Disclaimer

This blog ran for more than two years with no graphics--and it received about 50 page views. I was advised to add graphics; after seeing the huge public that followed blogs dedicated to homoerotic images, I decided to use that kind. The result was a dramatically increased number of monthly page views, and the number has remained fairly steady. Most of the images were found on the internet; although they are assumed to be in the public domain, they are identified as far as possible. They are exhibited under the Fair Use protections of United States copyright law: their function is simply to attract readers to the poems--I receive no economic benefit from them or from the blog. Nevertheless, they will be removed if they are copyrighted and the owner so desires.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

ON HUMAN SUFFERING AND THE CONCEPT OF GOD



SYNOPSIS OF THE ESSAY “ON HUMAN SUFFERING AND THE CONCEPT OF GOD”

Para. 1  4:  Because the violence inherent in the Abrahamic monotheistic religions has brought the human race to the brink of destruction, it is necessary to examine the basis for their existence and their claims to authority over humanity.  

Para. 5 – 7:  The existence of several conflicting Abrahamic monotheistic religions is proof that all are false, because no Abrahamic god, if real, would permit the belief in other gods, who would necessarily be false gods  (delusions).

Para. 8 – 19:  The Abrahamic doctrines that “God” is all-knowing (omniscient and supremely wise), and all-good (totally, exclusively benevolent), conflict with the doctrine that “God” is all-powerful (the source and creator and ruler of everything) because “everything” includes evil, destruction, and suffering, which are excluded from “God’s” wisdom and benevolence.  Therefore, if the first two doctrines are true, the third is false, and vice versa; and therefore the Abrahamic religions, which proclaim all three, are false.

Para. 20 – 45:  The insight that religion is a psychological phenomenon is based on observable facts and logical inferences; and the psychology developed by Carl Gustav Jung is the most credible explanation for religious beliefs.

Para. 20 – 30:  The principal elements of Jungian psychology, especially the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, provide the basis of this claim.

Para. 31 – 45: Everywhere and at all times, the  contents of the unconscious mind have been projected and perceived as the supernatural entities of religions.  The psychic mechanism that accomplishes or gives form to these projections is the innate and universal human tendency to personify (anthropomorphize) everything that human beings perceive: things of the material, physical world of time and space, that we seem to have in common, as well as things (including the Archetypes) that seem to originate in human minds. Examples from the common material world as well as from the psyche are presented. 

Para. 46 – 48:  Innate xenophobia and the predatory instinct, two results of the evolution of the human species, are the sources of the violence that uniquely characterizes the Abrahamic religions in contrast to other religions, and that makes Abrahamic monotheism a danger to the human race.   

Para. 49 – 50:  Summary and conclusion. 





 ON HUMAN SUFFERING AND THE CONCEPT OF GOD


The kingdom of God is within you.    Luke 17:21 


1.   In our time, the world powers characterized by the monotheistic Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), as well as Russian and Chinese atheism, are waging a war to the death among themselves for dominion over human minds and for control of the resources of the earth.  Because the consequences of this struggle may include the destruction of most of humanity, it seems worthwhile to analyze their common, though mutually exclusive, claims of supremacy.  For the present, I will focus on the problems and difficulties inherent in the belief in one God, because we are all born pre-disposed to believe in some sort of supernatural being or force; and because, unlike atheism, monotheistic religions, although they lack inner logical consistency,  have (through the historical accident of technological superiority) marginalized all other kinds of thought.  In doing so, Abrahamic monotheism has become a threat to the human race.

2.   In relation to the idea of God, two things are universal: The first is our tendency to produce or figure to ourselves images of at least one overwhelmingly powerful supernatural personality (God, or various gods) who is, in the Abrahamic religions, called perfect: eternal, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient and all-good (a concept that includes absolute benevolence); and that demands to be recognized and worshiped as the unique possessor of  these attributes.  The second (because from birth we depend on others) is the human need to believe in that power as the creator and source of everything, especially of things that we cannot obtain for ourselves, and as an explanation for why things happen beyond our control and expectations.  These things include the origin of the world as well as natural and man-made disasters, accidents, tragedies and the suffering caused by other people.  Human beings cannot avoid, cannot resist, cannot prevent themselves from asking Why? and in the absence of any clear and immediate natural explanation, they resort to a supernatural one: it is Gods will, which must not be questioned.  

