The Undiscovered Country 3 (continuation)
My early upbringing as a Hindu made me think hard about the ‘truth’ in the karma theory. My mother was a very religious woman and was indoctrinated with a ritualistic and dogmatic view of Hinduism, which she sought to indoctrinate me with. Until about 15, I tried to see things her way but the practice of Hinduism, particularly the ritualistic elements, drove me to seek an answer elsewhere. I mean no disrespect to the Hindu people but I just cannot accept this view of God.
THE MYSTERIOUS GOD
I wish to classify all religions that explain God by virtue of partial explanations – religions of the mysterious God. I shall use for the purposes of exposition a hypothetical religion, I shall call – Mysteryism. In mysteryism God is hidden from normal epistemology. The universe is divided into two spheres of good and evil and God is the protector of the “good”. Doing “good” is an essential part of finding a way to God and what is “good” is dictated by God. God chooses a few messengers and over time communicates this “good” to the entire human race through these messengers – the chosen ones. There is a complete mystery about how and why these individuals have been chosen and no coherent connection between the various individuals. These messengers spread a message that portrays God in a contradictory way. First an image of God as a kind, benevolent, loving and forgiving God. A God that teaches us to love our enemies and forgive those you trespass and sin against us. This is juxtaposed to the image of a God who merciless tormentor of sinners – the punishment for not following his commands is eternal damnation. The doctrine would assert something like, “Unbelievers, the fearful, liars, sexually immoral people and many others will be cast into the Lake of Fire…. the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Not a very pretty picture.
BUT there is a saving grace normally, even right at the very end, if you repent you shall be forgiven and all is well.
The problem with this is that normally the requirement is that you should embrace the religion of Mysterysim and accept all its central tenets as a pre-condition to being forgiven. Mysteryism would assert that all people who have been in one or more of the above mentioned categories of “bad” at sometime in their lifetime, can repent of all these things, and be washed clean by God. “God will wash us clean if we turn from it, and believe. He will wash us many times while we are learning to overcome sin”.
So I have this mental image of a good man living in a place, where the people have never heard of Mysteryism. The man is humble and spends all his life in the service of his family and the villagers. He has never embraced Mysteryism because he has never heard of it, or even if he has heard of it, he is not convinced enough to abandon his own belief system, which has a multigenerational foundation and which he has inherited.
Now he dies and because he does not embrace Mysteryism as his faith, he is unbelieving and therefore shares the same berth as murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, and therefore is condemned to burn in fire and brimstone for eternity.
By contrast, you now have a cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderer who is sexually immoral and rapes and kills children. This man right at the end repents and embraces with full faith Mysteryism – he is spared this condemnation and is welcomed by God, who forgives him.
There is something seriously wrong with this – don’t you think! God is a schizophrenic. Furthermore, shouldn’t a loving God just give the sinners a good, stern, talking to and say something to the effect of “I love you in spite of your sins” and then send them to his Kingdom? What is the need for eternal inferno if God is supposed to be loving? No truly loving God would create a place of eternal torment such as Hell. There are all sorts of rationalizations such as “God allows us to choose because He loves us” and “a loving Parent sometimes has to punish,” but these don’t hold up to rational examination. But therein lies the mystery – only God knows the answer.