(The Absolute Revelation - God's Will Manifested)
Of all revelation, that which is most absolute, that which is most obvious, that which is truth, and that which is least recognized as such by religion, is: what God speaks about Herself in that which He created. There is no plainer manifestation of God's Word, or Her Will, then that which exists because of Him. Simple logic and reason must dictate that a creation must reflect the "Intellect" of that which created it.
If theology is to be responsible it must recognize that the creation from the smallest of sub-atomic particles, to the vastness of the universe itself, and whatever lies beyond; that these things, contain the imprint of the Creator and function according to the laws She ordained. One cannot claim God as the Creator and then disassociate the creation from the Intellect of such a Being. No matter how we interpret our myths, sacred stories, or profess our theological speculations: the true Will and true Law of God are self-evident and cannot be violated - that will being the reality which is manifested. The better we understand the creation the closer we come to understanding the Creator. Religion must acknowledge that the laws of physics are the Law of God.
The things we know about physics, and those things we do not, are both the law of God, for they continue to function regardless of our ability to understand them. The structure of DNA is the Law of God, for it makes things what they are. The seemingly cold abstract of science (what we know and understand of it) are in fact nothing but glimpses into the Mind of the Creator. When our theology is at odds with what we know and understand about the creation, either our understanding is wrong or our theology is flawed.
And while science can tell us the way things work, it still has not been able to answer the question of the why things work: or, why anything exists at all. The "Whys" are really the territory of religion, but if religion is to be useful, truthful, and applicable then it cannot turn a blind eye to scientific truth, especially when that truth reveals the Mind of the Creator at work. THEOLOGY MUST COME TO RECOGNIZE THAT REALITY MANIFESTED IS THE WILL OF GOD AT WORK. Creation responds to the Law established by the Creative Force. It is God's absolute revelation for it is God's work! Creation is God's Absolute truth!
We need to re-emphasize, that because of limitations to human perception, we may not always understand this absolute revelation. We may make errors in our speculations and assumptions about creation, but the reality or consequences of creation are self evident and self manifesting no matter what we perceive. God's law in this form of Absolute Revelation needs no interpreters - needs no one to witness it - as is testified by the fact the universe existed for billions of years before mankind's arrival on this planet earth.
Our past theological assumptions are beginning to fall apart with today's science because they are rooted in superstition about the natural order due to a lack of our understanding of our world. This served its purpose in the past, but it has also led us down the road of magical thinking which blasphemes God by separating the Creator from the creation. Our carefree attitude about the earth is based upon the egotistical and arrogant ideal that the entire universe exists for man who is claimed to be the superior creation and destined to live in an eternal paradise which is far superior to the creation we now experience. These ideals devalue the human body, its experiences, and the gift of creation around us: by reducing them to only a test for the greater glory of the soul.
Churches may proclaim life a gift from God, but our Western theologies do not encourage us to live it as a gift from God. In other words, to live life in gratitude for "what is"; instead of, seeking rewards to come. We have established a religious ideal that says we should be rewarded for being responsible and doing the right thing; when, such ethics should come out of a sense of love and appreciation for the wonderful life we have already been blessed with.
Too often, our religions are diffusing our ability to see God in Her Reality that is ever present. They send us looking to ancient texts for God's word. They have us looking for parted seas, burning bushes, resurrections, and supernatural wonders for proof of God's Existence. In the end, we as human beings lose sight of the true and great miracle all around us - which is, God manifesting His love through the gift of creation. We don't view the world as paradise because we are looking for something better.
But, the truth is: the earth, and the universe which houses it, are a glorious paradise which is full of plenty; wonderfully miraculous; and the only absolute testimony we have to support the idea of a Creator. We exploit and destroy so much of God's handiwork, often without so much as a thought, that one could argue that God may be insulted by what we do. We see ourselves as having dominion over the earth, when we could just as easily accent the words of Genesis that state:
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden Eden [the earth], TO TEND AND KEEP IT.
(King James - Genesis 2:15)
Responsible theology can recognize man is made in God's Image, but it must go on to recognize that any aspect of the creation is not any less in God's Image. Special we perceive ourselves, and special we are; but that does not mean that every other aspect of creation is not in fact special in its own way. In fact, by nature of an existence from seemingly nothing: every atom, every particle, and every process they respond to - are in fact special. They are in fact the miracles which allow something to exist where there should be nothing.