3.   Because the concept of God is so bound up in the question of the origin of the world/universe for many people, I will digress for the space of one paragraph:  It should be noted here that to ask
Why? and How? is a uniquely human behavior; questions of causation and motivation are uniquely human concepts, arising from the human brains reactions to the conditions of life on the planet, and may have great survival value; but many questions, such as those of the origin of the universe, have no perceptible survival value now, and may never have any.  And even if they did, it is entirely possible that for this type of question there may be no answer or explanation, now or ever.  Certainly the universe has no obligation to provide any.  One may therefore infer that the Kalam-itous argument for the existence of a God is worthless.  On the other hand, the ways that we treat each other, if not entirely determined by our concept of the deity, are demonstrably influenced, re-inforced or modified by it.  Therefore it behooves us to ask, and to try to answer, any and all questions that we may have about it.

4.   The compulsion to ask Why? and the supposed discovery of God’s will as the answer are the reasons for which all cultures have practiced religions: a religion is the set of beliefs, values, and practices through which an individual or a group relates to its god or gods.  Throughout history, different social groups have espoused different religions, and every society has believed that its religion provides the only efficacious means to approach and appease the god or gods.  (The polytheistic Greeks and Romans of Antiquity were exceptions to the rule of exclusivity—on a few occasions they welcomed foreign cults.)  But the belief in the exclusive possession of the truth is especially characteristic of the Abrahamic religions, each of which has attempted repeatedly to eradicate and extirpate all other religions and to exterminate their adherents, in obedience to a supposed divine command.  

5.   Unfortunately, the fact of multiple mutually exclusive monotheistic religions presents a problem for monotheists: If there were only one God, all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good, that required that all human beings should receive its unique revelations, why would this divinity allow many disparate concepts of Him/Her/Itself to exist?  Necessarily, if one of these concepts is true, then all the other concepts must be false.  Why would the one true divinity allow numerous false (conflicting) concepts of itself to exist?  And yet they do exist.

6.   If there were only one real, objectively existing deity such as the Abrahamic God, that insists on being known, adored, and proclaimed exclusively, wouldnt this divinity allow only one religion, the one that correctly worshiped the one true deity, itself?  (Real, objectively existing means transcending both the natural, physical, spatio-temporal, material world and the human mind; existing and acting independently of, and outside as well as inside, the human psyche.)  In this case, wouldnt all human beings share the same religion?  What reason would the one true God have for creating or permitting mutually hostile religions, only one of which could be true and acceptable, and for setting social groups against each other and fomenting cruel holy wars throughout human history, like those that we see emanating from the Middle East today?  What would an all-wise and all-powerful God gain by causing such conflict?  Unless God were a perverse, sadistic power that desired to cause conflict, and enjoyed the suffering that results from it, wouldn’t all people share the same religion?  But we dont.  

7.   Therefore, given the almost universal conflicts, each having a religious dimension, throughout the last five thousand years or more, with their persecutions, enslavements, massacres, and genocides, monotheists are faced with a dilemma: either they must accept that there is no single all-powerful, benevolent God who is to be worshiped in the only one correct way—or they must admit that the one existing true God desires that humanity suffer the internecine conflicts, the destruction and the physical and emotional pain that historically it has suffered.  In the absence of any factual evidence except human suffering, which alternative is more probable or believable? 
  
8.   Behind this is a more fundamental problem: The monotheistic dogma that God is all-powerful necessitates the belief that the deity causes everything, even destruction and suffering; yet the equally dogmatic insistence that God is all-good forces the Abrahamic theologians to deny that conclusion.  This blatant contradiction undermines and vitiates their monotheism; and all their attempts to circumvent it, from the beginnings of their theologies, have been unsuccessful.
      
