5/20/2006                                                                                       View Comments

God…the parent with an enormous ego?

By Ian

If you died this minute, went to heaven and met God, what do you think God would ask you?

Would God ask you if you are a Christian?

Would God ask if you if you accepted Jesus?

Would God ask you if you went to church on Sundays?

Or…what if God asked you none of these things? What if God asked you something else?

What if God, instead of asking you if you were a Christian or not, asked you what you did with your life?

Instead of asking you if you were a Christian or not, what if God asked you how many people you loved during your life?

Instead of asking you if you accepted Jesus, what if God asked you how many people you helped during your life?

Instead of asking you if you went to church on Sundays, what if God asked you how often you volunteered to help others who were less fortunate then you?

If God asked you these things, what would your answer be?

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Most religions teach that one day we will be judged for all our earthly deeds, after which we will go to heaven and hell (sometimes for a period, sometimes for all eternity). As an ex-christian, I still believe in this model, except now I see it in a much different fashion and manner.

Along with the idea of a day of judgment and/or reckoning, most religions that believe in God also teach that God will be the one that judges us. But what if these religions have gotten it wrong?

The purpose of this article is to explore the idea “Does a perfect God have an enormous ego? And if God does or does not have said ego, what does God want us to do?”

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As an ex-christian, I once believed that one day I was going to be judged, then sent to either heaven or hell based on whether I had accepted Jesus or not. Now I look on that system as very unfair, for it is based on personal belief, rather then creed. This is one aspect of Christianity that I personally do not approve of. More often then not, Christianity seems to value creed over deed, valuing words over actual deeds. You cannot get to heaven based on what you do in life, we are told by Christianity. You can only go to heaven by accepting Jesus's gift of salvation.

Why?

Why can't we get into heaven based on our deeds? Isn't that system more fair, more just? It gives everyone, no matter who they are, or what they believe, an equal chance of getting into heaven. If you are good, decent person who helps others, then you'd have no problem getting in. If you are simply a person who sits around praising God all day and never lifting a finger to help your fellow man, then you'd have a much, much harder time getting into paradise.

When I see this argument of deeds being more important then creeds being debated, Christians often say that not one imperfection can be allowed into God's kingdom, nor can any mistakes or flaws be in God's presence.

Why not?

Why does God have an enormous ego?

Does God have an enormous ego that demands perfection? If so, then why does a perfect God have an ego in the first place?

If this idea of no imperfection being allowed into heaven is correct, and if the idea of no mistake being allowed near God, then God is truly a God with an enormous ego unparalled by anyone, including Lucifer (that is, if you believe in Lucifer. I personally do not).

If you ask one hundred people to list out all the traits of God that they can think of, more likely then not one of the most common will be "perfect." A general trait of God that is agreed upon by most followers of religions is that God is perfect, that God is perfection in every way. God is without error, imperfection, or flaw. God does not make mistakes. God is incapable of making mistakes, and God is not capable of making flaws in anything God creates.

If God is perfect, then perfection should bring certain qualities and personality traits (for the sake of this discussion, we will assume that God does have a personality). Granted, as no one is perfect, we really don't know what a perfect individual is like, but I think they would have these traits:

1. Unlimited patience, forgiveness, and tolerance.

2. Does not get angry or upset.

3. Treats everyone perfectly, equally, and fairly. Does not hold any one person or group higher then others.

4. Works to heal and correct people, rather then working to punish and harm them.

5. Is interested in everyone's happiness and well-being.

Those are some of the traits that I can think of off the bat. I can also go one step further and assume that God is higher and more perfect then I am.

If I try to be kind and tolerant towards others, then a God who is perfect has more kindness and tolerance then I do.

If I want to make the world a better place with more love, acceptance, and tolerance for everyone, then a perfect God would be interested in that too.

If I never want to send anyone to hell for all eternity for never-ending torture and punishment for limited human mistakes, then a perfect God who is higher and better then I am would not send someone to hell for all eternity.

Granted, this is a short list, but it could go on for much longer. If God is higher then me, nicer then me, and all around better then me in every aspect, then God must be a pretty nice guy (or gal).

If God is perfect, then God is above the frailties and weaknesses found in human beings. If God is perfect, then God does not get angry, furious, or upset over the things we get angry over. God does not go into a searing rage or get angry because people don't go to a building and worship him once a week (or five times a day or whatever).

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The playground

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The article "The Narcissistic Allah" by Faiyaz Taffakur (found here http://www.islam-watch.org/FaiyazTaffakur/AllahNarcissist.htm) has several excellent points about what a good, benevolent God would be like, and what that God would not be like. Because Mr. Taffakur's points are very good, I will list them out here.

1. A good person never expects anything in return, when he does a good deed to another. He would never expect the other person to thank him for the rest of his life, or bow five times a day before him, nor would he curse him or hate him for not thanking him.

A good, all-around person, as the article points out, does not expect anything in return when doing good deeds, nor does he desire to be thanked for the rest of his life. Now, if we assume that God is better and more perfect then said good individual, then we can assume that God does not require us to worship him, nor does God require us to sing praises to him.

Think about that for a moment. God does not require you to worship him (or her). Can you get your mind around that? A God that does not demand worship or praise? I can.

If God is all powerful (another trait that most religions agree upon), then God could get anything he wants. If God wants a super-delicious taco salad, then God could easily get a super-delicious taco salad. If God wants beings to worship him, then he could easily create some angels whose only desire in their existence is to worship the creator, then he could easily do that.

