The Human Choice - 2
A TV DEBATE
On the eve of Good Friday, 1994, an arranged debate on the relevance of Christianity was presented on Australian ABC TV. Three people of Christian profession were chosen as foil to a run-of-the-mill presenter.
A reasonable program of its kind; three people of related but differing opinion being encouraged to air their views. It appeared that all regarded the resurrection as the basic tenet of Christian faith, at the same time having varying degrees of faith or doubt as to the reality of it, the thoughts of other members of the panel and the teaching of Christianity in general. Next to the resurrection they considered important, but much less important, the virgin birth. Their depth of belief in such Christian fundamentals was, shall we say, tentative. It was not a program to encourage either understanding or faith.
My own study - which I call "My search for truth" - goes back many years. Forty years ago the theory of evolution by chance was being presented as the scientifically correct view of life's creation. Around that time I was still searching for a truly rational base for my life. Was the taught science correct? Did life have meaning? Could I really do just as I liked or did I have a moral responsibility to some ongoing life purpose?
For a young man with all the desires and ambitions of a young man, this was a very important question.
At that time I was living in Sydney and able to make use of the excellent State Public Library. I decided it was time to get really serious about this question and make a study of evolution theory and its surrounds. If I had hopes of being set free by this study I was in for disappointment.
The first books I chose seemed to me to be shallow and unconvincing, in fact self-contradictory. Perhaps I was not reading the best books! I set out to make sure that my reading did include literature used by universities but found here the same shallow ocean of social fixations based on vaporising illusions.
Advanced thinkers had already described "survival of the fittest" as tautology. It was what we today might call a "Clayton's" theory: the kind of theory you accept when you don't want a real theory. Survival of the fittest means that the fittest survive. Why do they survive? Because they are the fittest! Why are they the fittest? Because they survive! Why is the sun hot? Because it emits heat! Why does it emit heat? Because it's hot! Circular reasoning; statements of the obvious going nowhere.
Creation by chance has never been a scientific theory; it was never more than an idea idolised by some because it offered what escapists wanted to hear. It was (as we shall see) never able to be brought into line with scientific fact or logical reason despite huge, expensive effort and massive propaganda.
Although the theory had, at that time, already been exposed as unscientific and intellectually fraudulent, each such challenge went unanswered; human desire had overcome and replaced the search for truth; 'politically correct', although perhaps not then openly acknowledged, had arrived. The establishment had no answers. There are no answers; the establishment maintained its stance by the simple device of ignoring all who exposed the unscientific and irrational nature of a belief promoted and designed specifically for the purpose of achieving a social engineering program.
From that time on the education system has taught chance created evolution as though unchallenged scientific fact. It was able to do this because the educated (most importantly the mass media owned by the establishment) has supported the educators.
To me, as an uncommitted investigator, it soon became clear that creation by chance evolution was a fake.
If an independent study of chance creation provided no answer to the "creation" puzzle, was religion also as shallow and unrealistic as its public face then seemed to suggest?
I deliberately left Christian religion to last. I looked at other religions and acclaimed gurus. What I found revealed fashion and some excellent "good common sense" but not much else.
Then to Christianity.
Contrary to common opinions and teachings, the resurrection and virgin birth were not of immediate importance to my investigation; that was story, I was looking for evidence.
Acts of the Apostles, Paul, Letters, these are stories of people - the reactions of mankind - perhaps of human interest but not proof of a special status for Jesus.
The Old Testament is more interesting and revealing but still relies heavily on the credibility of story-tellers, translators and interpreters. It points to, but does not prove, who Jesus of Nazareth really was. Only in the Gospels do we get close to the Master himself.
As members on the ABC program were at pains to point out, the New Testament was written long after the events it described and in a language foreign to that used by Jesus. Worse, it had to be again translated to reach us in English. We cannot expect the Gospels to be accurate in detail and different editions of the Holy Bible bear this out. Memory, translations and editing by zealous people ensure discrepancies.
So far as new understanding is concerned, that TV program made no public advance on my reading on this subject many years earlier. Although the scriptures may not be accurate in all details, substance, even honesty, is not strong when Christianity is presented today.
So what is left?
Those of us with the experience of age and aware of the degree of imperfect memory common to the human kind, are aware that, when acclaimed people speak, certain phrases stand out and are repeated and remembered. An American president visits Australia - a throw-away line, "run over the bastards" is picked up. "All the way with LBJ" is remembered long after the substance of the visit is forgotten. Bob Hawke's "silly old bastard" will still be recalled when Bob is dead. In the short term it is the demeaning trivia that is most often remembered; in the long term it is the wise quotes that survive.
So what we seek is the unforgettable comment in an age where, with no popular access to writing, memory was more important and far more seriously practised than today.