9.   The traditional attempt to deny Gods responsibility for human destruction and suffering claims that an evil entity, Satan or the Devil (assisted by his subordinate spirits, the demons), causes these things either directly or through the manipulation of gullible and egotistical people; butleaving aside, for the moment, the ultimately unavoidable questions of why and how the Devil (or Evil) came to existthis is to advance an idea that contradicts the doctrines that God is all-powerful and all-good.  If the Devil causes human suffering without the consent of God, then the Devils power defies that of  God—that means that God has little or no power over the Devil—and therefore God is not all-powerful.  It could even mean that in effect we have not one God, but two, for the Devil would be a powerful evil god, as in Manichaeism or as hinted at in late Zoroastrianism.  

10.   On the other hand, if God is omnipotent, then the Devil (if there is one) operates only with God’s permission, as in the Abrahamic Book of Job.”  And if God gives permission to cause destruction and suffering, then God is not completely and exclusively benevolent; God is not all-good.  This is the conclusion at which the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung arrived, as explained in his  Answer to Jobalthough as a scientist, to avoid scandal, he referred only to “the God-image in the human psyche.”   

11.   It is not surprising, because Jung's father, both of his grandfathers, and no less than eight uncles on both sides of his family were clergymen of the Swiss Reformed Church, a strictly Calvinist sect; and his conclusion is what Calvinist theology simultaneously implies and denies.  Calvinists assert that the deity creates sentient beingsuswhom it not only deprives of the capacity to choose Good over Evil, but whom it also actively deceives into choosing Evilafter having already foredoomed them to eternal torment in Hell for not choosing Good over Evil!   This is clearly stated in Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, Chapter 24, Sections 12 and 13.  (Amazingly, something very similar to this can be found in the Quran, Chapter 2, verses 7 through 21.)  Logically, therefore, if the word good  has any meaning at all, this is a God who is less than “Good.”    

12.   A typical theological attempt to evade Jung’s conclusion claims that God wants to test us through our suffering—but that claim involves a denial of the doctrine that God is omniscient as well as the one that God is all-good: a person is tested when the tester does not know something, and needs to use the test to obtain information.  (A test is a procedure devised and carried out to reveal the presence or absence, hitherto unknown or indeterminate, of something.)  If God tests us, that means that God does not know something; and, in that case, God is not all-knowing.  


13.   A clever apologist might try to evade the latter conclusion by claiming that God tests us in order to make us find out something about ourselvesand here the doctrine of Free Will is often invokedbut God’s tests involve severe suffering, emotional as well as physical.  And this suffering is inflicted not only on the person who is tested, but on other persons as well: family members, loved ones, by-standers . . . whole populations, millions of people, in fact.  Why would a benevolent God require and inflict such suffering?  Furthermore, an all-powerful God could achieve anything simply by willing it.  Why would a benevolent and all-powerful God resort to this extreme of pain and suffering?

14.   The way in which the doctrine of Free Will is problematic for God's multiple perfections deserves a little amplification here: According to the Abrahamic theologians, millions of victims are tortured to death or die of starvation simply so that a few, a Hitler or a Stalin, an Idi Amin, a Pol Pot, a Boko Haram, a Baghdadi or some other war lord, might exercise their Free Will to choose between Good and Evil.  Is this the dispensation of a deity that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good?  

15.   This objection also applies to the idea that suffering is the punishment for sin: How is it that an omniscient and omnipotent God waits for not only a genocidal leader, but also for an otherwise insignificant person (a drunk driver, or an adulterer, or an abusive parent or spouse), to sin in a way that causes immeasurable pain to any number of other persons, and only then (according to the prophets and the preachers) punishes the sinner by destroying someone else—a loved one—or by inflicting the occasional famine, or flood, or earthquake, or plague on an entire region?  And, egregiously, only in some cases, as if at random, but not in others. 

16.   Once again, God would have demonstrated that God is neither omniscient nor all-good.  And to answer that perhaps there is no other way is to admit that God is not all-powerful. 