If one wants to talk of supernatural events, God's Power, God's Miracles, God's Intellect, God's Perfection, and God's greatest gift; all we have to do is look at reality. What Bible story is a more miraculous account of God's Power than the idea of the Big Bang itself? What earthly miracle exceeds the burning of the sun for billions of years without any seemingly external input of more energy? And to think those suns number in the billions, perhaps trillions, perhaps more! And the Creationist's story has nothing on the Power and Intelligence of the Creator when compared to the realities science now suspects. From a single celled organism comes all the diversity of life, that not only graces our planet today, but has graced it since the beginning of time. And from that cell came forth mankind, able to think, reason, and comprehend the creative process with free choice as to how they choose to participate in it.
Theology, or religion, is simply not responsible when it belittles the miracle of what is for the sake of visions, unlikely supernatural wonders, and a realm of better worlds to come. That is the equivalent of saying to God: Can't you do better! Or: This creation really doesn't impress me!
Instead of truly serving the needs of the spirit, too much of our theology is feeding the egocentric pursuits of the body by offering us a rationalization for our abuse of the earth, and a justification for the exploitation of our fellow man and the inequality which exist in our societies. The reality is: God didn't create resources just for the rich - nor, does our dominion give us the right to deplete the earth of all she has to offer. The reality is: God must care about birds, fish, plants - and all that She created, for they have been here far longer than we!
People build God stone churches while we burn the rain forest. People put up satellites to proclaim and spread their faith, while we exploit for personal gain every resource including human labor. People sing their praises in churches on Sunday, with little practical remorse about our factories and mass production, or the polluting of God's gifts of air and water. We tell our children great tales about God's supernatural wonder; while we take for granted all which is around us. We talk of paradise past (Eden), and paradise future (heaven or the New Earth), lessening the glory of the paradise all around us - as if somehow this creation were inferior or not the best God can offer. If our children treated our worldly gifts the way we treat God's, we would be outraged. Such attitudes beg the question: What right do we have to expect anything more from God when we take so for granted what She has already bestowed upon us?
If just once we would think about the myths and
sacred stories, objectively, without preconceived supernatural notions, we
would see that the paradise they refer to is the very earth we live upon - all
we have to do is act responsibly. If we were to ask ourselves objectively, what
takes the paradise out of life? We would most often have to answer: human
interactions! God has given all we need to live. It is we who hoard, deprive, refuse to share, exploit, and make life harder for the
masses than it might truly need to be. Selfishness is what most often casts us
While the myths and sacred writings of the collective give us wondrous insight into how we might better live; and the personal inspirations might help us to find purpose and fulfillment - there is no greater Revelation about the Mind of God than the creation of God. Theology that puts God at odds with the reality of the universe, or sees such as only a test created for mankind, misses the benevolence and Glory of the very God they worship. They also miss out on the precious gift of life and the many ways we can interact with the creation to pay God homage, to give Her thanks, and to express our love. Simple logic would dictate: if we express appreciation for what God has already given, we would already have prepared ourselves for anything He might choose to give beyond what we already have. And the reality is: if there is nothing beyond, we still owe a debt of gratitude to God for having allowed us to experience this wonderful miracle of the life we live. Life is the gift of sharing in the creation by the experience of being part of it. Life is not some inferior form of existence, but it is the way we experience the eternal drama in the here and now. Life is not a test; but God expressing His love by allowing us to participate in the creation of Her design. These concepts ought to be fundamental to a responsible theology.
And when theology recognizes that the Creation itself is revelation, they will begin to formulate an Image of God that is more useful, practical, and responsible - than, so much of the magical speculations which are generated to enslave people's minds, control their actions and ensure a self serving dominion of the church.
The creation teaches us things about God such as paradox, diversity, and order. Paradox leads us to see the "yin" and "yang" of all things, showing us that nothing is black and white; but rather, shades of gray harmonizing to produce the wonder of reality. We are too stuck in the idea of absolute opposition, of the idea that there is a right way or a wrong way to believe in God. If we were to be more accepting of our opposition, learning to harmonize with one-another, perhaps we too could contribute to a beautifully harmonious reality.