If God created the heavens, the earth, the solar system, galaxies, the laws of nature, the elements and everything that is in existence…then what could God possibly want from you?

If God is all powerful, perfect, good, humble and loving, then God would not want your worship or your praise. Granted, it would be nice, but it's not required.

If I was a contractor who built a school or a playground, the one thing that would please me the most is watching children run onto and happily use the playground, or to go to the school and learn things there. I think it would bring me great joy to watch what I built bring happiness to those who use it. I would be delighted if the children came up to me and thanked me, but I would be happy just sitting on a bench, watching kids enjoying themselves on the swings.

Perhaps God is the same way. If God is bigger and better then me, then God would be like me in the example above. God would have created the earth, set us on there, and then sat back and watched to see what we would do. I think it brings God (though I am an ex-christian, I still believe in God) great pleasure to watch people enjoying his creation and playing with it. If I would be delighted in watching children enjoy the playground I built, then God probably enjoys watching his creations enjoy the earth he created.

If I did create the playground, I wouldn't go up to the children, constantly demanding that they thank me and praise me for giving it. The kids might do it at first, but would eventually stop coming because they feared going near the crazy builder who constantly demands their thanks for my work. Now, if God is better then me, then God would not constantly tell us to thank him for building us this earth, which brings us to the next great point in Mr. Taffakur's article.

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God the parent

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2. …A good person doesn’t praise himself. He in fact remains humble even when his accomplishments are praised by others.

Now, if God is good, perfect, and more humble then I am, then God does not demand worship or praise for the things he/she has done. If God has created me, then God does not demand that I worship him for creating me.

Many people see God as a parent, so let's look at this model. God is the great daddy (why not mommy?) in the sky who watches us, rewards us when we do good, and punishes us when we do bad. God is the giant human parent, and we are the ignorant, sinful children of that parent.

What if this view of God is wrong? What if God…is not our parent? What if God is our creator, but not our parent?

People like the idea of God being our parent, because in a way, it assures us that we are being watched and cared for. However, there is one problem with the idea of God our parent. What is that? It is simple.

Does a human parent demand worship from his or her child?

Does a human parent punish a child for the rest of it's life for one mistake?

Does the human parent demand that the child submit to his or her will for life?

Does the human parent want the child to follow him or her on it's knees, constantly begging for help or relying on the parent for the rest of it's life?

The answer, hopefully, should be "no" to all these questions. Yet, at various times or another, humans give these ideas to God the parent. God the parent has to punish us for our actions to correct us.

It's the classic question: What parent takes their child, throws them in a gasoline filled bathtub, and sets it on fire, leaving the child to burn forever?

People may say that God punishes us in life and not after our death, but the most common thing I've read from Christians is that we can obtain forgiveness for our mistak…oh wait, that's not the right term…sins, through Jesus, who paid the price for all of them by his death on the cross. If we don't accept his gift, then we have to pay for our mis…pardon me, sins…in the only way we can…by an eternity of punishment and torture. You can commit only one sin in your life, such as…oh…wanting something that's not yours…and you'll go to hell for all eternity to pay it off, even though you can't possibly do so because you have an eternity to do so.

I personally find the idea absolutely ludicrous. No human mistake is punishable by an eternity of fire, flame, and torture. None. There is absolutely no human error that is worthy of eternal torture and hellfire.

Now, that does not mean that everyone should get off scotch free for what they do. If I absolutely had to send someone to hell for something they had done, then I can't imagine sending someone away to be tortured for all eternity.

Let's use the following example. Hitler is in a room, completely naked, and with nothing to hold on to, or to use. The room is wired up in a certain way that when you press a button, it will be heated up. The longer you hold the button, the hotter it will get.

Now, here's the question: How hot would you make it be, and how long would you keep it that way? Another thing to keep in mind is that no matter how hot it gets, Hitler will not pass out or faint. He will remain wide awake.

How high would you go, and for how long? I can imagine some people turning the temperature way up and leaving it that way for a few hours…maybe for a few days. A person who hates Hitler with a passion would probably keep it up for a very long time.

But how long would you go? You are in control of Hitler's fate. You are the ones with the buttons. You are the one holding it down, and you are the one watching him.

Can you imagine it? You're next to a room where a person is being tortured. He is on the floor, naked, screaming at the top of his lungs in unbearable pain. His skin is cooking, turning a horrible red, being seared while still on his body. He thrashes and writhes on the floor, shrieking at the unimaginable pain. He can't think of anything but the pain, and as a result, he cannot speak, except maybe to utter an agonized plea for mercy.

Can you imagine watching that? Can you imagine watching someone being tortured like that? I don't like watching people in pain or suffering. When I saw the pictures of the Iraqi prisoner abuse, I immediately thought, no doubt like many other people, that I could never do such a thing, and I don't think anyone would want to.

I don't think we're born with an ability to torture or hurt other people. Such a thing is learned, not inbred. There is such a thing as defending yourself and fighting for your life, but torture and the desire to harm and hurt another human being out of anger and hate is something that you learn. It's not something you're born with.

Can you see where this is going? If I were in charge of punishing Hitler, I can see myself only keeping him in a hot room for maybe less then a minute. If you want someone to change themselves quickly, give them ten minutes of hell.