17.   There is another possible solution to the dilemma, although I hesitate to mention it, because to do so in areas of the world accessible to fanatics of the Abrahamic religions is to increase one’s risk of being slaughtered by savages: I refer to polytheism, the idea that there are many gods, not just one.  Many ancient religions worshiped more than one god, and Hinduism and a number of other Asian and African religions, like those that gave rise to Voodoo and Candomblé, still do.  The existence of numerous divinities, each with its own nature, preferences, and aims, would explain perfectly the existence of the many religious conflicts and the other conflicts in the world.  I do not propose polytheism as the true explanation for the conditions under which we live, but I ask: Which theology, of all those described above, best fits the evidence available to us?  Which of them is the most probable or believable? 

18.   Perhaps none of them are.  

19.   In that case, how can these questions be answered?  How can these logical objections be met?  How can religious belief be justified?  What follows here is the best that I can do; if anyone has a better answer that can be demonstrated, I would like to know it.   

20.   Perhaps the solution to the problem of what to believe, and why, is to be sought not in over-elaborated theologies, casuistically patched up to explain away the contradictions and illogicalities of primitive beliefs, but in the study of the human mind.  At present this is dominated by two schools of psychology.  In spite of their differences, both agree that in addition to the relatively continuous (though never complete) awareness of ourselves and our physical surroundings that we call consciousness, there is another dimension of which we are usually not aware, called the unconscious.  

21.   As for their differences: one school, Freudian psychoanalysis, is frankly atheistic, locating the source of all human behavior in the sexual instinct, and of all human problems specifically in early sexual trauma or in sexual frustration.  The other school, the analytical psychology or psychology of the unconscious of Carl Gustav Jung, posits an on-going and unending drive toward self-realization and enlarged awareness, called individuation.  For those who are willing to co-operate in this process of self-transformation, the goal of individuation is to become as nearly complete, whole and harmonious a personality as possible; it is perfectly expressed in a popular slogan: Be all that you can be.  This involves a progressive recognition, reconciliation, and integration of the various conflicting impulses, both conscious and unconscious, that move us. 

22.   In relation to the idea of God, Jungian psychology seems to be the more convincing approach, since (a) it involves more than a single primitive biological urge, and (b) unlike the Freudian view, Jungian psychology does not deny the existence of God.  

23.   But in order to explain how Jungian thought is relevant to the monotheistic concept of God, it is necessary to remind the reader of some of the principal elements of analytical psychology. 

24.   In numerous books and papers, Jung disseminated his evolving concepts of the psyche—among them the collective unconscious, the archetypes, the complexes, and the tendency to produce or perceive spontaneous visual and other manifestations.  As I understand it, the word psyche is Jung’s term for the total human cognitive (mental) and affective (emotional) functioning, comprising an individual’s ego-consciousness (everything that one is aware of at a given moment, especially as it relates to ones body and its history), the personal unconscious (everything a person has forgotten or repressed), and the collective unconscious (everything that is not in the individual consciousness or the personal unconscious, but is the result of the evolution of the human race: all the ideas, instincts, and behaviors that it is possible for people to have, all the forms, paths, or manifestations of energy [libido, which is much more than simply sexual impulses] that make possible the various ways in which individuals function).  


25.   The boundaries between these areas are not fixed or impermeable— contents (ideas, feelings, memories, complexes, and archetypes) pass from one area to another every day.  We forget; we remember forgotten things; we lose our self-control because we are overcome by memories of previous stressful or traumatic events (this is the activation of the complexes, which are originally formed in conscious experiences);   . . . and we find ourselves in archetypal situations.  An archetype is like an inborn behavioral program into which libido can flow; it is the inherited (genetically transmitted) potential and propensity for the human being to function in a particular way; it is the psychic equivalent or aspect of an instinct, and is innate like the faculty of human language, the propensity to believe in supernatural forces, and the spontaneous sexual instinct.  And like the compulsion to ask, Why? 

26.   In other words, if you are engaging in a biologically significant behavior without being aware of it, you are following an instinct.  If you are engaging in a biologically significant behavior that you conceptualize, voluntarily or involuntarily, to the point of representing it to yourself as or with an image, you are following an archetype.
 