Diversity is also what creation is, and it teaches us that: "The Father's house is a house of many mansions." What we come to realize when we accept God's diversity is that without diversity there is no reality. Diversity works in the creation because of a delicate balance. But, before we as humans can even begin to balance our diversity, we must come to accept that this diversity is part of God's creative process - a part of God's plan - from God's Mind. It serves no one, least of all God, to declare that that which differs from us is evil. For far too long religion has been placing people neatly into God's camp, with those who differ branded God's enemies. People who refuse to believe can hardly be called God's enemies, just as people who are believers are often far from servants of God. It is what we do in reality, our give and take, that makes us servants to the Creator - not what we believe.
And we see order when we look at the creation. And that tells us that when we properly balance things that are positive and negative, things that are diverse, the results can produce a magnificent creation of amazing order. Even what we may perceive as calamities, such as earthquakes, floods, or volcanic activity: seem to work to create and produce order. So sometimes, maybe society needs some disruption of its ideals to move the order forward.
Paradox is the key to it all, and we can easily comprehend it by simple observation for we live in the paradox of the "now" - the beginning and end at the same instant, yet, ever the same "now" - but, every second completely different than the last. God is the eternal Paradox so perfectly in balance that the ever changing "now" can flow from Her - and life (both of body and soul) is the way we are experiencing the eternal Paradox (God) in that "now".
To see God in such a manner changes the Image we have of Him, allowing a more practical basis for our religious faith. It really becomes a more Godlike Image because He truly becomes transcendent of our perception of opposition while still remaining compatible with the natural world we observe. We are less likely to assign Her human attributes and declare dogmatic truths in the Name of the Divine. As already stated, God is too complex to be described by the mere human intellect. She is more easily found in the human abstracts of emotion or feeling. It is obviously easier to be emotional about God when we focus on the miracle of Her reality around us; when we recognize the awesome power generated to give us the life, which allows us the everyday experience of living. A responsible theology would not need supernatural miracles to support the concept of God, or offer God's hope; for it will encourage the individual to recognize God and His benevolence in all that is around them. Maybe if human beings began to look at the world around them, seeing it for the miracle it is, they might amend their habits and begin treating such things with more respect and devotion. We treat churches and miraculous places with devotion and respect, when it's the earth itself which is God's true church (built with His own hands) - and every human being upon it is the true temple in which God dwells.
The positive psychological aspect of such recognition in theology becomes self-evident in what has just been postulated. If we approached the world as of God's hand, we would begin to treat it differently. If we seen life as God's gift, of and by itself, a true miracle of experience in itself: we might find ourselves caring more about each other because the best experience in life is a shared experience of life.
We do not need the gospels to tell us that God loves us, nor any other sacred work. All we have to do is open our eyes wide enough and we can clearly see God's love at work in the miracle of creation. Religion got its start when primitive peoples seen this truth and realized life was no accident. Our world of technology, and religions of supernatural wonders, are removing us from the roots of our relationship with God. We need not deny God to accept science, for even with some basic understanding of creation, creation's miraculous existence is still an amazing wonder. And for religion to deny the knowledge of science, is religion actually removing itself from its roots - ignoring the most profound of all revelations which is nature itself.
The Eternal Life beliefs of religions are fine, and we shall discuss such ideals later. But, when eternal life becomes in competition with mortal life; when it is seen as superior; when it is made the object or becomes the meaning for mortal life - it defeats God's purpose, which is, for us to live and experience. Mortal life is the way we experience eternity now. Its meaning is that experience! It is our messianic responsibility to make the most of that experience. Responsible theology will help us to see that the best way to accomplish this messiahship is by helping others to experience life with quality, dignity and fullness; and, by contributing to creation in a responsible manner according to our means to do so. A balance comes when large numbers of people are participating in life in such a manner that people are there for others no matter what the need - and then no one ends up (including ourselves) in dire need. Balance will come when we give back according to what we take. God has given us the ability to balance our life, but our human social structures (including church) fail to accept their responsibility or care enough to examine their own flaws.