If I had the ability to choose a penalty for Hitler, I would not choose an eternity of torture. I would require him to make up for what he had done. Perhaps I would have him be reincarnated, this time to help other people and save lives, rather then taking them. Rather then torturing someone for all eternity, which does nothing except satisfy someone's ego, I would have Hitler work to undo what he had done.

Now, if I would have Hitler make up for his actions, rather then torturing him, what do you think an all-perfect, better then me God would do? If my sense of justice is to have someone make up for what they have done, then what is God's justice like?

Although I am not a parent (being nineteen years of age as of this writing), I can guess what I would want a child of mine to do when he or she made a mistake. If my daughter broke a window, I would ask her to help clean it up and buy a new one. If my son hurt a friend's feelings, I would have him apologize and make up. If my daughter painted my van bright yellow, I would ask her to please help paint it back to it's original color.

Having children take responsibility for their actions and help make them up for their errors produces more responsible and well-adjusted children as a result. It shows them that their actions do have consequences. But even if we have to punish and correct, we don't do it forever. It is only for a limited period. It is better to make them make amends rather then punishing them severely and not having them make amends.

Maybe that is God's justice. Having us make amends for what we have done in life. If God punishes us (and I personally don't believe so), then it would only be for a short period, until whatever happened has been fixed and made up for. I cannot possibly imagine a God of perfection and unlimited love banishing someone to hell for all eternity.

Let us assume for a moment, that God is our parent. But let us also assume that this parent is the best one we can possibly have, since this parent is perfect, does not require or want anything from you, and wants you to be happy and successful in your life.

Now, here's a question for all you readers who are parents. Do you allow your children to be near you? Do you let them stay in your house?

Really, it's a simple question. It's not a trick one, I promise you that. Do you, as a parent, allow your children to be near your or to live in your house (or, if they are grown up, to visit)?

If you said yes, then you are better then the popular image of God as parent. How so? It is simple.

If you are a parent, you are no doubt aware that your children have faults. They may be lazy, or they may overeat and skip their homework, or they just may be uninterested in actual work. But even with their mistakes, do you love your children? Do you let them hug you, faults and all?

If the image of a perfect God is correct, then God will not let you, his creation, be near him. Why is that? Because if there can be no sin or mistakes near God, then perfect God will not let you near him. If you come to him with a mistake, God will get furious and send you away because you're not perfect (but that's a paradox, since everything God creates is supposed to be perfect). God, it has been said, cannot tolerate the presence of sin (question: If God is sitting down in a room and sin enters it, does God get up and leave?).

Yet God is supposedly perfect. God is supposed to be all-knowing. Now, if a perfect being has unlimited forgiveness and acceptance, and if God is your parent, and God loves you, then shouldn't God welcome you into his presence with open arms? If you love your children and accept them, faults and all, then why can't a perfect God do the same?

Only a person with an enormous ego demands perfection, even when it knows it cannot be done. The ego puffs up the individual with a self-righteous attitude, making the person more important and better then everyone around them. They are all less, and are not worthy of being with such an esteemed person.

If God cannot tolerate mistakes or the presence of them, then God has an enormous ego that has boosted God's self-righteousness into the stratosphere.

Yet if God is perfect and without human faults, then why does God have the greatest ego in all of existence?

Let us take another example. Once I asked a young christian why we needed to accept Jesus. He said so that our sins could be forgiven and so we could enter heaven without sin. I asked why we couldn't get into heaven without Jesus. His answer? He sadly said that no sin can be in heaven.

Hmm…

Here's another parent question that I asked before. Do you let your children, faults and all, live with you (or if they are grown up, visit)? Or because they are not perfect, do you kick them out side to stay in the rain and the muck?

If you answer yes to the latter, then child services should be around to pick up your child any day now. Again, this is the ego at work. The ego demands perfection even when it cannot be reached. Love accepts people, regardless of their faults or shortcomings. The ego knows about the mistakes and banishes the person who has them. Love knows about the errors and the mistakes, but accepts the person nonetheless.

That's what good parents do. Even if their child has made a mistake, the child is still loved and still accepted. If they are trying their best in life and in school, they shouldn't be thrown out into the streets because they've made a mistake. I still live with my parents and I make mistakes. I constantly forget to take the trash out. I'm sometimes lazy when it comes to doing my chores or something else.

Yet, despite all that, my parents and I love each other. I live with them in our house, and they accept me, faults and all. If we follow the fundamentalist christian view, God would instantly throw me out of the house and into the street since I was faulty and had made mistakes.

After all, this "god"'s ego demands that there are no mistakes in heaven, and this "god" cannot tolerate even the slightest mistake. The only way I could get back into my father's good graces is by accepting Jesus's blood sacrifice for my mistake.

Yet, if God does not have an ego and is better then us, then why should he not accept us home? If we can accept our children, faults and all, into our house, then why can God apparently not do the same? Only a divine being with an enormous ego that demands perfection and cannot withstand mistakes refuses entry to it's creations.

If God does love us as a parent and with a love that is far greater then ours, then it should be well within God's abilities to accept us, faults and all, into his home.

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Perfect God and sacrifices
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Let's tell a story. A few years ago, a child is trying to help daddy out with a project that is due for a big event. Daddy needs to make some flagpoles and has asked the child to help saw the ends off them.

Eager to please daddy, the child begins to saw away at the pipes that will make up the flagpoles. Working long and hard, the child does almost all the pipes before accidentally cutting himself on the hand. Bleeding heavily, the child goes inside to ask daddy for help.

