree and its Fruits helps us tell the true leaders from the false ones and the prophetic prophets from the others, by their fruit, the result of their actions.
2. Dated and Obsolete Religions
Yesterday's Cathar Genocide and today's chaos of child abuse, paedophilia scandals, and religious and sectarian wars in the Middle East are a massive indictment against all of today's major moral faiths.
Clerical authorities gave themselves absolute power over the faithful by claiming the scriptures to be the Word of God. But the price of that absolute power was the death of their own religion as they froze them in time because the Word of God cannot be changed by clerics.
When science eventually proved many facts of the scriptures to be false, i.e. that the Bible was not the truth, Word-of-God faiths lost all authority. If a religion does not teach the truth, then what is it? Why would anyone follow a value system that teaches falsehoods?
The evidence left by God in creation and history shows that today's major moral religions are based on false foundations. They are also dated and cannot be modernized because clerics in a rush for absolute power froze them in time as the Word of God.
It made them immensely powerful but obsolete from the start and oppressive and destructive in the long run because only the truth is prophetic and only the truth leads to God.
Maybe it is just not a coincidence that they are still killing each other even after at least almost 1,500 years of existence each.
If you have ever tried to leave a religion, you were likely told that you would lose your soul, that you had been seduced by the devil, or that you would never go to heaven. That was probably the first time that you realized that all doors leading out of your religion were labelled 'Evil', that you were essentially a hostage in a prison.
The question is, if God is the best thing there is, why would he/she try to prevent anyone from going outside to verify this? You would expect this kind of behaviour from Satan, not wanting to let anyone out, lest they find the true God.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is the story of a son leaving his own father thinking there were greener fields elsewhere. After squandering his money and experiencing hardships, he realizes that his father's was really the best place on Earth and comes back home. To his sibling's surprise, the father does not kill him upon his return but throws a big party. To me, that was the door out. I could go out and verify if the Catholic God was the true one and be welcome back home if that was the case, or find true faith elsewhere if it was not.
The true God is not afraid that his/her own children will go out and find that things are better elsewhere. Only evil is afraid of that. If you ever leave your religion, the true God will always welcome you back. But, if your faith is false or corrupted, the Parable of the Prodigal Son gives you a door out.
Religions should be liberating and for the betterment of humanity.
Clerics gave us scriptures and religions.
But, God left evidence everywhere in creation and history so that science could one day expose what is false in them and his/her children finally know the truth (see The True Path).
God gave religions power so they can one day bear fruit and his/her children tell the true leaders from the false ones, and the true prophetic religions from the others.
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