This is a conversation which began with a friend of a friend on a personal Facebook account. My friend is an atheist who posted this picture, and her friend is obviously not, as you can see by the comments of this person I call, ‘other’.
I had to chime in on the conversation, of course! I thought it was interesting enough to make a post of it. We all come at our existence and how we relate to the bigger picture from different paths.
This is the direct account of what was said, names removed:
Other: what would you know about prayer? just curious
[This was in reply to my atheist friend who posted the photo and who doesn’t make a reply here. The ‘other’ and myself take the conversation further…].
Maggie: We change ourselves by praying to God to help us be a better person, to be grateful, humble, respectful and loving, not to get our way. At least that’s what I pray for. And I do think that everything happens for a reason, that there is a divine plan. As in politics there are conservative religious, and liberal spiritual, as you know, I’m more of the latter. I see your point though, most of the prayerful are biased, wanting God to take sides. They want to be the ones in control instead of a loving non-judgmental God which to me is scapegoating, hypocritical, egocentric and xenophobic.
Other: If I may respectfully say, He is loving and also judgmental. Real love without judgement is not love at all but some warm fuzzy feeling. I agree that most people want to be in control of what God should and shouldn’t do in his/her life. There is no conservative or liberal God but only the God of the Bible. He is the One we need to get to know better and if our opinion differs from His then we are wrong. So I guess He does take sides: His. And we’d better be on His side 🙂
Maggie: My Opinion: I agree, God does take sides when it comes to the basics of “right” and “wrong”. It is up to us to make our decisions and reap the consequences thereof, “good” or “bad”. It’s called free will and personal responsibility. God doesn’t take sides with regards to religion. He loves all of us, unconditionally in a warm fuzzy way, not just a select few. He has His rules, but He is a loving father. I think we project our views on to Him, thus making Him a conservative, a liberal, or non-existent. No one really knows for sure, that’s why I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, without our judgement getting in the way. Who are we to judge?
Other: Perhaps when we read how Jesus treated the religious leaders who had their own opinion about God can give us a better insight what God thinks about religions. He hates false religions. He wants all of us to come to Him, to His reality and not what we make out Him to be. I agree, He is a loving Father but somehow I don’t think His love is the fuzzy, mushy kind. John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the [f]only begotten Son of God. ….and following verses. He asks us to judge! We definitely need to judge but WITH RIGHT MOTIVES not like the Pharisees and the other religious leaders did. If there are genuine “good” and “evil” then we must judge between them correctly like He does.
Maggie: We are operating from different premises, as I don’t use the Bible as my point of reference in the way that you do…So we’ll just have to agree to disagree…
Other: That is fine with me. I just wonder then how you come to objective truth? Or you prefer to be a relativist?
Maggie: I was raised Catholic, but my view of God is more comprehensive now. I’m not a relativist in that I do believe in one absolute truth, but I guess I am a relativist in that I believe that Truth is interpreted relative to each person’s conceptualizations. I’d say I’m an experientialist…for me, experience is the only true knowing. I believe ALL Holy books have value, but I prefer to interpret them from the mystical point of view, not a literal one. Mysticism is a common thread in all major religions, and “pagan” ones as well, meaning seeking direct experience of God. So I guess you could say the former is my objective truth, and the latter is my subjective truth.
The Facebook conversation between the two of us ended at this point. But would you like to add to the conversation here? I invite you…They who pray well together, play well together… 🙂
For more insight into this topic, check this out: “God Is Not a Christian” from the Huffington Post. It is an excerpt from the recent book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.
I now end with this, just to show that I have a sense of humor even though I take things very seriously. When something is funny, even with gross generalizations, it usually means it contains a shred of reality… 🙂 I can personally vouch for the Catholic portion.
I would have to agree with Maggie.
Thank you Dr. Metz 🙂
What a grand summation you made, Maggie. I like the succinct description of Mysticism – which is my leaning!
One has to be succinct on Facebook…here we have a lot of room to expand, which is tempting!! Thanks Amy!
Perhaps I may be permitted to chime in with a particularly Christian point of view. Fundamentally, if God is all powerful and infinite, then there is nothing that could possibly be occurring outside of God, all existence, all process, all function, all evolution, all occurrence, all is God. What is there to change, any change is also God. If God is not all powerful, not infinite, I am no longer impressed with that being’s power. God as a being is an erroneous view, God as being is much closer to, if not actually, the truth. Prayer, contemplation, meditation, call it as one so desires, is not to change God, that can’t be done, or as the Doors say, you cannot petition the Lord with prayer. But what can be done is to pray, meditate inorder to see the God that is already inside of you. As the Buddhists point out, there are 80,000 paths to the Buddha, actually there are an infinite number of paths.
As a footnote, The Doors got their name from the “Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley. William Blake said it first, however: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
Huxley’s most profound work is “The Perennial Philosophy: An Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West.” I am finding that perennial philosophy is possibly the most significant and fundamental spiritual path.
