Caricaturing and disapproving sceptics, religious critics and figured out ethics

Since 1872 when the UK Parliament authorised public meetings, very Sunday, Londoners gather at ‘Speaker’s Corner’ in Hyde Park to talk, debate and preach about whatever they choose.

In the 1970ies wherever you went in London you could find street corner preachers of which some also presented themselves as prophets. They where full of fire and let their spirit go over many listeners and curious onlookers.  Often they acted as if they were deeply concerned about the fate of souls. With those who disagreed with they were willing to show their way of thinking was right.

The street corner preachers are gone, but today we have the online preachers. Their attitude does seem to be quite similar like their old colleague’s. John Blake from CNN does find you can tell that those contemporary street corner preachers relish the prospect of eternal torment for their online enemies.

Some don’t even try to hide their true motives:

“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

Okay, so that’s the wrong way to argue about religion online if you’re a street corner prophet. Now, here’s the right way:

Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment. People rarely listen to someone who is in perpetual attack mode.

MSN Classic sign-in screen

MSN Classic sign-in screen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I had my MSN blog and reacted on several MSN Groups I encountered often very unchristian attitudes and even got several viruses especially send to my mailbox. Some reactors or so called Christians would not have hesitated to put shit in my mailbox. It was incredible how some people who I did not know personally, and who did not really knew me, reacted and called me all sorts of names. Those Christian shouters were all the time Trinitarians defending their belief as the only one belief. Non-trinitarians were called heretics and even nonbelievers, though according to me everybody does belief something.

 

The first page of the Nicomachean Ethics in Gr...

The first page of the Nicomachean Ethics in Greek and Latin, from a 1566 edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aristotle who could not be called ‘a believer’ in his Nicomachean Ethics believed already that people could study ethics and by doing so could become good, and in so doing become a virtuous, flourishing, fulfilled, happy human being.
The agnostic as a person who claims, with respect to any particular question, that the answer cannot be known with certainty, may have an open mind about religious belief, especially the existence of God, but often believes that because there is no reference to any concept of gods or the supernatural that it does not mean there would be not such special power or not something after death.

The humanist, who wants to take a philosophical position that stresses the autonomy of human reason in contradistinction to the authority of the Church, may believe that moral values follow on from human nature and experience in some way. Most humanists would agree or believe that people should work together to improve the quality of life for all and make it more equitable. According to some, humanism is a full philosophy, “life stance” or worldview, rather than being about one aspect of religion, knowledge, or politics.

With many who say they are “non-religious” we can find the believe in humanity. Many of them look for the way and sense of life. Even when they reject the idea of any supernatural agency, they are aware of the universe and the placing of the human being in the whole ‘creation‘. They also belief we should look for ways to make the best out of the world.

Sceptics as either doubter, cynic or a person who believes the worst about people or the outcome of events, perhaps may swear that they do not believe in anything, but already by swearing they confess a certain believe. It is their belief that there is doubt about all the many religious sayings, myths, supernatural or “paranormal” beliefs. More than one cynic believes that people always act selfishly and that people are malformed by their upbringing and cultural environment..

 Organizers of the “Open Hearts, Open Minds” conference at an Oct. 15 press conference: from left, Frances Kissling of the University of Pennsylvania, Peter Singer of Princeton, Jennifer Miller of Bioethics International, and Charles Camosy of Fordham.

Organizers of the “Open Hearts, Open Minds” conference at an Oct. 15 press conference: from left, Frances Kissling of the University of Pennsylvania, Peter Singer of Princeton, Jennifer Miller of Bioethics International, and Charles Camosy of Fordham.

Charles Camosy, who teaches Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York City may find those who give criticism, those who go against somebody his thoughts, are justified to do so, and we should understand that they sometimes react in ways we would not expect. His academic work focuses in biomedical ethics, but he is also very interested in the confluence of ethics, theology and politics in our public sphere more broadly.

In his work the Roman Catholic got confronted with many opinions. He did not mind to look at discussable subjects, like we would like to tackle on this platform. As such he has spent considerable time working to find ways to dial down the polarization in our public sphere and fruitfully engage difficult issues like abortion, euthanasia, treatment of non-human animals, and health care distribution.

According to him and us, the key of understanding and ability to talk about such subjects is to be open for an other opinion and to have

intellectual solidarity with those who think differently.

