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Some parts of this I am in definite agreement with/understanding of Freedomstands, but there are others that in and of themselves contradict each other completely. It will take me some time, but I wanted you to know I hadnt forgotten or set it aside
I do have one particular 'issue' that struck me though. That is the continual personification of 'god'...and the notion that 'god' both punishes and rewards us...that 'god' consciously makes that 'decision' so to speak...that doesnt feel right to me at all. Of course I am only offering my personal opinion and do not think myself or anyone should be telling others about 'god' and/or religion and what they 'should' believe or think they know....
Also, some of those things you listed, such as refraining from pork,washing, etc... are in my understanding, simply things included by those 'in charge' of the message. There were realistic reasons for some of these of course, and at that time, religion was the government. As we know, there was no better way to convince an entire population to follow through with a desired habit then to say it was from 'god'.
I like the way you have encompassed so many faiths and their messages I might add
Yeah, though most religions tended to personify God largely in descriptive writings, an ultimate non humanized theological view was also available as the realistic version of God, while the humanized or personified version was often to help people understand, relate, or acted as largely symbolic or poetic rather than literal.
The concept of ultimate reward and punishment existed in more than just the more recent major religions. The concept existed in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient China, ancient India, and ancient Persia among many other places.
The idea was generally that the good that a person does in this life, benefits them here and after they die, while the harmful things a person does leads them to trouble in the afterlife, even if they escaped punishment in this life.
The concept of ressurection was also surprisingly not unique to "Abrahamic" religions, and existed even in ancient Egypt and prior, such as with some of the earliest people like the Khoisan of Africa. This was a concept of specific bodily ressurection, that one day all humanity will be raised from the dead and will live again. In the meantime, many civilizations had the concept of a "realm of death" which was either poetic or literal, where the dead reside until that special day where they return to life. The realm of death was often reflective of burials, and was largely depicted as under the earth, where the people were often buried.
Justice and fairness were important concepts in many societies around the world, and in Ancient Egypt this concept was symbolically personified as "ma'at". People's hearts (intent) and conduct was judged against "ma'at". If they passed the test, they would receive paradise, and if they failed, they would receive punishment. Religiously observant Egyptians attempted to avoid penalty in this life and the afterlife by walking in truth and living justly.
Largely, around the world, the concept of cleansing one's misconduct was through asking for forgiveness to the God, and giving alms to the poor (depending on how developed and stratified the society was). Self sacrifice as a means to show sincerity was also often included, like fasting, or sacrificing property such as cattle which was often given to the poor and family members.
Some options are as follows:
1. Death takes all equally, and has thus been called the "great equalizer". The person who has done great harm to many, and the person who has done great good, both receive the equal reward of death, never to live again.
2.After death, there is an afterlife, where everyone exists equally, despite what they have done in their life, the one who has done great harm receives the same as the one who has done great good.
3.After death, which is like sleep to the dead, one wakes up not knowing how much time has passed in between. An exact record of their conduct is revealed to them by some means, they are questioned perhaps, and receive equal to whatever they have done. The good is rewarded, and the bad is punished. The person who has done great harm in this life, but may have escaped any punishment, will receive what they deserve, and the good will be rewarded, even if they weren't in this life.
In option 1, whatever makes a person live, and whatever makes a person die, at exact moments balancing every moment, would be what can be called God.
In option 2, whatever exists is created and maintained, existing within what can be called God.
In option 3, whatever has the power to sort experiences and give appropriate recompense, can be called God.
If one believes in a system of karma, a universal law of what is good and what is bad, what leads to good and what leads to bad, it would be what can be called God that created such a thing if there is such a thing.
If there is justice, only what created the concept ultimately can best decide how to execute it.
If there is no justice, it is still whatever has power that can truly do anything.
So is it fair for the one who has willfully caused harm to live an otherwise comfortable life, and then receive equal to the one who has willfully helped and done much good?
Could there be a better judge than whatever has absolute knowledge of every single possible event from every single possible angle and remembers every detail in every way? (omniscience)
Could there be a better executer of justice than whatever has all the power to do anything? (omnipotence)
Would it be fair to do things without following the standards of justice such as indicating the crimes, proving the guilt, and executing the punishment?
Most societies, even before major civilizations, had concepts of justice and fairness that either derived from religion or extended into it.
It could all be lies.
If it is a lie, then it is unknown what awaits us, and what will happen, we may just die and never wake up again, though we are or were dead in that case until we do wake up again if we ever do.
If it isn't a lie, and if all those numerous people from the past into the modern day had even a little of the truth, there is a major risk in transgression the general standards of right conduct that have pervaded history.
So what is the harm in being a good person by those standards, worshipping the God, and doing what is right? If one dies and there is nothing after, they will never find out about how their time was wasted. If they die and something entirely different than what anyone has written about happens, it could not have been prepared for anyway. But if they die, and exactly what generations had anticipated happens, one has at least attempted to pave their path to paradise.
The aspect of God as the "Judge" and disposer of fortune and misfortune is a worldwide belief that is one of the earliest religious concepts. When many in the past described God as King, this also meant Judge, since ancient Kings were often the main Judges that ultimately decided between people and resolved disputes.
God is not a human being that sits around infront of people doing this, but if there is any system of justice and retribution, it is God powering it, and thus the term Judge would apply.
I'd love to know what you think, and any other things you find disturbing!