Worldwide Discussion:
GOD SAYS ‘FREE WILL’ MEANS
DO AS I SAY ‘OR ELSE’

How are you doing here? I know this is taking a while, but that’s because, as I said, the influence of the teachings we have all received about God runs deep. It embraces philosophical areas as well as the practical aspects of life.

Even though the following final topics touch upon concepts that we may think we’ll encounter only in the abstract, the fact is that how we think about these abstractions affects—and creates—our concrete moment-to-moment experience.

FREE WILL…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for human beings to have Free Will. Thus, they may determine and decide for themselves which of the Ultimate Outcomes—heaven or hell—they wish to experience after their death. They may do as they choose at any moment, at every juncture. They are not restricted in any way.

Humans have been told that God has granted humanity this Free Will so that humans may freely choose God, freely choose God’s Way, and freely choose to be reunited with God in heaven. In other words, they may freely choose to be good, as opposed to being forced to do so. God wants humans to return to God by choice. No one should be required to do so.

Human beings have also been told that under the doctrine of Free Will, while people may do as they choose, if they do not choose What God Wants they’ll pay for it with continuous torture through all eternity. No element of duress is seen in this. It’s simply the Way Things Are. It’s Justice, at the highest level. It’s God’s Justice, which follows God’s Judgment. It’s important, therefore, to freely choose What God Wants.

One result of this teaching: Humanity’s concept of freedom has been deeply affected and profoundly shaped by its understanding of what God means by “freedom.” Humans have decided that freedom doesn’t have to mean freedom, but can mean simply the ability to select outcomes. This is better than having no choice at all, and so humans in positions of power have learned to use the word “freedom” to privately describe the process by which they get others to do as they as are told. People don’t have to do as they are told, of course. But if they do not, there will be a price to pay. That could mean anything from having taxes audited to being thrown in jail for two years without charges being filed and without any explanation other than being labeled a threat to the security of the country. Using this measure, nations call themselves “free.”

Most people, except, perhaps, the most stubborn apologists, see the contradiction in all of this. They understand perfectly well that no people are truly free who face the most horrendous outcomes imaginable if they don’t do what they’re told. Only a hypocrite or a fool would call such a choice “free.”

Humans have learned, then, that hypocrisy—especially hypocrisy for the “right” purpose, in the “right” cause—is acceptable on earth as it is in heaven. Much of humanity’s political activity has been informed by this ethic. And elsewhere within the spectrum of human activity as well, in the way many humans communicate with each other, in the way many deal with each other, it has come to be understood that the end justifies the means.

In fact, many humans have now convinced themselves that none of this is hypocrisy at all. It’s simply a matter of interpretation.

And so, in this day and age, freedoms are taken away in the name of Freedom itself. Millions of people gratefully embrace the political rhetoric that says lack of freedom is what guarantees their freedom, and the religious doctrine that says their choices in life arefree only if they do as they are told, because this is What God Wants.

This is Part V of an extended series of articles in The Global Conversation.

SUFFERING…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for suffering to be used by human beings to better themselves, and to purify their soul. Suffering is good. It earns credits, or points, in God’s mind, especially if it’s endured silently, and maybe even “offered up” to God. Suffering is a necessary part of human growth and learning and is, more importantly, a means by which people may be redeemed in the eyes of God.

Indeed, one whole religion is built on this belief, asserting that all beings have been saved by the suffering of one being, who died for the sins of the rest. This one being paid the “debt” said to be owed to God for humanity’s weakness and wickedness. According to this doctrine, God has been hurt by the weakness and wickedness of humanity and, in order to set things straight, someone has to suffer. Otherwise, God and humanity could not be reconciled. Thus, suffering was established as a redemptive experience.

With regard to the suffering of human beings due to “natural” causes, it’s not to be shortened by death under any circumstances that are not also “natural.” The suffering of animals may be mercifully ended before “natural” death, but not the suffering of people. It’s God and God alone who determines when human suffering shall end

One result of this teaching: Human begins have endured unimaginable suffering over extended periods in order to do God’s will and not incur God’s wrath in the Afterlife. Millions of people feel that even if a person is very, very old and is suffering very, very much—lingering on the verge of death but not dying, experiencing interminable pain instead—that person must endure whatever life is bringing them.

Humanity has actually created civil law declaring that people have no right to end their own suffering, nor may they assist another in ending theirs. However anguishing it may be, however otherwise hopeless a life may have become, the suffering must go on.