In his second book Camosy engages the first sustained and fruitful conversation between Peter Singer and Christian ethics — and once again considers a wide variety of bioethical and social issues. As a non-typical Catholic moral theologian he questions how Singer can push Catholic ethics to greater depth and how Catholic ethics can push Peter Singer to greater depth. For example, on the issue of abortion, the differences appear insurmountable. Singer not only holds that abortion can be morally licit but also infanticide.

In Camosy his work he points out several areas of commonality, and that is what many Christians overlook. Being part of the same body, the Body of Christ, using the same book as their base, the Bible, they should have more things in common or otherwise it would be clear that they are not following their so called teacher Jesus of Nazareth.

Camosy says that online discussions about religion are difficult because they are not in person. Tone and nuance gets lost online.

“You can’t look them in the face,” he said. “You can’t shake their hand or give a hug. You find it very difficult to have that sort of embodied trust.”

According to John Blake who witnessed some of the nastiest religious arguments online

It’s too bad that many of the exchanges between atheists and people of faith in our comments section don’t follow the same script.

He gets the source of frustration for some atheists.

They have longed been caricatured by people of faith as moral degenerates who don’t care about morality. Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales.

Whatever a person may believe or how he may look at those who believe certain things, he should know that everybody may have a field in which he may know a lot. We should know that we can not know everything and can not have enough knowledge in the many fields of science. For many it is difficult to accept that there is a limit to knowledge also for themselves.

To debate about religion should not mean to go to war against those who think differently. In case we are interested in religion we may encounter some extreme interpretations and reactions, knowing that many thoughts come from the emotional heart.

In interviews after the Rutgers event, Singer and Camosy each gave the same answer: dogmatism. Camosy elaborates:

Furthermore, I think most disagreement comes – not from differences in evidence in argument – but because of social or emotive reasons. Someone is turned off by a group of people who hold a particular view, or part of their self-identity comes from not being like another group, and thus the arguments are built on top of that first principle as to why such a group holds mistaken views. And so on.

James Goodrich writes:

We would be naïve to think that there aren’t overly dogmatic persons or those who define themselves by their opposition in both camps. Given this thought, could it be the case that we ourselves, in some sense, are responsible for a lack of ethical progress? Could progress be made if we all were all actually able to sit down together with open minds and our best arguments? I think it’s not irrational to be hopeful. It is unlikely that we can completely do away with some level of dogmatism, but if the reason disagreement persists is in part due to social reasons, then perhaps given enough time progress is indeed obtainable.

We might come to find, at least with respect to ethics, that religious and secular thinkers really did just start from different places at the base of the mountain and will someday meet at the peak.

According to it’s probably one of the most intractable and complex questions in philosophy to know how free will, determinism and moral responsibility work together. Those who call themselves Christians should have a certain moral and an attitude to all people who are according the Bible created in the image of God and part of His Masterwork. Of those who call themselves children of the Creator God you would expect moral responsibility.

Charles Camosy

our will needs to be, at some important juncture, determined by something we identify with as ‘us’.  What specific kinds of things might these be?  Well, the normal things you might imagine: our interests, goals, values, moral convictions, characters, motivations, processes of deliberation, etc.  (And additionally, these things need to be left up to us and not ultimately determined by some other mind with their own interests, goals, etc… among a few other clauses which space won’t permit.)

In many religious groups though, we may find that the disagreements there are should not always be such a terrible stumbling block. Lots of time many similarities can be found, or little details which are not as important to the outcome, they may think.

As children of God we should respect the other creations of God, and accept that they may have their own interests and their own believes. We should imagine a multitude of possibilities in this world, or models of the way the world could be. We also should accept that not everybody wants to choose the same things or the same order. We should leave them the liberty to choose freely,

pick between them based on our personal interests and values a la Hume.

When defining free will simply (and crudely) as “an uncaused will” or “caused by nothing but ‘myself’”, you get the kinds of tensions that keep some determinists up at night.  However, why define it this way?  Why not define it differently?

We all have a very real experience of free will, of choosing between live ‘options’, and of being morally ‘responsible’.  There is a very real phenomena I seem to be pointing at with these words that begs an explanation.  So it seems that there are really two separate kinds of free wills, or ways in which we use the term free will.  Specifically, ‘free will’ can refer to 1) a concept or definition or 2) a phenomena we experience.