To me the significance of Jesus impressed itself in just a few comments. Most easily to mind is, I am the way; I am the truth and I am life; no one comes to the Father except by me. John 14:6. What is so important about that comment? Firstly, what He is saying is: I represent the truth of life, no one comes to the ultimate life except through devotion to the truth of life.
And what is important about that? To me, what is important about that is that it is true. No one can expect to advance life (their own or life as a whole) except by keeping as close as possible to the truth of life. Truth is the reality!
The truth of life (which includes everyday truth) should be treated as an object of worship by anyone wanting to achieve something worthy of life. Achievement based on fantasy, like a dream, has no lasting value. The way to life is through truth. These matters will be explored more fully later.
Jesus was not saying that we should worship Him, what He was saying was that we should worship truth. From the harvest of truth we reap justice, mercy and the fruit of life's rewards.
But that is not all this comment tells us! Although an honestly reasoning person should be able to see the significance of His statement just as clearly as seeing the insignificance of the tautologies relating to the evolution myth, what should intrigue us is that the meaning of that statement by Jesus has not been understood and widely taught even to this day.
For anyone to present that simple truth so dramatically that it would be noted accurately in memory while its meaning is not fully appreciated, makes it a far more significant event; in fact outstanding. Also the structure of the statement takes its memory beyond the reach of both the manipulative scribe and the storyteller - it therefore remains functionally legitimate. It is (as we shall see) combinations of this kind that mark Jesus as a superior person.
We have here a classic example of the (other-worldly) insight of Jesus into the true nature and instincts of mankind.
Why is plain truth so difficult for us to see or accept? Why do we prefer to ignore or try to reject the chains that support life as though these supports are an insult? Why do we prefer that ultimate of humanist attitudes, 'cutting off our noses to spite our faces'?
But without doubt we do!
It is clear that mankind has, within Christian times, preferred to believe either that he is God and beholden to no power or plan beyond self or, that he is the slave of powers beyond his influence. When not able to believe he is God then mankind has been servile to the point of robotic; chaining body and mind to restrictive and often farcical beliefs.
The self-destructive pride that leads us to seeing ourselves as either gods or slaves has now culminated in the desire to be gods as reflected in the teaching of humanism as though it were science. This teaching can be seen as being part of a project to socially engineer mankind to serve a puny man-made ideology in service to a puny egocentric elite.
False teaching, to enlarge human ego (as any confidence trickster knows) can go a long way toward blinding and seducing us to ignore natural truth, even (or perhaps especially) if the truth is so simple as should be intellectually obvious in today's state of understanding.
The simple statement that life is an intelligent creation and that all lasting benefits we may get from life must depend on our ability to appreciate the true nature of life, is of infinitely greater importance than any story of miraculous accomplishment or adventure that could be made up by a story-teller of the time.
If a simple story-teller could uncover what were then (and are even now to most) real secrets of life, then that story-teller would not be a simple story-teller and his wisdom would be noted down, remembered and discussed. Such a story-teller would not waste life to create fantasies.
So it is not just the wisdom of those words, "I am the way .." that make them stand out, it is that they are opposed to the way in which mankind prefers to see himself. Mankind does not want to see the relevance of such statements!
Mankind does not want to be restricted by the reality of a created truth but wants to imagine that he can re-create himself to suit himself; or, if he must accept an intelligent creator, then to be a slave in a sterile servility for which he can deny all responsibility.
Mankind wants either an all-powerful God leaving no more than trivia to the human will or he wants the glory of designing his own future free of admitting even those restraints imposed by the structure of life itself. The combination of a creator-God and personal responsibility is not easily acceptable.
Knowing the unacceptability of the natural truth of life to mankind in general, and the simple limits of human understanding at that time, the intriguing nature of a speaker's insight (revealed in the need to cloak the meaning of His message) is again revealed in the way in which this cloaking is achieved.
No other religion - no other acclaimed wise teacher that I had then read (or have since read or heard of) has been able to make statements of such simple basic importance and realize a need to cloak truth so neatly that its importance would be invisible to the majority until its time had come.
When we search for evidence of superior identity, human wisdom and adventure stories are not enough! Jesus could say: Take the plank out of your own eye before you complain of the speck in the viewpoint of another; and Khrisnamurti may say: the cause and the subject of suffering is yourself. But these are human levels of wisdom understandable and acceptable to humans of the time. All of us may not be learned in such elements of wise living, or be sufficiently self-disciplined to make use of their benefits, but they represent conventional wisdom such as appears in many cultures and religions.
