Making a case for Universalism

Universalism is the other half of the religious tradition known as Unitarian Universalism. I already dealt with the first half by denying the Trinity as a self-contradicting assertion:

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/there-is-no-trinity-period/

It is understandable that some people want to feel like they are better than others or more loved by God than others, but that is an appeal to the human ego that is destructive to human spirituality. There is nothing more vile than the idea that God would condemn anyone to eternal damnation in hell for believing in the “wrong” dogmas. Such extreme punishment could only be justified if there was some empirical way to discover the truth in religion, thus making it beyond dispute. But if that was the case, it wouldn’t even be religion at all; it would be SCIENCE.

In the late 1980s, I was a Christian and I was perfectly sincere about it. Then at the turn of this Century, I was a Baha’i and just as zealous about that. And in both cases, I have turned away from those religions because I found them to be flawed and unworthy of my allegiance, perhaps even completely false, as many do believe. But if I had died at either time, would it have been fair for God to condemn me for following a false religion?

Even if Christianity was the only true religion, the fact that it has been divided into thousands of competing sects, despite the fact that Christians are supposed to believe in one God and one savior, is enough to show that there are no “true” Christians. No matter what position you take, you are part of a minority in the world; Christians only make up about 1/4 of the population of the world. Is it logical to assume that God would condemn the vast majority of the world for not being Christian, especially when there is so much evidence that it is defended by outright fraud?

1900 years ago, Christians and Jews were a tiny minority in the world. In places like India, China, Japan, and the American continents, there was virtually no chance for people living there to hear and accept the teaching of either Bible based religion, while there were religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or the various Pagan religions. Who could blame the people in those lands for following what they knew? It is easy to assume you have the only true faith when you have only that one faith in your community and do not know followers of other religions except through crude stereotypes. Once you get to know those followers as people, those stereotypes tend to break down. Exposure to those people breeds tolerance quite naturally.

Since there is no way to know what truth in religion is, there is no justification for the dogma that God damns anyone for what they believe or disbelieve. That claim is bigotry and thus is evil.

Jesus said even the Torah is not the Word of God

I am neither a Jew nor a Christian, but I find it ironic that many Christians insist that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, considering that Jesus did not teach that and indeed seemed to indicate that fallible MEN made some parts of it.

Matthew 19:3-9

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

   4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

This passage strikes at the very heart of fundamentalist dogma, that the entire Bible from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, was revealed by God and has absolute authority over men. Of course, if you are an Orthodox Jew, you would naturally take offense at anyone overturning a law of the Torah. But often Christian sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses also fall prey to excessive legalism, which Jesus denied! If certain laws in the Torah were made by Moses, not God, why not allow for the possibility that other passages, even in the New Testament, were also made by men for a specific time and people, not by God for all peoples and all times? How can we tell?

We can’t, which is why Biblical authority is a concept we need to discard.

Atheism is a DOGMA! Get over it!

I recently had a long argument with an atheist who not only openly disagreed with all religions, but insisted that all religious people were delusional, stupid, even insane, while totally denying that he was himself promoting an unproven belief of his own.

What is atheism? There appear to be two kinds:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity

b : the doctrine that there is no deity

By the first definition, I am indeed an atheist, but I reject that term for myself because I know that people assume that atheism is about outright denial of God’s existence (the second definition) and nothing else. By contrast, I question God’s existence and do not deny it at all. My position is a neutral one regarding that specific issue.

And that is why Thomas Huxley in the 19th Century coined the term agnostic to describe himself and his beliefs, or lack thereof.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic

1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
Thus by the first definition one can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist, though most people only know of the first kind (because that is consistent with the second definition) . What one cannot be is lumping all people who are religious into the same category of irrationality, delusion, and stupidity and then be nondogmatic at the same time. Not only are you being dogmatic, you are being a BIGOT.
: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
And any atheist who does that is no better than someone who is a religious bigot.
Atheists say that the burden of proof should be on the religious person to support the claim that God exists. But producing such proof is exactly what the religious person does when he produces the Bible, the Quran, or some other religious text that is the basis for a God-centered religion. You can say that the proof is insufficent to establish belief in God beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is still a proof. And religion by definition requires faith, not absolute proof. If belief in God could be established beyond a reasonable doubt, it wouldn’t be part of religion. Conversely, atheism also cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt, because there is no way to disprove the existence of God. Atheism is a dogma, not an objective point of view.
When an atheist says that the Bible is no more credible than the Harry Potter books, he is not making an objective statement at all, but giving a subjective opinion. That’s exactly what a DOGMA is!
Does this mean atheism is also a religion? It depends on your definition of religion. I say no, because you don’t need faith to be an athiest or agnostic. Faith involves belief in something that cannot be directly detected. But you do have to make a choice to be an atheist, agnostic, or theist. Belief in the non-existence of God is as much a religion as not playing chess is a form of gaming. But one still makes a choice if one refuses to learn how to play chess.

