Phil's Philosophy

Mind Meanderings of an Alchemist

Category: Spirituality

Religion used as a Pacifier for the Poor

“The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.” ~ Cecil Frances Alexander

The above rhyme represents an attempt to whitewash the then current and allegedly divinely sanctioned social class composition. For one thing, to claim such class division is according to God’s will is a sure violation of the 3rd Commandment (you shall not take the name of the Lord in vain), and automatically signifies Alexander’s lack of obedience to Christian ethics. Secondly, it works to help prevent the poor from envying the rich — as God supposedly wants the poor to remain poor. It is therefore a strategy that very much benefits the rich. We thus find the likely culprit implied by the obvious answer to the cui bono – who benefits question.

Indeed, Napoleon and Marx basically addressed the very same issue:

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” ~ Karl Marx

When the name of God is abused as the poem insinuates, religion indeed very much acts as an effective pacifier for the poor. It works to relieve the anxieties and stresses of living under circumstances marked by poverty and grave inequality. Religion in this function indeed serves to soothe passions of revolt and quell ambitions for social upheaval; desires that are inspired by the discontentment that belongs to living under oppression and exploitation by the parasitic upper classes.

It is this function of religion — a political rather than a spiritual one, of seeking subversion rather than liberation of the people, the worship of power rather than God — that deserves condemnation.

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Why I don’t believe in Hell

For one thing, it doesn’t make sense for anyone loving God to be the final authority in the decision to have members of his own chosen kind be stuffed away to some desolate and most horrific place where they will suffer in torment and agony from here to eternity.

The deal is this. Your spirit is created by divine authority, an act at which you of course had no say in whatsoever. Then your newly created spirit is cast into a body of flesh on some strange and exceedingly brutal and hostile place in the physical realm. And as your body grows, you are expected to abide by the rules; mind you, two sets of rules.

One set of rules comprises the temporal laws and regulations that you are expected to learn at least partly by yourself as you attend the inescapable School of Life AKA the School of Hard Knocks. And then you have the spiritual set rules determining what constitutes sin (represented prominently but not exclusively by the 10 Commandments). If you live in a theistic region of the world, you are in principle in a reasonable position to pick up on what defines sin and what does not. Although chances are that you won’t be able to exhaustively learn in advance all the intricate details about sin in order to successfully circumvent it. Indeed, you basically are left to your own devices and so you again have to learn as you go, also through the hard way for the most part.

And if you grow up in communist region of the world, then you are basically screwed in so many words because you have no sure way of knowing when you commit sin. The plot thickens even more when the two sets of rules clash. For instance, when, as a young comrade you are forced to enlist in some red army and sent off to fight in some war and are forced to participate in the killing of people, then you then are forced to sin and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And if that’s not enough we have to deal with our inescapable unholy and fallible nature, which in practice means an almost constant temptation to engage in some kind of sin.

And, heaven forbid, if we, ignorant as we are, just so happen to succumb to our many frailties, our inherent fallibility, unless we have the wits and wherewithal to seek forgiveness, we supposedly are punished for our unholy sinful weaknesses by being cast into a place that knows only suffering and agony and no hope for escape.

If this is God’s idea for showing his love and grace to us then I simply rather have no part of it.

Two years ago I read two books describing the supposed existence of hell. They were authored by two different writers and interestingly published by the same publishing house. One was called “23 Minutes in Hell” by Bill Wiese and the other “A Divine Revelation of Hell” by Mary K Baxter. Both books document a personal visit of the respective author to hell under the alleged guidance of Jesus Christ. Both report their experiences in their books. At the time, I was pretty impressed by their fascinating stories, but they did leave me with an uneasy feeling that never quite went away.

After documenting the horrendous torment and suffering that supposedly goes in hell, the
last paragraph of Baxter’s book finishes as follows:

“If you are unsaved, please take the time right now to kneel before the Lord and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and make you His child. Whatever the cost, you should determine now to make heaven your eternal home. Hell is awful, and hell is real.” Baxter p. 212

So basically the authors imply that you better have yourself forgiven for your sins or else hell awaits for you! But this is scare tactics if there ever was any, plain and simple. It is proselytization on the basis of fear. Allowing Christ to become your savior by the threat of the fate of hell is no different from forcing conversion at the tip of the sword! And so if you do accept Christ for this reason, you enter into faith on the basis of fear for hell not necessarily for loving God. But this is counter to what God stands for. God is a god of love, not of fear (1 John 4:8). And if you fear you cannot love simultaneously. Therefore fear-mongering should have no place in Christian proselytization practices. In other words, I do cannot accept such testimonies to be genuine. Indeed, I suspect that they are precisely anti-Christian in nature; as they work to whip up fear in its Christian readership and the more fearful Christians are, the further they are driven away from the God and closer to the anti-Christ.

