Book Review

I just finished — ok, I skimmed, the book God: A Human History by Reza Aslan.  I liked his other book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.  But this book I felt melded fact and fiction too much.  He states he is a believer in God but he is a pantheist, believing that God is US.  He speaks of the “ancestors of Adam and Eve”.   He states, “The very process through which the concept of God arose in human evolution compels us, consciously or not, to fashion God in our own image”.  You can’t talk about evolution and people inventing God and have there still be a God that you pray to to get the job, or ace an exam.  What’s the point of praying to a pantheistic God? Again, I keep coming back to the same themes: if there is a God, there would only be one religion.  And the same would be true for a pantheistic God.

God is man-made, not the other way around.  Which means that before there were humans, there was no “god”.  And humans are a relatively recent addition to the planet, much less the universe.  To say that God = man is another narcissistic construct of the whole idea.

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What’s the worst that could happen?

What’s the worst thing that would happen if there was no religion?  You just die.  You cease to exist.  You don’t got to heaven and see all your dead relatives.  (Good news: you don’t go to hell either).

Religion was invented out of fear of death.  Christianity touted, ” If you believe in Jesus, you do not perish, but live an eternal life”.   (If that were true, we’d still be on our first Pope.)  The movie “The Invention of Lying” nails this concept.

 

The Rainbow Bridge

The idea for the “Rainbow Bridge” came from an anonymous poem (sic) from the 1980’s.  It reads:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

“When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….”

Author unknown…

Other than vets printing this out and handing it out to their customers after putting their pets to “sleep”, I’m not sure how, in the pre-internet age, this concept gathered steam, but now, there is a website, Facebook page(s), etc. devoted to the concept of seeing our beloved pets after we die.

Which is the point of heaven – a concept to lessen the fear of death.  Christianity took off for 2 reasons:  one, it is reiterated time and time again in the New Testament, that if you follow Jesus, you don’t have to abide by the arduous Jewish laws.  And two,  if you follow Jesus, (John 3:15) “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life”.  (also “everlasting” life in 3:16). (Debunking the concept of heaven completely!)

Religion is all about death.  And the hugely popular concept of our pets getting their own special “heaven” where they await our demise adds another dimension to “heaven” and belief in such.  Especially the parts about being hurt or maimed and made whole again.  That is also the assumption behind going to heaven as well (see Heaven is For Real where the young boy talks about his grandfather who got younger).

This is all very interesting considering the Bible never mentions people going to heaven.  It is, not unlike the “poem” above, a man made concept.

The NT references to heaven as it relates to a human “going there” (as opposed to an angel coming down from it, or a light coming from it) include Matthew 5:12, Mattt 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 6:23, Luke 12:33, Luke 18:22 which all refer to rewards and riches waiting for you.  2 Corinthians 5:1 says home is heaven after the earth is destroyed.  1 Thess 4:16 states the Lord will come down from heaven and those who have died and were in Christ will rise first.  2 Timothy 4:18 states “The Lord will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.” And finally 1 Peter 1:4 states “These blessings are kept for you in heaven.”  Col 1:5 states “You know what is waiting for you in heaven”.

So heaven is a giant carrot.  And in case that doesn’t work, the rainbow bridge is another one.

 

In heaven, you don’t eat junk food

Overheard in the grocery store this morning, and I wondered where the young girl got that idea.  And then I remembered oh yes – VBS.  Sounds like a disease, which it could be, but it’s Vacation Bible School.  The staple of every elementary child’s summer, as it’s one more way for the parent to park their kids somewhere while they get something done; perhaps work…

But it hearkens back to, why do we believe what we do?  And when you indoctrinate children in Sunday School and for a solid week during the summer, you get – brainwashed little humans.

You get people who don’t think for themselves.  I really need to write that Skeptic Children’s Bible.

Again, asking for prayers on FB

Saw on Facebook this morning, someone is asking for prayers for someone diagnosed with cancer who is “starting chemo”.  They said, “you can’t have too many prayers”.  It’s absolutely bizarre to me that in 2017 people continue to pray to the invisible sky god, while undergoing medical treatment.  Their cancer may regress, then it may come back.  It may work, it may not.  If prayers worked, the cancer would be cured.  Nobody prays that the cancer “only comes back once or twice”.

How much is this chemo going to cost?  Do they have good medical insurance?  Do they need to start a “GoFundMe” account?  God doesn’t pay the medical bills.  Why not JUST pray – it’s cheaper…

On a side note, you know what they didn’t have in the Bible when people (supposedly) lived to be 900?  Telephones, ambulances, chemotherapy, etc.  Then god “shortened the life span to 120”.  Because that’s the only explanation for why we no longer live to be 900.

Why would god cause someone to have cancer?  It would have to be because they didn’t live the way he wanted.  But do we go by Jesus’ list or the OT list?  Do we go by the 600+ Jewish laws?

If God could heal cancer, it would be God that caused the cancer.

And finally, if you believe in God, and believe that heaven awaits you on the other side, why get chemo?  Why not want to go to heaven where you don’t have to deal with the IRS, health insurance, politics, traffic, debt climate change, etc.

I  think we ask for prayers out of habit.  Desperation.

 

Writing the Bible

Remember, each individual book of the Bible was composed hundreds of years before the whole thing was codified.  The authors never knew that they were writing something that was going to be the holy book.  But I digress – my point is, why in hell, would the priests who codified the Bible in the 300’s keep in the parts where Jesus told his followers he would “return in their lifetimes”.  (Luke 21:32-33 The earth and sky will be destroyed in your lifetime.  Matthew 10:23 – The Son of Man will come again before you can even travel from city to city…)

Why didn’t the priests in the 300’s take those parts out since at that point it was obvious that was false?

If the Bible was the work of a creator of the universe who could communicate with us, it wouldn’t say these things.