But just imagine, for instance, had Jesus said, "The earth is round." It would, at that time, have also demonstrated an other-worldly understanding of the universal reality, but would people have treated it as anything but an interesting (or incredible) irrelevancy? They wanted mystical, not scientific, guidance. Their culture had not yet advanced sufficiently for them to appreciate scientific understanding.
Further, even if it had been said and noted, what chance would it have had of getting into a Bible assembled years later? Buckley's, I would think. Everyone, at that time, 'knew' that the world was flat; the young church would not have such faith in its leader as to risk scorn by promoting such a challenge to the accepted view of worldly reality. In the event however, having adopted the worldly belief of its time, it then became difficult for the worldly church to accept the later advance of science and suffered the consequences in loss of both face and faith.
The pride, fears and lack of faith of mankind were again demonstrated when the church, having made a fool of itself by first accepting a worldly view and then having to try to resist the advance of worldly science - and losing, had then not the faith to back Christianity when the pseudo-science of chance creation was proposed. In this case resistance was half-hearted and incompetent; instead of using science and reason to expose the false science, church leaders relied on bombast and dogma.
But people remembered how church dogma had previously to give way to science. So the foolish pride of the worldly church was again found wanting with further loss of support to Christianity.
The Gospel story of Peter (at the time of trial) is well reflected in the life of the Christian church; the worldly Church had now denied Jesus (= truth) twice.
So we can see why a statement of fact, neither understood at the time, nor wanted, had to be expressed in mystical terms. I am the way; I am the truth and I am life; no one comes to the Father except by me was valued because people did not have to know, or desire to find, its underlying meaning, it was enough that it sound like, and could be interpreted to mean, something wonderfully esoteric and exciting.
I am the way... is, of course, supported by comments such as, you must leave self behind or you must be born again. This combination is extremely important; so important that the instruction is repeated in different forms. This instruction has also, for the same reasons (mankind's pride and sloth) been misunderstood. While the comments are memorable people always look for easy answers. The way mankind prefers to think is egocentric, so his natural choice is of the wish fulfilling kind: he chose to see rebirth as a magical flash of inspiration or instant conversion to full salvation.
Is that Christian-rational?
Did Jesus promise a miraculous solution to life's challenge? To recognize truth is a tremendous step, but it does not end there! We have to follow up on our great discovery - we have to get to know truth!
Is it not true that the great difficulty most people have with new concepts is that they don't like to expose their ego or give up existing fixations? People defend their beliefs as if sacred; but it is truth that is sacred, not our beliefs.
Today human weakness is very obvious to the discerning and observant. All around us, be it politics, religion, medical treatments or whatever, dogmatic attitudes persist and resist enlightenment. Greens fight with loggers; Protestants fight Catholics; communists fight capitalists; fundamentalist Christians fight fundamentalist evolutionists ... and, whatever the fighting is about, both sides have uncompromising and narrow fixations. Each group is bound up in egocentric certainties.
If people were willing to entertain doubts - willing to accept a continuing process of rebirth - then they would learn the benefits of "listening rather than shouting" and go on to peaceful agreements, because both sides, in dogmatic dispute, are largely wrong. The gaining of understanding and true wisdom is a continual process of rebirth - total truth is not achieved in a single step - progress to truth is a continuing rebirth.
But we see from the attitudes and teachings of Christian churches today that Jesus is still not acclaimed for His advanced understanding and teaching of life-science.
The Church strongly resists that ethics are a natural product of the order of our creation rather than some arrogant personal demand of an all-powerful Creator who leaves little to human will and self-discipline. In its pandering to our earthly ego in order to gain earthly support, the worldly Church reveals the earthly preferences of its staff - and so, in this attitude, the Church denies Jesus (= truth) for the third time.
The worldly church prefers to teach miracles rather than self responsibility because that is the way the world wants it. More today than at any time since the resurrection, Christian teaching is based on stories of promise rather than on scientific instruction for rewarding living. The importance of the things that He is remembered to have said are still not acknowledged or explained. His statements are now interpreted so as to glamorise an emotional story line.
Today Christianity is taught as though no more than a free-loader's paradise while the consequences of anti-social behaviour are glossed over. And this despite that Jesus Himself said, "I bring not peace but a sword". He offered the sword of truth. We are at war! We "turn the other cheek" not to appease evil but to sedate dissent in our own camp.
The war of life is not for the purpose of giving aid to life's destructive forces. We need to face that He brought a sword, not a tin of trader's beads.
Nothing in the above is to suggest that the resurrection and virgin birth are unimportant but to remind people that such happenings are only important if there is evidence of the person involved being a superior being.
Without evidence of other-worldly understanding for support, stories of miracles, no matter how intriguingly presented, are of no more importance than the earthly wisdom hidden behind any Grimm's fairy tale. choice2.htm
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