While being treated for the cut, daddy goes outside to check on the child's progress.

Seconds later, the child hears daddy groaning. Going outside, he asks daddy what's wrong. Then daddy turns to the child, holding his head in frustration and gritting his teeth.

The child's heart freezes. He's never seen daddy angry like this before.

"What the….the….goddamit!" He says. "Damnit, damnit, damnit!" Daddy grabs a spare pole and slams it to the ground as hard as he could. He spins towards the child, his once kind face now twisted and red with anger. "How the fuck could you do that?!" He hisses. "How the goddamn fuck could you mess up like that?!"

The child backs away from the father.

"Well?! Answer me!" The father hisses. "Answer me Goddamnit!"

The child is terrified. No answer he can give will satisfy his daddy. If he says he diddn't hear daddy correctly (which is what happened), daddy will call him stupid and that he's an idiot. If he remains silent, daddy will get more and more angry.

The child cannot speak. Fear has gripped his heart and is holding it in a vice. His daddy is in a rage, and the child has the horrible feeling that daddy may take the pole he's holding and bash his brains in.

Suddenly, the child's older brother comes up. "Father, there is no need for this." He says. "I have paid for his mistake in full with that accident I had two years ago."

Instantly daddy calms down. His anger goes away. All is forgiven, for the older brother had paid for all his younger sibling's mistakes and errors. The daddy smiles, his anger gone. All is forgiven.

Does that story sound odd to you? A child makes a mistake, makes daddy furious, only to have his older sibling come in and save the day because he paid for the child's mistakes years earlier? The child is now off scotch free, with no need to make up for his mistake.

Doesn't that sound odd? The parent's anger can only be quenched by the older brother sacrificing himself for the younger one. You can probably guess who daddy is, and who the older brother is.

The idea that our mistakes can only be made up for by the sacrifice of Jesus is, in my opinion, ridiculous. It let's people off the hook and allows them into heaven without regard for what they have done. In this model, God is a seething, angry individual who loves us, but has no qualms about punishing us forever and ever with torture. Only through Jesus's sacrifice can our mistakes be forgiven and washed away, with no effort on our part.

It's a system that does not teach personal responsibility. It is a system that is based on creed, rather then deed. Accept Jesus's gift of salvation and forgiveness and you can go to heaven.

Does the parent need an intermediary between him and his child? Can the parent not talk to the child directly and forgive him or her for what they have done? If God is our perfect parent, then God does not need an intermediary between us. Parents can forgive their children directly, without needing someone to be between us. If we as parents can forgive our children for their mistakes and move on, why can God not do the same? In Christianity, this God is apparently only satisfied with eternal punishment for making mistakes. This God is not capable of forgiveness if you are not a christian.

Yet this is the point: If God is greater then us, then God has no problems accepting those he loves, faults and all, into his presence, and God allows those he loves, faults and all, into his house, then it should be very easy for God to forgive us for our mistakes as parents do with their children. Forgive and forget.

A perfect God does not punish someone for all eternity based on an honest mistake is not a God worth worshipping.

The story I told you above is true. It is a real incident that happened between me and my father four years ago. I tried to help saw some poles for him, but I cut my hand with the saw, eventually leading him to discover that I had messed up all the poles.

I had never seen my father that angry before (and to this day, I haven't seen him that angry since). He was raging at me, furious at what I had done. He had a pole in his hand, and I suspect that if something else hadn't caught his attention, he would have bashed my head in with it.

But unlike the story above, there was no elder brother. There was no instant forgiveness and an "everything's all right." No. There was running from the house until my heart was ready to burst, there were tears and crying. Then there was hate. I hated my father then. I hated him for being so angry at an honest mistake that I had done. I hated him so much I wanted to be the one with the pole, and I wanted to bash his head in for frightening me so much.

Yet…time went on, and the incident quietly faded away. My father and I eventually got back on solid ground. Eventually there was forgiveness between us, and now we're back to normal. I still have the scar on my hand. It is healed now, but it is plainly visible, a reminder of the most horrid day of my life.

It took time, but eventually our relationship healed.

If it was Christianity, and it was me and God, the relationship would never heal. I would still be in hell right now, being punished for accidentally messing up on the flagpoles. My human mistake would be punished with an eternity in hell because I was not forgiven (considering I haven't accepted Jesus). I would be there forever and ever, roasting because of a mistake, and an ego-driven god who cannot stand mistakes.

If the relationship between my father and I can heal, then why can't it be the same with a perfect God?

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What would God want us to do?

***

Remember the questions at the beginning of this article? The ones about what if God asked you what you did with your life, who you loved, and who you helped?

What do those have to do with God the parent?

Before we answer that question, let's ask another one for all the parents currently reading this. What is your greatest dream regarding your children? What is it you want to see them do with their life? What would please you the most with what they do in life?

Think about it for a moment…

...

...


Have you got an answer yet?

I asked my father a few days ago what he hoped his children would do in life. I asked him what his greatest wish regarding my sister and I would be.

His answer? He hoped that we would grow up, become successful, well-balanced individuals who are active in their community, who would help other people, treat others like they want to be treated, and who would eventually become more successful then their parents.

Isn't that a nice dream for every parent to have? To have their children grow up, be successful, and eventually reach, and even surpass, their own success.

Here we go again. If God is like a parent, only without human frailties, human weakness and human anger, then what would God's greatest dream be? To see his creations become successful, happy, and mature beings.