I was hoping you’d chime in Christian, with your especially Christian point of view. 🙂 You always bring in related and interesting details. Now we need more atheists to stake their claim on this rugged territory…
I think Dr. Metz will be mentioning perennial philosophy in his upcoming book. At least WE are in agreement!
I would like to restate the thoughts of Christian from a scientific perspective. Our western cultural perspective on science, medicine, and spirituality/religion is dualistic. In dualistic thinking there is a spiritual realm or reality that is the jurisdiction of religion and a separate material realm or reality that is described by science. God is thus beyond material creation and nature. Therefore, the scientific method and scientific knowledge does not apply, and conversely, spirit or God has no place in science. This dualistic compartmentalization also extends into the disconnection between mind and matter.
Dualistic thinking is an attempt to justify and rationalize our spiritual and religious beliefs in the face of modern materialistic science and medicine. Dualistic thinking allows scientists to justify their religious/spiritual beliefs and it allows nonscientists with spiritual/religious beliefs to accept the materialistic scientific and medical perspective. The problem with dualistic thinking is that it is inherently irrational. It is irrational to have materialistic science and medicine and meaningful spiritual/religious beliefs. These things don’t go together. To illustrate this we can ask, if our consciousness is disconnected from our body and nature, then what purpose and meaning could there be to life? If there is no connection and interaction with material reality then our consciousness is just a helpless bystander, passively along for the ride as our body goes through its material sojourn. Thus, if life is to have any meaning and purpose, other than an expression of material reality, it is obvious that spirit can not be entirely beyond and separate from material reality. In other words, spirit does not stand apart from nature, it is connected and interactive.
A little more refection leads us to conclude that these connections must be a function of the scientific laws of nature. How else could spirit, mind, and body function as an integrated whole? If this were not the case, in other words, if any life giving vitalistic effects of spirit were truly above and foreign to nature, to material creation and its scientific laws, then we would expect to see obvious disruption, violation, contradiction in the scientific materialistic descriptions of life. We don’t see this. What we see is that at the same time that life is qualitatively and dramatically different from the inanimate it remains quantitatively very similar. Yet, these materialistic quantitative descriptions of life remain incomplete and ineffective. If you believe that spirit or consciousness has its own existence apart from material reality, then the dualistic principle of disconnecting spirit form matter and nature in order to be scientific makes no sense. It undermines science, how scientific can medicine be if it ignores the critical spiritual and psychological aspects of life and health? And it diminishes any spiritual aspect of life, what purpose and meaning could there be if our consciousness is disconnected from our body and nature.
Thus, I conclude that nature and its scientific laws, like the fundamental forces of physics, are the expression of consciousness. God is not an external agent to material creation, nature, and ourselves. Therefore, there is no supernatural, beyond nature; nature is the creative expression of spirit. My healing discipline, the Fundamental Field, confirms this perspective. It shows that life is a function of the fundamental forces of nature as a large-scale (fractal) atom. Further explanation can be found on my and Maggie’s website fundamentalfield.com.
To summarize, I reject dualistic thinking, and I do not accept an atheistic or materialistic philosophy, especially regards the explanation of life, no matter now scientific they claim to be. Neither do I accept a philosophy where ones concept of spirituality or God is disconnected from nature and based on unscientific religious dogma. I am hoping that most will agree with me. But where does that leave us? I think it leaves us in wanting to have a scientific theory of life that incorporates a spiritual reality and has practical applications in medicine and healing. I believe that this is what the Fundamental Field does. It is an integrated worldview that bridges the dualistic divide. It thus transcends dualistic thinking, scientific materialism, atheist philosophy, religious dogma, and cultural superstitions.
Thank you Dr. Metz for visiting and spending the time to give a thorough response, from your spiritual and scientific perspective.
Just because a large number of people argue that what’s written in the bible is true doesn’t mean that everyone has to believe it. And backing it up with quotes from the bible simply doesn’t do it for me! This world is such a harsh and cruel place, so how could we ever have the right to judge anybody? The longer I live the harder it seems to see the suffering people go through. And we live in one of the richest (the richest?) countries in the world. If it’s hard to live here, imagine what it’s like in countries where people endure war, etc.! No, a God who expects us to carry the kind of cross “other” describes is not the kind of God I want to hand my life over to, so to speak. I want a God who teaches me love, joy, how to become a better human being, compassion without judgement, and oneness with all. I don’t believe we become ‘better’ spiritual beings by being broken down first. It’s because we’ve already gotten into so much trouble already that we are here on this level of existence. What else could break us down better than teaching us we’re separate? And I don’t believe for a second that judgement will get us out of here, but I believe love and compassion will. That’s our ‘lesson’, to learn how to love and let ourselves be loved, and to step outside of ourselves long enough to see with compassionate eyes the predicament we all are in and let God take care of the ‘judgement’ of each and everyone of us. That’s non of our business!
You are so impassioned, perceptive, eloquent and smart! I value your input and am glad you shared it here.
All of you commenters have really added to the depth and breadth of this topic. Thank you.
Bottom Line = Love
This blog site has got some very useful stuff on it. Thanks for helping me!