Cupido

To understand this think of “Love”.  Love is an very real and powerful emotion, yet there are a thousand definitions and understandings of what it is and causes it.  Psychologists, sociologists, evolutionary biologists, and theologians all understand the term differently and operate on different academic definitions.  So in the first way we could, for instance, simply define “love” as “mutually altruistic pair emotional and social bonding” and then work off of that definition.  Then, in contrast, I could ask: What is this phenomena over here in front of me that we all experience and often call ‘love’? And, further, why accept this definition of ‘love’ as opposed to some other?  How should we define this phenomena and what characterizes it?

When we do have the capacity to take things in perspective we should try to understand others’ differing interests. Out of our love for the creation we should feel empathy and show understanding, trying also to learn from the other person his ideas, intelligence or sense. Each of us should know that it is not because we might have a strong personal opinion or interpretation of a subject that the other opinion could not be right as well or could not receive our sympathy as well. Though sometimes there may be a close similarity in appearance or quality; inherent likeness, we should be wiling to see. It just demands a free spirit who puts away the selfishness of the ego, liking its own ideas.

We better should look for the quality of fitting or working harmoniously with one another, trying to find ways to make this living space a better space for every one, whatever they may like or whatever opinion they would like to hold on.

Like we should treat kids we should take the right attitude to people around us. We should look at them with investigating minds, not condemning the situations or actions straight ahead. We should look for harmony between things, ideas, and where we see something going right or wrong we should mention the good things first.

Moral blame and praise (very different from punishment and rewards, btw), holding people accountable for their actions, and other moral considerations daily effect how we think about our choices and make our decisions.

Holding people morally responsible, promoting moral values, etc still has tangible and valuable effects on peoples’ conscious and subconscious deliberations and life choices.

agrees , but he also thinks

Even if ‘free will’, crudely defined, creates problems for moral responsibility, again, who cares?

Those who are aware of the Higher Being and belief that we live in a temporary system, should care, and try to come to good alternatives.

may believe that in the 3000 yr old tradition of Philosophy, the discussion about God and ethics was pretty much finished with Plato in the Euthyphro Dialogue. The question about what ‘right’, ‘good’, and other moral terms actually are may still be on many tongues. We as citizens should listen to the worldly lawmakers, but should always put the Most Important  and Most High Lawmaker in the first place.
Paul Chiariello who is currently studying for his PhD in Philosophy at Yale University and who is also the assistant coordinator and webmaster at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Rutgers University, gives a good answer:

So like ideal teachers, parents and legislators, God instead commands and loves what is already right and good, independent of his commanding/loving it.  God has, in a sense, figured out ethics already (being omniscient and whatnot) and then tells us about it.

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Please do find to read:

  1. To mean, to think, outing your opinion, conviction, belief – Menen, mening, overtuiging, opinie, geloof
  2. Being prudent – zorgvuldig zijn
  3. Choices
  4. Choosing your attitudes
  5. Not the circumstances in which we are placed constitutes our comfort
  6. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
  7. Our stance against certain religions and immigrating people
  8. Attitude to others important for reaching them
  9. How us to behave
  10. Not liking your Christians
  11. Who are the honest ones?
  12. Greatest single cause of atheism
  13. What’s church for, anyway? (by Marcus Ampe)
  14. Act as if everything you think, say and do determines your entire life
  15. How we think shows through in how we act
  16. Raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair
  17. If you want to go far in life
  18. People should know what you stand for
  19. The manager and Word of God
  20. Remember that who you’re being is just as important as what you’re doing
  21. A learning process for each of us
  22. Are Christadelphians so Old Fashioned?
  23. Feed Your Faith Daily
  24. Followers with deepening
  25. Determined To Stick With Truth.
  26. Unconditional love
  27. Life and attitude of a Christian
  28. We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace
  29. Work with joy and pray with love
  30. Abhor evil. Adhere to goodness
  31. Act as if everything you think, say and do determines your entire life
  32. A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
  33. A Living Faith #4 Effort
  34. A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice
  35. A Living Faith #9 Our Manner of Life
  36. It is free will choice
  37. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  38. Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience
  39. You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind
  40. Ask Grace to go forward
  41. Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal
  42. Spread love everywhere you go
  43. Don’t wait to catch a healthy attitude
  44. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap
  45. Finish each day and be done with it
  46. Christadelphian people

Those who understand Dutch can also find:

  1. Uitkijken voor de steeds groter wordende kloof tussen wereld en kerk
  2. Zorgvuldigheid of oplettendheid
  3. Grootste oorzaak van atheïsme in de wereld zijn de Christenen
  4. Niet houden van dat soort Christenen
  5. Woede Oordeel en veroordeling
  6. Niet de omstandigheden waarin we geplaatst zijn vormen onze troost
  7. Hoe we denken schijnt door in hoe we handelen
  8. Onze houding naar anderen belangrijk om te overtuigen
  9. Een norm waaraan de verstandigen en eerlijken zich kunnen herstellen optrekken
  10. Als je ver wilt gaan in het leven
  11. Mensen moeten weten waar je voor staat
  12. Tot bewust zijn komen voor huidig leven
  13. Je verliest alleen energie wanneer het leven saai in je geest wordt
  14. Vergeet niet dat wie je bent slechts zo belangrijk is als wat je doet
  15. Beoordeel niet elke dag door de oogst die je plukt
  16. De Bekeerling, bekeringsactie en bekering
  17. Christen, Jood of Volk van God
  18. Christen genoemd
  19. Christenmensen met ons geloof
  20. Welk soort leven moet een Christen hebben?
  21. Christen worden iets anders dan lid worden van een kerk.
  22. Volgelingen met de vrucht van verdieping
  23. Hoe ons te gedragen
  24. Handel alsof alles wat je denkt, zegt en doet uw hele leven bepaalt
  25. Neem afstand van het kwade
  26. Kleed jezelf met compassie, zachtheid, vriendelijkheid, nederigheid, en geduld
  27. Vraag Genade om voorwaarts te gaan
  28. Christadelphian mens
  29. Zijn Christadelphians zo ‘Old fashioned’?

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Additional reading:

  1. What’s church for, anyway? (by )
  2. Four Reasons Why Determinism is Irrelevant to Ethics & Free Will
  3. Christian ethics and Peter Singer
  4. Peter Singer & Christian Ethics
  5. Seeking common ground
  6. A Quick Report from ‘Christian Ethics Engages Peter Singer’ this Past Week at Oxford
  7. Euthyphro’s Dilemma: Why Atheists & Theists are Stuck in the Same Ethical Boat
  8. Are We Climbing the Same Mountain? Secular-Religious Ethical Disagreement and the Peter Singer & Charles Camosy Discussion
  9. You Blind Guides! You Strain Out a Gnat But Swallow a Camel
  10. “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.” — Tom Stoppard
  11. Cultivating A Gospel Shaped Attitude
  12. Relationship with God
  13. You are not limited to who is in charge
  14. 3 Characteristics Of A Person Called To Bless
  15. Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 – The Transformation Choice
  16. The Yes Face
  17. Leading neuroscientist: Religious fundamentalism may be a ‘mental illness’ that can be ‘cured’

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  • Debating with theologians and preachers and their somewhat constricted views…. (healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com)
    41,000 denominations of Christianity in the world. Wow.

    That’s a lot of people, getting a lot of what God wanted us to know – wrong, and who knows who is right???

    I’ve put my very un-theologically sound views in there, which surprisingly has been welcomed by some – but I think hey – if they are all arguing with each other and getting a little personal with each other in some of their opinion, I might as well interject with some psychology based opinion too. Of which some have agreed with, men included.
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    I have no desire to be a preacher, no desire to lead in Church, in fact I can’t think of anything worse for me. But, I don’t see a compelling argument either way and all the theologians can’t get it right and agree.

    But, I do like seeing all their views and thinking about them and seeing some of their confusion, some of their rigid religious beliefs and some of their..well… silly arguments.

    Cognitive distortions are responsible for some of it, religious idolatry responsible for some of it, narcissism some of it, ego some of it, doctrine some of it, peer pressure some of it and some is just well…stupid.

  • #PreachersofLA: As Real as It Gets (themisinterpreted.com)
    What frightens us is that we’re not seeing something that is false, but something that is very real. A mirror is up and if we don’t like what we see then maybe we should begin to do some internal soul searching. The sooner we own up to that, the sooner we can face the realities that there are significant flaws and brokenness within our Christian leadership (and community). This show represents what we have nurtured and fed for decades. We have supported, encouraged and enabled
    arrogance,
    entitlement,
    a misplaced rationalization of prosperity,
    egoism,
    narcissism,
    sexism,
    position worship,
    emotional & spiritual manipulation
    et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
  • Why can’t I warm to street preaching? (christiantoday.com)
    Street preaching was encouraged as Biblical practise when Jesus came to Earth and has been since.

    Those who are brave enough to take to the streets are therefore following the footsteps of Jesus and spreading the word of the Gospel as we are asked.

