An Open Letter to Our World
THERE IS NOTHING WE MUST DO
TO RETURN HOME TO GOD

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am excited to be able to use this space on the Internet as a place in which we can join together to ignite a worldwide exploration of some of the most revolutionary theological ideas to come along in a long time.

The ideas I intend to use this space for in the immediate future are the ideas found in GOD’S MESSAGE TO THE WORLD: You’ve Got Me All Wrong.  I believe this new book (published last October by Rainbow Ridge Books) places before our species some of the most important “What if” questions that could be contemplated by contemporary society.

The questions are important because they invite us to ponder some of the most self-damaging ideas about God ever embraced by our species.  For example…

One teaching about the Divine is that God sees us as imperfect because we have not been obedient — and that we cannot return home to God in this imperfect state.

There are those who go so far as to say that we were born imperfect because the first humans did not obey God.

Of the world’s three largest religions, two—Christianity and Judaism—have taught their followers across the centuries various doctrines declaring that all human souls are subject to death as a punishment for the “ancestral,” “inherited,” or “original” sin of the first humans.

Modern Judaism (as opposed to Jewish teachers in Talmudic times) rarely teaches of original sin any more, but much of modern Christianity does to this day.

As well, both Christianity and Judaism teach that human beings are now imperfect, regardless of whether they were born that way. Modern Jewish teaching stresses that this is because humans choose to sin later in life, not because they are born in sin, while much Christian teaching still holds that imperfection is the state of our soul upon entry into this world, and this inborn state is what creates an ongoing tendency in humans to sin throughout their lives.

Part of this idea is the notion, supported by some, known as traducianism, which declares that God created only one original soul—Adam (Eve was said to have been formed by God from Adam’s rib)—and that all other souls derive their basic qualities and tendencies from their parents, and the ancestors before them, through a process by which the qualities of the soul are passed down from one soul to the next, generation to generation.

How did the imperfection that some say is “inherited” originally arise? There are varying versions of the story, but, loosely, it is this:

The first humans, Adam and Eve, were given total freedom, with all of their earthly needs met, in the Garden of Eden. God asked only one thing of them: Do not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They did. Eve picked an apple and shared it with Adam. The rest, as they say, is history.

The two were driven out of paradise by an angry God, who is said to have cursed their children, their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children—yea, even unto the end of time. God cursed their entire progeny, it was said, with inherited imperfection and physical death—neither of which conditions were aspects of Adam and Eve’s reality in paradise.

Thus, imperfection and death became part of the very nature of being human.

Now comes The Great What If . . .

What if God never cursed anyone? What if no one is born in sin? And what if God has never seen, and does not now see, any human being as imperfect in any way?

Would it make a difference? Does it matter? In the overall scheme of things, would it have any significant impact in our planetary experience?

Yes. Of course it would. The first thing it would do is relieve people of any anxiety they may hold about death and about what, if anything, “bad” could happen to them after they leave their body.

Actually, humans wouldn’t have any worries about this at all if they had not been told of God’s requirement that only perfection is allowed in heaven. But most religions have made it very clear that this requirement is in place, and that there is no getting around it.

The Bible, for instance, tells us directly and unequivocally that God’s standard for allowing us to join God in heaven is perfection. The Bible also tells us, at Romans 3:23, that no human being can meet that standard. It says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Yet even if we haven’t committed one sin in our entire life, there’s that bugaboo, traducianism. We’ve got our inherited imperfection to deal with.

And as we noted earlier, our beliefs tell us that God has no leeway here. The Law is the Law. The 23rd Psalm says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” but that does not, presumably, apply after death. Then, mercy apparently has no place. God has no choice but to deny every imperfect soul immediate access to heaven—and since no soul exists in a state of perfection, that means, according to some doctrines, that all souls are initially denied access.

This doesn’t mean they never get into heaven, however. Wear told there is a place called Purgatory, where souls are said to be sent prior to entering heaven in order to be purified by having the blemish of their sins eradicated through a process of suffering in payment for them.

It should be made clear here that not all of the world’s religions teach of the need for the soul to suffer in order to compen- sate for offenses. Many teach of a God who admits us into heaven at once if we sincerely repent of our sins. But if we don’t . . . .

So the overall pronouncement is this: We are imperfect beings. We should stand before the throne of God in trem- bling and in shame, with the hope that our imperfections and transgressions will be forgiven. If we do not do what is necessary to purify our souls and return them to perfection, now or in the hereafter (such as by submitting to abject suffering in payment for our sins in Purgatory), we’re not getting back Home. It’s as simple as that.

Now if the huge number of people (we are talking billions here) who believe this is true altered their belief, fear, shame, and guilt would be lifted from the hearts of both innocent children and sad adults who carry as a burden their identity as being undeserving of reuniting with God in heaven.

And if the third question in the “what if ” above were to be embraced as humanity’s reality, the lack of self-worth that now sponsors so much of our species’ dysfunctional, self-defeating, and hurtful behaviors would at last be healed. It is clear that this would cause the largest number of those behaviors to disappear.

Now here is the news: God has been telling us from the very beginning, and it is becoming more clear to us every day, that humanity’s Ancient Cultural Story about God seeing us as imperfect, and therefore not allowing us back into heaven unless and until we have been purified, is plainly and simply inaccurate.

It is okay now to remove this ancient teaching from our current story, and to stop telling this to ourselves and to our children.

We are not born in sin, nor do we inherit sinful tendencies through a lineage of souls going back to a purported First Misbehaver. “Ancestral guilt” is a figment of our religious imagination. The story of Adam and Eve is a fiction as well.

God did not throw anyone out of paradise, and one look at the world around you will show you that human beings are still living in a paradise. They are despoiling it step-by-step, to be sure, but even with all of that, nothing compares to a sunrise or a sunset, to an eagle’s glide or a butterfly’s flutter, to the fragrance of a rose or the smell of the morning dew. There is nothing more stunning than the quiet beauty of an unexpected snowfall, or the noisy beauty of expected waves pounding upon a sandy shore. We watch both with awe, as well we should, for we are clear we are seeing something exceeding magnificence.

And that is just the beginning, just the top of a long list of treasures that this paradise called the earth will always hold, if we will but hold them as treasures, keeping them safe from disassembling and destruction.

The beauty of this world is enhanced beyond measure by the beauty of you. Nothing is imperfect about you. Nothing you have ever thought, nothing you have ever said, nothing you have ever done. It is all perfect, because it is all part of the process of your personal evolution—and, on a larger scale, of the evolution of the human species.

Even as all the “failed” experiments of all the scientists in all the laboratories across the globe are perfect, in that they are steps in the producing of an ultimately important and highly beneficial result . . . even as the mathematical miscalculations and spelling errors of all the children in all the schools of the world are perfect, in that they are steps in the producing of the highest scores . . . so, too are the “mistakes” of humanity as a whole seen as perfect in the eyes of God—steps in the evolutionary process of all life everywhere.

All that was ever thought or said or done by any and every human being—even the worst of it—has been the product of the innocence of a species so young, its members did not know any better; they did not understand how to get that for which they yearned, they did not comprehend how to escape or evade that which they wished to avoid.

This is difficult for many people to accept. The idea that fully grown humans have done these things, that some of us have acted in these ways, because of extreme immaturity, is challenging to our belief that surely, grown men and women know right from wrong, and don’t have to be told that killing others and destroying everything in their path is not the way to achieve their goals, whatever they may be.

We assert that people should know better because we like to think of humans as highly evolved. In fact, humanity has just emerged from its infancy.

In their book New World New Mind, Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich placed this in perspective in one mind-boggling paragraph:

Suppose Earth’s history were charted on a single year’s calendar, with midnight January 1 representing the origin of Earth and midnight December 31 the present. Then each day of Earth’s “year” would represent 12 million years of actual history. On that scale, the first form of life, a simple bacterium, would arise sometime in February. More complex life forms, however, come much later; the first fishes appear around November 20. The dinosaurs arrive around December 10 and disappear on Christmas Day. The first of our ancestors recognizable as human would not show up until the afternoon of December 31. Homo sapiens—our species—would emerge at around 11:45 p.m. . . . and all that has happened in recorded history would occur in the final minute of the year.