Instead of wanting our worship and our praise...maybe God wants us to grow up.

Maybe, instead of wanting us to go to a building once a week and sing songs, maybe God wants us to grow into mature, well-balanced individuals who are capable of love, mercy, forgiveness, and with the ability to help others.

We are told that we were made in the image of God. Perhaps instead of us being little mini-human versions of God (with God being a big human), maybe we have God's power and love within us, just waiting to be released. Perhaps God wants us to grow and evolve to the point where we are like him, where love is our highest priority, where we help others constantly without thought of getting something in return, and helping to make the world a better place.

Near death experiences have much to say about our life on earth. Even if you do not believe that near death experiences are real (or, if you believe that they are a satanic deception), one can find some amazing insights about our lives.

Often, the most fascinating part of an NDE is the life review, where the individual having the experience sees their life from beginning to end. They see everything they ever did, and how it affected others. If they hurt someone, they see and feel that hurt. If they loved and helped someone else out, they will feel that love and happiness that they gave.

What are people asked about regarding their lives on earth?

"What have you done with your life?"

"How much did you love during this life?"
"Did you love others as you are being loved now? Totally? Unconditionally?"

"How much love did you give others?"

"What did you do with the precious gift of life?"

Howard Storm had this to say about life from his NDE.

"Mistakes are an acceptable part of being human. We are here to make all the mistakes we want because it is through our mistakes that we learn. As long as we try to do what we know to be right, we will be on the right path. If we make a mistake, we should fully recognize it as a mistake, then put it behind us and simply try not to make the same mistake again.

The important thing is to try our best, keep our standards of goodness and truth, and not compromise them to win people's approval. God loves us just the way we are, mistakes and all. When we make a mistake, we should ask for forgiveness. After that, it would be an insult if we don't accept that we are forgiven.

We shouldn't continue going around with a sense of guilt, and we should try not to repeat our mistakes. We should learn from our mistakes. God wants us to do what we want to do. That means making choices - and there isn't necessarily any right choice."


What is the most insights gained from the life review? Here are the most common:

*Loving others unconditionally as we love ourselves is the most important thing we do in life.

* Loving others is really the only thing that matters in life and love is joy.

*At the end of her NDE, Sherry Gideon was told this by a spiritual being. "You must help the world to understand that they must give of themselves freely without expecting and love is all there is!"

* I wish I could tell people: It isn't just about believing in God or heaven or Buddha or UFOs, that is important. It's about believing in peace, love and human compassion. It is about valuing life and living it, meeting your potential and following your heart and soul.

It is about living a life in contact with others, the way that you want to be treated.

Every day, you touch someone's life. It may be in line at the grocery store, it may be someone you work with, see at church or school or just walking down the street. Just your very existence, has in some way touched their life. Likewise for those you come in contact with, even briefly. They have touched you, had some impact on your experience no matter how minute it may seem at that given moment.

Cherish each moment from each person who touches your life. They may have taught you something you didn't even know you learned. You may have taught them something you didn't even realize you could teach them. Feel compassion and empathy for them because you do not know that you haven't known them before, or during this life, or that you will not know them again in your future. You do not know how valuable, what little seed of knowledge they give to you, may be to your future or theirs.

Don't wait to find your heaven in the clouds. Find it here on this earth and in this lifetime because it exists and it will be for you what you make it and what you are willing to accept of it…A heavenly existence for any of us will be what we have made of our own individual earthly existences, the truths we have lived and taught and believed in our current lives, and the love, peace and compassion we have known for ourselves and those we have touched. Anything else will be what we make to be our own hellish existence. (Tina, near-death.com)

The most common response one finds is that life is about LOVE. It is about other people. Life is about loving others and helping others.

It's not about being a christian and praising Jesus

It's not about being a particular faith

It's not about how pious or how rich you are

It's about love and about helping others

Think about this for a moment. The most common thing said about life from a life review is that what matters most in life is how much we love others and how we help others.

Imagine that. The thing that matters most in life is loving others. It's not about religion, or being Christian, or praising Jesus. It's about loving each other. Maybe that's what we're here to do. We need to learn to love each other and get along with each other, no matter what our personal beliefs are.

One of my two favorite NDE accounts (Mary W from nderf.com) has a moment where the woman experiencing the NDE reviews her life with God. I will repost it here for your reading.


"With that, placed in front of me to see and feel was a review of my life … in color. I had to see and feel all the good I had done (and the good I didn’t even know I did).

I actually could feel the joy each person felt when I touched their life in a loving way. I was getting “caught” doing something right for once in my life. During the good He was telling me “I am so proud of you!” I felt such joy for making Him so proud because I never realized what that felt like because I always felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Reviewing my random acts of kindness gave me the most joy because I was able to feel the difference I made in someone’s life that I hadn’t realized at the time …and I didn’t even know them. I was shown it is not the big things we do in life that make the difference. It’s all the little things we do each day that make the difference. Little acts of kindness mean so much to God.

Also, I had to see and feel all the hurtful things I had done (even the hurtful things I didn’t know I did). I had to feel the persons’ hurt I caused. But… you know how we are taught that we will stand before God and be judged one day? …God was not judging me. I was looking at my actions…with God at my side loving me while I was judging myself …and believe me, no one can judge me any harsher than I already judge myself. It was like getting “caught” by my parents when doing something wrong, only worse.

