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Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by HyperSignal, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Member

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    You are a rarity indeed. As for me I used to believe that I based my belief on evidence, but now I realise that yes, I did do research, but the research wasn't as thorough as it should have been. I believe that I accepted what was comfortable to me.

    What specifics did you research by the way? Did you research loads of religions and how thoroughly did you research them?
     
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  2. dmap

    dmap God is good and beautiful

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    In my view, revealed religions and revealed spiritual paths are untrustworthy sources of truth and knowledge. All of them.
     
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  3. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Well-Known Member

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    So you were a JW? Were you raised in that religion? Why was it comfortable for you? What caused you to drop out?
    I read many the scriptures of Baha’u’llah that had been translated into English from Persian and Arabic at that time and I also read books written by the appointed interpreters of His writings, as well as other books written about the Baha’i Faith.

    I did not research any other religions before I became a Baha’i. As I said, I was not even looking for a religion at that time, or for God, but I discovered the Baha’i Faith through my older brother and I recognized it as the truth within about two weeks. In the beginning, I was not very active in the religious organization and then I stopped participating altogether, but I never questioned that it was the truth from God, I always knew it was. It is a long sordid story why I fell away, but it was because of my own personal problems I had to resolve, not because of the religion. I was also very busy with college for over 15 years and I got interested in psychology so lost interest in religion, but I still knew it was the truth from God.

    Having that knowledge, it was probably destiny that I eventually got back into the Baha’iFaith later in my life, andthat is what happened. I also had many “issues” to resolve with God, and eventually I felt compelled to start working on those, given I was getting older. All that began in January 2013, when I first came to a forum called Planet Baha’i, and after that I branched off onto other forums, mostly Christian forums and some forums with predominantly nonbelievers. I started to really learn the particulars of Baha’i theology and the history when I started coming to forums because I had to look things up since people asked me many questions. I also learned a lot about Christianity because I was posting to Christians. I learned about Buddhism and Hinduism and Judaism to a lesser extent.

    All the new knowledge about the Baha’i Faith only further solidified what I already believed, that it was the truth from God. Also, learning about Christianity, I realized I never could have been a Christian. I could never be a member of any religion that is exclusivist, believing that their religion is “the only way” for all time. That also eliminated Judaism and Islam, although otherwise I think those religions have a lot of truth in them and inspiring scriptures. Christianity also has a lot of truth and inspiring scriptures, but all that has been submerged under a morass of false Christian doctrines.

    I believe that the Baha’i Faith is the religion God wants everyone to follow during this new age,but I believe all the older religions are also true. However, the older religions do not have the remedy that humanity needs in the current age, and their social teachings and laws are out of date. That is why God revealed a new religion in the 19th century. Baha’is believe that there will be more Prophets and more religions revealed in the future, as long as humankind exists, so we do not think we are “the only way” for all time.
     
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  4. Willamena

    Willamena Just me
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    I was thinking about that just today: why should anyone have to choose any religion? Isn't belief in god enough?
     
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  5. Lionel Refson

    Lionel Refson Member
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    Oh, absolutely correct!! In fact religion in any form takes us further away from God. It is just noise/interference!
     
  6. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Well-Known Member

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    That is not what religion is designed to do, so if that is what is happening, something is either wrong with the religion or the method of practicing it.
    Religion is supposed to bring us closer to God.
     
  7. Lionel Refson

    Lionel Refson Member
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    Given that God blessed us all to be fruitful and multiply, most world religions have at one time or another completely gone against this blessing. Countless lives lost and ruined in religious war , genocide etc Christian versus jew, Christian versus Christian, Christian versus Muslim, Jew, versus Muslim, Hindu versus Muslim, etc ad nauseam.......you get the idea.
    It does not matter if religion has done some good in the world, the point is it is of a dual nature, it causes divisiveness and therefore it is human-made noise.