    Even so, I cannot help but think that street speakers actually scare the public away from Christianity. We’ve all seen the eye-rolling of passers-by and it gets me wondering about the effect street preachers actually have on religious conversion.

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    There is certainly an argument that we must take the Word to the street because most people avoid Churches and religious buildings entirely. But I wonder whether the public aren’t encountering the right kind of street evangelism?

    Some evangelists preach discreetly in the streets by framing unintimidating picture boards for example, or by engaging in casual conversations. Others perform Christian music busker-style. These methods may be better suited to today’s society. After all, Jesus introduced street preaching over 2,000 years ago and modern society has changed profoundly.

  • Moderates, good deeds and religious fanaticism (samizdata.net)

    John Stephenson argues for the need to ask religious moderates about the motivations behind their actions. Are moderates – seeing faith as virtuous – tacitly defending fundamentalists (who are the genuinely committed believers), allowing them to become the “tail that wags the dog”? Moreover are religious moderates actually engaged in religion because they are “humanists in disguise”?

    One of the problems with engaging religious folk in conversation is the fact that, before falling victim to the charge of being “angry” or “strident”, we find that the rules of discourse and logic are warped and violated beyond recognition. Find me a religious fanatic who doesn’t endorse his faith through the actions supposedly committed in its name and you will have probably found me a liar.
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    The fact that what we perceive as a sense of morality is innate within humanity as opposed to religion is evident by virtue of the cherry-picking so commonplace among moderate believers. Among casual Church of England Christians for example, the Sermon on the Mount may be advocated yet the more abhorrent elements of Deuteronomy or Leviticus will be ignored. I suspect that a large proportion of these individuals are religious in name alone and that, for the most part, their attendance comes as a result of habit or an intrinsically vague idea that to attend church constitutes as a “good thing”. These people have often given very little thought to the doctrine their religion entails, but understand church to be a place of warmth and community – things that most of us are drawn to.

  • Can Faith Ever Be Rational? (ronmurp.net)
    When the question, is it rational, is asked of faith, the method by which a belief is maintained, then no, faith is not rational at all. Faith is the antithesis of rationality. Faith is what you use when you want to believe something, or are otherwise driven to hold a belief, when there is no reaason or evidence to support the belief. And faith can result in belief in spite of counter evidence and reason.

    When the question is asked it may be asked of faith, the system of belief, such as Christianity or Islam. So, can Christianity be rational? Can Islam be rational? Well, they can contain elements of reason, rationality, in the arguments put forward to support them, but that does not make them consequentially rational.

  • “Nicomachean Ethics” by Aristotle (noneedtomindme.wordpress.com)
    In the passage, “Nicomachean Ethics”, by Aristotle, he explains about good and evil are the main contributions to our happiness, it crafts our character, and our virtues. I totally agree with his concept, because our virtues can help distinguish other relationships, and help relate to other people’s intention and emotions.
  • Political Correctness and “Bashing” (fggam.org)
    The adverse impact of “political correctness” on American culture cannot be overstated. Its sinister influence has been monumental and subversive in the extent to which it has reshaped American values, literally driving the population farther away from its Christian moorings, and redirecting civilization toward hedonism, socialism, atheism, humanism, and a host of other anti-Christian philosophies.
    +
    It is ever the case that error and falsehood are self-contradictory, and typically guilty of the same malady it imagines in others. Observe that those who express their disdain for “bashing” do not hesitate to bash the ones they accuse of bashing, and to do so publicly. They openly express to others (people who have no real connection to the matter) their rejection of and dislike for specific persons and groups who have had the unmitigated gall to express disapproval of a false religion or an immoral action.
  • John C. Richards Jr. Cuts Through the Focus on the Prosperity Gospel to Expose a Better Way for the Church (blackchristiannews.com)
    The pulpit has always been sacred space for the African American community.
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    The pulpit was reserved for the pastor. A sacred space for someone who recognized the sacred duty. Like Moses’ encounter at the burning bush, a preacher was to recognize they were standing on holy ground. As God’s mouthpiece, the preacher would deliver a message that was to deliver the people of God from bondage and sin. Recognizing this, the preacher’s accompanying humility-laden approach to sermonizing would cause others to grow deeper in their faith. As John Wesley puts it, the preacher’s duty was to “catch on fire” so “others will love to come and watch you burn.” Have we doused the fire in the Black church? Have we grabbed our extinguishers labeled “prosperity,” “tradition,” and “justice,” and forgotten about the Gospel? Do we just run across the pulpit as a shortcut to our next destination? Have preachers forgotten about that sacred space?
  • Does God Exist? (crain207.wordpress.com)
    I’ve often thought on that long-ago neighbor’s sad statement of belief. I’ve wondered if he only wanted to get rid of a visiting preacher, if deep down he still believed but responded in shock-the-preacher fashion because the parson on his porch reminded him of wounds he felt he received in church.
    +
    I often think of Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please God; for he who comes to God must believe that God exists and rewards those who search for him.”
  • Preachers Of LA’s Bishop McClendon Says He Was Set Up (rhythmraveradio.wordpress.com)
    The new reality series on Oxygen’s ‘Preacher’s of LA’ has caused quite a sir, especially when two of the ministers on the show , Bishop Clarence McClendon and Deitrick Haddon got into an argument .
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Does He exists?