As you can see, we are an astonishingly young species, and, not surprisingly, very immature.

And so, we have used violence to produce outcomes that we were sure justified its use (even if it meant death to millions of innocent men, women, and children).

And so, we have used domination—sometimes cruel, heartless domination—to generate results we were sure were desirable to experience (even if it subjected the entire population of a country or an area to ruthless suppression, persecution, and maltreatment).

And so, we have used self-interest—sometimes unmitigated, unbridled self-interest—to generate a level of sufficiency for ourselves that we were sure we deserved (even if millions of others had to go without, given the global economic model that we have empowered).

And so, we have used self-righteousness—sometimes appalling, execrable self-righteousness—to generate a sense of self-worth that we were sure we deserved (even as we told others that they were unworthy and were going to be condemned by God to hell).

These childish, almost infantile, behaviors are seen by God as the uncontrolled and irrational tantrums of an unenlightened species, a breed of sentient beings in the primitive, primeval, primordial stages of its maturational process.

Put simply, The Divine perfectly well understands the nature of what it is to be human.

Even as we understand how a three-year-old could knock over the milk reaching anxiously for the chocolate cake because it wants the cake so badly, so does God understand completely how we could act as some of us have acted, reaching for what we have wanted so badly.

Even the wanting of some things, in and of itself, could be considered “wrong” by judgmental humans, just as a child’s wanting more cake than his little sister might be considered “wrong.” In our human value system, he shouldn’t want more than everyone else. And he certainly would be considered “wrong” for trying to get it by bullying his way to it. Yet the wise parent understands the not-yet-mature desire of the older brother, and does not send him to his room for the remainder of his childhood.

God sees us just as we see our children: in the process of maturing, but nonetheless whole, complete, and perfect just as we are right now. There is nothing we have to be, nothing we have to say, and nothing we have to do to gain the love of our Creator, who adores us even as we misbehave. There are no credentials we must acquire in order to be qualified to return to heaven. Our credential is our existence. Nothing more is needed.

That message is important enough to be repeated.

There are no credentials
 we must acquire in order 
to be qualified to return to heaven. Our credential is our existence. Nothing more is needed.

Again, this is hard to believe and difficult to accept by a race of beings conditioned to imagine that perfect justice requires con- demnation and punishment—including, in some cases, death.

You must remember that human beings are of such infantile comprehension that they will claim that the killing of people by the state is the way to teach people that killing people is bad.

You must remember that human beings are of such infantile comprehension that they will claim that the use of weapons of mass destruction in a preemptive strike by one country is the way to teach another country that to have weapons of mass destruction is bad.

You must remember that human beings are of such infantile comprehension that they will claim that strict adherence to a religion that teaches intolerance of any other religion is the way to teach the world that intolerance is bad.

A God of Unconditional Love is utterly incomprehensible to a species that has still not learned to love itself enough to stop destroying itself.

We cannot believe that God would forgive us for that which we cannot forgive each other.

It is nonetheless true that even if we have done what we, or others, consider to be truly horrible things during our time on the earth . . . even then, God will welcome us back Home.

There are a number of very good reasons that this will be true, and we’ll be examining them in the chapters just ahead as we continue to explore humanity’s misunderstandings about God. For now, please read this, given to us by Jesus.

I know that you are probably very familiar with this tale, but please read it anyway.

A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” So he divided among both of his sons their inheritance.

Not many days after, the younger son gathered all his things together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal liv- ing. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.

Then he went and found work with a citizen of that country, and the man sent him into the fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, but no one gave him anything.

Then he came to himself, thinking: “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”

And he arose and went to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fat- ted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry.

Now the father’s older son was in the field, work- ing. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.

And the servant said to him, “Your brother has come home, and because he was safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.”

But the second son was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So the second son answered and said to his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me even a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your liveli- hood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.”

And his father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”

To me, this is the single most important story in the Bible. It says everything important that Jesus wanted us to know about God. But Jesus knew that people rarely understood, much less embraced, really deep truths if heard only once. So he made his same point again and again, saying things like . . .

What man among you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost!”

Does this include the worst of us? The “black sheep” of our human family?

Yes.

And so, we can rest easy. We will not be abandoned because we became lost, and we will not be rejected when we finally return Home, no matter what we may have done while we were away.

Parables and stories are one way of getting an idea across. Poetry is another. It bypasses the mind and seeps right into the heart. I have placed the following poem in other books of mine, and I am placing it in this book again, because—like the parable above—a message wondrously crafted cannot be heard too often.

I am blessed to be married to the American poet, Em Claire. This is her offering:

LONG AT SEA

I left Home so long ago now

that I would not recognize my own face.

I constructed the Boat of my Life

and I set out
into the open sea,

waving to all who knew

that the seas would give me

everything I could handle,

and everything I could not—


and yet they waved,

and I set out

into the open sea


in the Boat of My Life:


built from Soul, crafted by Heart.


And with great innocence I pushed off


into the open sea

and have been away from my Home


so long now that I would not recognize my own face—

but I know that Home,

Home


remembers me.

(From the book and CD Home Remembers Me,
available at www.EmClairePoet.com)

===========================================

(The entirety of the exceptional text of GOD’S MESSAGE TO THE WORLD: You’ve Got Me All Wrong brings our species theological constructions that truly challenge the world’s thinking about God. Five full chapters of this book may be sampled here: www.godsmessagetotheworld.info)

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  • Erin

    Loving these “What ifs” & sharing them…Just kind of pinning the questions & trusting in their sparks. Love how The Conversation has been evolving, too.
    You have presented a lifetime expressing Reason of Fresh Season…Thanks for your diligence, your patience, Courage, & Love in that continuance. <3

  • Lloyd Bradsher

    Yes Neale, much of what you say rings true, to me, but the initial assumption that God is separate from Creation, us, does not. Going home, we are already home, we never left, and heaven or hell is exactly where we are, and we create which ever we desire with our thoughts, actions, beliefs. Now if we could learn to treat one another as we would God, Creator, Ourselves, then Unconditional Love would soon reign upon our space ship Earth. It is religion that has created the illusion of sin and separation from Creator Energy, and yes we are evolving each day, each minute and each millisecond we exist, and we are in effect slowly returning to Creator and learning how to Love, Unconditionally.
    For decades I have lived with the knowledge that life, our existence, is our blessing, and to disrespect any moment is to disrespect Ourselves, and the Creator. Slowly I continued to Love and observe as organized religion failed everyone, and humanity turned away in search of truth about who they are. Thanks to many writers like yourself and so many others, the light of the truth is burning brighter than ever before. Keep questioning, keep loving life, and know you do make a difference in the spreading and awaking of the human consciousness. Namaste’
    Butch

  • I agree we are a young species, that currently allows much that is undesired, simply because of our youth & dysfunction.

    I would also say, that we are in transition & that a lot of growth is currently going on.

    We in one sense, are living in 3 worlds. One set of consciousness is not awake at all. Two, another is transitioning & awaking to some degree but not fully. Three a very, very few are awakened and living their full potential.

  • Patrick Gannon

    The issues raised here are critical to the ongoing development of Christianity. As detailed, Christians have been taught that original sin, a fall from grace, and a turning away from Bible God resulted in the need for us to believe the right thing about Jesus in order to be saved from eternal torment. But of course, this Adam and Eve creation story never took place. The person who brought us this idea of salvation through belief was the Apostle Paul. He thoroughly believed, as did most at that time, the biblical myths of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Paul says sin entered the world through one man (Adam). He was wrong, as we know beyond any reasonable measure of doubt. Paul was also wrong in his insistence that Jesus’ return was imminent, so his credibility is pretty well shot.