During the hurtful review I was so ashamed and there was no hiding. My immediate thought, and I said it out loud, was “I’m ready …I belong in Hell …I don’t deserve to go to Heaven!”

But it felt like He took hold of my arm as I was making my way to Hell and said “Wait a minute young lady you get back here! You don’t understand and I’m going to explain this to you.”

He was asking me “What different choices could you have made? What are you learning from this?” Not yelling at me and saying “How could you do that!?” or, “You’re going to Hell!” This was clearly not the punishing God I had been taught to believe in. The hardest part of this was realizing He had already forgiven me …I was having a very hard time forgiving myself. He showed me how I couldn’t let His love in without, first, forgiving myself. Punishing myself didn’t make me better in His eyes, accepting His love was what He wanted from me.

Once I was able to accept that God only loved, it was easier for me to openly and honestly look at my life. I wanted to learn as much as I could… I had so many questions. God loves me the way I love my children. Even when they do something wrong I still love them. I’m not happy with their actions but that doesn’t change my love for them. I hurt for them and …I make them take responsibility for their actions. There are no strings attached to God’s love. "

In case you missed it, take a look at this part again:


"During the hurtful review I was so ashamed and there was no hiding. My immediate thought, and I said it out loud, was “I’m ready …I belong in Hell …I don’t deserve to go to Heaven!”

But it felt like He took hold of my arm as I was making my way to Hell and said “Wait a minute young lady you get back here! You don’t understand and I’m going to explain this to you.”

He was asking me “What different choices could you have made? What are you learning from this?” Not yelling at me and saying “How could you do that!?” or, “You’re going to Hell!” This was clearly not the punishing God I had been taught to believe in."

In this experience, God is asking Mary (The woman experiencing the NDE) what she learns from her life experiences. Rather then punishing her for her mistakes, God simply asks what she can learn from it.

I think this is what God wants us to do. Go through life, experience things, and learn from them. God wants us to go out into the world and grow up into mature, responsible beings. Like any good parent, God, I think, wants us to grow up and get along nicely with each other. Don't become children who are utterly dependent upon the parent for everything. Don't become a child that spends all day praising the parent and devoting everything to him. Don't become an individual who is convinced that you have the only way to God, and everyone else is wrong.

If it is not apparent to you at this point, it should be obvious that I do not agree with the biblical image of God. As a spiritual seeker, I see the christian bible God as a human-made invention. I do believe in God, but I think that God is not like a human. God does not have human frailties, human errors, or negative human traits.

If God is perfect, then God does not have an ego. And if perfect God does not have an ego, then God is accepting of us, no matter who we are or what we believe. And if God is indeed our parent, and God is our perfect parent, then God wants us to grow up, put aside childish things and learn to just get along.

Perhaps Mrs. Mary Beth Willi can explain it best:

"God does not view me, or anyone as sinners. He views us as His children. Stop for a minute and think …do I see my own children as sinners? Of course not! I see them as wonderful human beings deserving of my love. That was how He made me feel in His presence.

We live what we believe about ourselves and it is much easier to live, knowing that God views me as a wonderful human being, deserving of His love, and not a sinner.

He doesn’t care about all the little rules and regulations each religion uses to make them different from the others. He cares what is in our hearts. Are we here to “pitch in and help” by looking outside of ourselves or are we here as “oh poor me, victims” looking only to take care of ourselves at all costs? Too many people are taught to believe that if they follow very specific rules of their church in a certain order …that will get them into heaven. That’s not what I see every day at work and not what I experienced in my Life Review.

It is important that we take responsibility for our actions and make amends as we go along. As hard as it is to make amends here on Earth, it is much harder to view and feel the hurt we caused others in Gods’ loving presence when you can no longer do anything about it.

The truth is, how we treat each other is very important …it makes life more joyful to live when we look outside of ourselves and give. The gifts you receive back are amazing. Random acts of kindness really do mean a lot, especially to God, and are priceless to those receiving them."

If nothing else comes from the insights that can be found in NDE's, it is that we need to be responsible for our actions, that we need to spend our lives helping others, and that we need to love each other. Isn't that what most atheists believe? That we should use our time to make the world a better place?

The creed of "Be responsible, help others, and love others" can be applied to anyone, atheist and christian alike. Perhaps that's what God wants us to do. Not worship him, not be a christian, but to take responsibility, help others, and love others. Isn't that what we want our children to do?

If God is perfect, then God is more interested in our deeds, rather then our creeds. Your actions are more important then what you believe or what you say you believe.

***

Summary

***

1. If God is perfect, then God is all of humanity’s good traits magnified to perfection.

2. If God is perfect, and if God is better then humans, then God does not have an ego

3. If God is perfect, has no ego, and looks at us in the way of a parent, then God might want us to grow up and become mature, responsible beings, rather then mindless worshippers who do nothing but praise him all the time.

***

Let's tell one more story (made up this time). A long time ago, there was a wise and responsible king who watched over a beautiful land. In his court there were many servants, but he especially favored two.

One day, he called his two faithful servants and asked them to go out into the countryside for one year and do anything and everything they could to improve the kingdom. The two servants agreed and set out on their journey. However, they didn't know that the king secretly sent out spies to watch what they did.

The first servant went out into the countryside and began to build buildings that were dedicated to the king and praising him. He built many of these buildings and spent almost all his time in them, praising the king and pledging him his allegiance.

