Sunday, 14 March 2010

Understanding Religion

I was motivated to produce this Blog when my nine year old grand-daughter told me. “God is dead!” When I asked who had told her this she replied, “My teacher.” It is apparent that atheism is being taught in at least some Victorian (Australia) schools, whether as part of the school curriculum or just by a zealous teacher I cannot ascertain. A grandson who attended the same school had also made this statement some years earlier but I assumed that it was just an opinion garnered from friends; apparently that is not the case the doctrine is being actively promoted.

It is for the benefit of these children and others like them that I have compiled this summary of religious concepts. Included is atheism because whether atheists want to accept it or not atheism is just a belief system like any other religious concept, it is no more provable than any other religion.


Atheism: As asserted in the previous statement atheism is a set of beliefs that are just as much a paradigm as any other religion. Many atheists believe that it is more “scientific” not to believe in a Supreme Being than to believe, but this simply demonstrates a lack of understanding of both religion and science. There are many scientists particularly physicist and cosmologists who believe there is no way that the universe could even exist without some form of conscious input. Many of my blogs and other papers discuss some of the complexities of our universe as do my books. There is nothing in science that can prove or disprove the existence of a Creator. Comments such as “God is dead” used by atheists to promote the ideology are an oxymoron; if there were no God how could he be dead? This claim presupposes that once there was a God but now he is no more. It is simply a comment made by a renowned atheist when he first heard of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Some atheists claim that evolution is the proof that God does not exist, but there are Biblical passages that support both the concept of God and also evolution. Read my previous blogs or buy my books for more details.

Buddhism: Is based on the teachings of Buddha Gautama (or Gotama) often referred to as “the enlightened one” whose meditations revealed the truth of existence. Buddhism is mainly spread throughout India and parts of Asia but has become popular in the west in recent times. By following the “path” taught by the Buddha, the individual can dispel the “ignorance” that perpetuates human suffering. The Buddha's doctrine is not one of despair. Living amid the impermanence of everything and being themselves impermanent, human beings search for the way of deliverance, for that which shines beyond the transitory human existence - in short, for enlightenment. Buddhists believe that they will be continually reincarnated until they reach this state. The principle of Karma is also very much a part of Buddhist belief, the word Karma comes from the Sanskrit: karman; literally “act,” or “deed” and the principle is identical to the Judeo-Christian concept; “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” In other words good deeds and acts beget good and evil begets evil.

Christianity: The main religion of the western world including America, Australia and most of Europe. This religion has formed the basis for most of our legal and moral laws; it commenced two thousand years ago based around the teachings of Jesus Christ a carpenter from Nazareth who was also a Rabbi (which means teacher). It is based on the Jewish Torah (Bible) and includes directives against such things as stealing, lying, murder and various immoral sexual activities such as adultery, bestiality, incest and homo-sexuality. Some of these laws today are looked on as archaic and no longer relevant, but the discarding of these concepts may be linked in some part to the increase of anti-social behaviour in our modern society. We have turned our back on the principles that made our society the most important the world has ever seen and consequently our civilisation is in serious decline with violence and illegal activities growing continually. Christianity is basically divided into Catholic and Protestant practices and followers observe a wide diversity of beliefs from the Gnostic view of Jesus as a teacher/prophet to the Catholic view of Jesus as God. Jesus is promoted as God made flesh; or the Son of God and is venerated to different degrees by different denominations. It is probably this confusion that has fuelled the atheistic vision of a dead God and is why atheism mainly occurs in predominantly Christian societies; perhaps atheism is merely a Christian sect.


Hinduism: Because it integrates a variety of elements, Hinduism constitutes a complex but largely continuous whole and has religious, social, economic, literary, and artistic aspects. As a religion, Hinduism is a composite of diverse doctrines, cults, and ways of life. The spectrum that ranges from the level of popular Hindu belief to that of elaborate ritual technique and philosophical speculation is very broad and is attended by many stages of transition and varieties of coexistence. Magic rites, animal worship, and belief in demons are often combined with the worship of more or less personal gods or with mysticism, asceticism, and abstract and profound theological systems or esoteric doctrines. The worship of local deities does not exclude the belief in pan-Indian higher gods or even in a single high God. Such local deities are also frequently looked upon as manifestations of a high God.