27.   All of the components of the psyche interact, and individuation is the growth in wholeness and maturity that results from the back-and-forth dynamic and partial interpenetration between consciousness, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious.  

28.   These concepts are relevant to religious belief in the following way:  Jung warned that it is impossible to make scientifically valid, verifiable statements about the objective existence of God, the God of the theologians and believers; the only thing that we know about God, he stated, is that we perceive images, symbols of the central, dominant archetype of the collective unconscious (indeed of the whole personality), and events that are by inference attributable to it.  

29.   This archetype, which Jung called the archetype of wholeness, and named the Self, is like the center of gravity of a spiral galaxy—everything else in the collective unconscious, as well as the ego-consciousness and the personal unconscious, is held in orbit around it, in a never-completed and never-ending process of approximation to it.  Therefore, it might also be called the archetype of individuation.

30.   The images of the Self, (like the symbols of other archetypes, peripheral to it, that the ego encounters during the process of individuation) may appear in dreams, visions, fantasies, and hallucinations; they may also be manifested as voices or other physical sensations, as in kundalini yoga.  Jung said that he was following the earliest Christian theologians when he called these things the God-image in the human psyche.  

31.   I do not make the same distinction as Jung, although what I write here is based on a few of his insights.  I present my reasons below.   

32.   To say that an archetype is all that we know of God is to say that what we call God is a factor or a function of the human psyche.  One corollary of this is that we cannot avoid thinking of God as a personality; we do this and we see and hear people doing this all around us every day.  For example, the fact that we pray and obey religious commandments and do good deeds in order to deserve rewards (good things, grace and ultimately Heaven) and to avoid punishment (misfortunes, the fall from grace and ultimately Hell), demonstrates that we conceive of the deity as a personality that can be moved by our actions.  

33.   In spite of the fact that monotheists define God as a transcendent, omnipotent, omniscient and exclusively benevolent supernatural entity (at least in Judaism, Christianity and Islam), this divinity is conceived of or imagined as a personality like ours; we ascribe to it a number of personal characteristics: 

a.  A sense of identity (I Am Who Am); 

b.  Various desires (Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, as well as multifarious Commandments and literally thousands of Laws and taboos); 

c.  Sympathies and antipathies (Abel over Cain; Isaac over Ishmael [vice versa for Muslims]; Noah and Lot and all the other favored just men of the monotheists traditions; the designation of Chosen People or True Believers, in contrast to other groups which are to be partly enslaved and partly exterminated by systematic genocide so that their territories and their women and the fruits of their labors may be taken by the Chosen People / True Believers); 

d.  Irritability; feelings that can be offended or pleased (I the Lord thy God am a jealous God … ); 

e.  Vengefulness, which we call punishment for sin or Divine Justice ( … punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation …. )   

34.   As a description of the supposed all-wise, all-powerful, all-good, transcendent creator of the universe, this is a very limited and anthropomorphic conception!  (Strangely, both the description and the fulsomeness of the approved formulae for addressing the Deity seem to suggest the attitude that an abused child is forced to adopt toward its abusive parent.)  And yet that is how believers conceive of God.  

35.   But this personality can be recognized as a special case of our evidently innate and inevitable (i. e., archetypal) tendency to personify (that is, to anthropomorphize) almost everything: as children we personify dolls; we recognize our pets as personalities; as adults we give personal names to boats, ships, airplanes, other vehicles, and even to weapons; we create smily faces (yellow circles that are interpreted as human faces because they contain two dots above a short curved line), and they evolve into emoticons and emojis.  Further, we personify cartoon animals (Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny) and stuffed cloth animals (Teddy bears, Easter bunnies, Winnie the Pooh), and even topographic features (the Old Man of the Mountain and the Sleeping Giant of so many landscapes, the Lorelei, the Man in the Moon, the face on Mars). 