    ...and let's suppose for a moment that we ignore the wars, the genocide persecutions, pogroms etc. Look at how fundamentalists treat LGBT. for example. Consider the unhappiness of a religious minority being picked on eg anti-semitic behaviour. All this is far from being fruitful

    Of course i am mainly referring to the Abrahamic religions but then again we are talking about God not The Tao etc.

    Religion was deigned by humans keep the tribe/the masses under control.....period!
     
    #67 Lionel Refson, Jun 13, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  8. JJ50

    JJ50 Well-Known Member

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    Well it didn't work, did it?
     
  9. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Well-Known Member

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    People do all of what you stated, the religion itself does not do it.

    It is what people DO with religion that causes the division and wars. If the followers of religion lived according to the actual teachings of the religion as revealed by the Prophet Founders, division and wars would not be possible.
    That is what religious leaders have DONE with religion, but that is not what religion was designed for. This is what religion was designed for, its fundamental purpose:

    “The Great Being saith: O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity. This is the straight Path, the fixed and immovable foundation. Whatsoever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure. Our hope is that the world’s religious leaders and the rulers thereof will unitedly arise for the reformation of this age and the rehabilitation of its fortunes. Let them, after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a diseased and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth…..” Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 215-216
     
  10. Lionel Refson

    Lionel Refson Member
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    What didn't work? God blessed us, BUT we have freewill to do whatever we will as per Adam and Eve

    For me, It doesn't matter what is was designed for. It matters what it is now and what effect it has now. It doesn't matter if an Isis follower's views disgust liberal Muslim views or not, the point is one tarnishes the other in the eye of the non-Muslim beholder. This beholder, especially if poorly educated then hates all Muslims. Human made things are divisive. Religion, a creation of humanity is divisive. Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí was on the right track and i do not disagree with the quote above but his voice is drowned out by the shouting and violence of the Abrahamic religions . IMHO it is better to destroy the root of a pernicious weed than try and tie its stems and stalks together, better to remove the cancer at its root than try and smooth over its manifestations and BTW there is a lot of smiting in all the Abrahamic Faiths' holy books .

    For clarity I am talking only about The Abrahamic religions and it was my error not to have been clearer
     
    #70 Lionel Refson, Jun 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  11. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe Jesus said yo would know by the fruit.
     
  12. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe that usually leads to a lack of knowledge.
     
  13. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe for me what was written helped me to know what to do to receive help.
     
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  14. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Member

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    Thanks for sharing your story :) It sounds like a faith that resonates with you pretty well.

    I was a JW and I wasn't raised in the religion. I joined over 7 years ago because I believed it based on the research and knowledge of the Bible I knew at the time. I left this year.

    The comfort comes into play because it fed my ego, as being a Witness means that God has specifically chosen you to be among his people. I was also going slightly crazy from all the research I was doing in philosophy and religion. So I joined the Witnesses because they gave me a sense of stability in reality based on my gut rather than logic. I wanted an immediate answer and couldn't accept that I could possibly never find truth objectively or at the every least it would take loads of time and patience. I was young and stupid at the time (I got baptised at the age of 22).

    The reason why I left the JW's was because I saw what I believe to be contradictions between their doctrine and what the Bible says. Also the reason why I will never go back is because I did research and found that the organisation whitewashes its history, doctrinal history and current practices. So for instance there are things they do which leads to moral conundrums such as shunning which often leads to ex members committing suicide and the pedophile cases that they have which they don't tell their members about. But they say shunning is loving and that they don't have a pedophile issue (yet they keep on bringing it up when speaking about the Catholic Church). I used to admire the organisation for its transparency but after thorough research and my experiences to confirm much of that research and access to the documentation to prove that research, I now know that the group isn't transparent (which isn't most members fault. Most I have met are cool people.) Also I have been studying cult psychology by reading books such as Combating Cult Mind Control by Steve Hassan and see the connection between what is discussed in there and the JW's through my experience. In fact I love studying cults and that studying made me see many similarities but it didn't contribute to me leaving.
     
