Whose God is it anyway?
November 28, 2002
I understand that the religious people, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, believe in their God based on something called Tanakh, Bible, or Quran, an anthology, a collection of many small books, and they all appear to share somewhat related Gods of their own with each other, while they all are determined to kill, cripple, and tear each apart in order to propagate their own God as a one, only, perfect, and universal God.
The Jew’s “Word of God” become the Muslim’s heresy and the Christian’s interpretation of it is perceived the Jew’s nightmare.
Therefore, no one religion, unbeknownst to many believers, can be studied in isolation from others.
For example, Jews introduced their God based on Torah, Prophets, and Writings, a collection of books that Christians call it Old Testament, in which Christians read in relationship to prophecies of the Second coming of Jesus Christ and Jews make no connection between them or interpret them differently from the Christian views.
As Hillel, a Jewish rabbi in the first century said: “Do not unto others as you would not have them do unto you,” Paul, a Pharisaic rabbi and a real starter of Christianity, turned Hillel’s dictum on somersault, saying “Do unto others as though would have them do unto thee”…a subtle difference in expression, but an analogous quote as Confucius said: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others,” or Aristotle in quote: “”We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends to behave to us.”
Christians in the era of Jesus Christ (they were all Jews then, not Christians as same as if Rev. Sun Myong Moon is a Christian now, not a heretic.) follow the words of the same One God of Judaism that the Old Testament prescribes to them, only adding a sequel of New Testament later, which tells the story of Jesus Christ as Son of God and He was, surprisingly unknown to many Christians, a devout Jewish rabbi who was born, lived, taught, and died a Jew.
The early Christians called themselves Jews and thought of themselves Jews until when Christianity became the official state religion of the Rome Empire in which the separation between the Jew and the Christian was accomplished.
Muslims, a group of devout Semites in the God of Abraham, initiated, six hundreds years after Jesus Christ died (if he ever existed), their Islamic religion based on Quran that was given to their prophet Muhammad, and surprisingly Quran mentioned about Moses (he is known as “Musa" in Islam) a few hundreds times.
Muhammad was even inspired by an apparition called “Gabriel”—one of the most important of the Christian angels—to spread the message from “Allah”, that is, the conceptual root in Islam can be found in Judaism and Christianity.
However, when you put a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian, a gathering of the devout and intelligent adult, in the same room and ask them whose God is right one, they can not agree with or can not agree to disagree with each other and get involved, at the drop of hat, with the fist fight like a bunch of red-faced teenagers.
The Jews boast: It is inconceivable to talk about history, world, or religion without Jew.
Therefore, there is no human being on the face of this earth exempt from the Jewish influence and Judaism.
The Christians, with superman, Uncle Sam, on their back, embark on the mission to perfect the world under the rule of the Christian God at any cost, as if all humans are wicked when they do not hold to the Christian religion.
The Muslims, while not denying their root in patriarch Abraham, demand an abject obedience to the Supreme Being of the Islam faith, “Allah”.
Islam is proclaimed the third and final revelation to God, warning infidels like Christians and Jews against the danger of false prophets and calling them to surrender to Allah or else.
No one denies the fact that more people because of religion have been murdered, tortured, maimed, hated, and humiliated than for any other reason in the history of man, and there has never been a genocide which was not fueled by religion, the most crippling detriment of them all to the human evolution.
Despite its otherworldliness, religion is entirely man-made and highly pragmatic human activity that could be justifiably abused in the name of God.
If we, humankind, endeavor to cultivate humanism among us, instead of surrendering to God or Allah, as an attempt to find the raison detre in life, all the Jews, Christians, Muslims, and atheists could agree with or agree to disagree with each other without the fistfight, because there are no perfect Gods but only the perishable mortals who share the equal and universal destiny without any exception.
Why do we need a God that makes us kill each other?
How about the humanism sans the worship of God as our religion?
November 30 2002
May I comment four points on your writing?
