A New Perspective into Religious Dogmas

{This article and others like it can be found at http://www.kinyunye.blogspot.com}

 

I verily doubt the verisimilitude of all our ingrained beliefs, especially those that have been handed down to us generation after generation from time immemorial. Obviously there must be truths that are both universal and timeless for our universe to exist. However, with or without such truths, it’s still folly to accept as true today truths that were last examined eons ago. If by chance you are one of those Christians who is mortified by the thought of critically evaluating the transcendental existence, let me remind you that folly is condemned in the bible almost as much as sin itself. Further, in Hosea God explicitly points out that his people perish because of lack of knowledge. So you can choose whether you want to hold unquestioningly to your faith at the expense of being ignorant and risking folly or if you would be audacious enough to explore the heavens with a keen eye, are you ready to rediscover your beliefs anew?

As a matter of fact, many a notable wise men and philosophers throughout the ages have echoed this very belief. That God in creating man in his own image and bequeathing him with mental faculties had no intentions for man to wallow in ignorance and foolishness. Manly P. Hall said, “If the infinite [God] had not desired man to be wise, he would not have bestowed upon him the faculty of knowing.” And Einstein, “I don’t believe that the very God who gave us the power of thought and intellect intended for them to go unused.” Yet despite all the persuasive arguments asking us to open our minds and understand the spiritual, in lieu of moving on in blind faith tantamount to that requisite in kids for them to enjoy Santa’s gifts or the Fairy’s tooth, we choose to dogmatically dodge with a simple: God is not meant to be understood.
My feeling is that a modicum of understanding of God’s plans, intent, and dynamics, if such exist, would certainly go a long way in aiding and consolidating my faith wherever it may be shaky. I very well know that he silenced Job’s reproaches by reminding him that it was he who had given Job everything, and as such it was his prerogative to take it all away if he so wished. But then again viewing it from this perspective, the most fundamental equation in our relationship with God fails to add up. I’m referring of course to the assurance that God loves us. If I in all my imperfections feel guilty thinking of depriving my child of a gift already given to them, how come God does not refrain from doing it? Or is there some concept of love that I’m terribly misunderstanding? Could I be mistaken more than once? Because the story of creation also conjures up questions in my mind that make me doubt if I know what love is. Perhaps some theological literati amongst you could explain to me why a loving father gives birth to children he knows only too well are headed for temptation, hardship and, for some, eternal damnation. Please don’t debase God to any of our mortal and carnal weaknesses nor should you apotheosise us mortals while you are drawing parallels. I mention this fact because a friend of mind tried explaining it to me by pointing out the far greater rewards awaiting us at the end of our problems. From my point of view the fundamental truth is that God had and has power to make sure man does not undergo the punishment for sin. And before you flare up with the ‘God is just’ sermon and how man had to be punished, justice served, for God to retain this nature, remember that God in his omniscience foreknew the fall of man, right? Could he in his omnipotence also not have prevented the fall? Or, again I ask, did his love for us necessarily have to involve our suffering? Why even banish Lucifer to earth where his precious yet fragile little children resided? It really boggles me, it’s analogous to a court judge letting loose a convicted criminal upon his family to recruit into their gang those they will so he can later punish the whole gang. A gang that now includes his own children! Any sense anybody please? This are just some the questions that I have at the outset of my quest for eternal life, having shunned the Sunday school. A verse in the book of Revelation almost persuades me to be apathetic towards the after-life but I know that a spiritual odyssey is rife with intellectual enlightening as well. Hence, I set forth with a comforting thought: if my name be not in the book of life, at least I will learn some beautiful secrets and gain insight into the kingdom of God, and that to me is almost good enough.
Denying everything you know and setting out to find the truth from scratch with no basic assumptions (which could be faulty hence wrong conclusions) was Réne Descartes outset. Luckily for you and me, we don’t have to scrap every ‘truthful’ nugget in our memory. I sincerely believe that there are certain truths that have been under scrutiny so many times from so many perspectives that we can hope to find no new thing if we dedicated our lives into re-evaluating them. As such, our basic knowledge is that God exists in whichever name you know him and whatever form. The Big-Bang Theory is beautiful, meticulously formulated, and as a scientist I’m tempted to believe in it. The infinite liberties it would give me in this life cannot be gotten from any religion whatsoever, after all is it not each of our deities who restrict our desires by imposing morality and a strict code of behavior upon us in exchange for heaven, karma, nirvana, jannah or what have you? But the Big-Bang Theory is deficient in many ways, its greatest weakness being the accidental happening of the universe. With science’s very own emphasis on equilibrium, I fail to see a system void of energy spontaneously generating some. This would mean that the Big Bang Theory is limited by the bang itself; no one can scientifically explain the source of the energy or why such energy would be condensed about a single point in space-time.
            The sole thought in my mind is that which has helped me remain so liberal despite my spiritual convictions. This is the knowledge that God orders the steps of men so that they will end up wherever they were destined to. I believe that the Almighty who created all that is, will guide me to the purpose for which I was created.
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BELIEVE AND LET BELIEVE

