Philosophy

We  know that there is a universe.   We know that there is a
planet Earth.  We know that we are living, human beings.  We have
no idea where we and the universe came from, or why.

Philosophers and religious-minded people over the  centuries
have  tried to arrive at answers,  and generally agree that “God”
created the universe and mankind, and that the purpose of life is
to live a “good” life so that one will “return” to their Creator.

With Hinduism, if one fails to achieve this “good” life, one
is reincarnated into a lower caste,  or as an animal,  and has to
work their way up over numerous re-incarnations until one is born
a Brahmin.

At  this stage,  if one lives a “good” life,  one’s soul  is
merged with the supreme soul of the universe,  Brahma, nirvana is
achieved, and one’s cycle of reincarnation is ended.

With Buddhism,  an off-shoot of Hinduism, this “nirvana” can
be  achieved by extinguishing one’s  lusts,  desires,  appetites,
emotions, etc.

Monotheism  — belief that there is only one God — began in
widely scattered parts of the Middle East,  and at first required
nothing of its adherents but this belief.

Abraham,  of Ur of the Chaldees (Basra, Iraq), father of the
Israelites,  as  related  in Genesis 12:1-3,  was chosen  by  God
without  any  duty or requirements of good behavior on his  part.
Only  when  Abraham was 99 years old does God say  to  him  “Walk
before me, and be thou perfect.” (Gen. 17:1)

Curiously,  in Gen. 14:18-20, we read that Welchizedek, King
of Salem (Jerusalem?) “brought forth bread and wine: and he was a
priest  of the most high God.   And he blessed him (Abraham)  …
and he gave him (Abraham) tithes of all.”

Following the Old Testament through the first five books, we
find   God  increasingly  demanding  of  the  Israelites  certain
standards  of  behavior  and modes of worship  to  enhance  their
happiness  and longevity on earth;  but no mention of  on  after-
life, either for the good or the evil.

The  closest we find to such a reference is in Psalms 16:10-
11: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell… at thy right hand
there are pleasures for evermore.” (Like Islam)

This  absence  continued  into  the  time  of  Jesus,   with
Pharisees believing in a resurrection, and Sadducees denying  it;
a divided condition that exists today in modern Judaism.

As  the  biblical promises of the “Old Covenant”  God  made
with  His  chosen  people  were  negated  by  historical  events,
Israelite  prophets like Isaiah began to prophesy of a  “Messiah”
who would restore Israel to its former independence and glory.

Key  events in Israel’s history are the division  of  Israel
into the northern kingdom of Samaria, and the southern kingdom of
Judah,  in  922 B.C.;  the captivity of the ten “lost tribes”  of
Samaria  by Sargon of Assyria in 722 B.C.,  leaving the tribes of
Judah and Benjamin to become the remnant that became Judaism.

Later  in  575  B.C.,   Nebuchadnezzar,   King  of  Babylon,
conquered  Judah,  and  took its people  captive.   Out  of  this
captivity,  removed from the temple and its sacrifices,  came the
Mishnt  portion  of the Talmud,  the “oral tradition” that  Jesus
railed against.

The New Testament, or new “covenant” tells us about the life
and teachings of Jesus; and of the beginnings of the church.

Rooted  squarely in Old Testament prophecies and  teachings,
Jesus  finally admitted in Luke 24:46 at the end of His  ministry
that He was the Christ, the Messiah.

His concept of the Messiah was to clearly interpret the will
of His father,  God, and to describe an afterlife of a spiritual,
joyous heaven for those who believed in Him, and a fiery hell for
those that did not.

He  emphasized  that what a person thinks,  or says,  is  of
paramount importance;  and that thinking ill of others is as  bad
as acting badly towards others.

He  promoted  a  greatly expanded concept of  “loving  one’s
neighbor,” teaching that people should “love their enemies,”  and
“do good to those that despitefully use you.”

For all of the wisdom and breadth of His teaching,  and that
of  His  followers,  as recorded in the New  Testament;  and  the
subsequent success and importance of the church, Jesus is not an
historical figure.

He  is barely mentioned in the writings of the Jews  of  His
time,  and  briefly  mentioned by contemporary  writers,  notably
Josephus.

Much good has been done by His followers over the centuries,
especially  in  the fields  of  education,  health  care,  social
welfare, and the value of the individual.

But Christendom has been marred by almost continuous warfare
in its midst,  by wide-spread poverty in the midst of plenty,  by
injustices perpetuated on other peoples.

The evil side of human nature seems almost intractable,  and
mankind is far from the ideal world envisioned by the Rabbi David
Jaffee June 14, 1994,

“At  any  second the world could turn good and  the  Messiah
could come.
“Every day the Messiah is not here, the world isn’t ready.”

Practically  speaking,  the actual human condition is little
different for those who believe the Messiah came 2000 years  ago,
and for those who continue to wait for His coming.

One of the saddest indictments of Christianity was voiced by
Mahatma Gandhi,  in talking with a group of missionaries, when he
said,

“I would be a Christian, if it weren’t for the Christians.”

Islam is the third,  and last,  major monotheistic religion,
and  claims to embrace the first two,  although in reality it  is
completely different and unique.

Allah is the name of God, and “Islam” means to submit to His
will.

Its moral code is more similar to Judaism than Christianity,
and its concept of heaven is a very sensuous one.

Like  Judaism,  it completely rejects Jesus as the  Messiah,
let  alone  Jesus as the Son of God,  and considers  Him  just  a
prophet.

Mohammed  is the final prophet,  and his words in the  Koran
and commentary are the final authority.

All three monotheist religions reflect the customs of their
times,  in  that men are accorded a higher position  than  women.
Both  orthodox Judaism and Islam segregate the sexes in  worship,
and  only  men  are rabbis or imams,  as is the case  with  Roman
Catholic priests.

None  of the religions of the world adequately try to answer
the  question “Why?” of creation of the universe and man,  and  I
have no answer.

It is contradictory to our concept of God as perfect that He
would be “bored” or “lonely.”

All  three  monotheist  religions  speak  of  angels,   who
presumably would keep God from being either bored or lonely.

To  create a universe over billions of zeons and miles,  and
then  create mankind,  a species that knows right  behavior  from
wrong,  but with a predilection for choosing the wrong,  and then
doom untold billions to a life of hell on earth, and eternal hell
after death does not seem a reasonsable thing to do.

With   this  scenario,   at  the  end  all  that  would   be
accomplished is that heaven has billions of additional occupants,
and so does hell.

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