Did Stalin exist, or Lenin or Hitler? Some say Jesus did not exist, but than they forget that there are more writings on Jesus from Nazareth then about Nero, Euripides, Charlemagne, Napoleon or other historical figures.

The two major economic policy makers of the US...

The two major economic policy makers of the USSR, Lenin (left) created the NEP while Stalin (right) created the planned economy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God, the Creator of all things is a totally different matter. A lot is written about Him, but that would not be a proof He really exists.

With that special figure which got a lot of interest all over the world you can question if any supernatural does exist.

There was in old times as today in certain religions the practice to offer meat on pagan altars, burnt in honour of a god. No idol is anything in the world. The idol was a mere picture or symbol of a god. If the god has no existence, the idol is a non-entity.

“So then, concerning the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol is no matter at all in the world, and that there is no other Elohim but one. For even if there are so-called mighty ones, whether in heaven or on earth – as there are many mighty ones and many masters – for us there is one Elohim, the Father, from whom all came and for whom we live, and one Master  יהושע Messiah, through whom all came and through whom we live.”  (1 Corinthians 8:4-6 The Scriptures 1998+)

There is no other God, not two, not three or more. ‘No heathen god exists’ but does there exist an other god or God?

Can there be an image of that God who is said off that He cannot be seen other while the person who will see Him would die? The ghost being spoken of said:

“But He said, “You are unable to see My face, for no man does see Me and live.”  (Exodus 33:20 The Scriptures 1998+)

How did people manage to get pictures of Him? do those images means images of false gods, since there is no image of God?

“You do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth, ” (Exodus 20:4 The Scriptures 1998+)

God would not have any symbols before his people, but have them worship him in spirit and in truth.

When we may not go after false gods, and do not make metal images of gods for ourselves, why is it that so many Christians do pray in front of crosses or pictures? In several churches we do find images of saints and gods, and put up an image cut in stone or a pillar or any pictured stone in their land, to give worship to it.

“Do not turn to idols, and do not make for yourselves moulded mighty ones.  I am יהוה {Jehovah} your Elohim.” (Leviticus 19:4 The Scriptures 1998+)

“‘Do not make idols for yourselves, and do not set up a carved image or a pillar for yourselves, and do not place a stone image in your land, to bow down to it. For I am יהוה your Elohim. ” (Leviticus 26:1 The Scriptures 1998+)

Are there forms of any living thing, male or female,that can be the god? A beast of the earth, or winged bird of the air, or of anything which goes flat on the earth, or any fish in the water under the earth? Or is the god that beautiful star some look at and praise it? And when your eyes are lifted up to heaven, and you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the army of heaven, are you the one who let yourself be moved to give them worship, or become the servants of what the Almighty Creator has given equally to all peoples under heaven?

“Therefore, diligently guard yourselves, for you saw no form when  יהוה {Jehovah} spoke to you at Ḥorĕḇ out of the midst of the fire, lest you should do corruptly and shall make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure – the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the heavens, the likeness of any creature that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth; and lest you lift up your eyes to the heavens, and shall see the sun, and the moon, and the stars – all the host of the heavens – and you be drawn away into bowing down to them and serving them, which  יהוה {Jehovah} your Elohim has allotted to all the peoples under all the heavens. ” (Deuteronomy 4:15-19 The Scriptures 1998+)

Is there not the one who says “I Am” who is “the one who is” who curses the man who makes any image of wood or stone or metal, disgusting to Him, the work of man’s hands, and puts it up in secret?

“‘Cursed is the man who makes a carved or moulded image, an abomination to יהוה, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amĕn!’ ” (Deuteronomy 27:15 The Scriptures 1998+)

This “god” can look a jealous god and a difficult one to comprehend.