36.   In addition, many Christians claim to see Jesus or the Virgin Mary in clouds and in the imperfections of tree trunks, walls, window panes, and screen doors.  And of course the apparitions of angels, as well as of the Virgin Mary at Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje, have all appeared as persons.  A clue to the nature of these Virgin Mothers may be seen in the fact that none of them has ever given the least indication of knowing of the existence of the others.  Neither does any of them say that her name is Mary, nor that her Son is Jesus of Nazareth.  As for the angels, Joan of Arcs Voices, two saints and an angel, promised that she would never come to harm.  But she did.  All of this suggests that the apparitions are personifications of subjective psychic phenomena. 

37.   Another strong piece of evidence is the fact that we personify even Death.  For modern English speakers, Death is the Grim Reaper,who is imagined as a skeletal figure, draped in a long black robe and hood, carrying an hourglass in one hand and a scythe in the other.  For medieval Europe, Death was represented by the animated skeletons of the Danse Macabre in church frescos and tomb carvings, and as a character in homilies and literary works.  Death also appears as a character in traditional stories from cultures around the world.  One of the most recent examples of the personification of Death is La Santa Muerte, a Mexican and Meso-American atavism of pre-Columbian Aztec and Mayan death cults that assumes the form of a perversion of the Roman Catholic cult of the veneration of saints.  It is apparently the result of the massacres that characterize the wars between rival Hispanic gangs and drug cartels.   And the Thuggees of the Indian subcontinent worshiped (worship?) Death as the murderous goddess Kali, whose violent myths involve a whole slew (pun intended) of loves and deaths. 
  
38.   The reality of personification is suggested also by the phenomenon of ghosts—under certain circumstances that evoke fear, suggestibility or belief, images and sensations arise in the minds of susceptible people, from the tendency of the conscious mind to perceive personalities.  If ghosts were an objective, external phenomenon, everyone would see the same ones in the same places.  In reality, they don’t.  For example, of the more than two million tourists who troop through the Tower of London every year, no one makes a credible claim to have seen that old stand-by, the ghost of Anne Boleyn.  We read or hear the same half-dozen old stories over and over in books, magazines and online websites, but no one comes forward with reliable evidence of a new sighting of the ghost.  And this is true of all ghost stories.  It is logical, therefore, to conclude that ghosts are mainly subjective psychic phenomena perceived as personalities.

39.   All this means that we cannot avoid being confronted with non-ego personalities that apparently emerge from the unconscious; this fact is the origin of the life-like characters in novels and plays as well as in bedtime and campfire stories—personalities, each with its own definite traits.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that we recognize other people as persons only through the faculty of personifying.  It is an archetype, innate in all human beings.  

40.   The evidence suggests, therefore, that what we call God (that is, our personification of the archetype of the “Self ”) is a result of this tendency of the conscious mind to perceive almost everything, including archetypes, as personalities or images of personalities. This may well be ultimately a result of our evolution as social animals with fathers and mothers on whom, as infants, we helplessly depend.  The phenomenon would be analogous to that of imprinting among the young of many species: the first living thing or simulacrum that the new-born sees is taken as the parent and model, and unquestioningly bonded with.

41.   This idea is supported by the fact that the structure of the mythological divine family around a patriarchal figure and a matriarchal figure is almost universal, although the descriptions of these figures vary greatly from culture to culture.  Obviously, this is easier to see in the polytheistic religions.  Something of the variety of versions is suggested by the following:  The Greeks called their patriarchal god All-Fathering Zeus or Zeus, Father of Gods and Men.  Readers of Greek myths are familiar with the ups and downs and ins and outs of his relation-ship with his sister-wife-queen, the goddess Hera.  Zeus had a father, Kronos, whom he overthrew; Kronos had overthrown his father, Ouranos, and mother, Gaia.  There were similar family groups among the ancient Egyptians, who believed that the god Amon-Ra created the universe by ejaculating his semen into the void—a quite literal fathering.    

42.   And among the monotheistic religions, Jesus claimed to be sent from his Father in Heaven, and taught his disciples to address Yaweh in prayer as Abba or Abun, the equivalent in Aramaic of Father.  In addition, at the baptism of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, a voice from Heaven described Jesus as my beloved Son.   Furthermore, early Christian church councils established that the Christian God was composed of three Persons, of whom the first two were the Father and the Son.

