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A Call To Unity And Understanding Among All People Of Faith.
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Article ID: 13334
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Pall Tryggr Ageirr
Posted: December 6th. 2009
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The Following Article is an opinion paper that talks about Religion in general. It is a call for understanding and respect among people of all faiths, not just among the Pagan and Witch Traditions, but among everyone in the whole Universe who holds a belief in a higher being or Power. Thank You.
In his pamphlet “The Age Of Reason” Thomas Paine was quoted as saying:
“Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some other observations on the word revelation. Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.
No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it.
It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication — after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.
When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tables of the commandments from the hands of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so. The commandments carry no internal evidence of divinity with them; they contain some good moral precepts, such as any man qualified to be a lawgiver, or a legislator, could produce himself, without having recourse to supernatural intervention.
When I am told that the Koran was written in Heaven and brought to Mahomet by an angel, the account comes too near the same kind of hearsay evidence and second-hand authority as the former. I did not see the angel myself, and, therefore, I have a right not to believe it.
When also I am told that a woman called the Virgin Mary, said, or gave out, that she was with child without any cohabitation with a man, and that her betrothed husband, Joseph, said that an angel told him so, I have a right to believe them or not; such a circumstance required a much stronger evidence than their bare word for it; but we have not even this — for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves; it is only reported by others that they said so — it is hearsay upon hearsay, and I do not choose to rest my belief upon such evidence. ...
It is, however, not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the son of God. He was born when the heathen mythology had still some fashion and repute in the world, and that mythology had prepared the people for the belief of such a story.
Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reputed to be the sons of some of their gods. It was not a new thing, at that time, to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion.
Their Jupiter, according to their accounts, had cohabited with hundreds: the story, therefore, had nothing in it either new, wonderful, or obscene; it was conformable to the opinions that then prevailed among the people called Gentiles, or Mythologists, and it was those people only that believed it. The Jews who had kept strictly to the belief of one God, and no more, and who had always rejected the heathen mythology, never credited the story.”
He was also quoted in his work “An Essay on the Origin of Free-Masonry (1803-1805) ”as saying:
“The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally payed to the sun.”
The majority of people in America identify themselves as “Christian” of some persuasion or another, they accept the Bible as a living breathing errant document detailing The Divine’s whims and wishes for humanity, they accept this without question simply because they have been told to. No one takes into account the position that Thomas Paine eloquent presented in “The Age of Reason” that the words and accounts and deeds written in the bible are no more then hearsay upon hearsay.
The ‘revelations’ contained within cease to be ‘revelation’ when it becomes second, third, and fourth person accounts. At that point it is “somebody said that somebody said that somebody said that this person said this” we no longer have any proof except for some person who died centuries ago allegedly said so. Furthermore, since no one alive today witnessed these ancient peoples receiving this ‘revelation’ that adds to putting this ‘revelation’ reported in doubt.
Now, That should not take away from religious belief or experience. Religious Experience has been around probably ever since humans have been able to experience it. There is nothing wrong with sincere religious belief.
This writing is not a call to Atheism nor is it a call to a specific brand of Theism. Instead, it is a call, that no matter our collective faiths a little reason is required and we should take any belief no matter if it has been substantiated or not with a healthy grain or two of salt. The teachings of all religions worldwide certainly do contain good teachings about life and morality. However, none of these teachings, books, or religions should be seen as the end all be all on the subject.
We need to realize that these texts are no more than a collection of writings penned by the hands of men, no more or less valuable than the fables of Aesop, or the writings of Dickens, that while powerful and uplifting only bring to light our base human understandings of a phenomenon that is maybe just maybe beyond our realm of comprehension to understand it fully.
The Buddha has said:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
The Dalai Lama has said:
“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”
Another quote that is dear to my heart reads as follows:
“And so we ask for peace for the gods of our fathers, for the gods of our native land. It is reasonable that whatever each of us worships is really to be considered one and the same. We gaze up at the same stars, the sky covers us all, the same universe compasses us. What does it matter what practical systems we adopt in our search for the truth. Not by one avenue only can we arrive at so tremendous a secret.” - Symmachus, Quintus Aurelius.
This is something that I wholeheartedly believe in, that all religion, whether it is the many sects and denominations of Christianity, or if it’s Judaism, or if it’s a Sunni or Shia sects of the Muslim religion, no matter of it’s the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, or Norse Vikings, no matter if it’s the ancient religion of the Celts or of the British Isles, no Matter if it’s the many tribal religions of the world, or if it’s the beliefs of a modern Wiccan or other Neo-Pagan Practitioner or people of other Earth based and Alternative Spiritualities, I believe with every fiber of my being that each of these views contain within them certain kernels of knowledge and truth, if only to those people, that help to explain something that is very hard to comprehend, and that is the meaning and purpose of our lives as human beings and the phenomenon surrounding the supernatural world of the Divine life force.
Since none can be proven false or true with empirical scientific data, all we have are our hearts, spirits, guts, and mind to help us reason them out. We should not condemn someone because they think different than us, instead we should all accept people for who and what they are and believe in.
We are all on this mysterious, wonderful, roller coaster ride called life together, and as such we should endeavor to understand one another and to help uplift one another, to learn and to grow from each other and not to tear each other apart.
Sources For Quotes:
Age of Reason - http://www.ushistory.org/Paine/reason/reason1.htm
Eassy on Free masonry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine
Other quotations found here - http://www.brainyquote.com/
Pall Tryggr Ageirr
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