The second servant, however, went out into the countryside and went to work immediately. When there was broken fence, he fixed it. When a family's house was damaged, he helped them repair it. When the roads in a local town were broken and ugly, he set to work repairing them. He spent his time working to improve life for everyone.

Finally, the year was up, and the two servants returned to the castle. The spies went ahead of them and told the king what each servant had done. When the servants entered the king's throne room, he was ready for them.

To the first servant he said "Welcome back, good and faithful servant. Please tell me what you did to improve our fair land."

"Well my king, I built buildings to honor you and to glorify you!"

"Very well. How many people did you help? Did you volunteer to help those less fortunate then you?"

"Well…ehm…uh…no, I'm afraid not."

"Oh dear. You mean all you did was sit around praising me all day? You didn't go out and help others?"

"Uhh…"

"Well…we'll talk later. Now, my second servant, what did you do with your year to improve our fair land?"

"I mended fences, fixed roads, helped people improve their farm fields, I taught six people how to read, I helped one young woman develop her skill with sewing, and I helped fix some of the roads in our kingdom."

The king's face lit up. "Excellent work my loyal servant! You have helped make our land better and more pleasant! As a reward, you get a one month vacation to wherever you desire!"

***

During your life, which servant are you going to be?

24 comments:

Albert said...

Many good points to ponder, thanks for the article.

Marianna Trench said...

Good stuff! Thanks for posting.

Whenever one asks True Believers™ how they can explain some of the horrible things attributed to bible god (such as the slaughter of innocent children) or how god can allow calamities or adversities in our everyday life on earth, a common response is that god tests us. Maybe they're right - or, rather, half right.

Maybe god IS testing us, but the christians have been studying the wrong text book. What if you got to heaven and god asked, "How could you have been so lazy and relied on faith? Why didn't you use the mind I gave you to question and explore and learn and grow? That is why I gave you life, and you wasted it."

Herb Schaffler said...

Good article! I don't believe in the afterlife, but if it did exist, I would prefer the type of god that people see in their NDE's rather than the egotistical cruel god that the Christians believe in.

Jim said...

Too much stuff to read and I don't have the time available, but seeing that God is a religious myth who gives a stuff. Cheers all Jim Lee

Anonymous said...

I am a muslim, and i read some of the article .. frankly not the whole of it but i could already add a point from my belief.

It is from God's ultimate justice that everyone will be accounted for his actions. Therefore, just like in practical life, wrong doers get punishment, let it be jail or so.

Yet, when you really understand the Punishment system of God ( as explained in Islam), you really get surprised with the amount of mercy and forgiveness. Examples:

1) Any sin you do, you get one sin.
2) Any good deed, you get 10 folds of good deeds. (upto 700 folds)
3) Any sin you intend to do but restrain, you get a deed for restraining.
4) Any good deed you intend to do but due to reasons out of your hand, you couldn't accomplish it, you still get the reward for it.
5)Any moment you decide to repent, all your previous sins are forgiveness (but it must be a sincere repentance)

Examples of God's mercy in Stories narrated by Prophet Muhammad:

1)An unchaste woman (prostitute) was walking in the desert, until she saw a thirsty dog. Out of kindness, she went down a well, got water in her shoes and gave the dog to drink. When God saw this act of mercy from her, He forgave her all her sins and she enetered paradise.

2)A man killed 99 men. He intended to change, so he went to a worshipper and told him what he did and asked him if he's got a chance. The worshipper out of ignorance said "No way", so he killed him making him the 100th. Then he asked a learned man if he had a chance, so the learned man said "Yes .. but you have to leave this evil town and go to this other town where u'll find good people " .. On his way to the other town, he died. Just for his effort and intention to change, God accepted his repentance, and he entered paradise.

God does not need anything from us, He is All-Rich and Sufficient. Infact, we are in most need for him. And instead of pointing our noses up, be humble, and worship Him. For more info:
www.hearislam.com

Albert said...

Jim Lee,
Your comments are always the same. Quit with the "paste and copy" already if you have nothing new or relevant to say. We get the point. Ad nauseum.

Perry said...

hey, anonymous Here I slam,

What of cause and effect? What reward did the 100 murder victims get?

Anonymous said...

Well, if the 99 men were christian or jewish then they god their just reward, and the murderer got extra rewards if he were Muslim.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the 100th victim, well, he was just a toy to test the man's faith, kinda' like a divine doggy chew toy - temptation.

TruthSeeker said...

To: Ian, Excellent post.Lots of food for thought & brilliant insight into who our Creator ACTUALLY is, right on the button. Very amazing coming from one as young as you. Proof again that a "pure heart" cannot compete with a "brainwashed" head".
Go out in life and "teach", yr a stunning kid!!!!
______

To: Anonymous Islam,
Once again irrefutable evidence that Islam is as flawed and fucked-up as xtianity ( being of the same source). Remain in anonimity along with yr religion, raghead.

GoneNsane said...

Ian, you really need to write a book! You are an amazing writer with an amazing message, and even more amazing that you understand these things at such a young age. Truly you have found your mission on this earth!

Dano said...

Anonymous wrote:
"I am a Muslim, and i read some of the article .. frankly not the whole of it but i could already add a point from my belief"

Anonymous!
I pray that you will go to
http://www.faithfreedom.org/

,every day, select the home page, select an article, and read it. If you will do this, and get all of your Muslim friends and relatives to do it also, it will go a long way towards saving mankind.

Dan (Sincerely praying to the God of rational thought, that all religious people come to understand what they are about to do to this planet)

Michelle said...