    Geology, cosmology, biology, evolution, archaeology – all these disciplines have busted the creation story and the original sin myth, wide open. We also know beyond reasonable doubt that there was no Exodus as described in the bible, or any conquest of Canaan by Israelites. Consequently, there is no need to believe the right thing about Jesus in order to be saved. Fundamentalists, such as our friend “Morton” who visited us here a couple months ago, deny the science because they understand what this realization does to Christianity.

    Moderate and progressive Christians however are avoiding the discussion – but it’s the most critical discussion facing Christianity now. Without the creation story, there was no original sin, hence there is no need to believe the right thing about Jesus in order to be saved. There are no eternal consequences for failing to believe the right thing – the whole thing is mythology. A mythological Exodus led by a mythical Moses who supposedly wrote of a mythological Garden of Eden, is Paul’s foundation for his new religion. The entire basis for the three Abrahamic religions rests on a foundation of shifting salt and sand.

    The question facing Christianity then, is how does it move on without the fear? Can it still fill the pews without the fear? Is it still relevant without the fear? Can it morph or evolve into a movement of ‘followers of Jesus’ without the need for salvation?

    Fundamentalists are going to be difficult as they aren’t interested in truths that counter their beliefs (suffering cognitive dissonance as a result); but moderate and progressive Christians should be asked if they believe evolution explains how we got to where we are today; and if they answer in the affirmative, then ask why they still think they need to be “saved” since they have discarded the foundation for that belief. Often Christians haven’t put this together in their minds and thought about it. No, they don’t believe in the creation story, but yes, they believe they still need to be saved. Ask them why they still believe this and share any good answers you get; because I have yet to hear anything that makes sense.

    • NealeDonaldWalsch

      I think the real question is: Is there a New Cultural Story, just as compelling as the old, that can replace the Old? Humanity is a Species in Search of Its Story. What we could now benefit from more than almost anything else in the world is a New Story of Who We Are, Who God Is, What God Wants from Us, and the True Purpose of Life.

      • Patrick Gannon

        Don’t you have to wrap up the old cultural story before you can move along to a new one? Not that long ago, we had a cultural story that told us we were the center of the universe, the center of attention, the most important thing ever created, but that story has been discredited, starting with Galileo. It’s now widely accepted that we are an insignificant speck in an immense universe that most certainly is not focused on us as the most important element contained within it. Mankind’s endless search for knowledge and information led us to this conclusion.

        All that ongoing research and study has also led to the discrediting of the Abrahamic religions that are the foundation for at least a big part of the west’s old cultural heritage. It seems to me that just as we had to discredit the old cosmological model (which the ignorance of religion contributed to), we now have to discredit those old religions in order to move on.

        I propose that we need a little patience to wait and give science more time to see what this consciousness thing is all about before jumping too quickly into a new cultural story that may be based on some of the same misconceptions as the old story. The last story was built on myths. Let’s build the next one on a more solid foundation. At this point in our evolutionary development, we do not know “who God is” and particularly “what God wants from us” and it’s entirely possible that our “true purpose of life” is to simply be born, live, die and pass on our genes for the purpose of evolving the species, with nothing metaphysical involved.

        I’ll be the first to admit that the New Age God is much nicer and kinder than the Old Cultural Story God, but if you list “What God Wants from Us” as a description of the new cultural story, then She’s still a deity, a being of some sort; because beings have wants; and as long as you have a new god competing to be the star, you’re going to have to discredit the old gods, just like the Romans did, in order to move on to the new god.

        • GH Annie

          Patrick,

          What you have missed is that God wants *nothing* from us because God is All and therefore *has* no thing to want, as Neale has repeatedly said. And I suspect that accepting that *does* end the old stories.

          Blessings,
          ~Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            If God wants nothing from us, how is God pertinent to us? We can live our lives in abject ignorance of God if She has no wants. Why even talk about God? What purpose does it serve other than to make people argue and disagree with each other?

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            If God is the energies of Life and Love and Joy, God is very pertinent to us. We are also those energies, and a connection that’s accepted would multiply our sense of Life, Love, and Joy while we’re in this physical reality. IMHO.

            Blessings,
            ~Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            I still don’t get it. Atheists don’t believe in God – or certainly not deities and personal gods, but they still manage to be full of life and love and joy. In some cases, they may be even happier and more fulfilled than most.

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            It’s my personal opinion that you “don’t get it” because either you are so attached to science you cannot see such likeness of matching energies being used to make one’s own life and world happier and more fulfilling, or because you simply don’t want to “get it.” And either is fine. Just don’t stomp on those of us who do see a difference in our own lives when we choose God.

            Blessings,
            ~Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            I didn’t think I was stomping on anyone. Sorry if you feel that way. I thought we were just having a simple discussion. You said, “If God is the energies of Life and Love and Joy…”

            I simply agree with the word “if.” It’s unproven and you seem to admit this. If beliefs in the unknown give you joy, that’s fine; it just seems limiting to personal growth to me.

  • Sander Viergevert

    I have left my Evangelic Christian Church about 4 weeks ago and feel much more peaceful and authentic now.. My wish is to bring people back to God and to themself. As a spiritual coach and ambassador of New Spirituality. My message is that you will never get real peace, joy, excitement and Self-realization if you keep clinging on to a religion – and myths and dogma’s. Christians in my environment say the bible is the authority for what is true, AND not your feelings, your soul, your knowing or your heart…. But if you place your authority for what is true for you outside yourself – you will never be able to flourish, and to grow to more glorious versions of Yourself.

    • NealeDonaldWalsch

      That is my experience as well. What we could most benefit from right now, more than almost anything else in the world, is a new story of Who We Are, Who God Is, What God Wants from Us, and the True Purpose of Life. I have said it before, and I will continue saying it again and again.

      It is said clearly in GOD’S MESSAGE TO THE WORLD: You’ve Got Me All Wrong. Will you share it with others? Let that be our question for the day.

      • Patrick Gannon

        Neale, can you explain these lines: “Who God Is,” “What God Wants from Us,” and “You’ve Got Me All Wrong”?

        At times (but infrequently) you describe God as an energy, a force, a conscious intelligence, etc. but most of the time you describe God as a person, a being, a superhuman with a number of human characteristics.

        You’ve got “me” all wrong: “me” is a term humans use to refer to themselves. Use of the word “who” implies a being, a person. What God “wants” implies that God has wants; and yet you say repeatedly that God has no needs or wants…. Hmm, maybe you say God has no needs, only wants, I don’t recall – but the question still arises – why would a God have wants? As you have said yourself, a “want” is an expression of lack – of not having something. How can “God” lack anything?

        I understand that humans ‘animate’ God – this has been done with elements of nature, the sun, the stars the constellations, etc. for eons; but once you do this, it all becomes religious, and New Age God is just the basis for another religion as best I can tell, given that She is constantly referred to as a personal being. As such, the legacy religions are going to fiercely resist any New Age Religion. It’s only when the legacy religions are discredited as the Romans eventually discredited the Pagan Gods, before the new religion can fully replace the old…. and then the question remains, will we really be any better off? Was the condition of mankind improved when pagan gods were replaced by Christianity? It hardly seems so, and the ideals expressed by Jesus weren’t all that different from the ideals expressed by New Age God.

        Your new book appears to be largely about discrediting the old religions, so it’s hard not to view this as part of an ongoing process to establish a new religion to replace the old, and if the pattern holds true, in due course it will have its own orthodoxy, it’s own dogma, it’s own “correct” set of beliefs, and we’ll be right back where we started.

        Or so it seems to me.

        • Patrick Gannon

          Neale, thank you for your detailed response. I don’t get notifications when you edit inline, vs when someone “replies” to me, so I don’t know how long ago you replied.