Muslims, get a life!

This is an open letter to all those who profess the Islamic religion, including some that may be friends of mine.

Do you REALLY believe in Allah, who is described throughout the Quran as “the Merciful” as well as “Forgiving”? It seems that many of your comrades in faith do not and merely use His name to destroy people’s lives and freedom!

I have not forgotten how some of you threatened the life of Salman Rushdie in 1989 for writing his novel The Satanic Verses.  Did it ever occur to you that if Allah really found what he did to be that offensive, he would have struck down Rushdie Himself? The fact that He never did is evidence to me that either Allah could not do it (why worship such a weak god?) , or that he didn’t see fit to (why do yourselves what He would not?). In short, Allah willed the act of “blasphemy”. So why not condemn Him too? Why is your faith in Allah so weak, that you deem yourselves to be more of a judge of what is worthy of death than Allah Himself? Note that the one who passed the death sentence on Rushdie with a fatwa, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, died soon afterwards, while Rushdie still lives today! It seems clear that it  was Khomeini who was the blasphemer, not Rushdie!

Do not be so foolish as to make anyone or anything, including the religion of Islam and the deeds and words of the Prophet Muhammad, above criticism! Remember that Muhammad himself strongly criticised the Jewish and Christian religions, even while stating that their followers were “People of the Book”. Likewise, allowing criticism of Islam in public is in keeping with the verse in the Quran that declares: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Sura 2:256). How can there be no compulsion in religion if you threaten critics of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad with death, you hypocrites!?

Islam is not superior to any other religion. If you think otherwise, then why would Allah will the existence of other faiths? Why is Christianity still the most popular religion at nearly two billion followers? Is it not possible that Muhammad intended Islam for Arabs only rather than for all the peoples of the world? Why insist on one truth for the whole world when science cannot even find the existence of Allah anywhere, let alone the dogmas of Islam?

The Quran is but a book, revealed by Muhammad. To say that it is equal to Allah himself is blasphemy, yet I always get the impression that you seem to think every word of the Quran should be believed in and obeyed absolutely. NO! Don’t you know that the Quran was not even completely assembled until several years after the death of Muhammad? How can we be sure all of it is accurately transcribed  and really from the Prophet?

I am disgusted by the practice of older Muslim men marrying girls as young as 12 and making them fall pregnant. What a violation of the girls’ dignity! Yes, I know Muhammad married a nine-year old girl. I also know that he and Aisha never had children, so it is possible that the marriage was never consummated. I’d rather beleive that than assume that he was a pedophile, as some have alledged! In any case, are you forgetting that the Prophet was a man and not to be seen as equal with Allah himself? Why assume that if Muhammad did something 1400 years ago, it must be right to do even today? Have you no minds of your own? If you are given brains by Allah and do not use them to determine truth from falsehood and morality from what is immoral, those brains are wasted and thus Allah is dishonored. If your only sources of truth and morality is Islam and the actions of Prophet Muhammad, what will you do if it is revealed to you on the Day of Judgement that Muhammad was not a Prophet at all? Honorable Skeptics like myself don’t worry about that, because we have morals that do not depend on any faith.

It is said among Muslims, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.” But an atheist would say, “There is no god and Muhammad was no prophet.” If a Muslim denies Hinduism, the Baha’i Faith and atheism, why can’t the atheist and the Hindu deny Islam (the Baha’i would not; all Baha’is see Muhammad as a Prophet)?

How dare you claim Islam is Allah’s final religion! Why put any limits on the Word of Allah? Why tell him to be silent and speak no more? Isn’t that also blasphemy? I think so!

Remember what the Quran also says, in Sura 109: “Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” Follow THAT, and you will follow the example of Allah, who is Merciful.

There is NO Trinity, period!

The simple fact that Jesus prayed to God (the Father) in many passages shows that they are two separate entities. The Christians of Gentile background were so immersed in Paganism that they understood Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” as also being God, so they invented the Trinity. Note that the Jews did not consider Moses to be equal to God, even though he spoke with as much divine authority as Jesus would 1500 years later. If the early Christians had been content with Jesus as a new version of Moses, then they would not have had to come up with the absurdity of the Trinity to account for what Jesus was like. But they had to make Jesus look even greater than Moses to make their own religion look greater than Judaism. Good for public relations, bad for intellectual honesty.

No doubt, “orthodox” Christians  will point to passages where Jesus appeared to do things only God could do (forgive sins, accept worship) and insist that the Holy Spirit was also a person within the Godhead, but that only illustrates how unreliable the scriptures (and those who interpret them) are. God may be unknowable, but he does not suffer from a multiple personality disorder. The Jews said their god was ONE God. Either that is true or it isn’t. There is NO Trinity.

A direct Bible reference in which Jesus denies being God or equal with God is:

Luke 18:18-19

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

So here we see Jesus specifically denying that he was God by correcting someone who addressed him as “good”, stating that only God was good. If Jesus had been God, he would not have responded that way.