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  15. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Well-Known Member

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    What humans have done with religions that were revealed by Messengers of God is divisive. They have used these religions to advance their own selfish interests and gain power over others. I can certainly understand why nonbelievers and even some believers are averse to organized religions.
    That is absolutely true, the Voice of Baha’u’llah is drowned out by the other Abrahamic religions, particularly Christianity and Islam, who are the majority religions in the world and who have the most power. This will change eventually as the Baha’i Faith grows, but it will take a long time. These other religions are not going to go quietly into the night, they will fight for what they think is their ground; but it is not their ground, it is God’s ground, and God has ordained that eventually there will be one common Faith, so that is what will happen eventually.

    “That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error. Each time that Most Mighty Instrument hath come, and that Light shone forth from the Ancient Dayspring, He was withheld by ignorant physicians who, even as clouds, interposed themselves between Him and the world. It failed, therefore, to recover, and its sickness hath persisted until this day. They indeed were powerless to protect it, or to effect a cure, whilst He Who hath been the Manifestation of Power amongst men was withheld from achieving His purpose, by reason of what the hands of the ignorant physicians have wrought.” The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, pp. 91-92

    Baha’u’llah proclaimed that God is one, religion is one, and humanity is one, but because of the older religious leaders, who Baha’u’llah referred to as “ignorant physicians,” religious people remain divided because they believe their religion is separate from all the other religions, better than all the other religions, the final religion, and “the only way” to God.

    Obviously, that one common Faith is not going to be Christianity or Islam because neither of the two religions are going to combine with the other one. I do not know if this common Faith will be the Baha’i Faith, because by the time this happens there might be a new religion that supersedes Baha’i.
    I think you did say that. Indeed, it is the Abrahamic faiths that have been problematic. The dharmic faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism are not seeking power and control. They are peaceful and tolerant.
     
  16. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Well-Known Member

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    Yes, my religion resonates with me and that is probably why I recognized it as the truth right away, and never changed my mind in over 48 years.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I can understand why being a JW would appeal to your gut rather than to logical because there is nothing logical about it. Christianity teaching that it is “the only way” is bad enough, but to teach that only a small subset of Christians are right and all the others wrong is in a word, offensive. Of course their answer to that would be that they know they are right. Such is the danger of beliefs, anyone can ascribe to them and some of them are very dangerous and hurtful to other people or even to humanity as a whole.

    What kind of a loving God would select a small group of humans to be “special” and abandon all the others? That is one reason I was attracted to the Baha’i Faith, because nobody is considered “superior” to anyone else. Sure, we believe we have the most current truth from God, but that does not mean only we are saved, or that we are saved at all... Of course, there is no such concept of saved in the Baha’i Faith because we do not believe in original sin. Thus the only thing we need to be saved from is ourselves, our propensity to be selfish and attached to the world instead of serving God and helping other people.
    Well, of course you know that the JWs will say that the “other Christians” have misinterpreted the Bible and only they have the correct interpretation, but most Christians believe that, and that is one reason why Christianity is so divided. There are so many different ways that the scriptures can be interpreted and no official interpreter to settle the score. By contrast, the scriptures of the Baha’i Faith, which we call the Writings of Baha’u’llah, are much easier to understand, but we also have two interpreters which we appointed through the Covenant made between Baha’u’llah and His followers.

    So, after you left the JW organization, did you retain your belief in God? Are you still trying to understand the Bible?
     
    #76 Trailblazer, Jun 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  17. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Member

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    I wouldn't say that there is nothing logical about it, because whether God has an exclusive religion or not is circumstantial. And the concept of sin makes perfect sense to me because I can see it all around me and evidenced within myself.

    Thing is, Witnesses dont believe that only a small subset of christians will be saved. They believe that all others who claim to be christian are not christian at all. So those who would be saved are the only true Christians. I have no problem with this if it is actually what God wants. I like Christianity because the God has a standard of Holiness that he expects all his creation to attain. I would regard him as having no standards if he didn't and I wouldn't respect him for that.