          Have I read the CWG books? If you’ve followed my posts you know that I read all 3 CWG books and a number of your other books. I see ‘Communion’ and ‘New Revelations’ in my bookcase in my office, and I have several more in the study downstairs. I have certainly contributed to your financial well-being. To be honest, after a while, it seemed to me, like the same basic material presented in different ways, so you could sell another book. I read CWG1 many times and listened to the CDs countless times. I gave away copies of the CDs and a few CWG books and was a CWG “evangelical” for some time. Back before you took it all in-house with programs and seminars, there was a movement to spread the CWG world by us – the people who read and loved your books, but someone pulled the sheet out from underneath that endeavor and the process was commercialized, along with justifications about how it’s OK to make money. No problem, I should have remained focused on that myself and not wasted so many of my own work hours. I participated in writing letters that were going to be sent to businesses, media, etc. to spread the word – all for naught. While my views are evolving, I don’t hesitate to point out that your material provided me with CWG was a valuable stepping stone away from religion and into greater personal growth – which is perhaps why I can now sit and question an internationally acclaimed author with self-confidence.

          What I apparently haven’t made clear is that the words you often use frequently seem to contradict the concepts you claim to support, and you don’t seem to understand that’s what I’m driving at. I agreed that some people need to animate their idea of God, as you do by using Ed Asner and the other lady whose name I forget to play the parts of God in your CD. I accept your point that people can envision this force, power, intelligence, essential essence, consciousness, or whatever in human terms – though I personally think it is counterproductive to do so. You seem to encourage people to think of God as a personal being with the words that you use – and maybe you don’t realize this. I pointed out that you regularly use words that describe “God” as a being, as a person. You insist that this is not at all what you mean, and I will take you at your word – but it’s very confusing in light of the words you often use in your posts and newsletters that insinuate that God is a personal being. I’m just trying to share with you, the impression that I think you leave with your readers, may not be what you intend.

          I’m sure many people see the “God” you describe as a being like the Abrahamic god is understood to be – only nicer. Most of the time it seems to me you refer to God in this “personal being” sort of way. You even use the word “deity” at times – and that specifically means a “being.” Sorry, but this is as confusing to me as when Jesus specifically says that he did not come to abolish the law and Christians insist this means he came to abolish the law. On the one hand, the God you describe is an all that IS essential essence, and in the next instant it’s a She with wants and needs and all sorts of human characteristics.

          With regard to my contention that much of what Jesus said is inline with CWG; I’m referring more to what he was actually reported to have said in the NT, as opposed to what Christians have said that he’s all about. I’ve read the material. Jesus gave us ‘love your neighbor, ‘turn the other cheek,’ ‘love your enemies,’ and much more that is fully inline with how I understand CWG – and you said as much in the book. I referred to Jesus – not to Christianity, which indeed, has very little to do with Jesus.

          In CWG you seemed to think Jesus actually performed miracles and the like. I don’t recall if you said in CWG that you believed there was an actual resurrection, but I hope not. You’ve mentioned in CWG that you thought Moses was a real person. It’s clear that your early Christianity played a role in the ‘stream of consciousness’ that produced CWG. The real question is whether that stream of consciousness originated in your brain or in some other way. I’m agnostic on that till science tells us more, but it’s clear that your mind – your memories, experiences, knowledge, beliefs, etc. all played an active role in what came out of that stream of consciousness to give us CWG. It didn’t all come from outside of you, and I don’t think you said that it did; but it’s an important point for people to keep in mind, even if some of it did come from outside of your mind.

          Now to the CWG as a religion question…. Jesus never intended to start a new religion. Paul, more than anyone else is probably responsible for Christianity. I get it that you say CWG is not a new religion, but you have followers who would love to turn it into one – I exchanged posts with one here not long ago. Whatever your intentions for CWG, it can get out of your hands and get turned into something very different from what you envisioned. Because you use so many ‘personal being’ type descriptions in your writing to refer to God, it’s not a big step to a personal New Age God that has as little to do with CWG as Christianity has to do with Jesus. From books and CDs to seminars and sessions, the march to religion and profit seems to be inching along, and once you’re gone, all bets are off… someone else will pick up the reins, and there will be squabbles for control and we’re off to the races – just like early Christianity.

          I’ll finish with “beliefs.” I think that belief is the most limiting thing a human being can do to him/herself. The only reason to believe is because you don’t “know.” Once you know something, there’s no longer any need or reason to believe it. The problem with belief is that people who hold beliefs stop looking for the answers, the truth, the knowledge, because they think they already have it. Without overcoming belief, we’d still be in the Bronze Age; but scientists threw off the belief system and moved us forward with knowledge to replace beliefs. That is why I think we need to be patient. I think most people would agree that consciousness can be equated in some sense with the idea of the soul, of the Oneness, the essential essence, you refer to; the all that IS idea – and science is going to figure out consciousness. If it turns out that it is emergent – that it springs from the matter of the brain – then the whole “god” idea is going to require a radical revision, isn’t it?

          I appreciate the discussion. I appreciate that you, like many people, would like to leave a legacy. I only caution you that others may take CWG when you are no longer here to correct them, and they will use the words you have written in posts, and newsletters to support a deity, a personal god who has wants and needs, and they will require certain beliefs and practices, and of course there must be a financial gain for the organization, and you will sit on a cloud with Jesus and shake your head and ask how in the world did that happen?

          • mewabe

            Patrick, another couple of thoughts:

            I totally agree with you that belief comes in wherever what appears to be actual knowledge is lacking (just as “morality” comes in wherever love is lacking). I figured out this long ago. John Trudell mentions this as well.

            But the interesting thing is that belief is, actually, another one of our building blocks. Human consciousness plays with beliefs as do toddlers with legos. Whether it is desirable or not depends on, again, whether we actually think that a purely objective reality, independent of human consciousness, actually exists.

            I am not sure it does.

            For example, an experiment was conducted with people who clean offices and houses, and who did not seem to benefit in terms of physical fitness from their activities. Half of a group of such workers were educated as to such physical benefits, the other half was not. The people who were told of such benefits lost weight and became physically fit, the other half did not. The conclusion is that the power of belief had a transformative effect on the half of the workers who were told of the physical benefits of their own activities.

            The same principle applies to placebo medications. The power of belief creates the beneficial effects expected of real medications.

            The question then, and again, is: is there a purely objective (scientifically objective) reality out there separate from human consciousness? I do not think so. As a matter of fact, even the physical world we see, hear, touch and smell would not exist but as pure waves and patterns of energy without our physical senses, just a radio waves are not translated into a radio program without a receptor.

            So you seem to want to prove the existence of a divine presence independent of and objectively separate from human consciousness. I think that it is an impossibility. The separation is impossible, just as it is impossible to separate the body from the spirit or soul, or in greater terms the form from the formless, or the void from the solid, or yin from yang.

            You want to know what came first, what is the origin, the cause, the chicken or the egg (the brain or consciousness). That is also an impossibility, because reality is not linear. The Chinese call the way the world works “mutual arising”. Linear thinking leads to actually thinking in endless circles that lead nowhere, or to thinking that the head of a cat is the cause of its tail.

            You might benefit in looking to the east for enlightening answers (Taoism, Zen)

          • Patrick Gannon

            Thanks Mewabe. I recently read a book by Michael Graziano, “Consciousness and the Social Brain.” Although he does not address these specific kinds of conditions that you provided as examples, I suspect I know how he would respond. He would say that “awareness” is an “attention schema” a collection of information that paints a picture or diagram, so to speak, of whatever the brain is giving “attention” to. He would say that our brain is constantly bombarded with things clamoring for the brain’s attention, and this attention schema or awareness is how the brain determines what gets acted upon. In other words, he would suggest, I think, that informing people that this exercise would contribute to their health or that a placebo would cure them, raised the level of awareness or the attention schema such that the brain puts more time, energy, focus, effort, whatever you want to call it, into that process as a result of having altered or influenced the attention schema or awareness for that particular thing. He would probably suggest that it is the brain and not some ‘consciousness’ that is responsible for the results. This is still a very powerful thing to know – that the brain can heal the body. Unlike a religionist, he would also have an open mind and admit that he does not know for sure.