What do I believe in then? The Secret Book of John, a non-canonical Gnostic text fortified with a commentary (thank golly!), reports on Jesus addressing the phenomenon of reincarnation:

“When they come forth from the body, such a soul is given over to the powers created by the rulers, bound in chains, and cast into a prison again. Around and around it goes until it manages to become free from forgetfulness through knowledge. And so, eventually, it becomes perfect and is saved.” (comment.*)

(comment.*)The “prison” here is not a place, but the human body. People cycle around and around from life to life through reincarnation. But the ultimate vision is very positive. Eventually all will be saved and, in good Gnostic fashion, they will be saved by knowledge that overcomes forgetfulness.

The Secret Book of John (p 142, 143)

That Jesus is our *eternal* savior is also confirmed by scripture:

“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:23-25

Out of the possible post-life alternatives, the reincarnation cycle interruptible when fitness for heaven has been reached, is the only alternative that makes sense to me. The atheistic viewpoint that life just ends with death, does not cut it for the simple reason that I believe in the existence of God and his spirit realm and cannot imagine this reality to have been brought into existence without a divine creator agent. Living a single life after which one then ends up either in heaven or hell, does not do it either. I cannot imagine that God would send a child, who befell the misfortune of being killed or met an early death through disease or starvation and, to hell when it fails to meet the requirements for entrance into heaven. Or, suppose one is born an atheist, for instance when born in communist China or Russia back in the day, and one dies while never knowing Jesus. Does one then deserve to be sent to hell for circumstances one could not help avoid?

I think that persons who never have had the possibility of being saved by Jesus are offered another try through reincarnation, a cycle that repeats itself until the person gets it right. There is no rush as Jesus is our *eternal* savior and so he works for our salvation until we all have gotten it right. To me, the cycle of interruptible reincarnation is therefore the only viable alternative.

I furthermore should add that the practice of threatening with hell and damnation is not only violating the 3rd Commandment (You shall not use the name of the Lord in vain), I find it tantamount to psychological abuse. Let me emphasize that, for anyone person to threaten another person with being cast into a place of eternal torment and agony is potentially engaging in sheer psychological abuse and its practice should therefore be decried at the very least.

That’s what I have to say about hell. I don’t believe in its existence but then again I will not go so far as to say that I won’t believe in it. If I am made aware of its existence in whatever lucid, unequivocal and convincing way, I might just change my mind but until then it is as the saying goes: seeing is believing.

What is the Purpose of Demons?

Why are demons here?

Humanity is plagued by demons and they have done so for quite a while already. Is there a reason for all of this suffering that we have been exposed to for so long already? Is there a method to the madness? In other words, do demons serve a purpose for us?

Let’s start with their inception. According to scripture, it all began with the Watchers.

“Watchers,” a category of good angels (Daniel 4:13,17,23), called “sons of God” (Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) were assigned to earth to teach men (Jubilees 4:15; Daniel 4:13,17). They were assigned to earth and given bodies (1 Enoch 64:1,2; Jubilees 4:15, 22). The Watchers became enthralled with the beauty of women (Genesis 6:1,2; 1 Enoch 7:2ff; Jubilees 4:22; 5:1) and left their first estate (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). They entered into union with women and had children (Genesis 6:4; Jubilees 5:2; 1 Enoch 15:2-16:1). The children that were begotten from the union of angels and women became giants in the land (Genesis 6:4; Jubilees 5:2; 1 Enoch 15:2-16:1). These giants, also referred to as Nephilim (Genesis 6:4; 1 Enoch 15:9), corrupted the flesh of man (Genesis 6:12) and caused mayhem on the earth (Genesis 6:6,7) to the point it grieved God that He had made man (Genesis 6:6,7).