The problem with much present theology as it stands, is, it leads us on a road of psychological selfishness to a degree. It is too preoccupied with providing an incentive, when the love for God should be motivated by what we are. Its ultimate concern is our personal salvation, or in Eastern traditions, our personal state of Nirvana. Yet if we look to the natural order as a source of revelation, we see that while every individual thing in creation is important, has purpose and therefore dignity - its existence is there to make possible the existence of something else. In other words, everything exists for the whole. We need to acknowledge this revelation if we are ever to make improvements to our world. We need to recognize this sacred principle if we are to ever solve the problems of hatred, inequality and oppression which exists in our societies. If we could accept this truth from the creative revelation: the written revelation, the myths, and all the rest of inspired revelation would be approached in a vastly different perspective, thus, becoming much more applicable to our everyday world.
A good example to draw from here is the bee. Now, people are not bees, and we admit that human life is much more complex, but never the less, we can still learn from them. Not only is the sense of community necessary to the hive, but also a delicate responsibility of individuals in that hive. The bees ensure their own success by pollinating the flowers and trees that produce their needs for generation to generation. And from such a balanced relationship of hive, all the earth benefits, for many other life forms are very dependent upon this simple insect - including, we might add, humankind. This is not to advocate that people try to live like bees, but we could certainly learn an ethic that would be practical in our everyday world by looking for a revelation there.
Looking to the creative revelation allows us to see God in a very practical and real sense. Such revelation is not going to answer all our questions about God, but it would certainly help us to widen our perspective of God as well as allow us to hold a practical conception of a very impractical being. Viewing creation as a form of revelation allows us to see the Presence of God among us.
In a work called "The Mind of God" the physicist Paul Davies outlines the type of God who would have created the universe we observe and now just begin to understand:
So what type of God would this be? By assumption, he would have to be rational. There is no point in invoking an irrational God; we might as well accept an irrational universe as it is. He should also he omnipotent. If God were not omnipotent, then his power would be limited in some way. But what would constrain this power? We should want to know in turn how the limitation originated, and what determined the form of constraints, exactly what God was and was no allowed to do. (Notice that even an omnipotent God is subject to the restraints of logic. God couldn't make a circle a square for example. By similar reasoning, God would have to be perfect, for what agency would produce any defects? He would also have to he omniscient - that is, be would need to be aware of all the logical possible alternatives - so that he would be in a position to make rational choice.,
(Paul Davies, MIND OF GOD, Simon & Schuster, 1992, p172)
Of course, if theologically we were to assume any limitation of God, they must be self induced. It would seem that such limiting conditions would take the form of not violating His own ideals, or, bind Him to creating the best of Her potential. We seem to make a contradiction in religion that physical reality is somehow God's inferior handiwork. While a world to come may exist in the beyond, it would be a far cry to claim its superiority to this one. If anything differs, it is our participation in such a world that will make it a heaven or a personal hell. Such is another reason why we should view the perfection of God's work in the reality of our existence.
If Davies' other assumptions were to be correct, then we live in the "now" of the best God can create for the "now"; for what kind of a God would purposely create a flawed creation? In such an ideal, God (or some devil) do not become the fault of our failures, which instead, lay at our own doorstep in the poor choices we make in our gift of free will. If we look at the creation from a scientific perspective we are amazed at its perfection and its inter dependence - from the supernovas of the stars that create the atoms to make up you and I, to the expansion of the universe at the perfect speed to make it work.
So, in looking to absolute revelation, many of the attributes already theologically assigned to God are still tenable, but we also must add certain other aspects such as paradox:
No attempt to explain the world, either scientifically or THEOLOGICALLY, can be considered successful until it accounts for the paradoxical conjunction of the temporal and atemporal, of being and becoming.
Thus, the idea of a static (unchanging) God is challenged when we look to the creation itself - which is ever changing as it flows through time, yet, still remains always "now". Seeing this in the absolute revelation helps us to see it more clearly in the scriptures of the collective as Karen Armstrong so eloquently points out to us:
This utterly [Platonic] static Image of Divinity would have an immense influence on Jews, Christians, and Muslims, even though it had little in common with the God of revelation, Who is constantly active, innovative and, in the Bible, even changes his mind, as when he repents of having made man and decides to destroy the human race in a flood.