            Example – I needed to lose some weight myself, and I made a point of thinking about it every day. I (perhaps) raised the attention schema, or awareness of my body’s metabolism within my brain such that it did whatever it does to speed up my metabolism to help me lose weight… and I did. Neale would call this the “Law of Attraction” but I think it’s more or less the same thing. The question is whether it’s some ethereal ‘consciousness’ that is being managed, or whether it’s the firing of neurons in a brain that can explain the observed results. Once I dropped the weight, I stopped thinking about it, and started to ease back on up a bit, so I brought my attention back to it, in an attempt to stabilize. I’m inclined to give something – brain or consciousness – credit because eating and exercising (I run at least 10 miles a week and work out twice a week in karate), do little to change my physique. How much attention I pay to it seems to be more critical. But where does the credit go? Brain or consciousness? I don’t know, but I’m confident we’ll find out.

            You said: “So you seem to want to prove the existence of a divine presence independent of and objectively separate from human consciousness.”

            That’s not necessarily what I’m looking for, and I’m not looking to “prove” anything. I just want to know. If there is in fact a ‘divine presence’ I would expect that consciousness would be a part of that. However, if human consciousness comes from the brain, then there is no divine presence. When the brain goes, we (our consciousness) goes. I don’t know if there is a divine presence of which I am a part; but I’d like to know one way or the other.

            You said: “You want to know what came first, what is the origin, the cause, the chicken or the egg (the brain or consciousness). That is also an impossibility…”

            Whether it is impossible or not remains to be seen. When someone says something is impossible, I’ve learned that the reverse is generally more likely to be true. But you are right. I do “want to know” rather than just believe.

            I think that open-minded skepticism is the best way to approach the unknown, so I try to do that.

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            You are obviously well-read, and well-spoken. I wonder, though, what it is that happens when you are still and silent and at peace. Do you think, or do you feel, or do you know, or are you inspired? What happens when the only person in the room is your self – – in fact, the only person who you keep in mind?

            I’m not being sarcastic, or disrespectful. I am truly curious. I’ve heard several different answers to that inquiry, and I wonder what yours is.

            Blessings,
            ~Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            I generally meditate at a small pond on my property 5 days a week. I learned that if I keep it to 20 minutes or less, I am refreshed and recharged, but if I go 30 minutes or longer, I’m sleepy and have trouble getting cranked up again. I used to try and do OBEs and such, but have never gotten anywhere with that. I usually put on headphones with one of several tracks I downloaded from The Monroe Institute as they include audio techniques called SAM that are supposed to help meditation. Sometimes I just sit quietly without any sound tracks. I’m not sure I would call it spiritual – just relaxing.

            Am I inspired? Probably not. The trick is to try and prevent things from jumping into my head when I’m meditating, that “inspire” me to get my butt back to work because I need to do this or that and recall it while meditating.

            Meditation does not necessarily have to do with God. Sam Harris, an outspoken atheist, has mediation tracks he provides. It’s a physiological activity that quiets the brain and relaxes the body and makes you feel better.

          • Patrick Gannon

            Great exchange.

            I will admit to being a contrarian for a reason. My father taught me that one of the best ways to learn about something was to take the other side. In that way, you were likely to get the best arguments and data, and could use that to draw your own conclusions. As a result of doing this, I have run the gamut from Christian believer to angry atheist to CWG believer to exploring the ideas of Thomas Campbell who has a sort of scientific version of CWG, to a skeptical, but open minded agnostic.

            I’ll drop the complaint about deification of the CWG “God” and will agree that you made this point clear in the book. I still find that when you speak of God you often use humanizing terms, and this makes me uncomfortable as it reminds me of the Abrahamic God who is not a very nice fellow, and it seems contradictory and confusing – but religion is often that way, I suppose.

            At one time I believed that “God” actually spoke with or through you, but I have to be honest and say that I now think that it all flowed out of your own consciousness. We’ll find out when we die, I suppose. Or maybe we will just be snuffed out.

            Consider my questions about profit and your motives as an opportunity to explain your position. You do strike me as a bit defensive on this point. Other people who have read CWG material that I have corresponded with, in other forums (few question you here as I have), have questioned your motives; and other writers whose positions I respect have noted how deeply the New Age movement is rooted in commercialization. I don’t get emails from churches trying to sell me programs – but then again I suppose that if I visited evangelical sites and such that I might find myself on such lists. I suspect that Ken Ham of the Creation Museum would be happy to add me to a mailing list and bug me for money.

            I’m not backing off my contention that holding beliefs to a large degree prevents people – many people, perhaps most – from seeking to learn the truth. I see that in my daily life. In fact the more you question most people’s beliefs (particularly those that are indoctrinated/ingrained and deeply held) the more they cling to them. You can place all the evidence in the world in front of them – you can prove beyond any shadow of doubt that their belief is wrong – but they will hold to it anyway, and I think the cognitive dissonance this creates is unhealthy for them and society at large. The best we can hope is that their children will have good teachers who teach them critical thinking.

            Thinking is always better than believing in my opinion. There’s no way I could believe Jesus actually walked on water or was resurrected from the dead in a literal sense without some evidence. I’ve studied the NT quite a bit, and what we have is a collection of oral traditions from different groups in different cities and countries, all written in a language Jesus didn’t speak, that all held different ideas. In order to compete with the pagan religions of the time, it was necessary to give Jesus some of the same attributes – but there isn’t a single solitary personal witness who wrote anything about any miracles or resurrection, etc. There isn’t even a single solitary original manuscript for ANY part of the bible. What most probably happened is that after his crucifixion he hung on that cross till his body rotted, which was par for the course – the humiliation of the cross was being kept up there for the birds and rats to eat your body as it rotted, then to be thrown in a common grave – one of the worst possible humiliations at that time. The open tomb story is just a myth that makes no logical sense whatsoever in light of the Roman practices. After his death, someone had a vision, like my mom had of her dad after he died. This kind of thing happens frequently, particularly after an unexpected death, and someone almost surely had a dream or vision about Jesus after he died, and he told a friend who told a friend who told a friend and the oral tradition developed and grew. When facing a total lack of evidence you have to look at what’s most probable and a resurrection and real miracles are far and away the least probable. Today I’m told that if I don’t believe this story I’ll be eternally punished, something I find very difficult to imagine the Jesus that I studied, ever preaching – but that’s what religions do. For a guy who was resurrected and performed miracles, I find it surprising that he had no idea how a new religion would be created that would eventually be responsible for the deaths of millions of people. Then again, he was convinced that the end of times was imminent – while some then living were still alive – as was Paul – and both of them were obviously wrong. I asked if you believed Jesus was really resurrected because that would tell me that CWG is far more closely aligned with Christianity and its myths than I thought – and I don’t see that as a good thing.

            With regard to consciousness – science, as I understand it, is not focused on trying to prove that it exists, but how it comes about. If it is emergent from matter, doesn’t that kill the whole idea of the soul? If that which is “us” dies with the brain, isn’t that the end of it all? I guess I always framed the argument in terms of a) consciousness is “hosted” by the brain vs. b) consciousness is created by the brain. Science doesn’t know the answer to this yet. Consciousness appears to be organized information. Perhaps the “information” is what consciousness is – essentially “bits”: like 1’s and 0s that are organized into increasingly complex things as driven by the basic process of evolution. In this scenario, if we want to think of “God” as data bits of information – I can go along with that; but we still don’t know if it works anything like that, so I will wait to see what we learn.

            As for your contention (the same one as most religionists who don’t take the bible literally) that God uses evolution as the process for developing life – that’s an unproven assertion – not the evolution part of course, but the God part. If our development can be explained by evolution, why do we need to add the additional factor of God. It’s like saying (1+God) + (1+God) = 2+God. Cancel out the God’s and you get the same answer. No God is required. Evolution appears to simply be a basic process; no gods required. Based on what we are learning about quantum mechanics, it’s possible that our entire universe sprang into existence out of nothingness – whatever that is – perhaps what we call nothingness is a primordial source of information bits – consciousness – waiting to be acted upon and organized. We don’t know yet, but I think we will some day.