    The concept of Christianity is not that he grants one group as special and abandons all others. The fact that he wants his followers to spread the gospel means that he isn't abandoning all others. But it does mean that he has a standard and he wants them to reach that standard. If people don't want to reach that standard then there is no reason for him to save them. They want to remain a faulty creation.

    There is a lot of conflict in interpretation but I find that that is because most Christians do not actually read the Bible to the point of knowing the book well. Plus when it comes to books in general, understanding them depends on whether a person likes reading, is used to reading, can critically think etc. There are too many variables when understanding books. And when belief is involved interpretation really becomes subjective. And then the dangerous thing about having designated interpreters is that one relies on them rather than the book, which means that they can make any interpretation they want to suit their own ends and the followers would be ignorant. This was what was addressed during the Reformation. The Catholic Church had leaders who were the only ones allowed to interpret the holy book and then after the Bible was printed in the common tongue, many people realised that they were talking nonsense and formed other groups. The Witnesses have the same idea in that only the Governing Body is allowed to interpret the Bible, Muslims have it with their scholars, cults have it with their leaders etc. I think that having a set intepreter is the most dangerous. That person (people) have too much power and the followers hand over power to them. Having no official interpreter works well because when many people come to the same conclusion independently then it is more likely that the book is actually saying what they say it is saying. The problems with open interpretation is when a group of people set up one of those interpreters as an official interpreter and give them power.

    At the moment I believe that an intelligence created the universe. What form that intelligence takes I have no basis of saying. Could be one person, many people, a flying spaghetti monster, Azathoth (hopefully) etc.

    Regarding the bible, I pretty much understand the explicit points. Like the old testament, the establishment of Israel, Christ having to die for sins etc. Those are pretty straight forward. Many other things such as prophecy is open to interpretation. The fun thing about the Bible is that the essentials are explicit and the rest is open to discussion and debate. It is like piecing a puzzle together as one can understand many aspects of prophecy through knowing what the symbols and patterns mean. It is a book that is constantly hyperlinking itself. So even though interpretation is open ended it is only open ended to a certain point because it retains a base foundation based on referencing what was previously written and its common symbols and patterns.
     
    #77 Israel Khan, Jun 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  18. Lionel Refson

    Lionel Refson Member
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  19. Lionel Refson

    Lionel Refson Member
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    Basically I believe in God without religion and you believe in God via one united religion, more or less.
    if you check my signature you will see exactly how I believe what I believe. IMHO your faith has a hopeless uphill struggle ie in uniting, finding common agreement ,whilst my approach still has an uphill struggle but one that is perhaps less steep. I don't have any followers and don't want not expect any. But anything that destroys even one little part of the power of the Abrahamic religions, allows the true voice of God a little more room in this world of shouting religions...and religions are being challenged more and more.

    This is my view (a blog post I wrote a while ago now)

    The True Word of God - Freeing Yourself from Religious Guilt, Fear and Suffering

    "In order to be free of all the guilt, fear and oppression that religion can cause, it is necessary for you to go travel back with us to the beginning of things, to a time when religion did not exist, a time of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and Noah and contemplate exactly what God should be; Perfect, All-Seeing, All-Knowing. The answer to your suffering lies in the simplest of times, before religion walked on this earth. "

    "So Who is God?
    Something must be made clear from the outset. It does not matter who exactly God is, rather it is His nature that is important to understand. Some say that God is either Enki and Enlil or some combination of the two Sumerian Gods, hence Elohim, the plural. It is impossible for us to find the truth; except we do know that The Sumerian story of the Flood is the oldest legend of that event and that Jewish scribes, who carefully wrote the early parts of the Bible, once lived in Sumer. No, it matters not who God is. The point is that God is our Creator and by definition must be Perfection..

    There is a God, but He Does Not Operate In This World

    Surprisingly the Old Testament Bible is very clear that whilst there is a Creator, scientifically unproven of course in our times, this Creator does not get involved with, nor intervene in this world. In other words, whilst God sees all things God has given us freewill and the responsibility of dealing ourselves with the wickedness that some commit That is not my religious opinion. It is the very Bible that tells this to us, We will show you the logic that has led to the above claim and the way in which we have all been so misled. Basically, Semitic religions have misrepresented the facts to us, and that God has not been with us in this world since Genesis.