This is What God Wants.

MORALITY…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is a moral society.

One result of this teaching: Humanity has spent its entire history attempting to define what is moral and what is not. The challenge has been to come up with a standard for society that does not change, all the while the society itself is changing. To find this “gold standard,” many societies have turned to God, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Jehovah, or whatever other name they have used to designate Deity, and have relied on their understanding of What God Wants.

Many centuries ago God’s preferences in this matter were given a powerful label. They were called “natural.” This is because the concept of a Deity first entered the minds of primitive humans as a result of their earliest observations of and contacts with Nature. Here was something bigger than they were, something they could not control, something they could only stand by and watch, hoping for the best.

“Hoping for the best” soon transmuted into what would now be called praying. Whoever and whatever this Deity was, early humans reasoned, it was deeply connected with Nature, and Nature was an expression of It. And so humans created gods representing the sun, moon, and stars, the weather, crops, rivers, the land, and nearly everything else, in hopes of getting some control over things—or at least getting some communication going with whoever did have control.

From this connection of God and Nature it was only a short mental hop to consider that all things having to do with deities and gods were “natural,” and all things not having anything to do with deities were “unnatural.” When human language came into form the words “God” and “Nature” became inextricably linked. Certain conditions, circumstances, and behaviors were then described as “natural” or “unnatural,” depending upon whether they adhered to or violated the current perception of the Will of God.

That which is “unnatural” has, in turn, come to be described as “immoral”—since it’s not of God, and cannot, therefore, be What God Wants. The circle thus completes itself. Anything that is not considered “natural” is considered “immoral.” That includes all “unnatural” abilities, powers, behaviors—and even thoughts.

The idea that What God Wants is what is natural, and that what is natural is what is moral, has not been a perfect measure, but it has been the best that humanity has been able to do in the search for an unchanging standard. It’s for this reason that humanity has been loath to change its ideas about What God Wants. Changing those ideas changes the gold standard of human behavior.

Behavior is the currency of human interaction. Beliefs about What God Wants gives value to the behavioral choices of humans, just as gold gives value to the pieces of paper called money.

Thus, in most human societies it’s not an individual’s actual experience, but the society’s definition of it, that determines its morality. This is the case with homosexuality. It’s also the case with a great many other behaviors, such as prostitution, premarital sex, depictions of explicit sexual activity, the use of peyote, marijuana, and other plants and stimulants, or even the experience of ecstasy not induced by any outside stimulant.

For instance, if one says one has had an ecstatic experience of God, but if the experience does not fall within what humanity currently defines as “natural,” it’s considered immoral and to be warned against and, if it’s continued, to be condemned, and, if it’s still continued, to be punished.

In previous times it was often punishable by torture or death. More than one saint claiming and describing such ecstasies has been martyred in humanity’s long history, using such guidelines.

Those saints were killed because the people killing them were convinced that they were doing What God Wants.

DEATH…Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for their wonderful life to eventually end, at which time their opportunity to learn and to grow is over and the time to be rewarded or punished for how they have lived begins.

One result of this teaching: Many humans consider that death is a terrible thing, and something to be feared. It’s the End of the Line, the Final Curtain Call, the Closing Bell. Nearly all of the imageries surrounding death are negative, fearful, or sad, not positive, uplifting, or joyful. These imageries pervade our society. A street that goes nowhere is a Dead End. A person who is badly mistaken is Dead Wrong. The spirit who comes to retrieve your soul is The Grim Reaper.

Most people do not want to even talk about death, much less experience it. No one wants to experience it before he or she has to. People cling to life, sometimes desperately. The survival instinct is the strongest human instinct of all. Our common culture supports survival as the ultimate goal. Even people who want to die are not allowed to.

On the other side of death, many people feel certain, is the Final Judgment. If you have not been good, it’s at this point that you’ll go to hell. Your payment for all of your sins in this way is What God Wants.

Humanity’s list of What God Wants is very long and covers many other areas of human experience not discussed here. That list forms the basis of innumerable civil laws, cultural traditions, social mores, and familial customs that touch all human beings.

So what do you think about what you’re read here? With allowances for a few exceptions in wording here and there, or a slight difference in interpretation, is this basically what you remember being taught about What God Wants?

If it is, you have a lot of company. Millions of people have had the same experience.

Nay, billions.

(Our exploration of this topic continues in Part VI of this extended series, coming very soon. Don’t miss a single entry. And if you wish to catch up on installments that you have missed, simply click on the word HEADLINE in the Categories list at right, then scroll down to find the column you wish to read.)

