Archive for the ‘Religion’ category

Sizing Up God

December 26, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 147545805 Copyright: kamchatka

In ancient times people saw gods in the rocks and trees, idols they made and volcanoes and lightning and thunder. These were gods that were larger than they, but they were accessible. Their gods lived in their environment. Their gods were arbitrary, but they tried to appease them anyway.

Roman and Greek gods were larger than the material world, and they manipulated the material world for their own ends. They controlled volcanoes and earthquakes and lightning and thunder, but they were human-like, even in their imperfections. People could approach them. People could reason with and try to appease them.

Buddhist, Hindu and Eastern gods are not defined by the rocks, trees, lightning and thunder. They do not simply manipulate the material world. They are intimately and intricately part of the material world, and the material world is an extension of them, and the entirety of the material world is all ultimately one and the same in its essence.

Many scientists, like Einstein, who stood in awe of the universe, saw “god” in this way. People can fathom these gods/this god and understand them/it and seek to become one with them/it because these gods are made of the same stuff as people and all of the universe ultimately. These gods cannot be appeased. We can only hope to understand them.

But these gods are too small.

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Distinctions Make All the Difference

December 22, 2017

Photo courtesy of Tyler Drendel

Ravi Zacharias has spoken to orthodox theological scholars of Islam and orthodox theological scholars of Christianity around the world. He speaks from experience when he says that those orthodox scholars who know the sacred texts do not say that the God of the Quran and the God of the Bible are the same deity. Pluralism is a positive and important cultural value, and we can value pluralism without sacrificing distinctions or truth.

We don’t embrace the beliefs of “Flat-earthers” in the name of pluralism. They are free to believe what they want to believe, but we shouldn’t let the flat earth position affect how we do science or how we view the world because of pluralism. An appreciation and respect for different cultures and ways of viewing and living in the world should not dictate an embrace of positions that are inherently contradictory with each other or compel us to abandon reason or truth.

In the clamor and noise of the connected world in which we live, we are tempted to minimize or ignore differences. We often only see a rudimentary and distorted view of things, and we are apt, therefore, to come to incomplete and inaccurate conclusions without a nuanced understanding of those things. We might be tempted to think that all major world religions are fundamentally geared in the same direction, being merely different approaches to the same end. We might be tempted to think that Christianity is a very politically orientated and conservative, western worldview that is arbitrarily exclusive and, therefore, elitist.

Ravi Zacharias grew up Hindu in a world in which Buddhism, Islam, and other religions were more prevalent than Christianity. His background lends some credibility to his observation that no religion offers redemption like Christianity does. Other world religions offer a way of attainment that must be earned. Christianity is unique in this respect in its view of God and our relation to God, and Christianity is uniquely accessible to all people in all places to the same extent.

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Reformation and Renewal

October 31, 2017

depositphotos Image ID: 10694365 Copyright: rumifaz

Since some of us are celebrating the Reformation today. I don’t really care about Halloween, so I figure I should say something about the Reformation.

You might call me a reformed Catholic. I grew up in the Catholic Church. When I encountered Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, who shed His glory to become a man, walked in obedience to His own purposes, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the dead, my life changed.

When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I left the Catholic Church for greener pastures and still waters. I have been involved with and visited many churches since then, and I am still looking for greener pastures and still waters. Along the way, I have learned that Catholics haven’t cornered the market on rigid structures and white-washed tombs.

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Rejecting the Right God

October 5, 2017

Depositphotos mage ID: 46970151 Copyright: JanMika

It occurs to me that the “new atheists” are rejecting the wrong God. They are famous for saying that they don’t believe in the Christian God any more than they believe Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It seems to me that, if someone is going to reject God, they ought to be rejecting the right one.

Not all gods are created equal. The Christian concept of God is not on a par with Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to say the very least.

The ignorance of the new atheists about these things is rather shocking, though it shouldn’t be altogether surprising. They admit they find no use for such things as gods and, therefore, have spent no time studying or considering them. The ignorance is more willful then due to any lack in ability to understand.

I can’t do justice to the subject in a short blog, but I will try to summarize. The only serious contenders for consideration as God are the gods of the major world religions. They can’t all be true because they are incompatible with each other[1], so which one, if any of them, is the most likely candidate?

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In Need of a Raja

June 28, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 42117413 Copyright: vverve

Most of us have heard the story about the blind men and the elephant. I heard it in a world religion class in 1978, my first year of college. The story is most often told in the context of the world religions. And, the story is most often told as an allegory suggesting that all religions are really getting at the same thing (the elephant).

If you haven’t heard the story, I will re-tell it. If you have heard the story, please bear with me because telling the story with its original conclusion is an important exercise in understanding the message.

If your antennae are up, you might have caught the hint that this story, with the original conclusion, has a twist. The story usually isn’t told with the original conclusion, so the point of the original conclusion is often “lost in the translation”. And, the original conclusion leads to a very different point than the commonly asserted message.

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Was the Jesus Story a Copycat from Pagan Myth?

April 23, 2017


The answer is pretty decisively, no! Much has been said of this popular Internet opinion by actual historians and biblical scholars of every stripe, Christian, agnostic and atheist. No modern scholars, meaning men and woman who have proven themselves in the world of academia, which usually means have been vetted by peer review, hold to this view today.

This is true whether the scholar happens to be a theist or atheist, believer or nonbeliever. There simply isn’t any credible evidence for it. The only evidence lives in the active imaginations of people who want it to be true, like Bill Maher. In fact, he did a movie about it.

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Rabbit Holes from Age to New Age

March 18, 2017

From the Steven Bancarz YouTube channel

I have never been into New Age religion. I swerved close to it at one time. I was intrigued by Buddhism and tended toward Eastern religion at that time. New age philosophy was also intriguing to me in those days, though I didn’t have a label for it. But, my path took a turn away from New Age philosophy and Eastern religion a long time ago.

I have been a student of religion since I took a world religion class in college. For what it is worth, I have never thought that scientific truth and religious truth were incompatible, but I have never felt that one necessarily leads to (or excludes the other) the other. Further, it seems self-evident that all truth is harmonious, and any contradiction between the science and religion is likely due to an errant interpretation of one or the other, or both.

Science deals with the realm of the natural world, matter, energy and all the things that we can touch, feel, measure and quantify. Religion deals in the metaphysical, which is no less true. Beauty is no less “true” than gravity, but they cannot be approached in the same way.

We all put our faith in something; though materialists don’t want to believe that. A materialist is someone who believes simply and only in the material, natural world. The materialist puts his confidence in that premise and entrusts himself to it. That is a faith as sure as anyone who believes in a god.

Truth matters. I could ignore the truth of gravity, but I do that to my own peril. My disbelief in gravity at some point is likely to get me into trouble, and it might land me in the hospital. Spiritual truth matters as well, though it is much more difficult to grab hold of for obvious reasons. So I am attracted toward people who are able to reach some clarity in the realm of spiritual truth, like Steven Bancarz, a former expert in “spirit science”.

Steven Bacarz was the owner and editor of the Facebook page, Spirit Science and Metaphysics. He wrote for the largest New Age website on the Internet. Steven’s website was so successful that he had 150,000 to 200,000 views every day and “was making a killing off of ad revenue”, but he terminated the webpage and now advocates a different way. (more…)


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