On Evil And Personal Revelation

It’s been a long weekend here. No, not in the sense of having extra days off – rather quite the opposite where I’ve been trying to get in as much time with my amazing little 4 year old, while also spending hours working on some projects that “JUST NEED TO GET DONE.”

As to my “wee man,” I sometimes can’t help myself but think back to when he was just a few months old, and smiling for the very first time – or a year old, and trying to walk – and when he finally took his first steps, how he just didn’t want to stop.  That day, when he took his first steps – he wanted to walk and walk and walk – and my back felt almost broken as I bent over at the side in order to hold his hand – and we both walked out of the office I was using then, to go awalking together – for about two hours.

And since then – all his wonderful achievements – growing, learning, and today, even teaching me how to say “Hello” in Chinese!

Years ago, I held to the “doctrine” of original sin, and how through the fall of Adam, all are born with evil in their hearts. After spending so much time with David, and watching how he learns things, feeling his love for me and his mom, and what seems to me, to be a natural desire to take as big as possible bites into the fruit of all knowledge – I simply must reject that doctrine completely.

If I had more time when my other sons, now teenagers, to simply observe them with an open mind – and a mind that was willing to compare so called ‘personal revelations” of others that are now apparently “God’s Word,” I may have rejected the doctrine many years ago.

If desiring love of one’s parent(s) is ‘evil’, then surely that definition of ‘evil’ is kind of weird. And the more I observe all my children while also thinking introspectively and recalling my own memories as far back as I can recall, and my own desires as a toddler to love my parents, seek their love, and learn more about my surroundings, I can see no inate “evil” as taught by most Christian denominations today and throughout history.

Which brings me to another point – recently, I had written a post entitled “My Testimony” or something like that.  I felt motivated to write it after reading about some activities that have apparently gone on in one of the Christian Denominations that I grew up in.

I had meant to leave that post as a “draft” with the idea of cleaning some of the language up, and ensuring that anyone that I personally know and continue to have personal respect for did not misinterpret anything I had written as well as of course, taking into consideration other personalities that were involved in some degree, but not directly to my “testimony.”

Well, as predestination would have it, the post was available and some comments were made.

As well, I wrote in another post about finding it “vile” that a G[g]od would ever order murder and rapine.  And I quoted from Scripture where it can be shown that the Judeao/Israeli God indeed ordered murder and possibly rapine.

Some comments were left – which included the subject of “evil,” and I wrote something to the effect that “evil is subjective.”

The person who commented, and included the term “evil” appears to me to be someone who claims to be a Christian.

I do have to admit that indeed, I was not very precise in my meanings about “evil” and my response to it being ’subjective,’ especially in regard to my assertion that it is “vile” for a God to order the murder of all males and non-virgin females of the Midianite Race.

AT some point, I’d like to try to clear that up. When I wrote of “evil being subjective,” it was in the context of discussing the subject with a Christian, and me recalling the teachings of the doctrines that included defining evil and its “origins.”

I was aso confusing my views about “evil” today, and the origin of that, with my own previous Christian teachings.  At some point, I’d like to try to explore this further and see if I can actually find precise words that say exactly what I am trying to communicate in regard to “evil.”

And of course, also explain logically, how any Supreme Being (from a Deist point of view) is indeed, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.   But I should also point out that as much as I have a “belief” in such a Being, I personally do not believe that such a Being is separate from all that Is.

Therefore,  (well.. no.. I haven’t made any argument yet so ‘therefore’ is probably not the best term to use) – evil does not exist in the Christian sense of “evil.”  To me, evil is more about attempting to assert something without reason. No God that knows reason would command the destruction of other reasonable beings.

I’m rambling, and I will at some point, try to get back to this.

But, that also brings me to something else – this issue of “revelation.”

I’ve been told my numerous folk that The Bible is the revealed Word Of God.  But, the Bible is simply a collection of writings by some people who have made claims – or where others have made claims about the person that makes them apparently “worthy” of having had personal revelation from a Supreme Being – and therefore is to be believed on faith.

I can remember as a toddler myself – well ok.. a small child – 7, 8, 9.. and into my teenage years, having issues with this concept of limited personal revelation by a Supreme Being to some, but not to all.

I also was aware that many made claims of ‘personal revelation’ but this was often rejected – for a variety of reasons.  So, how would I, a simple boy, realizing that others put their faith into some revelations, while rejecting other claims of revelation, know which revelations were indeed the correct ones?

This question has been never suitably answered.

Sometime ago, I wrote that I would provide a book review of The Age Of Reason by Thomas Paine.   I may still write a review, but in the meantime, I’d like you to consider what Paine has to say about Personal Revelation:

“Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals.  The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet, as if they way to God was not open to every man alike.

Each of these churches show certain books, which they call revelation, of the Word of God. The Jews say that their Word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say that their Word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say that their Word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the other of unbelief; and for my part, I disbelieve them all.

As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some observations on the word revelation.   Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.

No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if He pleases.  But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only.  When he tell is to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons.  It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it.

It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication — after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.

When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tables of the commandments from the hands of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so. The commandments carry no internal evidence of divinity with them; they contain some good moral precepts, such as any man qualified to be a lawgiver, or a legislator, could produce himself, without having recourse to supernatural intervention

When I am told that the Koran was written in Heaven and brought to Mahomet by an angel, the account comes too near the same kind of hearsay evidence and second-hand authority as the former. I did not see the angel myself, and, therefore, I have a right not to believe it.

When also I am told that a woman called the Virgin Mary, said, or gave out, that she was with child without any cohabitation with a man, and that her betrothed husband, Joseph, said that an angel told him so, I have a right to believe them or not; such a circumstance required a much stronger evidence than their bare word for it; but we have not even this — for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves; it is only reported by others that they said so — it is hearsay upon hearsay, and I do not choose to rest my belief upon such evidence.

It is, however, not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the son of God. He was born when the heathen mythology had still some fashion and repute in the world, and that mythology had prepared the people for the belief of such a story. Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reputed to be the sons of some of their gods. It was not a new thing, at that time, to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. Their Jupiter, according to their accounts, had cohabited with hundreds: the story, therefore, had nothing in it either new, wonderful, or obscene; it was conformable to the opinions that then prevailed among the people called Gentiles, or Mythologists, and it was those people only that believed it. The Jews who had kept strictly to the belief of one God, and no more, and who had always rejected the heathen mythology, never credited the story.

It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian church sprung out of the tail of the heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance, by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The trinity of gods that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousand: the statue of Mary succeeded the statue of Diana of Ephesus; the deification of heroes changed into the canonization of saints; the Mythologists had gods for everything; the Christian Mythologists had saints for everything; the church became as crowded with one, as the Pantheon had been with the other, and Rome was the place of both. The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient Mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud.”

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