Connect the dots however you like. Can you connect them all?
The Serenity Prayer does not depend on belief in God, but rather expresses basic principles of life:
God, grant me
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
This pertains to where one directs one’s attention, how one chooses to feel, and where one focuses one’s desires. These are acts not of the mind, but of the will.
Jeffrey Tayler says, “Given the possibility that terrorists may acquire weapons of mass destruction and nuclear states with faith-based conflicts may let fly their missiles, religion may be said to endanger humanity as a whole. No one who cares about our future can quietly abide the continuing propagation and influence of apocalyptic fables that large numbers of people take seriously and not raise a loud, persistent, even strident cry of alarm.”
Fact: those who direct Iran’s nuclear program aren’t likely to listen to an atheist American Islamophobe.
A timely quote from Bertrand Russell: “Zeal is a bad mark for a cause. It suggests one is not quite certain. It is not the vaccinationists, but the anti-vaccinationists, who are zealous. No one is zealous about arithmetic.”
The homeless shelter where I stay makes us sit through chapel for an hour every night. A few days ago, this new preacher addressed us for the first time. Shortly into his presentation, he became hysterical, and stayed that way for fifty minutes. He wept. He screamed. He did not persuade anyone of anything.
Jeffrey Tayler sets forth that atheism is just as settled as arithmetic; but he is just as zealous as that preacher — and just as unpersuasive. In effect, he preaches only to the choir.
I originally wrote this as an introductory passage for “What the New Testament means to me.” I wound up leaving it out as I didn’t think Ezekah would care for a whole lot of abstraction.
As I view the world right now, I see three elements: (1) What Is, including the material (seen) world, the spiritual (unseen) world, and all possibilities of events that can possibly occur. I may as well call this “God.” (2) A single set of principles that govern existence and all events that can occur. What we call the laws of physics are an example of these principles. I may as well call this “God’s will.”
(3) Human activity. It may be that there are no commandments, and no such thing as sin. Rather, God’s will is inviolable; and it is how we interact with What Is, inevitably in accordance with those principles, that brings weal or woe. If we act this way, we can have a world of harmony, beauty and joy. If we act that way, we’ll have a world of poverty, violence and bloodshed.
So far, there is neither need nor room for teachings of John and Paul that deviate from Jesus’ teachings in the Synoptics: no need nor room for a Son of God, perfect sacrifice, “belief in” Jesus, or heaven or hell — aside from the heaven or hell we create for ourselves in this life, here and now.
“What the New Testament means to me” points to ways to create, in effect, heaven on earth. The opposite path is described in “A living hell.”