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  • Christopher Toft

    I say “go away god & have a think about the effects of authoritarianism.”

  • Erin

    Neale, lovin’ these rocks you got rollin’!
    You do realize you are conjuring Common Sense, yes?

    Human’s have all but ditched this sense-ability long ago…and with it went Our innate connections to All Life, as well as cooperative existence with the Natures of here…It is especially nice to See it shaken from it’s burial grounds. 🙂

    May your brew bubble over & wash clean the non-senses We have strewn upon Our floorings. Blessings. <3

  • Stephen mills

    Torchered logic , we are torchering ourselves for what ?

    Bring on the evolution revolution fast !!

  • mewabe

    Thanks fort cleaning up the houses of worship Neale…we don’t need brooms but bulldozers to accomplish the task.

    You touched upon the “necessary suffering” of humanity, which also led to ideas of extreme ascetic lifestyles and renunciation of all earthly pleasures, including and above all sexuality of course, which appears to be one of the main “problems” of humanity, the trait that strongly links humanity to the animal kingdom, which is why humanity cannot reconcile it with its idea of itself (“the superior specie that is ABOVE nature”).

    The interesting part of the idea of “redemptive suffering” is that Christians have for centuries condemned pagans for performing human or animal sacrifices, or sacrifices on themselves such as in the case of the Native American sun dance, yet have created a religion whose main idea is the redemption of humanity through the human sacrifice of one individual. Have they never seen the similarity of these ideas, or the hypocrisy in their condemnation of paganism?

    About “natural”…there are many way to look at these topic, from many facets. All are valid, although some seem contradictory. They simply complement each other. It is also true that Christianity, particularly in the previous centuries, described the wilderness, the most natural part of nature, as being “the abode of the devil”, and all who lived in the wilderness as being under the influence of the “devil”, because of its concept of nature as being a “fallen kingdom”.

    And it is true that while using very simplistic and faulty ideas of what is and is not “natural” to advance its argument of what is “valid” ( people only see what they want to see in nature), the religious as well as the non-religious minded, as a matter of fact ALL OF CIVILIZATION’S EFFORTS can be reduced to the STRUGGLE TO SEPARATE FROM NATURE, as nature is deemed “inferior” (and mankind “superior”) as well as “IMMORAL” (SAVAGE, without compassion and governed by Darwinian laws of survival) as compared to humanity’s “moral” ideals.
    From these ideas also comes the concept of “mind over matter”. There are huge contradictions here of course, a gigantic dichotomy in our love-hate, longing-willful separation relationship with nature, including our own human nature.

  • Blake

    “Self knowledge will avail us nothing.” Bill Wilson AA Big Book.

    There is a lot of talk here about getting others to change and we all know that asking another to change their attitudes around religious practices and beliefs is a waste of energy and time.

    Reading about what God wants is enlightened and it too is a waste of time although Neale would probably disagree or he would have stopped his ranting about getting others to change their behaviors.

    There are three ways of touching others, Religion, Spirituality and Connection the third level is Mastery.

    Stop making people wrong and start creating ways to connect. Marshall Rosenberg author of Nonviolent Communication say’s in his ground breaking book, “When building connections with people come from our basic human needs.”

    We all have a basic need of expressing ourselves communally. Neale, start by connecting people by building a community on not what God wants, what we need to live as human beings in community.

    Muslim’s, Christians, Jews, Hindu’s, Buddhist’s, all religious and spiritual people have some basic needs that we all can relate too. Food is one of the biggest, all of us feast on our chosen holidays.

    Neale I propose that we have a feast together sharing what we all have in common…LIFE and everything that makes life worth living. What God wants takes a back seat to connection and touching each other.

    We constantly hear, “We are all One.” from many sources. what that statement has been telling us all along is to have the courage to connect with one another through the act of saying “I Love you for everything you are and everything you are not.”

    We are divine and we are like each other. We know in CWG that all paths lead to Divinity. Your statements Neale are pulling us farther apart then bringing us closer together.

    We are all Jesus, Buddha, Abraham, God. We all perform magic with each other everyday. Why this need to be right? Let us find a way to touch another. Not to brand new or old ideas on each other.

    Part of feasting is telling our stories I would like to share a story that was taught to me by a Muslim please read it you will see that we are all Divine in the story.