[…]

For the sin of corrupting the flesh of men, God punished the disobedient angels by chaining them in Tartarus until the final judgment of the ages (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 14; Jubilees 5:2; 1 Enoch 10:11). He then proceeded to have the giants, at the provocation of obedient angels, begin warring against each other to annihilate each other (1 Enoch 10:9; Jubilees 5:3). The remainder who were not killed in that manner died in the flood.

When God destroyed the earth and the creatures that lived on the face of the earth with the flood, He had mercy on Noah and his sons. Noah and his sons found grace in the sight of the Lord (Genesis 6:8) primarily because Noah was perfect in his generations (Genesis 6:9). The corruption between the Watchers and women had not infiltrated Noah’s lineage. The flood was designed to annihilate the corrupted race of man and to leave only a pure lineage on earth afterward.

When the flood destroyed the things on the earth, the giants also were destroyed (Genesis 6:13). The conclusion of the matter is as follows: when the spirits of these mutant hybrids were forced out of their bodies, either by dying before the flood or by drowning at the flood, they had no place to go. Heaven was the place for pure angels and hell the place for evil men. These perverted mongrel beings which did not qualify for either place were left to roam the face of the earth. The spirits of the giants, or Nephilim, were released into the world as spirit-beings with no bodies, looking for a resting place. Even though they have a hybrid nature, they nonetheless still are partially “mankind” and seek the rest of a body (Matthew 12:43; Luke 11:24).

In summary, the spirits of the giants, the Nephilim, are the hybrid offspring of the Watchers and earthly women. When the giants died in the flood, their half-breed spirits had no place to go; therefore, they have no rest. These spirits are what we now refer to as demons. Because 1 Enoch 15:8 says this in a direct statement, there is no room left for speculation.

Now the giants, who have been born of spirit and of flesh, shall be called upon earth evil spirits, and on earth shall be their habitation. Evil spirits shall proceed from their flesh, because they were created from above; from the holy Watchers was their beginning and primary foundation. Evil spirits shall they be upon the earth, and the spirits of the wicked shall they be called. The habitation of the spirits of heaven shall be in heaven; but upon earth shall be the habitation of terrestrial spirits, who are born on earth.”

Excerpted from:

Principalities, Powers and Demons
Their Differences, Their Origins
and Our Authority Over Them
By Dale M Sides

Here is what puzzles me. By virtue of his omniscience, God knew full well that it would come to this. He knew full well that the Watchers would succumb to the beauty of our women and raise unholy unclean offspring as a consequence to this unsanctioned sexual communion. And especially if they were incarnated in male human bodies, this prospect is not hard to imagine. After all, male human beings have naturally high sex drives and so it doesn’t take a sexologist — let alone an omniscient God — to anticipate problems with respect to the divine edict of observing celibacy.

In addition, if the Flood supposedly destroyed all of humanity except Noah’s family — whose lineage reportedly remained pure, i.e. not spoiled by Watcher-“blood” — then all of the Watchers teachings would basically be lost too; thus rendering their teaching-mission sterile and futile. Furthermore, the listed source claims that the destruction of the Nephilim set loose hordes of parasitical and predatory spiritual beings (demons) making the lives of human beings so much harder. Indeed, human beings (by and large) suffer greatly from this demonic infestation.

If this whole enterprise of sending Watchers over to help us, were to turn into such a dismal failure then the obvious question that arises is: Why did God do it, or at least allow it to happen?

I am reluctant to accept a seemingly standard religious answer that God became infuriated with the trespassing angels, implying that it was all a big shock to God. By virtue of his omniscience, God knows everything there is to know about the future (or the past or present for that matter), and so there is no future event that could possibly surprise him. So why would God get mad for something he already knew would come down the pike anyway? You see, we human beings may become mad as a reaction to the emergence of shocking circumstances, the transpiring of some new unanticipated and unpleasant event. But when you already know for sure that something is going to happen, then the shock element is lacking and so too is the motivation for becoming angry. Therefore the idea that God can be angered doesn’t make sense. Indeed, I believe that this idea of a wrathful God is not factual but a product of speculative anthropomorphization on the part of the human reporters (scribes) responsible for interpreting the events transpired; with that I mean that human beings have a tendency to fill in the gaps in their observation with respect to how they themselves would react, or what they would do (if they were to fit God’s proverbial shoes) based on their own human psychology, coming with all the necessary and typically human flaws and imperfections of character to boot.