    Start To Look for God at the Beginning and with the Right Objectives

    Starting at the beginning with the right Objective. It is vital to get two things absolutely correct when you are setting out to find or discover something, like the truth of things.

    Firstly, one must make sure one has the objective clearly defined in the mind’s eye; nothing else will do. Here the main objective is the understanding of the true nature of God, especially in relation to humanity and our world

    Secondly one really does have to find the beginning of things and start there

    Understanding The true nature of God

    God must be Perfection and would create and treat us all equally. God would allow us freewill but regardless of this God would have to be omnipotent omnipresent, omnipresent all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing and perfect to be God and nothing less would suffice. God would never be towards his creations, weak, indecisive, violent, destructive, vengeful, demanding of followers, praise and worship, angry and so on. Why not? Surely if God were all-powerful, God could be anything that God wishes, and this must be true but to us his creations he is as an ever-loving all-powerful parent that has blessed us with free-will. It is a difference between "could" and "would". God created our world, blessed us all to be fruitful and multiply and has no wish ever to destroy us, no matter how bad we get.....

    At this point some people might bring up the Flood, but that will be dealt with later. God was, is and will ever be beneficial to us. It is not easy to consider God, given the duality of our nature and our world. We live in a world of life and death, good and bad, growth and shrinkage. We may well be represented by the number two, but God is represented only by the number one. God has no duality, no blessings and curses, only blessings. While we grow and wither, God only grows. While we wax and wane, God only waxes. While we can be love and hatred, God is only love. How can this be when we are made in the image of God ? It is because we are made in His image, not a carbon copy. The statement that we are created in the image of Gd means that we were formed as a reflection of our Creator’s attributes and characteristics. This cannot be taken to mean that we literally look, feel or think like God does, because He has no form and is not limited in any way. Rather, we are like a one-dimensional reflection of a real object. From the reflection we can have an inkling of the original, but the reflection is literally nothing in comparison to the original.This is expressed in many ways: some physical, others psychological, and still others are purely in the spiritual realm for example. All other creations are doing exactly what they are programmed to do and cannot change their natures. Only the human being has the power to grow, mature and change, because he or she is a reflection of God, who is unlimited. Man was endowed with the power to think independently, to peer into the future and to make rational decisions. This is a reflection of God’s infinite wisdom, but unlike God, we are flawed.
    [​IMG]
    The Truth of Things
    If any person attempts to seek the truth of things mid-way through an event or happenstance or at its end, then that person is no more than a fool. The beginning of things is the simplest form, the root. Everything is conceived pure or with the purest of intentions and only later gets corrupted. Note the monk who stripped of all worldly wants and desires can begin to see things for what they really are.



    [​IMG]
    Starting To Look For the True God

    With a firm picture in your mind’s eye of this all-powerful, ALL KNOWING AND ALL-SEEING benign creator you must start to look for your objective right at the beginning of our holy books, the Old Testament ie at the beginning and It must be said that as every Muslim really does believe that it was Allah who wrote the Old Testament for the Jews I doubt that Muslims would object to my using, in their eyes Allah’s first holy book. What’s more we are going to use the part that The Jewish nation were NOT accused of tampering with, by both Muslims and Christians i.e. Genesis.

    Christianity reveres the Old Testament almost as much as the New Testament and Christians would agree that the God of Genesis is God as certainly would the members of the ever-faithful and long-suffering Jewish religion. Anything in Genesis, i.e. the first, the beginning the original, trump verses that appear later in the Bible and we shall also see why this is true. It must also be remembered that Jewish scribes were at great pains to record everything as accurately as possible, especially in the early parts of the Bible.

    cont
     
    #79 Lionel Refson, Jun 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  20. Lionel Refson

    Lionel Refson Member
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    Keeping God's nature In Your Mind's Eye
    If you pick up a Bible, turn to Genesis and began to read , all the while hoping this time to catch a glimpse of the magnificence that is meant to be God you will come to the Adam And Eve tale. This is the first Bible story that you must fully understand as it is the first interaction between God and Humanity.