43.   In some polytheistic religions, the matriarchal figure may be subordinate, and in others she may be dominant, reflecting the social structure in which she arises;  there are many examples among the many goddesses of the Shakti tradition of the Hindu religion.  In classical Antiquity, she appears as the domineering and vengeful goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, and in the various avatars of the Greek goddess Artemis as well as the Diana of the Ephesians, and was even imported into Rome
from Asia Minor as the Great Mother Goddess, Cybele, and from Egypt as the goddess Isis.

44.   In monotheistic religions she is revered though denied divine status (the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus in Catholicism’s Holy Family and, in fact, all the Marian apparitions; and one or two of the Prophet Muhammed’s wives in Islam), or she is reduced to a metaphysical or mystical metaphor (the Holy Wisdom in some strains of Christian mysticism and in the Kabbalah of Judaism, and the Immaculate Conception in Catholicism).   

45.   An educated Westerner has only to think of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu, African and Native American myths as well as Christianity; the basic pattern exists in myths all over the world.  Again, which one, of all the possible concepts of the divinity mentioned above, is the most believable?  

46.   For me the most credible existing belief-system is Buddhism, which (strictly speaking) believes in no objective transcendent Godhead personality (I would include Taoism and the philosophy of Epicurus as credible also); the Buddhist concept of the universe as an eternal cycle of self-generation and self-destruction is both more logical and more compatible with much of contemporary astronomy and astrophysics than are the Creation fables of the Abrahamic religions.  Buddhism, Taoism, and the original true Epicureanism are also more realisticmore forgivingin their understanding of our daily needs and desires.  (Think of the many taboos of the Abrahamic religions—dietary taboos, sexual taboos, taboos on dress, taboos that prohibit freedom of thought, of expression, of association, and even of movement within ones own community.  Think of the violent and cruel punishmentswhipping, disfigurement, mutilation, hanging, beheading, stoning, crucifixion, burning alivehistorically inflicted on anyone who failed to observe these taboos.  And most, if not all, are still imposed by law in numerous Islamic states and Christianized African countries today, as current news reports show.)  Other than Buddhism, Taoism, and Epicurus, my answer to the question of credibility is, “None.”  

47.   Unfortunately, unlike the Buddhists (who are only beginning to wake up to the mortal threat of subversive Islamic immiggression) every one of our monotheistic social groups has believed that it must impose its own religion on the rest of the human race, even if that means subjugating, torturing and slaughtering masses of people simply because the beliefs and religious practices of one group differ from those of another.  I trace this characteristic to innate xenophobia, the Us-against-Them instinct / archetype in humanity, a result of the need to belong to a group in order to survive, because we are born into a food chain as highly aggressive predators who are individually weak, and who therefore need for our group to dominate the other groups around us and exploit them before they can dominate and exploit us. 

48.   Among religions, the drive to dominate and exploit is especially true of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, each of which has justified its violence and cruelty as obedience to a supposed divine command to reduce the world to conformity with its god.  I have read that it was also true of the ancient Egyptians; this is a reasonable idea, given that the Egyptians and the ancient Hebrews clashed and interacted with each other; and given the claims of some historians that the Hebrews’ monotheism was inspired by that of the Egyptian pharoah Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV).
   
49.   The line of reasoning followed here constitutes, for me, sufficient evidence that the God of the Abrahamic theologians is the personification of a collective psychic factor—it is not an empirically objective, non-psychic, transcendent entity.  The conclusion is based on demonstrable reality—that human beings cannot resist personifying things, and furthermore, in attempting to answer the question of why things happen, cannot avoid interpreting the personified images and symbols of the great archetype, the Self, as an objectively existing (and aggressively demanding) God.  And, of course, if God is a psychic personification, then the Devil is one too.  The Devil is also the personification of an archetype, the potential and propensity for Evil, even of the potential for Evil in the Self.     

50.   Failure to understand this has caused, and continues to cause, horrible suffering.  Conversely, if every group and individual could understand this, there would be much less conflict and suffering in the world. 

Followers