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God's Theology?
by Jack Meyer
27 February 2004

Humans have survived and flourish over thousands of years because of our innate goodness, a gift not from politicians nor from the state or religious sects but from the Creator, a gift innate and part of our makeup.


Talked to God lately? Do others you know talk to God? Has God ever talked to you? Has God or His angels ever talked to any of your friends or acquaintance? Who do you know that has heard God's voice? Who aside from Mohammed has heard God's voice or that of His angel? Few people in human history testify that they've heard God's voice. Most of us, admittedly or otherwise, carry on a monologue with God in prayer. Responses even implied by subsequent events are rare and private except where evangelists are involved. Dialogue with God seems confined to the Old Testament. Moses even bargained with the Creator. Mohammed, according to Muslim tradition, talked with God's angel Gabriel conveying the message then to his followers.

***
From the beginning of recorded time the watchful made connections between their observations and a Supreme Being. In time these perceptions became rules and instructions. Religions were created. Adherents produced rituals; customs and then laws while the clergy extended their influence.

In the beginning man found god in many places, the sun, the wind and the water. The Babylonians (4500 BC) and the Brahmin-Hindus (1500 BC) are example of polytheism. The Jews (1300 BC), Christians (35 AD) and finally Muslims (1400 AD) represent monotheism theology.

Internecine squabbling between Europe’s Catholics involving the Holy Land a thousand years ago produced a confrontation with the Turks. The Crusades lasted nearly 200 years (1095-1270). Organized initially to gain access to the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, most of Europe and the Mid East became involved in the turmoil.

Two hundred years later more quarreling followed among the Church hierarchy after Emperor Constantine moved the center of the Catholic Church to Constantinople from Rome; the schism between Western and Eastern Church (1472) remains to this day.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) together with Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) broke with the Roman Church to create religions of their own with related hierarchies. Christianity was modified.

Inquisitions are part of the history of the Roman Church. The first spanned 1200 years. Their purpose was to prevent heresy. The inquisitors in the Middle Ages lost focus in Spain and France seeking out the accused, just as Staatspolizei in Germany and the Soviet's Cheka or KGB would do a half century later with similar results and less noble objectives.

* * *

Denigrating someone's faith or religion is not the objective of these observations. Religion like politics is a personal matter: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are Gods." The objective of this exercise is to illustrate how history has defined God and His will by the analysis of we humans with all of our foibles. Religions are based almost solely on faith. Not one could produce a commercial suitable for radio, newspapers or television along these lines:

Our religion increased membership over 13% in the last fiscal year. We added 3 new Faith centers and vetted 5 spellbinding preachers for assignment. Our award-winning choirs have taken 6 Gold and 4 Silver finishes in International competition. Our success ratio is outstanding at 42, better than that religion across the river: 42% of our members are now in heaven, 13% were inconvenienced by the detour to Purgatory while 40% are unfortunate enough to spend the season in hell (all liberals); 5% await more interrogation.

My sainted three-masses-a-day grandmother would do a 360o if she knew what I'd just written. Were Nettie alive now she would still not be eating meat Friday. But the faith of our fathers, mothers and grandparents struggling with their own demons was mired in the past. We know more about the Creator now.

***

Eastern religion today should take no pleasure in the moral and ethical weaknesses of the West. They too have similar sordid histories. None speak for God. None know God's will if indeed it is possible to know the Creator’s will. Religions are locked-in to what-has-gone-before, a history that exposes their fundamental flaws: Christians and Catholics especially liken Gautama Buddha’s philosophy (483-563 BC) in the Eastern culture with that of St. Francis of Assisi. The west does not understand eastern religion or their philosophy: "How quaint are the religions of the East and Buddhism that did not accomplish as much as Catholicism in the west;" a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Religions today east, west, north or south are based on inertia, faith and bureaucracies, little ease. Rules governing perceptions of right and wrong have existed before the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandment (1300 BC). The Code of Hammurabi was laid down in 2500 BC. Justinian's Code (429-438 AD) followed God, Moses and Sinai. King John and the Magna Carta (1215) and our own Declaration of Independence (1776) and Constitution (1787) followed.

Most people know religion from their early experience within the family and local congregation. They know their rabbi, minister or priest and others in their church or synagogue. They see these same people in daily commerce. This mixture of tradition and congregation is the foundation for their understanding of religion and faith, a circular, almost incestuous relationship with like-thinking people. There is nothing wrong with it; it's just myopic.

***

The lack of leadership is the dominant problem within churches; a leadership that has promoted or opposed wars, holy and unholy alliances, while ignoring evil in the name of getting along, of being too judgmental or promoting their own brand of religion. Pedophilia in the clergy is ignored while other sects encourage same-sex marriages. Still others carry on 200-year-old feuds.

Recently religions have promoted suicide bombers by mothers that orphan their own children and slaughter mothers leaving more orphans. Are these religious leaders God's representatives, defenders of their faiths, defenders of the status quo, or simply evil people? History shows that the relationship between the state and religion has been one of symbiosis. In Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia the state did as it wanted while the clergy supported or ignored their action fearing retribution. Now they suffer the consequences of irrelevance in matters of faith and moral or distinguishing between right and wrong.