    [​IMG]
    Adam and Eve

    God made man and woman and wished to give them freewill i.e. the right and ability to make choices, otherwise they would have been as slaves. You can’t descend from heaven and just give your people free-will, their awe of you will make them instant slaves. God wanted to give Adam and Eve freewill, wanted them to be free. He warned them not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on pain of death BUT being perfect as we have already posited, God surely knew they would disobey.. God had sent one of His creations to offer the other choice to Eve i.e. to have knowledge of good and evil and all that entailed, and the serpent made it an enticing choice, to know what is good and what is not.

    Eve made her choice and the exit from the garden was not a punishment, it was our choice. We chose to be free of the simple life and instead chose a much more arduous and yet more fulfilling path than just tending animals in the Garden. We were not tricked. We obtained what we wanted and still do, we obtained knowledge and self-awareness. i.e. before the decision was made Adam and Eve like animals, had no knowledge of themselves, no ability to see themselves. Like animals they were unable to stand outside themselves and view themselves objectively. We humans have been given that gift. No person is able to give another interpretation in keeping with the idea of God as perfection. God didn’t tempt Adam and Eve. For what purpose would he do that if God already knew, being so all-seeing that they would disobey? Utter illogical nonsense!

    Yet that is what we have been taught for centuries. Why would we assume that God is either flawed or not so powerful? There is only one vaguely relevant counter –argument to the logic and it goes like this “The Lord works in mysterious ways” That is a very weak and useless argument. Another question one could ask is Why God, who could have created perfection did not make us perfect. The answer is simple. In the garden of Eden, we had perfection, no worries, fear, stress, dangers and so on but we chose freewill and self-awareness. We chose the world we now live in. We have freewill and that means we are not beholden nor ruled by a higher power. We have self-awareness which means we are aware of ourselves and the world around us. Unlike an animal which is set on a simple system of surviving i.e. by eating, sleeping defecating and procreating, we humans, should have no the fear of being controlled and because of self-awareness we have higher minds and more complex thought processes.

    Our understanding of ourselves and our species grows ever deeper; because we have the capacity to study it. Freewill and self-awareness are two gifts from our Creator to us and religion has stolen these from us, telling us how to worship, and how to think of God.

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    Cain and Abel

    The next story in The Bible is that of Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother for offering a better sacrifice to God and God spared him, showing mercy by marking him so that no one would kill him as he wandered, banished. Again God knew that Cain would do such a thing and the mercy and compassion shown is a lesson to humanity, One could reach the conclusion that not only would God spare a murderer but also one that murders out of jealousy borne from the comparison of sacrifices made to God. If one considers the story of Cain and Abel carefully the sacrifices to appease God are less important to God than showing mercy to one who not only murders but also failed in his sacrifice.

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    Noah The Flood and the Nephilim.

    There then follows the story of the Flood where it is made clear to us that God destroyed the Nephilim, evil creatures of abomination that were inter-breeding with us and causing the wickedness. Those that were destroyed were not humans but the spawn of the interrelationships between Humanity and the Nephilim. Why would a perfect all-seeing God create Nephilim that He must have known would inter-breed and corrupt one of His other creations Humanity? Simply put The nephilim were created by God to be destroyed in front of the eyes of Humanity to show us firstly God's great power and secondly that we are blessed and favoured in the eyes of God and that our Creator chose to destroy our corrupters and yet spared humanity ie we are the favoured ones.

    But it’s the chapter after the Flood that is the key part of the whole Bible.. This is where the truth of things lies and the simplest way to show anyone who reads this, exactly what we have seen is to use the emphasis that the words gave to us, not the other way around. After all we were not studying the words themselves nor the letters, just their meaning as spoken by Perfection.

    cont
     
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