    The Old Woman

    The Prophet Mohammed, bless his holy name was sitting by the fire in his house when he heard an unusual sound like stones being flung against the outside of his front door he stood up and opened the door finding scraps of rotten food that had been thrown on his door step. The Prophet scratched his head and looked down the street watching the back of an old woman walking away flailing her hands above her head and yelling back to the Prophet “A gift of garbage for the great Prophet Mohammed may he rot in Hell!”

    The Prophet Mohammed, frowned at the garbage on his front step and scratched his head again wondering to himself “Poor woman. How sad she must be for this act of violence upon me.”

    The Prophets disciple ran up to him having just seen what happened and immediately cleaned the filth from the Prophets door as another disciple swore that he knew the name and house of this old woman and he asked the Prophets permission to apprehend this fowl woman and stone her for her insult upon his holiness and his house. The Prophet told his disciple not to pursue the woman and said, “God would look after her and I will go about my business and you go about yours.”

    The Prophet Mohammed, bless him, the next morning heard stones being thrown against his front door, he opened the door and found another pile of garbage strewn on his doorstep. The Prophet heard the voice of the same old woman screaming, “A gift of garbage for the great Prophet Mohammed may he rot in Hell!”

    Again his disciples came to his aid and begged to go after the woman and stone her for her blasphemies against his holiness and again the Prophet shook his head and told his disciples “God would look after her and I will go about my business and you will go about yours.”

    Forty days had past and every morning for those forty days the same old woman would toss garbage on the Prophets front stoop, and every day she would yell as she walked away, “A gift of garbage for the great Prophet Mohammed may he rot in Hell!” And every one of those forty days the profit would tell his disciples the same thing, “God would look after her and I will go about my business and you will go about yours.” When the forty-first day arrived as usual the Prophet sat by his fire expecting the sound of stones being thrown against his door and he heard nothing.

    He stood up and opened his door looking down the street for any sign of the old woman and he saw nothing and heard nothing. The Prophet called for his disciples and they came running expecting to find the garbage on the door step and saw nothing. The Prophet said to his Disciples, “Lead me to the house of the old woman!” The disciples were almost joyous to hear their Masters request, the disciples said to one another, “now our Master will have his revenge for sure.”

    The Prophets disciples lead him to the house of the old woman triumphantly and as they were lead by their Master a crowd of men began to gather ready for a stoning. Fifty men gathered around the old woman’s house and the noise and shouting grew louder and louder. The Prophet calmed the crowd of men and knocked on the old woman’s door and waited for the door to open. No one came to the door. So one of the disciples pounded on the old woman’s door and shouted, “Come out old hag and receive your punishment!”

    The Prophet grabbed his disciples shoulder urging him to be gentle and still the door did not budge. The door was barred from within and the Prophet urged his disciple to break down the door. His disciple dutifully broke down the door and inside laying on the mud floor was the old woman it was cold and wet in the single room of this old shack their was no fire and the old woman was curled up into a ball shivering and sweating profusely.

    The Prophet demanded that a bed be brought in for the old woman and dung for the fire to be lit to warm her. Food was brought and warm blankets were wrapped around her and the Prophet knelt down besides the bed for the old woman and held her hand gently caressing it.

    The old woman opened her eyes and weakly gazed upon the man that was holding her hand, she began to whimper softly as she realized that the Prophet Mohammed was caressing her hand and smiling at her. The old woman fearfully whispered, “are you here to exact your revenge on this old woman for damning you to Hell everyday?”

    The Prophet Mohammed , bless him, said simply, “I missed you today.” The old woman was surprised to hear this and the Master said, “I was afraid you had forgotten me, and now I see that you are sick and now I will to Gods work and heal you.”

    The old woman asked, “why would the great Prophet Mohammed want to heal and old woman after she has sinfully attacked him?” The Prophet said to the Old Woman, “God is Great in all things and all there is, is God.” The old woman drew the Prophets hand to her lips and kissed his finger, smiling she fell asleep. When she woke the next morning another woman was sitting besides her, she smiled at the young woman and the old woman asked, where is the Prophet Mohammed gone?”

    The young woman smiled back and said, “The Master told me a message to give you, when your feeling healed he will be waiting for you at his house for you to bring your gift of garbage to him.”

    The disciples and the crowd of men were blessed by the Prophet that day teaching that everyone, even and old woman can make a difference in the world by touching others with God. And the old woman never forgot the gift he gave her and blessed him everyday of her life.

    Blessings

    • Christopher Toft

      Good story!