Select a religion, any religion. What is their fundamental teaching? Did their leaders talk to and hear directly from God? Do they teach the difference between right and wrong? Churches may provide fellowship but where is the moral leadership? Without moral leadership what good are they? World War II could have been avoided had Europe and the United States challenged Hitler. They didn't. Was appeasement of Hitler immoral? Fifty million souls million souls may think so

"The end never justifies the means." We argued the meaning of that sentence fifty-three years ago in Father Ray’s sociology class. Catholic and other Christian sects make "turning the other cheek" a fundamental tenet of their faith. (Matthew 5:39: "But I tell you not to resist an evil person.") Would Europe and the rest of the world have been better off had Christians and other religious resisted Hitler? Even with political correctness an integral part of many lives, everyone makes judgments all the time; it’s what human do. Politicians and the moral-less media have no difficulty expressing their opinions. Both express more opinion than fact. Only the Churches, the keepers of moral rectitude, are unable to find voice. Anticipating comments from liberals, the Constitution prohibits the establishment of a state religion. Nowhere does it forbid the clergy from expressing opinions -- or is that above their pay-grade? The clergy must then be prepared to suffer the slings and arrows that may follow giving vent to their beliefs.

Wars kill people, men, women, children, atheist and religious alike. Why then do people go to war? The reasons are legion. Nations and religions have lost the ability to discern the differences between right and wrong -- if ever the ability was theirs to lose. Survival in the past was based on collaboration between the church and the state where religions went along to survive. Politicians have been in bed with religions since Sumaria – at least. Examining the entrails of birds to determine the leader's next move or the sacrificing of young maidens to the gods to gain enlightenment may have been acceptable in times past, but this is the 21st Century where man has visited the planets. Only the deranged can promise a mindless adolescent Vestal Virgins as a heavenly reward for destroying themselves and other. Some religions are evil.

***

What do humans comprehend about God and what can be proven? Religion and observation teach that the Creator is all-powerful – a concept impossible for humans to grasp or deny. Mankind is a complex specimen capable of movement, reasoning, reproduction, nurturing and good and evil. The sexes compliment each other. They are capable of forming stable nurturing bonds, disharmony and a creative society. God’s prime creations here are well suited to this hostile planet.

"Why did you create this, God?" Is this an experiment? It wasn’t until the pictures from the Hubbell telescope were published that a seed of understanding God's mind was planted. His abilities are awesome! Consider the planetary movement and the order of the universe. The planning for the sequential outcome of events after the "Bang" Fourteen Billion years ago is staggering for this mind to comprehend.

Consider the Creator's patience. Why fourteen billion years! Reflect on mankind’s evolution and our interdependent need for each other. Look then at male and female bodies, minds, personalities and capabilities attuned to other and the circadian rhythm of the planet imagined and created by the same God, so much for "God the Father."

"God loves you!" "It’s God will!" Troubling terms! Was it "God’s Will" that fifty million humans died during World War II? Humankind started the war ended finally by other humans. Is it God’s will when a child dies? People including babies die for many reasons. Hurricanes strike the East Coast of the United States in the same way floods inundate the Midwest or fires consume parts of the West. God is not involved. Still there are reasons to believe in miracles.

***

Look closely at human history. Contrary to the media’s ceaseless dirge, Good is winning. The pace may be two steps forward and one back but virtue prevails; it’s all part of our pre-engineered coding. We survived Hitler, Hirohito, Stalin, Mao and Saddam, and others yet to be. From the beginning of recorded time history exposes the lives and passing of both good and evil people. The good that men accomplish is often interned with their bones; there is enough left to show a pattern.

Brother Philip and Pythagoras, my favorite philosopher-mathematician, both discovered that in right triangles A2 + B2 = C2. Einstein much, much later conceived the fundamental formulae for the creation of the atomic bomb, E = MC2. Galileo propounded the law of gravity and Isaac Newton formulated the laws of motion. The Creator must have been pleased at their discovery of His laws, but then it’s what we humans do.

With evil all about us most of us live creatively within our God-given abilities. Humans have survived and flourish over thousands of years because of our innate goodness, a gift not from politicians nor from the state or religious sects but from the Creator, a gift innate and part of our makeup! We are idealistic and pragmatic critters wired with a sense of fair play and of right and wrong. In the old days it was called conscience – which still makes cowards of some of us. Consider the varied origins of the codes of ethics to which humans are exposed. All religions under heaven support the "Golden Rule:" "What is hateful to you do not to your fellow men." Hammurabi’s Code of Behavior first saw light in the Iraq-Iran area. Justinian was born in Serbia, Moses in Israel, King John in Britain and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in the United States. Pacifists and procrastinators should be of deep concern to all of humankind. Neither group has learned anything about evil or war wallowing in self-delusion while ignoring George Santayana's admonition: "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

Overtaken by death one of two things will happen. Death will be infinite or processing will follow. Since rectitude for earlier sins are impossible virtue in the time remaining is the goal. Virtue has always been its own reward.

More Emerson: Have I left the place better than when I got here? The East has much to teach. God created them too. While none of us asked to be here there will be Judgment, the Creator favors advancing the species.

Jack Meyer, a graduate of Benedictine University, resides on the East Coast and gives unsolicited advice to his children and grandchildren
. He is the author of The Mind of God and Our Fathers and Mothers.

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