An essay donated by Robert Mount
Part 1 of two parts.
My Pursuit of Truth
My pursuit of truth regarding God and mankind started at an early age and will continue as long as I have the ability to reason. My concept of the truth is that it is constant and does not change with the passing of time. I believe that the there is only one truth for all of mankind and it does not favor followers of any particular faith.
I am fearful of those who know the truth. Their minds are closed and most believe that God favors the followers of their faith. This leads to faith-based conflicts and a belief that God will protect them and provide for their needs.
Man has become the dominant animal on earth because of our intelligence and adaptability. I believe that man’s belief in a caring God may prevent us from accepting responsibility for our future and lead to our extinction.
What follows is my current thinking based on 77 years of life experience.
Truth is of interest and important to all of us. The truth about God and religion is of great interest and one of the most disputed of all truths. Genocide, wars, slavery, human sacrifice, and persecution have been committed in the name of religion by those claiming to be doing God’s work. A valid argument can be made that more people have suffered because of religion than have benefited from it.
My own interest in the truth about God first arose when I was around 12 years of age. I grew up in a family where my Mother encouraged us to attend church.
She said “Being religious has no down side. It won’t hurt you and if it is true, you will be saved.”
My Father lived a good life. He was not judgmental, and was accepting of people regardless of race, status or religious belief. He did not talk about his beliefs and never attended church to worship. He only attended church for social functions such as weddings and funerals.
I was told that he had attended church as a young man. The church would have been a small church in the rural community where he grew up. He attended a special service by a traveling preacher who had been invited to speak to the congregation. This preacher spoke against Jews and Blacks and wanted the congregation to acknowledge their support for his beliefs by standing. My Father and one other person would not stand and were run out of the church. My Father did not relate this story to me and I cannot attest to it’s truth but it would account for his refusing to attend church later in life.
When I was 12 years old, I was baptized and became a member of the Presbyterian church. Twelve was the youngest age that you could join the church and you attended classes prior to being accepted as a member. In these classes you were taught that you must accept Christ as the son of God and the Bible as God’s word. You were told that those who did not could not go to Heaven and would likely go to Hell.
I only attended church one week after being accepted. I could not believe that God would punish my father, who was a good man and lived his life as close to Christ’s teachings as anyone I have met or known. I was troubled because I was in violation of the church’s teachings and was afraid for the future of myself and my father.
Shortly after this I met my best friend, Don’s Grandfather. He was an old man who lived on a small farm with his wife. He was short, thin and weathered by working outside much of the time. He was unremarkable in appearance and demeanor.
However, Don told me that he was special. He said that he was a “blood stauncher” and the hospital would call if they had a patient with serious internal bleeding. His Grandfather would say a prayer and often the bleeding would stop.
Once when plowing the fields at his farm, Don and I plowed up a bee’s nest. Bumble bees make their nests in the ground and store honey in small grape sized containers. Don and I tried to take some honey from the exposed nest but could not get close to the nest without the bees attacking us. We got his Grandfather to retrieve the honey. He approached the nest and removed the honey and the bees remained calm making no attempt to stop or sting him.
I concluded that he must have some special connection to God if he could heal people and interact with bees in a special way.
One day I was in the field working with Don’s Grandfather hoeing beans. I asked him “Do you need to believe in Christ and the Bible to go to Heaven?”
He said “No. The only thing that you need to do to get to Heaven is live by the Golden Rule. Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. ”
He said that this rule is part of the teachings of every major religion around the World.
This gave me great comfort and was an important step in my early pursuit of truth. It allowed me to be comfortable about rejecting conventional religion and rejecting the Bible as God’s word.
Is there a God?
For a period of time I thought I was an Atheist. I falsely believed that if you did not practice religion that you were an Atheist and I felt uncertain of God’s existence.
Eventually I decided that what we experience and see could not have been created by accident. Things are too perfect in appearance and function to be without purpose and meaning. Having reached this conclusion, I accepted that there is an intelligent creator that we call God.
Who is God?
My Mother told me “God did not create Man in God’s image. Man created God in Man’s image.”
Nearly all accounts of God attribute human characteristics to God. They portray Him as being vindictive and/or caring. Scripture tells us that He demands obedience and fathered a son on Earth and that he has revealed His purpose and intent in scriptures. Graphic representations show him in human form. Scripture states that God loves humans more than his other creations and that He put the other animals here for our benefit.
I believe that the best way to understand God is to observe his work. God created the entire universe of which Earth and our solar system is a tiny part. On earth we have documented approximately 1,200,000 existing species. It is thought that 99% of all species that ever existed are now extinct. Each of the existing species is unique in some way and has a biological advantage that allows it to exist.
The human advantage is an opposable thumb and high intelligence. Other species have different advantages. Some have a keen sense of smell or sight. Some are stealthy and/or fast. Some reproduce in great numbers. All have some advantage that allows them to exist.
I see no evidence that God created man in His image or that he loves humans more than other species of His creation.
How does God communicate?
It is possible that God has nothing that He wishes to communicate to mankind. It is likely that He has the same regard for mankind as the other species of His creation.
If He has a message, I don’t believe that God would use scripture to communicate. The Old and New Testaments were written in three languages -- Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic -- by 40 writers over a period of 1600 years. It has since been translated from the languages that were used by the authors. Biblical scholars know that many errors have been made in the copying and translation of the original manuscripts.
There are more than 10 scriptures of major religions. All are different and all claim to be God’s word. Our time and place of birth determines which scripture we are exposed to and thus is accepted by the majority of our tribe.
Most humans lived prior to the use of any written language and would have been denied access to God’s word if He chose scripture to communicate. In my opinion God would not use such a flawed method to communicate with mankind.
I believe that God would use a method that is not dependent on time, language or location to communicate. He would communicate in a way that would reach everyone. I believe that nature reflects His work and is available to all regardless of the time or place of birth. I believe that science does not change nature but allows us to observe it in greater detail.
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Original posting: 2016-AUG-16
Latest update : 2016-AUG-16
Author: Robert Mount