1. I totally agree that we need the study of comparative religion among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
2. I don’t agree that religious people are always immature ‘like a bunch of red-faced teenagers.’ I saw many holy believers who have tolerance to other religions.
3. You seem to argue that religion is the main cause of human tragedy like wars. Yes, partially agree on that. However, not only religion, but human actions like politics and economics can be charged as main factors of human tragedy
Do you think that the Korean War was religious war? Do you think that 9.11 tragedy was the only religious terror? I don’t think so. So it is wrong when you argue: “no one denies the fact that more people because of religion have been murdered, tortured, maimed, hated, and humiliated than for any other reason in the history of man, and there has never been a genocide which was not fueled by religion, the most crippling detriment of them all to the human evolution.”
4. In respect with humanism, I also worry that humanism also can be one of religions. I mean that it is hard to separate humanism and religion sharply, because they are all grounded on ‘human conviction’. Was Nazism a humanism or religion? I saw many cases when human beings hated and made harm to each other without real concern of religious truth. Humanism and religion truth are always good things. Problem is ‘distorted’ humanism and ‘corrupted’ religion.
Why don’t we talk about God who makes us in unity beyond differences of nation and ethnic?
If we have right faith in God, we must become peacemakers. This is the way religion can help humans be mature.
I think that true humanists and true religious persons have no contradiction.
December 4, 2002
This is a reply to your four comments on my article: Whose God is it anyway?
I think that we could skip the first two comments you have made on the subject, and I would like to jump in to the number-three comment that “religion among other things has played a major role in the causality of the human tragedy.”
I would like to clarify that I did not claim “religion” was only factor in bringing the human tragedy, but “more people because of religion” have suffered in human history, that is, I was saying that, comparatively, more than any other factors, such as politics, economics, and other causalities, religion has impinged mainly on the human casualties. (Your view on the Korean War and 9.11 tragedy could be discussed in other time if you would like to have it with me.)
You have argued in the fourth comment that humanism can be one of religion and it is hard to separate between them ‘sharply’, since both humanism and religion are grounded on human conviction.
According to the Random House English Dictionary (unabridged), humanism is a variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and ‘often rejects the importance of belief in God.”
I agree that both humanism and religion are the human constructs and therefore vulnerable to become ‘corrupt’ and ‘distorted’ products, however, humanism is a mode of thought sans the divine entity and intervention in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate
As the title of my article indicates, “Whose God is it anyway?” I pondered why humans bother to keep a God that has harmed themselves for thousands of years instead of salvaging from the wickedness in human nature.
In your reply, you suggested that we could talk about “true God”, “true religion”, “right faith in God”, or “true humanism”…in which I frankly am not comfortable to define what “true” means. (By chance, the Moonies, in their theocratic political movement, advocate the “True Family, True Family Value, True Father, True Mother, and True Parents”, defining that their God is a one and only “True God” and Rev. Moon is a true Messiah.)
I would like to ask you again:
Could we ever produce a true God that brings harmony among many ethnic believers in various fashions?
Could a true God to you be accepted as a universally true God by others whose lives in toto are absolutely foreign to yours?
What does the word “true” mean to you?
Is ‘true” meant to you a thing against false, corrupt, distorted, wrong, or without reason or logos?
Could your term “true” last forever, considering that men’s views of right and wrong have varied such an extent that no single item has been permanent?
PS. As a leftwing contrarian, not an accommodationist, I always thrive on conflict, dispute, dissent, and argument, and I would be extremely felt rejected if I did not generate dissent.
Therefore, it would be honor for me to have you responding to my writing.
Incidentally, I am also surprised to discover that you have been at the Anti-War rally in Washington DC last month, and I respect you chose not to stay inside the church quietly on a diet of benign passivity but to participate actively in your belief; “Love thy Neighbor whoever they are.”
I wonder aloud why none of your congregants gave you “a HIGH FIVE”…Pity!
December 4 2002
Happy to share with your idea
I can make a little comment on ‘truth’.
I understand truth in the sense of becoming or changing.
