Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Epiphany


An Epiphany

I recently engaged in a correspondence with Rabbi Nachum Shifren regarding the situation in the Middle East. As a direct result of his timely, very diplomatic, and enlightened response to my inquiry, I began to Rethink my previous position on the both Gaza, and the overall conflict in the Middle East. In fact, my thinking on the matter has become so radically different, and has come about so fast, that I can only characterize it as an epiphany of sorts.

During our correspondence I related to the Rabbi that his response to my inquiry regarding the situation in Gaza has gone a long way towards causing me to re-think my previous position on this matter. While I continue to believe that what took place in the creation of Israel in 1948 was unfair to the Palestinian people, his response had caused me to reconsider my position on European Jewry. I've now come to believe--over night, actually--that my previous position was counterproductive, and in itself, only served to contribute to the hostility and political posturing that has caused the loss of so many lives around the world.

I now take the position that no group of people can "own" any part of this planet--it ALL belongs to God. We only serve as custodians. I do, however, recognize the need to setup governments to manage the parcel of land that we're blessed with inhabiting.

Thus, while my new position is consistent with my continued belief that the Palestinian people were treated unfairly, it also suggests a solution--though a highly unlikely one, considering man's current state of barbarism. I have not come to believe that Israel, Palestine, or whatever one chooses to call it, should be considered God's land, for which no man, or group of men, should be able to claim exclusive ownership. In fact, that should be the case for every nation throughout the globe.

But again, while I do recognize the need for geographical boundaries and governmental administration, no land should be deemed the exclusive domain of any one religious, ethnic, or racial group. All lands across this globe is the exclusive domain of our creator, and no man is anything more than a, very temporary, caretaker. Even as I speak, the continents shift, the snows drift, and the oceans surge to reclaim that which only he is mighty enough to hold claim.

As for what it says in scripture, that's grist for another debate. After all, does scripture actually constitute the word of God, or is scripture actually the words of the men who wrote it? Personally, I think God was much too efficient in his creation for man to require an owner's manual–especially one that has caused so much dysfunction among those it was created to instruct. Because the fact is, even if an entity as flawed and unholy as MicroSoft had created such a problematic user's manual, it would have long since been withdrawn from the market.

One must ask one's self, what kind of user's manual would cause more problems than it addresses? But to me, the most telling indicator that what many consider "the word of God" may actually be the word of man, is the fact that I don't need a user's manual to inform me that it is wrong to covet my neighbor's wife. The minute I begin to indulge in such activity, and I have, I can hear the voice of my creator whispering into my ear-- "Eric, what you're doing is wrong."

Thus, while man insists that we must have "faith" in these matters, is he asking me to have faith in God, or is he actually asking me to have faith in what he's TELLING me about God? Because it seems to me that if God created a universe where I can observe the electrons and protons orbiting around the nucleus of the tiniest atom, in the exact same way that the solar system orbits around the Sun, and the Sun orbits around the center of the galaxy, and the galaxy hurls through space and time in search of the center of the universe, he's done enough. That alone should be enough to demonstrate his awesome existence.

But if that's not enough, how about when I can my finger, then watch the stuff of life ooze from the wound to spontaneously repair itself as good as new, or when two lovers come together to love and comfort one another in the frigid cold of Winter, only to create a third bundle of love in the Fall; how can one witness these things and not see the face of God? Yet, after he has done all of these things, and then went on to create birds that fly, fish that swim, and man with the ability to think, it can only be attributed to the epitome of human arrogance for man to then require him to have Moses part the Red Sea to demonstrate his existence. What makes man think that he is so special, that he can require God to jump through hoops, and perform cheap parlor tricks, to gain his respect?

Therefore, it is my point of view that we can only know God by what he has done–and again, he has clearly demonstrated his will by making birds fly, fish swim, and man to think. How do we know this is his will? Because if any of these creatures fail to remain true to their nature, they cannot survive, and by strictly adhering to that nature, they're allowed to thrive.

In that regard, man burst upon this planet as a necked ape. He was completely at the mercy of a very hostile environmen –he wasn't as mighty as the elephant, as ferocious as the lion, nor could he soar among the clouds with the majesty of an eagle. But it was God's will to protect this fragile creature, so provided him with a brain–cognition, logic–and it was precisely that quality, and that quality alone, that allowed man to survive. He was given the ability to assess, evaluate, and manipulate his environment. As a direct result, man can now build machines that are mightier than any elephant, more fearsome than the most ferocious lion, and can soar far beyond the eagle's domain.

Thus, God has demonstrated through what he has DONE, just as surely as he gave the mighty whale dominion over creatures at sea, and made the lion king of beasts, that he created man to be a logical, thinking being. But now, man comes along in his newly acquired hubris and, REQUIRES, that other lesser thinking men give up this most essential God-given quality in return for what HE claims will be a glimpse of God–and what makes this the perfect scheme, is that he will never have to worry about anyone ever coming back to refute his claim.

That is why you'll find that the suspension of intellect in lieu of simply having FAITH in what MAN tells us is God's will is an essential part of most religions. It is absolutely necessary to circumvent God's protection mechanism in order to accommodate their wild, supernatural claims, in order to exploit and manipulate the fears of man.

Thus, it is only through cherishing, and selfishly protecting, the intellect that we KNOW that God gave us as an essential part of our nature, that will allow to see through the evil and foolish folly of man's weak justification for the slaughter of other men. And it is through that very intellect, even as I write, I can hear God speaking in my ear:

"When man says to set aside the logic that was my exclusive gift to mankind , and have "faith" in what HE tells you about me, he's demanding that you ignore my will, and have "faith" in HIM. You don't have to have faith in the fact that you sit here and you write–you know you now sit, and you know you now write, thus, faith is not required. Faith only has relevance where there is doubt. Look around you, my child. Can you doubt my existence? Then, what is this thing about faith?"

So to even acknowledge man's prescription that you must have "faith" in God, is indeed a slap in my face of God. It is nothing less than an acknowledgment that you are more prone to worship what man says, than what God has actually done.

"This, is the evil of man–in his arrogance, he tries to speak for me."

Ok, so maybe the voice I hear is simply a delusion, and not God at all–after all, I also suffer from the frailties of mankind. But is your intellect a delusion?

Eric L. Wattree

A moderate is one who embraces truth over ideology.

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