An Open Letter to Our World
IS IT GOD WHO DETERMINES
WHAT IS ‘RIGHT’ AND ‘WRONG’?
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, the statement that…God determines what is Right and Wrong.
We have already said that when it comes to deciding what is “good” and “evil,” millions of people—indeed, entire societies and cultures—have used as their basis an understanding of what the God in whom they believe is said to have announced, declared, commanded, and demanded.
This is also true of the larger and more nuanced labels of right and wrong. In the end, most of the world’s people have taken it on faith that God is the defining and deciding authority regarding appropriate and inappropriate human behavior. Indeed, the civil laws of many countries and jurisdictions are rooted in this view.
Now comes The Great What If . . .
What if concepts such as right and wrong do not even exist in the Mind of God? What if there are no such delineations or definitions in Ultimate Reality?
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. And let us be clear. This goes past the simple, gross motor-movement definitions of “good” and “evil.” This gets down to the most delicate shadings of human thought, words, and behavior.
Billions of the world’s people would suddenly be rudderless on what they have created to be a stormy sea of human experience without what they presume to be God’s guidelines on what is right and wrong in many subtle areas. We pretty much know about “good” and “evil.” But is, for instance, falling in love with the “wrong” person at the “wrong” time intrinsically “good” or “evil”? Is cheating on one’s income tax “good” or “evil” if one believes that the government is using it for “bad” things?
People around the world now base much of their individual behavior, as well as the decisions and actions of their clan, group, or tribe, on the Prominent Public Pronouncements of their particular faith tradition about not just the gross motor movements (killing, stealing, etc.) but the more subtle, finer maneuverings of the body human (the little white lie, the discreet affair that presumably hurts no one, etc.).
For Jews and many Christians this Prominent Public Pronouncement is the Ten Commandments. For Muslims, it is the Five Pillars of Islam. For Buddhists, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Five Precepts. For Hindus, the Doctrine of the Fourfold End of Life. For those practicing Kemeticism (a reconstruction of ancient Egyptian religion) there are the 11 Laws. Members of the Bahá’í Faith follow the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the book of laws of Bahá’u’lláh). Sikhism has the Reht Maryada.
This list goes on.
If suddenly it was made clear that God has no laws—that divinity’s pronouncements and Deity’s revelations contain no commandments, requirements, regulations, rules, instructions, guidelines, precepts, principles, criteria, or behavioral do’s and don’ts of any kind—the rug would be pulled from under most of traditional theology, and not a small amount of global jurisprudence.
If standards for human conduct are not to be based on the demands of our Creator (for the reason that our Creator has made no demands), then our species will have to come up with a new rationale for declaring a certain action, choice, or decision “right,” and another one “wrong.”
If we take “morals”—i.e., the values arising out of our understanding of God’s commands or desires—out of the picture, then the question arises: What shall be the Gold Standard for the deportment of our species?
One thing appears certain about our present standard: the arbitrary labeling of choices and actions as “right” and “wrong” based on seemingly capricious, often varying, and too frequently contradictory interpretations of God’s Law has done more harm than good in far too many instances around the world for that standard to any longer be considered reasonable, or even useful, within an enlightened society.
Once again I refer to the 2014 sentencing of a person to death for her religious choices, as substantiated in Chapter Six, as a striking and immensely sad illustration of this. Yet the search for, and the creation of, a new behavioral standard could lead to massive upheaval in humanity’s social and spiritual communities—which is no doubt why ancient standards are clung to.
Nobody wants to rock the boat. Not even when the boat is sinking. Nobody wants to question the Prior Assumption.
Here, now, is God’s message to the World:
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 right and wrong 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.
In Ultimate Reality there is no such thing as right and wrong. These concepts are human constructions based on a massive misunderstanding of what God wants, and a total lack of comprehension regarding both the reason for, and the purpose of, life itself.
The reason that judgments about right and wrong are not present in the mind of God is that the concepts themselves are based on the condition or the experience of benefit and damage—neither of which exist in Ultimate Reality.
Nothing can be of benefit to That Which Is The Source Of All Benefit. Imagining that something benefits God is like imagining that a penny benefits a billionaire.