When we look around us we can see many things. Lots of things we do understand but also lots of things, not to say more things, we do not understand.

What sort of thing could have caused the universe to come into being?

Was there something that started it all off? If it is something that also had a beginning then we would need to find yet another cause to explain how that came into being. However if it is something that is eternal (i.e. has no beginning) then it does not need a cause.

Whatever your explanation for the origins of the universe, at some point you need some eternal thing, some uncaused thing, to set everything going.

We cannot perceive God directly. It is true we cannot be sure that there exist that only One superior being. Though if we look carefully we shall be able to see enough proof of His existence. Though we may never have the same surety about the existence of God that we might have about the existence of trees or chairs we could feel to our inner-feeling or guts and listen to our instinct.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot reach a firm conclusion about whether God exists or not.

People can agree that there has to be a First Cause. To have that there should be a form or something of “no beginning” (i.e. something eternal) and being able to cause everything else.

This First Cause, is the “thing” we call God and could not be matter because matter is inanimate — you need something else to move it. The First Cause could be a Mind, because minds can organise and arrange matter. We call that Mind or spirit: “God”.

The things we see around us have a design and once should have started to be designed. Design requires a Designer. We call that Designer “God”.

That Designer was before everybody and before any construction or organization. So to get to know Him you better can forget all those worldly organizations. Lots of those religious organizations do have a lot of dogmatic ideas which their believers have just to accept them, because they are beyond human understanding.

But real faith along the line of the One and Only God does not need dogmas. Except the one dogma, namely that you have to accept that there is a God, who created the heavens and the earth.

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”: ” (Ecclesiastes 12:1 The Scriptures 1998+)

“In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth. And the earth came to be formless and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of Elohim was moving on the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2 The Scriptures 1998+)

You do not to believe everything people say, but this Creator has said quite a lot over a period of many centuries. And the Words He had spoken are written down for the generations to come. For a long time many words were added and prophesies made. People were instructed, guided, but also reprimanded.

People can neglect those many words given in the previous millennia or they can take some time to listen to them and think about them.

Though it’s almost too much to comprehend to have such a force in the universe to which we have good reasons to listen to, we should take note and be alert …

After all, God — like the Loch Ness Monster or that Canadian girl the New Yorker Gladstone lost his virginity to junior year can neither be proven nor disproved. But when you would take up that Word of that God, which is written down in the Book of Books, called the Bible, you would come to the conclusion who is who and would come to a better understanding why everything turns out this or the other way.

"The Bible in English and Welsh" Cas...

“The Bible in English and Welsh” Case from “In the Beginning was the Word” Exhibit (Photo credit: W&M Swem Library)

Naturally you can wonder if it is possible to get so much knowledge by reading such an ancient book. Are you so impressed with yourself or so intellectually incurious that you think you perfectly understand the Will of God just by reading a book?

Given how much we suck, why shut the door completely on the possibility of something in this universe being better, stronger and wiser? Something we could strive to be more like?

Who is at the beginning of everything? Who is He or She?

What do you think?

What do you feel?

And to be honest, perhaps you have to feel more than to understand. Often we cannot really understand it very well, but we do accept that it is like that or that it works. Not everything is explainable for the human person. Our brains are limited. But should we not listen to someone whose brain is not limited and whosse time is also not restricted?

Yes, we talk about this Spirit whom we call the Only One God, the Elohim Hashem, Allah, whose Name is Jehovah.

***

Please do find to read and to get to know more:

  1. How are we sure God exists?
  2. God of gods
  3. Only one God
  4. God is One
  5. Hashem השם, Hebrew for “the Name”
  6. Use of /Gebruik van Jehovah or/of Yahweh in Bible Translations/Bijbel vertalingen
  7. I Will Cause Your Name To Be Remembered
  8. Yahushua, Yehoshua, Yeshua, Jehoshua of Jeshua
  9. Lord or Yahuwah, Yeshua or Yahushua (Video)
  10. Jehovah Yahweh Gods Name (Video)
  11. Experiencing God
  12. Jesus and his God
  13. Waarom wij in de Bijbel moeten geloven or Why believe the Bible (Video)
  14. Power in the life of certain
  15. Bible word of God, inspired and infallible
  16. Bible power to change
  17. Bible basic intro
  18. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #4 Words in Scripture
  19. Without God no purpose, no goal, no hope
  20. Believing in God the rewarder
  21. God does not change
  22. Call unto God so that He can answer you
  23. Fearing the right person
  24. With God All Things Are Possible
  25. Praise the God with His Name