Also, the offspring of the Watchers and their accompanying demonic spirits obviously have had no say in their own generation. So would it be just to persecute/punish them? To be sure, demons are horrible creatures as they cause a lot of misery and suffering to human beings and were born out of uncleanliness and unholiness etc. But really is it their fault that they act the way they do? Demons didn’t ask to be created, nor would I find it hard to believe that they chose their own nature. They were created on the spot here on earth, and now they have to make do with what they have, which is the lack of a place they can call their own and so they have to get it themselves (forcefully) in order to find some measure of rest. So would it be proper to see to their punishment for what basically is nothing more than their own nature? I am led to think of an analogy with the animal kingdom. Animal predators may on occasion kill and eat a human being. But is really the predator to blame for acting on what is nothing more than its instinct? Likewise, is a demon acting on the basis of free will or it perhaps better to speak of instinct instead? If the latter, is their punishment and persecution really deserved?

Although the angels acted against God’s will, the fact that God allowed them to go ahead and procreate with our women means something. It must serve a purpose. That purpose, I believe, is this. Demons are here to amplify our dark nature. Demons exploit and amplify our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, such as anger, fear, desire (lust), addictive behavior etc. All these aspects of our nature are unholy and undesirable and the effect of the tortuous presence demons is to inadvertently force our proverbial nose in our own feces, so to speak. I believe that they are here to speed up the process of the awareness of our own dark nature and unintentionally encourage us to look for ways to shape up, clean up our act, and look for better ways to treat ourselves and one another, lovingly rather than hatefully.

And so demons paradoxically serve to catalyze the evolution of our spiritual ascension from darkness onto light. They unwittingly encourage us to love, by acting as teachers of the ugliness and repelling side of hate. Demons thus basically act as anti-teachers in our quest to develop into more mature and responsible beings.

The Tragedy of the Religious Mindset

Hypatia, last of the great Greek philosophers.

As the tragic slaughter of Hypatia by rabid Catholic “Christians” illustrates, the violent intolerance that is almost innate to religion is causative to a lot of misery in the world. However, I believe that it’s not so much religion that is the most fundamental problem humanity faces, rather it’s the religious mindset in general; the mindset that birthed religion, among other things. While it cannot be denied that the religious mindset is prominently featured in religious people, that mindset unfortunately is not limited to people who practice religion and indeed afflicts us all to varying degree, even the people who claim to have no religious affiliation whatsoever.

What is the religious mindset? It’s the mindset that prefers to condemn rather than inquire; to ridicule instead of to welcome; to be close-minded rather than be open-minded; to be hostile and resistive to change rather than entertain its possible merits; and ultimately it’s the mindset that is governed by fear rather than love. It’s the mindset that prefers to excuse cowardice, to wear complacency and intellectual sloth as virtues, to deflect foreign ideas by cognitive dissonance, and to doggedly cling to that which is familiar and comforting, i.e. the religious or dogmatic foundation.

Medical Doctors - The New Priesthood

 

Besides the obvious candidates, the major contemporary religions, there are plenty of other areas of human life where the religious mindset holds sway. For example, there are numerous people out there who have faith in the sanctity of modern medicine, who simply blindly obey whatever their GP/physician tells them to do. Think for example of the horribly ineffective conventional cancer treatments existing today or the plethora of vaccines that despite of their ineffectiveness and danger are being peddled to the public as if they are the next best thing since the invention of penicillin. With some justification it could thus be argued that the medical establishment has become the new priesthood, in which medical doctors have assumed the role traditionally belonging to the religious priest; instead of wearing fancy religious garments they wear sterile lily-white lab-coats; instead of sporting crucifixes they now are armed with stethoscopes and the psychiatry-recliner has become the new confessional.

Another example is provided by the scores of people who seem to have a rather blind faith in the benevolence of their governments even in spite of, or perhaps precisely because of, a dictatorial leadership. And this faith paradoxically survives even in the case where the leadership betrays the living daylights out of its citizenry and when thus the evidence of any possibly attributable benevolence is painfully absent.

As long as we embrace the religious mindset, we will remain ignorant and our collective psycho-spiritual development will remain stagnant and we will see our bloody history repeat itself, over and over again.

It’s up to us to break free from it by opening our hearts as well as our minds.

Hypatia dragged through the streets of Alexandria like a sacrificial animal on her way to be brutally slaughtered by rabid "Christians."