solution was, in effect, to start again now that the values and
mythologies of the past had been so thoroughly discredited...His
role was simply to see the problem with such tortured clarity that
it could never again be ignored. In his final years he descended
But, for most thinkers, starting again represented a kind of
defeat. It meant throwing away the whole history of religious insight and
truth. Perhaps the more sober, saner response was to find new ways of
defending the ancient faith. Bryan Appleyard,
Understanding The Present, Anchor Books, 1540 Broadway, New
York, NY. 10036, 1992, p. 79.
Barriers to Truth
MIRE - 4 Major yet erroneous ideas that are Barriers to Truth
– God is the source of the mystical experience.
– Physical degeneration, aging and death are inevitable.
– A lineage of designated authority or scripture is the Word of God.
– The transcendence of the Creator precludes our being equal with that person.
First some thoughts
How do we determine the truth of an idea, concept,
proposal, postulation or theory? Do we not always use criteria? If we
don’t use criteria isn’t any postulation as true as the next one? The
whole discipline of science is designed to separate out what is true and
valid from superstition or falsity by using sound criteria. The fundamental
criterion for the discipline of science is coherence with the facts and
logic, which involves previous knowledge, experience and mathematical
constraints. Truth never asks to violate our rationality, logic and
reason; truth never asks us to be intellectually irresponsible.
One quite important criterion is the one involved with
predictability. Does the postulation suggest, point to, and/or predict what its application
produces? If it does, this is taken to be the strongest evidence for its
validity, especially if the predicted result is unusual. In relation to
this in the realm of spiritual experience and growth some words of
wisdom are, “By their fruits shall you know them.”
1. Mystical or Supernatural Experience
circles in Christendom 20-30 years ago, the mystical experience was
equated with demon possession or demonology. Today, in many of those
same circles, it’s the fashionable new frontier and considered to be the
experiential validation of the Christian Experience or having the Holy
What do we mean by the mystical experience? The mystical
experience ranges from feeling the presence of god, to hearing voices, to
dreams and visions, to
channeling, to feelings of ecstasy, to swooning, and to speaking in tongues, to
heavenly visitations, to altered states of consciousness, and so on. In
Christendom this means the Holy Spirit is conceived in any other way
except an indomitable attitude and one of loving the truth.
What are the reasons to question God being involved with the mystical experience? Let us count the ways:
(1) There is a sensible
and plausible alternate
explanation for each one of these phenomena.
(2) Nowhere in the gospels does Jesus
encourage us to have a close personal relationship with God; rather he
encouraged us to seek the truth and to have close, loving relationships with
our human brothers and sisters.
There is no unifying theme applicable to people claiming to have the God Experience,
no significant unity,
and they are all over the map in
what they believe.
(4) Those that have these experiences inevitably see themselves as favored by God
and thereby special, and tend to use their "God Experience" as grounds for
relating to people from a position of imagined superiority and
enlightenment. They also assume this to be a divine endorsement of their set
(5) It places God in the position of cruelly and
capriciously playing favorites, for instance, answering the prayers of
one woman who needed help finding the baking powder to finish baking her
husband a cake (which would help contribute to his having a heart
attack). She felt she needed to finish before the sun went down for the legalistic Sabbath
observance. On the
other hand we have God failing
to answer the prayers of another young woman who had been kidnapped by a psychotic
couple who kept her head clamped in a head-box that nearly suffocated
her, and they subjected her to depraved sexual abuse and many other manners of horrific treatment for years.
Indefensible and incomprehensible!
mystical experience is generally used to override or trump logic and reason.
The derived instructions, sentiments and/or concepts are mutually
exclusive and often outrageous and ridiculous, even criminal, savage and/or
(8) The strongest reason to disassociate the mystical experience from
God is that it is a pitifully inadequate endowment in the context of our
plight. We desire and need
ever so much more than the occasional dream, vision or voice in our
head or a fleeting exotic feeling. This is the best that God can do for us? And what do these
occasional experiences have to do with anything that Jesus said? Where
does he tell us to be satisfied with this level of coping?
The derived contributions to human understanding and
improvements in the human condition and in human relationships from
these experiences are
– Physical degeneration, aging and death are inevitable
Our experience is totally consistent in this regard: We accept that
we are born under a sentence of degeneration and death; all men must
decay with age and die. Death and taxses are certain. This is part of the greater message of
relentless indifference from the physical universe and our experience in
which we are constantly and consistently immersed. The great
psycho-analytical philosophers understood that this alone is enough to
keep us in a state of psychological angst and unsoundness, a state of denial and
insecurity. What else can we then do but cope, devising schemes of
belief that somehow make this human condition more acceptable?
Is there any significant, credible message or demonstration that
gives us grounds to challenge the grim reaper? Well, YES! That is the
emphatic message of the J-person reiterated and emphasized by this site
in its focus and material.
