June 8, 2016

bible study imageSubject: What about atheism?

Quotes from A History of God: the 4,000-year quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, by Karen Armstrong:

Not until the very end of the eighteenth century would a few Europeans find it possible to deny the existence of God. Page 287

The term “atheist” was an insult. Nobody would have dreamed of calling himself an atheist. It was not yet a badge to be worn with pride. Yet during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, people in the West would cultivate an attitude that would make the denial of God’s existence not only possible but desirable. They would find support for their views in science. Yet the God of the Reformers could be seen to favor the new science…There could be no conflict between science and scripture…It was not to be taken literally. pg. 288-289

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, atheism was definitely on the agenda. The advances in science and technology were creating a new spirit of autonomy and independence which led some to declare their independence of God…The idea of God which had been fostered for centuries in the Christian West now appeared disastrously inadequate, and the Age of Reason seemed to have triumphed over centuries of superstition and bigotry. Or had it? The West had now seized the initiative, and its activities would have fateful consequences for Jews and Muslims, who would be forced to review their own position. Many of the ideologies which rejected the idea of God made good sense. The anthropomorphic personal God of Western Christendom was vulnerable. Appalling crimes had been committed in his name. Yet his demise was not experienced as a joyous liberation but attended by doubt, dread and, in some cases, agonizing conflict. Some people tried to save God by evolving new theologies to free him from the inhibiting systems of empirical thought, but atheism had come to stay. pg. 346

Throughout history people have discarded a conception of God when it no longer works for them. Sometimes this has taken the form of a violent iconoclasm, as when the ancient Israelites had torn down the shrines of the Canaanites or when the prophets railed against the gods of their pagan neighbors. pg. 356

You can read about the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 7:1-5 and Numbers 21:1-3

Back to Armstrong’s book, A History of God:

Because God represents absolute perfection, there is nothing left for us to do or achieve. Albert Camus (1913-1960) preached a heroic atheism. People should reject God defiantly in order to pour out all their loving solicitude upon mankind. As always, the atheists have a point. God had indeed been used in the past to stunt creativity; if he is made a blanket answer to every possible problem and contingency, he can indeed stifle our sense of wonder of achievement. A passionate and committed atheism can be more religious than a weary or inadequate theism. pg. 378

Science has been felt to be threatening only by those Western Christians who got into the habit of reading the scriptures literally and interpreting doctrines as though they were matters of objective fact. Scientists and philosophers who find no room for God in their systems are usually referring to the idea of God as First Cause, a notion eventually abandoned by Jews, Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians during the Middle Ages. pg. 380

Human beings cannot endure emptiness and desolation; they will fill the vacuum by creating a new focus of meaning. The idols of fundamentalism are not good substitutes for God; if we are to create a vibrant new faith for the twenty-first century, we should, perhaps, ponder the history of God for some lessons and warnings. pg. 399

Quoting, from science & religion to God: a briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health

It isn’t the purpose of spirituality to make one’s own reality. It isn’t the purpose of spirituality to prove secular methods are inferior.

Opponents who attack faith should be careful not to confuse spiritual faith with blind faith. Faith is necessary in science, medicine, and religion. Consider the researcher or scientist who is trying to find a cure for cancer; they obviously have faith that a cure exists; otherwise they would not even try.

Metaphysical scientists, also calling themselves Christian Scientists, have faith in God’s healing power. Critics of these mental healers, who cannot distinguish between blind (ritualistic) faith and that of spiritual faith can be easily misinformed. Comments and condemnations based on a lack of research obscure any good points being made. Although this book, from science & religion to God doesn’t obligate you to decline medical intervention, author, Sam Harris, devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society, wrote in his book, The End of Faith, “If your beliefs are those of a Christian Scientist, obliging you to forgo all medical interventions, you may even have collaborated with God by refusing to give your child antibiotics.”[1] The law of Truth and Love, or Christian Science, does not “oblige” any particular human action as if people were androids.

People who insist on proving another method wrong, as if their way were the only way, will end up living out their condemnations. Like the person who adamantly opposes abortion, calling it murder, killing a doctor who performed abortions.

How we interpret life affects not only our outlook and expectations, but also the consequences. Interpretation is either literal or spiritual.

Taken literally the words, “Clean your room,” produces decent results. But when dealing with less concrete concepts, open to wide interpretations, such as, “Be nice,” the results can vary. Spirituality comes to our rescue.

Divine interpretation gives us the deeper meaning our hearts yearn for. Spiritual interpretation maintains our life purpose and makes our experiences, words, expressions—even myths—useful. It points the way to non-intrusive healing.

Physical theories do not support life. Matter is not the threshold of Spirit.

Read Luke 13:22-30

From 21st Century Science and Health

The term Lord, as used in the Old Testament, is often synonymous with Yahweh, and expresses a rudimental human concept, not yet elevated to spiritual understanding through transfiguration. Yet the word Lord gradually approaches a higher significance as the human mind’s concept of God extends to a diviner meaning. The human mind’s linear thinking is obliged to admit a more expansive thought. God and the children of the Almighty are discovered as the infinite Principle and infinite idea—as one Father-Mother with a universal family held in the gospel of Love.

Atheism, pantheism, theosophy, and agnosticism are opposed to divine Science, as they are to ordinary religion, however, a person who identifies with those belief systems can still be healed by Science. The moral condition of such a person demands the remedy of Truth more than is needed in most cases; and Science is more than usually effectual in the treatment of moral weaknesses.

If we pray to God as though God is a measurable unit, human doubts and fears rear their ugly heads and become obstacles.

No one knows if the first chicken was created as a chicken or if it came from an egg. What about the beginning of the universe? Did the big bang blow life into being? If so, who or what produced the big bang? Idolatrous philosophies, modern geology, synthetic biology, and all other material hypotheses deal with causation as contingent on matter/energy or time. Cause is also treated as necessarily apparent to the physical senses, even when the evidence to sustain their assumptions is undiscovered. Mortal theories make friends of sin, sickness, and death; whereas the spiritual scientific facts of existence include no aspect of this depressing trio.

If you wish to discover the spiritual fact, then mentally perceive the limited situation you are in. It makes no difference whether the situation agrees or disagrees with your preconceptions.

Spiritual consciousness requires a mental effort. We start with thought and work patiently to conquer all that is unlike God. We have to begin at the highest standpoint possible. Start with mind instead of brain. Start with humanity instead of egotism. Start with spiritual history rather than mortal history. Start with God instead of many creators.

Measurable particles and waves produce measurable outcomes, but Spirit is immeasurable.

When the substance of Spirit appears in divine Science, the emptiness of matter is recognized. Evil is the supposed absence of God. There is no dimension where God is gone. God is.

 

[1] Harris, Sam. The End of Faith. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.

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