{This article and others like it can be found at http://www.kinyunye.blogspot.com.}
Dogma is similar to folly in so many ways that it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to draw a clear boundary. There are times I am fully convinced there is none; that dogma is merely an aspect of the other multifaceted mind-numbing monster. We all know that any a fool worth their salt has a manifold ways of expressing their foolishness. It is thus only natural that they stumbled upon dogma and integrated it into their art, if it is politically correct to call it art. Nevertheless, an art it is. It takes such finesse to resist logic and thwart all attempts to change one’s opinion. Interestingly, Solomon gave up on only two intellectual matters. His mind was boggled trying to understand the divine. Similarly, arguments with fools proved too frustrating and he decided to abandon all attempts to affect a fool’s opinions. But in his wisdom he saw it fit to speak against foolishness with the vehemence and veracity of a street preacher.
I share those sentiments and believe it to be my divine duty to speak out against folly. However, I refrain from taking myself too seriously and would advise you do the same. Remember I warned that foolishness is diverse. This article is not immune to folly; in fact it might be pure nonsense camouflaged as thoughtful writing. Further, by merely reading this, you run the risk of being misled by my reasoning wherever it may be erroneous. So do not run around quoting me as if I were the oracle at Delphi, but if you must, please do so at your own discretion.
The most common dogmas in mainstream society hide behind religion. Incidentally, every religion has at least one dogma it holds as one of its core principles. Without such dogma’s most religions would collapse under their own weight. Who would want to deny themselves of pleasure without some guarantee of reward? But since no single religion can offer valid proof of the existence of a transcendental deity (idol worshippers can of course show their gods, but like the others cannot proof the metaphysical abilities of said gods), such rewards for piety and righteousness are only guaranteed by reinforcing dogmas. So I’ll not steal, lie, fornicate or kill because I want to spend eternity in heaven. Further, I will endeavour to avoid any small mistake imaginable because I don’t want any such tiny slip to send me hell’s way. Of course not all religions believe in hell per se, but they all have equivalents, similar in that they are all punitive.
By now you have seen that I, like any other bloke, am not devoid of dogmatic tendencies. Some dogmas are arguably important for a society to exist, perhaps even indispensable if there is to be a semblance of order and co-existence. Ironically, it is for this very reason that some moderation is called for when we try to assert our dogmas, however noble they may seem. Intolerances based on difference of opinion are retrogressive, and only aggravate already volatile relations. What makes a Christian more foolish for believing in God and not Allah? Conversely, is belief in Allah what qualifies the Muslim as foolish? And while you are busy criticising the idol worshippers, remember they can see their god unlike you who only suspects His presence. It is important that we don’t forget that the same measure we use against others may be used against us, and that our animosity need not be directed at individuals. Many a time dogma is as a result of experience, so that experience should be considered the source of our acrimony.
It is a good dogma that is limitable to its owner. If it happens that they are other holders of a similar dogma, well and good. However, if you seem to be the only one with the dogmatic view, don’t judge others for not sharing your perspective. God forbid that you should persecute them. It is not hard to trace most civil wars to egotistical dogmas amongst at least one group. With ingrained convictions which can only be shaken by a weapon buried deep in their flesh, they’ve time and again set out to affirm their dogmas. The destruction from such wars is only matched by the folly that instigated them. Dogma or not, a fool is always a source of his own destruction. The way I see it, we can significantly distance ourselves from foolish dogmas if we can just ‘believe and let believe’.
NOTE: Pardon my use of the male gender. I’ve come to realise that some of my readership is still confused whenever ‘their’ is used to achieve gender neutrality while talking about a singular subject.