Islam: Commenced by Prophet Muhammad in Arabia in the 7th century AD. The Arabic term Islam, literally “surrender,” illuminates the fundamental religious idea of Islam—that the Muslim (from the active particle of Islam) accepts “surrender to the will of Allah (Arabic: God).” Allah is viewed as the sole God—creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world, but was the name applied in ancient times to the worship of a “Moon God”, which may be the origin of the crescent moon as the symbol of Islam. The will of Allah, to which man must submit, is made known through the sacred scriptures, the Koran, which Allah revealed to his messenger, Muhammad. In Islam Muhammad is considered the last of a series of prophets (including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others), and his message simultaneously consummates and completes the “revelations” attributed to earlier prophets. Modern Islam has become divided into various sects, many harbouring hatred toward the west and bent on world domination as part of Muslim eschatological beliefs. The culture of many Muslim societies is quite violent and oppressive compared to modern western societies; Muslim cultures often treat women and non-Muslims as second class citizens. Honour killings, wife beating, public execution by garrotting or stoning and many other accepted Muslim cultural concepts are quite repugnant to western society.

Judaism: The oldest of the major religions Jewish identity has been chiefly defined in terms of the observance of the commandments and of the Oral Law. Many consider that Judaism began with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but the name Judaism comes from Judea and the Hebrews did not acquire this region until after the Exodus from Egypt, the arrival in the “Promised Land” with the Ark of the Covenant and the Commandments truly began Judaism. The region and the people were conquered a number of times by the Babylonians, the Greeks and the Romans but they maintained their identity by their observance of the laws regarding circumcision, diet and various cultural practices. More than other religions Judaism is a specific way of life where the religious practices form part of every daily task. Orthodox Jews are those who are most observant and adhere to the Torah instructions completely others assimilate more into society in general. Jews are often referred to as the “chosen people” and for this reason are sometimes discriminated against but the term “chosen” simply means that they are chosen to bring the Torah (Bible) and the commandments to the rest of the world. They are also chosen to be “a nation of priests” and to set the example for the world of how to live with justice and mercy. Today Judaism, Jews and Israel are often denigrated and blamed for all sorts of problems but this is usually by those with vested interests or those who are ill informed.

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This briefly covers the major religions that exist in Australia today; there are others with small followings such as Bahai and Zoroastrianism but these are really just sects of Islam; or Hare Krishna which is a Hindu sect; the common religions that we are most likely to encounter are those described. Much of religion has to do with personal belief and views so my opinions and perceptions may differ from some adherents, but I did glean much of my information from various encyclopaedias. I apologise to those whose beliefs have not been covered or if my opinion differs from your own perception but if you really want to know more about a religion you should ask someone properly qualified in that religion.

We should not simply assume that our opinion is correct and so everyone else is wrong, or that religion is false and has nothing to add to society. Until recently our society was religious to its very core our very culture is based on the religious beliefs of our forefathers. There are reasons that we have drifted away from belief and they have nothing to do with science - rather more to do with apathy; but as the comedian said, “Who cares?”



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Our Amazing World

In an earlier blog I examined how the magnetosphere protects the Earth from the solar wind and how the solar wind protects us from cosmic microwaves so that our home planet exists like a bubble within a bubble protected from dangerous radiation. We also live in a universe where the various forces (nuclear, electromagnetic and gravity) are incredibly finely tuned to allow not only matter to exist but life itself. The universe is fine-tuned so that twenty different constants are in remarkable balance and we have no idea why. The forces are balanced one to 10 to the 37th power (that is ten followed by 37 zeroes), one to 10 to the 40th (40 zeroes) power and one to 10 to the 55th (55 zeroes) power; in short our universe should not even exist let alone support life.