So when I mentioned ‘truth’, I didn’t mean a static or fixed reality.
When people hear that God is a being of change, it might hard to accept the idea, because people normally have the common sense that God is forever and unchangeable.
The Western mentality makes us difficult to value ‘change’.
Philosophy is metaphor. It has nothing to do with definition.
I think that the metaphor of change is more applicable to explain God or truth than metaphysical concept of perpetuity.
Water can be stayed in every kind of bowl regardless of its shape and size. I think that truth must be like this.
Whoever we are, God can be with us in every form.
Therefore, I think that God’s universality did not contradict with God’s locality.
My God is the same one whom Islam prays to. My God is the same thing that you seek in your humanistic reason.
You said that humans bother to keep God.
I think that God is not the being who must be kept by humans. We don’t need to worry how to prove God’s existence, because God is always in presence in all.
It doesn’t matter if we cannot prove God’s being. It is not a big problem although we cannot describe God. God just stays there. As you know from Tao De Jing, naming is not a big deal.
For productivity of our discussion, I think that we need to contemplate on the nature of human language about God more deeply.
In my knowledge, God can be described only in metaphor.
PS. Regarding Anti-War rally, I got much encouragement from my Gillbott friends including my pastor.
To Paul JDSN
December 9, 2002
Amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas--Plato is a friend but truth is a greater friend. (From a passage of Aristotle’s Ethics)
In reply to my inquiry on the nature of the word ‘true’ that you have used in describing your God, you have rather emphasized on the mutant nature than on the definition of the word ‘true’, because God can be described only in metaphor.
I have no problem accepting the mutant nature of your God, since the idea of God formed in one generation by one set of human beings was brutally discarded whenever it became irrelevant and powerless to their lives and swiftly replaced by the more relevant and ‘decaffeinated’ God, as the tribal and maniacal Yahweh has evolved into a universal and benign Jesus.
You implied that ‘truth’ should be remained flexible and mutable as if water can be poured into any shape or size of vessels…that is, as far as humans are concerned, there is no intrinsic difference or contradiction in human nature on the definition of God or truth. Everyone—Jews, Christians, Muslims, or Atheists—could have the same God.
It is another point that I could not possibly disagree with you, if I read you correctly.
Lastly, you said it’s no big deal whether we can prove or disprove God’s existence, because God stays everywhere in our human life, whether you call it God, Allah, Christ, Buddha, Ghost, Truth, or whatever.
The rub here is that every religion holds a dogmatic nature that you must believe in God and immortality, and I could have in no way a faith on God that promises a paradise or hell after my physical death.
Your metaphor on water reminds me of someone who said differently… Life is like water: it takes the shape of the vessel into which it is poured; remove the vessel and it is lost.
Here I take the vessel as our body and life as our mind; mind depend upon a property (a body) and cannot survive the disintegration of body, that is, the mind cannot survive the total destruction of brain structure that surely occurs at death.
Even though we would be born again after our physical death as every religion promises, “we” after our physical death would never be the same “we” before the death, because there would be no continuity in the human body, appearance, behavior, mind, habit or memory.
Our concept of God after the death might not be the same as we have now in this world or we, the human species always be pugnacious and adventurous, might attempt to change our “landlord” in order to make our after-death life more comfortable.
In essence, I think we should not go further in this matter, because it surely is going to be a wild goose chase and there is a danger we might get into the semantic fog of nonsensical discourse.
PS. Who is Tao De Jing?
By the way, I would like to inform you that one of the anti-war activists, father Philip Berrigan was dead on last Friday and his funeral will be held today at St Peter Clabber Church in West Baltimore. I am sure you may know him who spent his 40 years (11 years in prison), as a Catholic priest, of resistance to war and violence since the Vietnam War.
This information never appears in the mainstream media, and you may hear from Radio WBAI New York 99.5 FM at Democracy Now! (9 to 10AM: Mon. through Fri.) Or check www.commondreams.org or www.antiwar.com.