            You ask me if I think new ideas should not be expressed because they are dangerous, and you list examples. Of course I don’t think that. However, the Declaration of Independence and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity are not in the same category as Luther’s 95 Thesis or your CWG; particularly not the theory of relativity which has been tested countless times and for what it claims to do has never been proven wrong. You can’t place an entity like “God” in that same category – because you can’t prove anything about it. Although the technology from the theory of relativity has been used to kill people, nobody was ever killed “in the name of” relativity – but people are killed “in the name of” God all the time and always have been. Luther’s Theses resulted in centuries of wars in Europe. Nobody went to war over relativity or gravity or germ theory, etc. Will people go to war over CWG some day? I think that’s more likely than going to war over the theory of relativity.

            If CWG turns into a new religion, will it really be any better than Christianity was as an improvement over Judaism, or Islam as an improvement over Christianity? It’s interesting that the scientific community argued over the theory of relativity for a decade or two then considered the issue settled pending future data, but here we are, thousands of years in the process – still arguing about God and nothing about it is settled.

            Whence comes inspiration? That is the question, isn’t it? Does it come from outside ourselves, from “God” or is it something that is internally generated by the physical brain, leveraging the the experience, knowledge, perceptions, etc. that have been stored and organized for retrieval by an ‘awareness’ that is quite likely generated by the brain, in order to create the inspiration? I’m not convinced that inspiration comes from God, so much as it comes from the ability of the brain to organize information in such a way as to create something we call inspirational. Computers will likely do this some day; when they do, will we say that the inspiration comes from God?

            I guess I’ll summarize by asking why any of this God stuff really matters. If indeed God is all there is, and that God has no wants and does not interfere in our personal lives, then why does God even matter? What’s going to happen is going to happen with or without God. The primary reason for God, I think, is because of a fear of death. I’ts probably something built into us as an evolutionary factor designed to keep us alive and reproducing. Those not afraid to die, may have ended up dead, and did not pass along their genes because they weren’t there to support their offspring if any. But what would be so bad about just dying and that’s it? It’s all over with. You’d never know it. Why be afraid of it?

            Isn’t this whole God thing just about facing our fear of death?

  • mewabe

    “I confess that I am in bondage to sin and I cannot free myself.”
    This is what Christianity teaches (I wouldn’t know, but I heard it through the grapevine).
    How sick and perverted is this?

    I understand people’s extreme anger towards religion…especially people who grew up with it. Religion has taken reality and turned it on its head and inside out. The concept of sin, with its added flavors of guilt and shame, is extremely damaging to the human psyche.

    About returning home to God, from what I know the only part of us that is lost is the mind. Neither the body nor the soul can ever be separate from the divine, only the mind can, and not even the whole mind: only the conscious mind.

    The only “condition” to be met to return to a conscious understanding of reality (Divine reality) is therefore to discard all mental illusions, to clear the mind of all of its old cultural and religious baggage.

    Thank you Neale for offering this to humanity, as the world desperately needs a spiritual overhaul!

  • hempwise

    My only concern is that the New Spirituality is not even at the level of discussion or if it is it just gets ignored or dismissed. At the higher levels of the Vatican the cardinals must know about this ?
    It must be a threat to Organized religion and the power holders .The control that they claim over peoples minds and lives would have to be relinquished .i understand that this is not an over night thing but the i think if religion does not change then it will eventually become irrelevant .
    The cosmic moment comes once in the history of sentient beings and we are living through this time now,how long this lasts is up to us . But we have started and some day in a future Tomorrow we will look back and see how young and ignorant our species was, like children refusing to share and cooperate and unwilling to see the bigger picture .
    We are already Home there is nowhere to go …

  • Stephen mills

    Hi perhaps the question for me is . That we have to work hard to be seen as worthy in God’s eyes this is the message I seem to be getting from the dominant culture . If you work hard the rewards come and this is a sign from God that you are in god’s graces .That the wealthy are deserved of all the good in the world (material goods) and the poor are undeserving as they have not worked hard enough to shine in God’s eyes .

    This is certainly the message I get from conservative viewpoints and ideology .
    Have I missed something here ? But it seems to me it gives he rich rational to continue creating the wealth gap and hoarding the wealth as it’s a sure sign that that’s what the universe wants .

    Anybody see this !

    Hempwise

    • Patrick Gannon

      This is a Calvinistic concept. The Calvinists, an offshoot of Protestantism, had and to some extent Calvinism still has, a powerful but subtle influence in the US. The basic idea is that salvation is predestined (which is what Paul insists). See Romans 8:28 – 30 for an example. Of course everyone considers themselves to be among the elect.

      One can know that he or she is predestined for salvation if God is granting rewards that indicate you are in His good graces. In order to appear to others that you are predestined for salvation and in God’s good graces, there is a motivation to work hard, as this will result in the rewards which indicate Bible God has pre selected you. The positive and beneficial result (if you choose to see it that way) is that the American economy expanded faster than many other countries, thanks in part to the the work ethic encouraged by Calvinistic ideas. It’s a subtle effect that works on our society, but not frequently discussed, because most Christians believe in free will (even though by and large the bible does not support this idea).

      As for the divide between rich and poor – this seems to happen over and over again throughout history, and always there is the inevitable and usually violent correction.

      • Stephen mills

        Hi Patrick ,thanks for your imput and your knowledge of biblical understanding .Such a twisted web we have weaved .

      • GH Annie

        Patrick,

        May I suggest you update your study of Paul, to whom you often refer to here in these discussions ? The majority of biblical scholars believe Paul was gnostic, and the Pastoral letters forged.

        Blessings,
        ~Annie

        • Patrick Gannon

          I’m not sure how that post is pertinent to the discussion, Annie, but in any event I will disagree with you that the “majority of biblical scholars believe Paul was gnostic.” There are a few people who think this, but I don’t recall any mention of this by real experts in the field like Ehrman and Tabor. Some say that by reading Paul’s letters allegorically rather than literally, one can create a context in which Paul is gnostic. Perhaps so; but Paul seems pretty straight forward in telling things the way he sees them. Why would he write letters that were intended to instruct new and existing converts in a mysterious, allegorical fashion? If you are suggesting that religion reinterpreted Paul’s concepts and turned them into something he did not intend – consider that I have suggested that the same thing can happen to religion that may evolve from the CWG movement.

          Whether some of Paul’s ideas could be considered gnostic or not, seems irrelevant. He, more than anyone else created the blueprint for what would later become Christianity – hardly anyone disagrees with that. The Pauline influence in Christianity is overwhelming. If he had gnostic tendencies, the later church completely removed them from the orthodoxy and with Roman help, eliminated the gnostics, as well as other competing groups of early Christianity by declaring them to be heretical.

          Personally I think Paul suffered from delusions much like John Forbes Nash, the famous mathematician, as illustrated in the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” It’s also possible that he experienced OBEs and didn’t know how to interpret them; but frankly, I think he was just delusional. What Jesus told him was wrong. Sin did not enter the world through one man (Adam) and the end of the world was not imminent. There’s no credibility. If we look at Paul as some kind of mystic or psychic, we find that he flunks the tests.

          I fully agree, and never said otherwise, that the pseudonymous letters were forgeries. Most scholars do agree that seven of the Pauline letters in the NT are genuine, but the rest are not, including Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, and 1& 2 Timothy. Some of these “forged” letters attempt to undue Paul’s earlier errors in predicting the imminent end of the world, given that it didn’t happen as he insisted it would. (In addition to being delusional, he may have been paranoid). The fake letters also counter the early Paul who had some use for women in the church, by having him say later that they should shut up and cover their heads. Heck, one of the Tims tells us that scripture is “god-breathed” while he’s writing a forgery!!!

          If you have strong, credible sources by reputable scholars for the assertion that Paul was a gnostic, feel free to send them along. I try my best to always look at both sides of an issue, rather than study things that only support existing beliefs; which unfortunately, is what most people seem to do.