Climate has also been in the news and discussed at great length over the last few years and whether you subscribe to the concept of man made global warming or disagree with the idea you need to be aware of just how finely tuned the Earth is to support life. The moon orbits the Earth at an angle that stabilises the Earth with its axis at an angle that generates the seasons that make our world productive. The Earth also orbits the sun in an elliptic orbit that sees it move closer to the sun at one point and further away at other times. This may not seem to be an important matter but the geography of the Earth is such that the greater land mass is in the Northern Hemisphere and the bulk of the oceans are in the South. Oceans warm and cool much slower than land masses and distribute the temperature through ocean currents. The Earth’s southern summer occurs when Earth is at perihelion or its closest point to the sun and apogee occurs in the southern winter. The opposite seasons in the North mean the Earth’s geography is such that its very design and orbit serve to balance what would otherwise be serious temperature fluctuations.

Since the advent of satellites we have also known that the Earth is slightly pear shaped, bulging somewhat in the south, this is because the Earth’s rotation affects the oceans more than the land. Our sun also orbits the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy but the plane of the solar system is at right angles to the galactic plane meaning that as we travel through space the Northern Hemisphere faces “outward” but the south faces in toward the galactic centre. The angle allows the magnetosphere to provide maximum protection on our planet’s journey through space.

We now have even more interesting discoveries about the structure of the universe and the nature of our world. Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, suggested that the universe may be holographic in nature and sent his work to the GEO600 experiment near Hanover in Germany. This is a group trying to detect gravity waves and Hogan calculated that their equipment might find an interference signal. The experimenters confirmed that they had in fact discovered something they could not explain and it turned out to be what Hogan’s paper predicted. When informed of the discovery Hogan said, "If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram."

Now we come to the really interesting part, the holographic nature of the universe means that just as a hologram is projected by a laser, something outside our universe is creating all that we experience. This is a principle advocated thousands of years ago by students of Kabbalah (the system of Jewish mysticism) who claim the universe is created and maintained by emanations of Nitzutzei Kedusha (Holy Sparks) coming from the Creator. Just as religion claimed the universe had a beginning when scientists still believed that it was eternal and had always existed now it seems that religion has again beaten science to the punch because the universe did not just happen, it is being continually created (or projected) by something (or someone) outside our experience or current ability to detect.


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Friday, 5 March 2010

2012 - Civil Unrest

Throughout history there have been many predictions about the near future, the best known is probably the Mayan calendar which ends on a specific date; December 21st 2012. Hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon and produced a movie showing disaster and extreme calamities at that time. History channel has created a whole series listing the various legends, cultures and Biblical chapters that appear to predict an end of the world in our time. None however has looked at what this concept is doing to our civilisation.

In all these productions the content of the predictions has been embellished to present a picture of doom and gloom and promote an expectation of catastrophe. We live in a time of increasing unrest; violence and civil disobedience seem to increase everyday. Every disaster brings looters our churches are empty and our jails are full, older citizens are generally sure that there is a connection. In my lifetime, in my home state, I have seen murders increase from about two each year to more than that everyday. Militant atheists claim that religion is the cause of evil and actively denigrate belief, homosexuality is actively promoted as an acceptable “alternative lifestyle” and we wonder why our society is failing. The Judeo-Christian beliefs and laws on which our society was based and by which it became the most important culture in the world have been discarded and we wonder why our civilisation is failing. It is not failing; we have abandoned it.

One of the major problems facing many today is how to remain safe; it is sometimes not safe simply to go shopping, this problem may easily become worse as time passes. Fortunately many things today can be obtained via the internet thus avoiding areas where difficulties might be encountered. It is also prudent to maintain quantities of foodstuffs, medicines and similar items in a special kit much as those in earthquake or storm prone regions are urged to keep. Events that appear to signify approaching doom will no doubt trigger panic and violent deeds in those who are prone to fear or erratic behaviour.

Many of the predictions, particularly those in the Bible, not only predict turmoil but also a new beginning and a new age of peace. We should be prepared not just for destruction but for a bright new future, it is difficult for the atheists and those with no faith to comprehend and they will no doubt succumb to fear, but those with faith take heart from the words of Zechariah.

Zechariah 13:8
"In the whole land" declares the Lord,
"Two thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one third will be left in it."

Zechariah 13:9
"This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.
They will call on my name and I will answer them,
I will say, "They are my people" and they will say, "The Lord is our God."

This is a particularly interesting prediction because a recent worldwide survey revealed that on the whole Earth only one third of all people pray daily, the others either do not know, do not care or are simply avowed atheists. It appears that this ratio was known almost three thousand years ago.

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