Ian, I really liked your essay. You were able to point out how constantly "worshipping" god is ridiculous. That aspect of christianity always made my skin crawl. I agree that a real god would not need constant ego supply as if he/it were some kind of narcissist.

Christianity has set up jesus and god to be the "good cop/bad cop." The bad cop, god, is all too eager to toss us humans into enternal fire for trifling errors, so along comes good copy jesus to to say "Hey, don't worry about that guy, I'll take care of everything for you. All you need to do is become obssessed with me for the rest of your life, and we'll let you off the hook."

I also like how you pointed out how a human parent is way more compassionate towards his/her children that the biblical god. My parents may have some faults, but at least they're not jealous sadits!

It doesn't say much about god's character that most people would even feel some level of restraint for torturing Hitler than would god. That's because most humans have empathy for others. That is the ability to figuratively put oneself in another's shoes--to attempt to feel what they are feeling. How can either god or jesus empathize with us? Biblical god has always existed--so he/it has no one to answer to, and jesus was "perfect," without sin--so he never knew what it was like to make mistakes. No wonder I always felt a disconnect as a christian--there was no mutual validation and understanding between me and what I thought was the holy spirit, although there was a lot of elevated emotions, guilt, and paranoia.

Thanks again for the great post! It's another example of why christianity conflicts with logic and basic human values.

LadySidhe said...

You asked a lot of questions I've asked, myself, over the years, and you put it in a much better way than I did.

I love seeing people question, and I love seeing them question intelligently, in such a way as to make OTHER people sit up and say, "Whoa...wait a minute...they've got a point..hang on, here....hmmmmm."

Absolutely fantastic post.

H. R. said...

Boy Howdy! How terribly wrong you are. Our father in Heaven is so great. He created this world and all of us...the fowl of the air...fish in the sea...beasts of the land. All for his pleasure. We are physical beings, and in this world it's hard to see sometimes more then just the top of our shoes. God has not let us remain in that state of nakedness...from Adam and Eve God has clothed us, and helped us grow, he made the land fruitful so we may prosper. He made prophets out of men, and made himself with us. I understand why so many don't know God our father, but when you know God and he answers your prayers and guides you everyday there is just no denying anymore. Knowing God isn't about sucking up and being a goodie too shoes and joining some fan-club. It's living for real and having God guide you because he is our creator. He is our heavenly father and I give thanks and love him like I love my earthly father. Some people do have the spirit of slumber cast on them that they can't see. God wants us to live well and walk everyday doing well and being productive whether we are preachers, scientists, or garbage men. Live for God in what you do and try to listen to God. God didn't create us like robots to be invulnerable to sin because he wants us to authentically know and love him. We are his creation, like this world, the animals, and every living thing. He gave our bodies and spirits and when we die our bodies turn to dust and instantly we return to he who gave it. God just is...nothing created him. He is the eternal father.

boomSLANG said...

Yes! yes! FINALLY someone is making sense around here! Yes, God "wants us to live well".....that's why he created retarded people, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and a whole host of other cool things that help us "live well".

Good work, h.r.!...... praise Allah!.....our Heavenly Father and creator! Long live Allah!

Dano said...

H. R.=Hyman Roth?

Dan( wondering if H.R. is not just too perfect?)

tigg13 said...

This is a wonderful article Ian. You've made a very good argument pointing out the contradiction between a perfect loving god and a god that requires eternal damnation just for not having the correct point of view.

I do have a caution for you, though. If NDEs have helped you gain a healthy perspective on life, that's great. But it may not be the right answer for everybody. There were places in your article where you began to sound a bit preachy; like, maybe, you've hit on the "real" truth and you want everybody to take heed. I'm not discounting your personal revelations, I'm just pointing out that that's what they are.
For the record, I have no opinion on NDEs - I niether accept the possibility nor regect it (I'd rather wait until after I die to make up my mind :) )

boomSLANG said...

A "NEAR" death experience? Please, the brain can receive residual oxygen minutes after someone has been pronouced "clinically dead". Golly, if someone has programmed themsleves to believe that they will see "a bright light at the end of a tunnel" at the end of their life?.... what do you think they'll see?

Gimme a call me when a person has had---not a N.D.E.---but a D.E.(death experience). In other words, AFTER their cranium has been sawed open and their brain removed; AFTER their brain has been put on a scale and weighed, and AFTER their brain has been put back in their head and their skull cap screwed back on. THEN we'll talk about "visions". lol

J. C. Samuelson said...

Ian,

Bravo! Excellent essay. In my opinion, you've layed out what I've always felt was wrong with the dichotomy of God as parent vs. God as punisher (per the biblical description).

Again, bravo!

Shannon said...

An episode of Penn and Teller’s ‘Bullshit!’ had a segment on NDE (April 11, 2003). Their test involved a centrifuge.

It seems that many pilots and astronauts while in centrifuge training experience the same ‘visions’ as those who have lived through NDE.

Anonymous said...

TruthSeeker,
You could have left out the "raghead" comment. Who knows you may offend somebody you don't mean too. Plus it just shows ignorance.

Your Pal,
Farris

Ian said...

Thanks for the preachy comment tigg. I'll try to keep that in mind for future articles.

I'm glad that many people have found this article to be useful. It was very revealing to me as I wrote it, and i'm glad that others have found it useful.

beepbeepitsme said...

GOD, the invisible cultural meme.