– Scripture or appointed earthly authority is the Word of God
From a critical thinking perspective the Old
Testament has no element to recommend it to be considered as the word of
God except tradition. It reports fantastic things that violate
sound science and our experience, it paints a schizophrenic picture of God. and
careful scholarship has shown that it has been extensively edited and
redacted. All ancient people worshipped the planet Saturn—generally as the chief
God—and every term for God in the Old Testament (including Yahweh, El Shaddai,
El Adonai, El and the plural Elohim) was a name or title for that
ancient Sun-God, as were the terms and names of Saturn given by the
gentiles, such as Moloch, Chemosh, Dagon, etc. It is replete with
impossible and nonsensical activity and can be legitimately considered as the
mythology of the Hebrew people right alongside the other cultural
mythologies. Indeed a careful study of comparative mythology shows the
tremendous overlap with the common themes of all ancient mythology.
The word "canon" means measurer or ruler. Both the Old
Testament canon and the New Testament canon came to be regarded as
special through a historical process, involving only the collective
wisdom of the Hebrews over some 1200 years for the Old Testament, and
involving only the collective "wisdom" of the errant Christian community
over some 335 years for the New Testament. Evidently, since Jesus
disagreed with part of the Old Testament scriptures and quoted
authoritatively from literature outside the canon, the process to canon
was an earthly one only approximate in validity at best, and apparently
God was minimally or not directly involved at all.
Much has been written about how
the Tanakh (Old Testament) is divided up into the Torah, Nevi’im and
Kethuvim, (Law, Prophets and Writings). The Old Testament canon or
Tanakh was apparently solidified by approx. 400 BC and consisted of
these three categories of books. Only the Pentateuch or Torah,
represented by Moses on the mount of transfiguration, was considered to
be authoritative and infallible. The Prophets or Nevi’im, represented
by Elijah on the mount, were considered to be "inspirational" but not
infallible. The Writings or Kethuvim were significant romantic and
cultural literature, which included hymns of praise, other songs, war
chants, poetry, and adages. The Song of Solomon, included in the Old
Testament canon is even considered to be
pornographic by some Jewish believers. Strangely enough, Jesus may have
fulfilled more carefully and specifically some "prophetic" sections (note
Psalm 22) of the Writings than of the other two categories.
The New Testament canon was solidified by 370 CE primarily by
Roman "Christians" who were firmly entrenched in some of the major
concepts of Judaism borrowed from Zoroastrianism, and who were allied
with the civil, political and military authorities. The New Testament
writers are NOT presenting the same message as Jesus did and we
should have no concern for the New Testament canon because Jesus
presents himself as the VOICE OF REASON and LAST REVELATION, and
HE told and showed us everything we need to know, in the context
of claiming to fully represent and reveal God's purpose, plan, values and
character. The life and message of the J person can stand on its own, and
does NOT need validation from the "prophecies".
Notwithstanding its value as a source of historical information
about the early believers and their experience, and its value to attest
to the factual reality of Jesus, his experience, and his follower's
response to that reality, the non-gospel balance of the New Testament is
no basis for building our understanding of God, our theology. That
objective basis must ALWAYS AND ONLY be the words, message and
actions of Jesus.
Modern English Bibles and translations have evolved from a bad
scholarship start with the King James, in the context of erroneous
traditional concepts of Christianity.
Out of reaction to the religious authority of Rome and
its commensurate political influence and meddling, King James I of
England in 1604 commissioned 54 men to produce the Authorized King James
Version of the Bible. This version was not really intended to be a valid translation but
was purposely designed to pander to the Church of England and to
especially not offend prevailing medieval religious sentiments. Indeed
the commission reported that,
"Neither did wee
thinke much to consult the translators or Commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew,
Syrian, Greeks, or Latine, nor no the Spanish, French, Italian, or
Dutch." This statement doesn't mean that it didn't come to their
minds, but rather that they deliberately decided not to do so.
its highly touted literary quality the most important thing for the
people of that time was that it was AUTHORIZED BY THE KING, but
its extremely poor quality of translation, egregious errors, and
outdated wordage make it a
document that effectively obscures much of the meaning intended by the
original authors of the various books included in this particular canon.
The other source considered by some as revelation is paranormal
experiences such as visions, dreams, automatic writing, and audible
messages (The voice of God). Clearly these can be generated internally
between the left and right brains, especially under stress, and
therefore are NOT reliable as revelations or foundations for
conclusions about truth as an external source or revelation.
– Transcendence of God precludes equality with him
The idea that God
is transcendent, other than human, is the cornerstone of essentially all
formal religions. It is also the cornerstone of evil, the
original lie, the proton pseudos (first lie or fundamental mistake). This is
the source of more theological craziness than any other idea in that it
forces us to look to mysterious, non-understandable aspects of God in
order to explain him and his workings. Not only does it make God into some
megalomaniacal alien, but, when we say “thy ways are past
understanding”, it leaves us without a basis to apply good logic and
reason. This in turn concedes the field of influence to those with the
most charismatic, tricky, political, enthusiastic, emotional, or aggressive style.
All in all, not so good, is it?