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            As I have said before, if what you want are chapter and verse citations from books, I’m not your girl. I’ve also said, either here or elsewhere, that I no longer have my library.

            One example of the tampering I can specifically remember is the changing of the name of “Cephas” to “Peter” in one of Paul’s letters, and a corresponding change in other scripture where the name “Peter” was changed to “Cephas.” Even though the changes were made only once in each instance, this is the only purported passage where Paul is said to have bowed down to Peter’s authority and on which all Catholics rely.

            I would suggest you read some John Dominican Crossman, Elaine Pagels, The Jesus Seminar, and Bishop Spong.

            It’s relevant because you regularly make reference to Paul.

            Blessings,
            ~Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            I’ve read some of the Jesus Seminar stuff, and one of Spong’s books. How about if you read Ehrman and Tabor?

            Most of what I’ve said about Paul is that he laid out the blueprint for what would become Christianity, and I don’t think any of the authors you listed would disagree with that. When you said that I needed to update my study of Paul, I assumed you meant that I was saying things you felt were incorrect, but you listed nothing you disagreed with. I’m not sure what we’re arguing about.

            I pointed out that Paul’s works pointed to predestination and the Calvinists seized on this, as well as noting that in the entire bible, most things are driven by Bible God rather than free will. If there’s a specific point I’ve made that you disagree with, could you clue me in?

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            I have read many authors. I may well have read the “stuff” you have mentioned.

            The point I disagree about is that Paul had anything at all to do with laying out a blueprint for an organized church. As gnostic, which I believe he was, he would not have seen a need for a church organization as gnostics believe in direct “knowing” of God.

            It is Tertullian who picked the four gospels, out of the many being circulated at the time. It is also he who suddenly produced Paul’s letters to the churches, which no one had heard of before. It is also he who placed them after the gospels as it confirm them, even though they are older than all of the gospels and would naturally be placed before them.. And it’s he who produced Acts, also previously unheard of.

            The most effective way to win over the competition is to make them look like they’re not. This is what I have learned Tertullian did with Paul.

            Blessings,
            ~Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            Ah, you’ve explained something I didn’t pick up on before. I think Paul created the blueprint for Christianity – not necessarily the blueprint for the organized church, which had to modify a number of his concepts in order to come to fruition. Paul came up with the whole idea of salvation through belief – and that’s the bedrock of Christianity.

            You are correct, that Paul didn’t create a blueprint for the organized church because he expected the end of times during his life – so why bother? He suggested that people not even marry if they could abstain from sex, as the end times were so close; that it was better to purify yourself in preparation. His “blueprint” for Christianity was the insistence on salvation through belief. It would have been fun to put Paul and the writer of Matthew in the same room and lock the doors.

            I fully agree with you that the NT is a concoction designed to tell a particular story, and interestingly enough, if you read the books in the chronological order in which they were written, and eliminate or downplay the “forged” texts, you get a very different version of what happened.

            I have not heard all the points you make about Tertullian; and would have to do more research before commenting. We’re pretty sure that the writer of Luke and Acts was the same person, but you’re right that Acts does much to change Paul, and particularly his relationship with the original leaders of the church – the people who actually ate and drank and travelled with Jesus. Paul is convinced that his “visions” (delusions?) supercede anything Jesus might have actually said in person to his disciples. Acts does away with his trip to Arabia which is probably where that ‘gnostic’ stuff developed – though I’m not sold on that concept yet. I still think he was delusional.

            Also, I’m not convinced that nobody had ever heard of Paul’s letters prior to the other gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke quote his account of the Last Supper pretty much verbatim. As you pointed out, he was writing decades before them, so Paul could not have been quoting any of them. Paul seems to have originated that whole drinking blood/eating flesh thing that would have horrified Jews. Mark, who obviously had the other gospels in front of him while writing his, leaves this out – a vote of “NO” on this idea, I think. I suspect that Matthew left it out too, but someone put it in later.

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            As a gnostic, Paul would have relied on direct experience and knowledge,not belief. And, as a gnostic, he would have written using symbolism and myth, which would point others to their own gnosis. Others may have taken him literally where he should not have been.

            Some gnostic believe in “dying before you die.” This, for a gnostic, would have been “salvation.” And I don’t rule out that Paul’s letters were edited before insertion into the bible. But, if he were gnostic, he wouldn’t tell anyone directly how to reach Truth. Any “should” or “shouldn’t” purported to be written by Paul would be suspect.

            History is written by the winners. The catholic church won. I think Paul lost.

            Blessings,
            Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            It’s possible that he was a gnostic. I don’t know. I don’t see a lot of symbolism and myth in his writings. Trying to get symbolism and myth across to small groups of people in various countries using letters intended to instruct, seems difficult at best. How could he be sure they would understand his symbolism and myth?

            I think Paul’s idea of salvation was skipping Judgment Day. I gather that he believed all men living and dead would be judged very soon when the world ended, but those who professed faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection would skip that process and all their sins would be forgiven.

            The Catholic Church was definitely the winner. I’m not sure whether it was Paul who lost, or the original ministry of Jesus, but you are correct that the winners write history (and kill off the heretics who might challenge them).

            The point is, we don’t “know” the truth, so to believe anything about it is probably self-deception.

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            Then it is also self-deception to put one’s faith in science because we can’t “know” that any of it to be true. In fact, science is known for disproving itself. We can’t “know” that any given scientific evidence won’t be turned on its head with the very next scientific inquiry.

            Since neither science nor spirituality is objective, why should we give science more credence?

            Blessings,

            Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            Great observation. It is self deception to put one’s “faith” (i.e. belief) in science – or anything else. However, we have to make decisions and live our lives based on the information and knowledge available to us, and electing to go with the preponderance of evidence strikes me as a rational decision. The preponderance of evidence tells me it would be highly irresponsible not to inoculate my offspring against certain diseases and conditions. Science continues to bring us new data, new insights, new discoveries, new answers using the scientific method, so there’s a track record there that helps weigh the scales in that direction – but it still doesn’t mean you should “believe” anything until you know it; and after that, there’s no need to believe it.

            The primary difference, as you pointed out yourself, between science and spirituality – – – I would prefer to talk about the difference between science and religion, since science can be very spiritual to some; the spiritual experience of peering into the cosmos that Carl Sagan spoke of, for example – – – is that science has a mechanism to self correct. Science begins by knowing there’s more to learn. Religion says, ‘this is how it works – end of story.’ (Actually I’ll modify that a bit as there is an active movement on the part of some Christian moderates to “reinterpret the bible in line with developing science.” In other words, make the religion fit the truth. Islam does this a lot too – trying to use vague passages as “scientific evidence” for this or that. It’s a straining at gnats approach that strikes me as pathetic).

            Religion (not spirituality) changes through revelation, right? It’s based on man’s word; (why is it always men?) and it always denounces the religion that came before it, insisting that only the new interpretation is the ‘appropriate’ understanding of God. There’s no proof; no evidence; aside from taking the word of fallible humans who might even be delusional, as I suggest Paul may have been. There are certainly scholars who have questioned Jesus’ mental condition.

            The interesting thing about the latest iteration, the New Age God, so to speak, is this concept of ONEness and the link to consciousness. The old religions took a stance on natural events and attempted to explain them, and have gone down in flames as science explains how things really work. Now the New Age God religion wants to talk about and explain the next unknown – and it may be correct. There is science to back it up. I can’t go into a lot of detail (due in large part to my limited understanding), but quantum mechanics gives us this concept of particle entanglement, and if at the Big Bang there was only one thing, then it’s possible that everything is entangled with everything else – which would pretty much prove the We are All ONE idea; at an even higher level than we know to be true today (we are all the product of stars – we’re the same stuff). Because something that affects one particle at the same instant as its entangled partner at the exact same instant in time regardless of the distance between them, implies that space is an illusion. Due to the speed of light, this should not be possible, yet it has been experimentally been proven to be so, many times. Space and time may simply be illusions.