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Additional reading:

  1. 4 Things Both Atheists and Believers Need to Stop Saying
  2. 4 Things Both Atheists and Believers Need to Stop Saying p2
  3. Search For Bible Truths: The “Impossible” Universe
  4. Search For Bible Truths: What Evidence is There That God
  5. Search For Bible Truths: Does God Really Exist?
  6. If God and Jesus really are equal, then why does the Bible phrase them as “Father” and “Son”?
  7. Search For Bible Truths: Is God the Father?
  8. Only-begotten god (OBGOD)
  9. Search For Bible Truths: Does Isa. 9:6 prove that Jesus is God?

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  • What About Those Who Do Not Know The Name of God? (bereanreport.wordpress.com)
    it struck me as odd that Baal’s name is never changed or translated and therefore lives on while Yahweh’s name is falsified over 7000 times in scripture! But I think I might know why. See here, if they did try to translate the name Baal, then there is one thing they would have to deal with. Look at how the verse would read if they did not restore Yahweh’s name:
    +
    A simple study of the meaning of the word “Shem” that is translated “name” in our english bibles will reveal that this word, very much like our English word, not only means a “character” but also means a literal written and spoken name. If I say to you that I come in the name of peace, then I am telling you that I want to characterize myself as offering peace. These things are indeed true.
  • Image and Relic Worship by Rejected by Ancient Church (ilyston.wordpress.com)
    Christians ought not to forsake the Church of God, and depart aside and invocate angels, and form assemblies (for this purpose), which are things forbidden. If any man, therefore, be found to give himself to this secret idolatry, Let him be Accursed. Because he hath forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and hath betaken himself to idolatry.”— ’35th Canon of the Council of Laodicea, a.d. 364.
    +
    ” We are plainly forbidden to exercise that deceitful art (the use of images). For the prophet says, Thou shalt not make the likeness of anything, either in heaven, or in the earth beneath.’ Moses commanded to make no image that should represent God by art.” — Clemens Alexandrinus.
  • Does God exist? (altruistico.wordpress.com)
    Looking at the stars, understanding the vastness of the universe,  observing the wonders of nature, seeing the beauty of a sunset—all of these  things point to a Creator God. If these were not enough, there is also evidence  of God in our own hearts. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, “…He has also set eternity in  the hearts of men.” Deep within us is the recognition that there is something  beyond this life and someone beyond this world. We can deny this knowledge  intellectually, but God’s presence in us and all around us is still obvious.  Despite this, the Bible warns that some will still deny God’s existence: “The  fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).  Since the vast majority of people throughout history, in all cultures, in all  civilizations, and on all continents believe in the existence of some kind of God, there must be something (or someone) causing this belief.
  • Message – Image and Likeness of God (universaldc.wordpress.com)
    Being the image and likeness of God is to have a fulfilling life. It is having a family, where there is union; being a Christian and being born of God, having the Holy Spirit; having a body and also having health. That is, many have the image of God but end up having the likeness of the devil; for like in the family, rather than existing marriage, friendship, respect or affection, there is confusion, fighting, disrespect, hatred; in the body, rather of having health, strength or energy, there is illness, addictions, etc.…
  • Daily Word (10/06/2013) (thehebrewmessiah.com)
    YH-shua’s name means, YH’s salvation, the manifested Word of our Elohim is our salvation, HalleluYH.
  • Daily Word (10/10/2013) (thehebrewmessiah.com)
    The Word’s Salvation (YHshua) manifested the Word of Elohim and in that calls us to do as he did, to follow him that we may one day do as he and greater things, for those manifesting the Word are representing the Creator of the Universe; He who made us in His likeness and image to choose good over evil. Let’s be His obedient children as so YHshua proved to be.
  • Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan (jhame085.wordpress.com)
    Reza Aslan’s “Zealot” recounts the life, exploits, and impact of the homeless, illiterate, reactionary, rabble-rouser, known to history as Jesus of Nazareth, and how he was gradually transformed over a period of several hundred years into the ethereal, divine, pacifistic religious figure known to billions of Christians today as Jesus Christ. While very little definite information exists about Jesus of Nazareth, “Zealot” summarizes an exhaustive quantity of historical analysis, documentation, and biblical research in an effort to clarify and describe the man Jesus actually was to the best of our modern ability (because, surprise, surprise, he is almost nothing like Jesus Christ).