Nothing can damage That Which Is The Source Of All That Is. Imagining that something damages God is like imagining that an action story about a little boy who hurt himself and then got better is damaging to the author who wrote it.
Because God cannot be benefited or damaged in any way, the idea of something being right or wrong does not exist in the mind of God.
This idea will not exist in the mind of humans, either, when human beings come to understand that they, also, cannot be benefited or damaged in any way. This is so because human beings are not separate from God.
It is very possible for human beings to experience the illusion of benefit or damage during their physical experience upon the earth, yet this is but the result of their idea about what is occurring.
William Shakespeare put this another way: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
In other words, we are making it all up. We are defining and deciding what is “good” or “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” depending upon our mood of the moment, given the situation, time, and place.
In Peoria, Illinois prostitution is “wrong.” In Amsterdam, The Netherlands it is a legitimate business, licensed and regulated by the government, and not a small source of tax revenue.
In 1914, living together out of wedlock was considered “wrong.” In 2014 it is considered a good idea before entering into the long-term commitment of marriage, or for older folks seeking companionship in their later years without the legal entanglements of matrimony.
We are making things up as we go along, and we are changing our minds as we go along—yet we get caught up in any given moment imaging that, in this particular moment, what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong.
God has nothing to do with these delineations. They are entirely a product of humanity’s constructions. If God were defining right and wrong, those definitions would remain constant. What is true in Peoria would be true in Amsterdam. What was true in 1914 would be true in 2014. Right and wrong would not be determined by map or calendar.
The question before humanity, then, is not whether God declares something to be right or wrong, but what is it that makes a human being do so?
The observable answer is that human beings have already decided (although few wish to admit it) that they are going to judge every one of their prospective choices or actions as being right or wrong based on whether they believe it will be effective in achieving their goals.
Thus, humans can sanction the state killing someone intentionally, even as humans declare that killing someone intentionally is wrong.
Thus, humans can cheer a Robin Hood tale of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, even as humans assert that stealing is wrong.
Thus, humans can convince themselves that a sexual encounter with another’s mistreated and ignored spouse in the name of love is romantic and understandable, even as humans maintain that adultery is wrong.
In human interactions it turns out that nothing is considered right or wrong absolutely, but that these judgments are made within a particular context.
This is the truth of it on the earth. It would serve us to openly admit this, and then to decisively declare that our new Human Code of Conduct shall be based not on “morals,” or what we have arbitrarily decided that God wants and commands, but rather, on what works and what does not work, given what it is we are trying to do.
If you are trying to win the motorcar race at the Indianapolis 500 Speedway, it would not be “wrong” to drive 175 miles an hour. If you are trying to get to the grocery store in your neighborhood without endangering yourself or others, you may not want to drive that fast. It simply does not work, given what it is you are trying to do. Indeed, there are no doubt traffic signs where you live making it clear that such behavior is prohibited.
There is difficulty and challenge in openly acknowledging and utilizing such a practical measure as the Gold Standard for human behavior, however. (Again, it must be made clear that we already use this standard—it’s actually built into our laws—but we simply don’t freely admit it.) The difficulty is that humanity would then have to admit to itself that our “ Gold Standard” is all over the place, and thus, not a “standard” at all, because we, as a collective, are profoundly unclear about what we are trying to do.
(Example: It’s not okay to “shoot first and ask questions later.” Unless you call it a preemptive strike, using weapons of mass destruction to defend against another nation’s weapons of mass destruction that, it turns out, were not even there. Or “stand your ground,” in which case the thought that you might be in danger—even from having a bag of popcorn or a cell phone thrown in your face in a movie theatre (where, according to “the rules,” you should not even be carrying a gun)—is sufficient defense in a Florida court of law for shooting and killing a man.)
This entire concept of moral “right” and moral “wrong” will be explored in crisp terms later in this text. Stay tuned for that. For now, know that our standards of behavior are all over the place because most of the members of our species are completely confused about Who We Are (our true identity as sentient beings) and Why We Are Here (the real reason for life, and the purpose of individual and collective experience).
And this is because humanity is totally mistaken about the reality, function, purpose, and nature of God.