            Yes, it could also be otherwise, but instead of being antagonistic to science, the rational approach to me is to wait and see what we learn and keep an open mind as to what may be possible, but work hard not to believe anything in the meantime. Think about it, ponder it, look at the possibilities and most of all try to look at the other side and study it just as much as the side that interests you; but don’t hold yourself back by believing in something. If you do start believing it’s highly likely that you’ll stop looking at the other side and only reinforce that which you already believe. It’s just what people do unless they are conscientious about keeping an open skeptical mind and not being afraid to say to themselves as much as to anyone else: “I don’t know.”

            I’m not sure I understand the last line about science not being objective, as this is the charge that is usually leveled against science – that it is based too much on a requirement for objective evidence, and that it tends to disregard subjective evidence. In fact, this is something I’d like to see change in the scientific community. I’d like to see science take a closer look at subjective evidence, such as that provided by psi effects. Subjective evidence can be very useful, even when objective evidence isn’t possible – like testing to see what a virus would do to a certain human population – and with enough of it you can begin to draw conclusions and make testable hypothesis that will help in drawing conclusions and empowering theories that deliver verified, predictable outcomes.

            To summarize, I wouldn’t suggest we believe in, or put our faith in science; but I think we can give it more credibility than religion in light of the track records of both.

          • GH Annie

            Patrick,

            You’ve certainly clarified something for me, and that’s the wall you place between religion and spirituality.

            Any healthy religion (IMHO) has spirituality at its heart. However, I concede that one can be spiritual without being religious.

            Personally, I place my faith in those experiences I have myself, which are spiritual in nature. And I see science as becoming more spiritual every day with its talk of consciousness and habits and oneness/entanglement.

            To each their own.

            Blessings,
            Annie

          • Patrick Gannon

            As I see it, religion is based on belief. Spirituality is based on personal experience. That’s not to say the religious can’t be spiritual or have spiritual experiences; but the institution of religion itself, is based on belief and I see that as a trap to ongoing personal development. As you said – to each their own!

          • John Jung

            Annie, please help me out here. I must have totally missed something in my religious studies. Where did you get the idea that Paul was a gnostic?

    • GH Annie

      Hempwise,

      I believe so long as we see anyone as “other,” regardless of the reason, we then somehow make what we believe and how we act “right” and the “other” as wrong. We even go so far as to dehumanize and demonize the “other” so that we can then do the righteous thing, which is to starve, maim, kill, torture… whatever we choose, because we are right and they are wrong.

      If, however, I understand that I have Divinity within myself as part of my nature of being human, how can I deny the Divinity in *anyone* else? Or any other creature? Or any other part of the ongoing Creation, because there was only One who created?

      That is why Humanity’s Team upholds the phrase “We Are All One” as it’s standard. And why the Evolution Revolution says simply that, “ours is not a *better way; ours is merely another way.”

      Blessings and {{{gentle huggies}}}
      ~Annie

      • Stephen mills

        Hi GH Annie good to see you here .We are all one just as you say .I was merely making a point based on observation and where we are at the moment as our on the ground political reality .The solution is as you say it is Spiritual ,and seeing the other as us .

        The discussion above was trying to understand conservative political mindset and how it relates to the poor in society .As best a I can observe this mindset comes from beliefs in a rational that god sanctions and favours the rich over the poor and then this self justify’s the rich and powerfull having all the power and wealth in society .

        Just an observation not a judgment .Just saying what’s so .

        Blessings

        • GH Annie

          Hey, Stephen! Good to see you here, too.

          I’m not sure there can be an on the ground understanding of the process over the ages that’s gotten the gap between the haves and have-nots to be so deep and so wide as it is now.

          I’m someone who could be seen by the religious political righteous as unworthy and lacking because I became differently abled enough that I can now no longer work a 40-60hr week while also helping lead a small church in the absence of a Senior Pastor who was called elsewhere and maintaining a personal relationship and an active social life and being an activist on behalf of LGBTQ communities. Hmm. And they wonder where the stress came from that (I believe) is at the root of my chronic pain and fatigue conditions, not to mention mental health issues.

          They don’t see that I followed their rules. That I put in the necessary time and money, and then some, to have a right to receive the check that I get. That I went for two years with no income while Social Security haggle about what are now called invisible illnesses, all because I didn’t look sick and I can withstand more pain than most.

          I was once one of their best and their brightest, but am now only ever one check or one bill or one accident or one illness away from homelessness.

          Sometimes, it’s depressing as Hell on Earth.

          Blessings,
          ~Annie

  • NealeDonaldWalsch

    You might find it interesting to read the exchange between Patrick Gannon and myself, below. Scroll down to where you see my replies to Patrick in bold. I point you to it because I believe we as humans have to make a fundamental decision. Is the answer to our problems to give up all beliefs, or to change beliefs? What say ye?

    • politics

      Are you sure we are asking the right questions?

    • GH Annie

      Hey, Neale! I’m baaaaaack! 🙂

      I believe (and I can’t find another appropriate word to use there) that to have a belief means to first have a thought. Once one has a thought (“I am purple”), one then “checks it out” to determine whether to believe it or not. Much of the debate here is the source one uses to “check it out” – – whether we should trust in an ancient story which has hardened into dogma, or wait until science figures it out, or trust our own innermost being.

      The originating thought of the current dogma is that of Adam and Eve and Original Sin. But it, like many other stories, was a myth, and it’s now generally agreed that the originators understood it *as* myth (including Paul, who it is now generally accepted was gnostic, but what he wrote was distorted and the Pastorals forged). There are many similar myths from around the world. As there are of the flood, and the resurrected god-man on the third day.

      Current dogma has also distracted people from understanding that the origin of the word “sin” comes from the Greeks and relates to archery, simply meaning “to miss the mark.” It’s similar to the Buddhist saying that one should not mistake the finger pointing at the moon to *be* the moon. There is no judgement of right or wrong. One simply missed. In that sense, I feel it’s fundamentalism that has sinned.

      Science, while taking leaps and bounds in some areas is sorely lacking in others, in large part due to funding. Can we wait for answers from science while children die hourly and wars and conflicts rage? I don’t believe we have the time to do so, myself. People, not to mention animals and plants and Earth herself, are DYING.

      I believe we *must* create a new cultural story, which incorporates the things we believe haven’t been distorted. In doing so, we’re going to have to have reasons to *not* include the things that have been distorted, which are generally the parts that are killing us.

      I believe we need it, and we need it NOW, and we need to SHOUT it if need be to be heard over those who would rather die than be wrong.

      Blessings,
      ~Annie

      • NealeDonaldWalsch

        If you’re interested in shouting it, Annie, I hope you will click over to the Evolution Revolution right away. That’s exactly what are are doing.
        Check it out: http://www.evolutionrevolution.net

    • John Jung

      Neale, my answer is that to change beliefs is only, at best, a stepping stone to giving up all beliefs. If believe means to accept something as true with little or no evidence, then any belief is a negative.

      • NealeDonaldWalsch

        Why? I believed that my wife loved me the moment she said it, prior to our marriage and prior to our even becoming close to each other and, in fact, prior to any evidence whatsoever. She simply said it, and, silly me, i believed her “with little or no evidence”! How was that belief “a negative”? It sure seemed to be a “positive” to me!

        Are you sure that “any” belief is a negative if we accept it with little or no evidence?

        • Patrick Gannon

          What if she had said that and it wasn’t true? How many guys tell gals they love them in order to get something else? Wouldn’t the gals be foolish to believe them? You only know it’s true by the evidence and actions; and then it’s no longer necessary to believe it.

        • John Jung

          I know that to accept anything as true with little or no evidence is a negative. What I mean by negative is not that it will never work out for desired results, it is that it most often won’t work as well as being skeptical until we have some evidence. I consider skepticism to be positive and the opposite of belief. I suspect that some of the confusion about belief being a positive or negative is actually between hope and belief. Hope is a positive and its negative is apathy. Belief does not serve people well, but hope does.