(Karen Armstrong, [ HISTORY OF GOD Ballantine Books, 1993, p36)
This realization can help us understand how we can make wrong assumptions about a paradoxical God who is always a constant, and yet, ever changing. We can see this if the creative process is taken into consideration; particularly now that we have some understanding of it. If we see the constant change of the universe it helps us to recognize that in the other revelations the message may be the same, but the implication of such a message may change. It is a contradiction to have a static God and an ever changing creation; whereas it is a paradox to have a God that is ever changing in the constant of change itself, which is what God's absolute revelation implies.
What do such ideals mean in terms of practical and useful theology. For one, God makes sense, as much sense as a God can make in relationship to the things around us, given our limited intellectual perception. They also help us to gain more accessibility to God, because we see Her in all that is of Him. The absolute revelation in the natural order can help us to look for practical and meaningful messages in the other revelations, messages that pertain to the everyday realities of our world. Messages that help us to understand God, relating to Him in terms of the things which most affect us; therefore, God becomes much more visible in our lives.
The messages of God are the same, but the way those messages are filtered through the human mind depend upon a lot of variables; one of which is the world around us. Too often we use words like "holy," "faith," or "repentance," in a manner that is not consistent with their understanding in their original form.* By looking to the natural revelation we are forced to look at the ancient revelation in new ways, through the eyes of the people for whom they were written, with an understanding of the limitations of their ability to perceive the natural order around them. This helps us to refine an inspiration, to look for its timeless message; rather than, trying to literalize that which cannot be literalized.
Karen Armstrong in her "HISTORY OF GOD", Ballantine Books explains on page 41 that the word "holy" (Hebrew: kaddosh) means morel excellence in today's world, but its original meaning had nothing to do With morality but meant "otherness, a radical separation". Likewise, in the same work on page 17, she points out that the Biblical writers did not view "faith" as a belief or profession of an orthodox view or creed. The word "faith" in the Old Testament meant trust, to quote Armstrong: "In the Bible, Abraham is a man of faith because he trusts God will make good on his promises, even though they seem absurd," If we stop and think about it, there was no structured faith as we understand it for Abraham to believe in. Historian Michael Grant, in his work JESUS, AN HISTORIAN'S VIEW OF THE GOSPELS, (Charles Scribner's & sons,1977) on page 45 tells us that the word "repentance" which we understand to mean "atonement for sin" is a translation from the Greek word metanoia which more literally translates "a change of heart". It is reasonable to challenge any theological assumption based upon an understanding of words that are far removed from the concept of the original author.
These are just three isolated examples. Any reading of scholarly works will reveal dozens more. The fact is, when we look at these words in their original context, they are often more meaningful and give more tolerant insight than the meaning we give them today.
Karen Armstrong states in her book about God:
Effectiveness rather than philosophical or historical demonstration has always been the hallmark of a successful religion.
And this is the problem with our theology today, it is a theology of belief and rhetoric, rather than effectiveness, because so often it postulates things that have no relevance in the reality of our everyday world. This statement is self-evident in our societies, in the workplace, in business, and in our body politic: as we are the most believing nation on earth that lacks the honesty, compassion, tolerance, equality, and universal love that is so emphasized in the Judaic-Christian scriptures.
The crime, the social decay, the drugs, and the violence are not the work of some demonic super creature. And while all the blame would not lie at the doorsteps of our churches, they need to assume a share of the responsibility. Glorifying the crucifixion of a God/man - projecting our failures unto the devil - placing faith and words over works - projecting the state of affairs of humanity upon God or the devil - the selling of God by promising Her rewards or the deliverance of magical solution to our problems - and the promise of paradise in exchange for belief: all are psychologically contributing to the indifference, self-righteousness, and selfishness that have reached epidemic proportions.
Religion may still bring comfort to the individual and it may properly motivate a few, but it has so removed God from the everyday reality of Her creation we no longer feel the need to bring Him into our business, government, or social concerns. Today, money has more of an influence on human beings than any religious ideal. In the past it was the job of religion to bring God into the community. Today, many of our religions remove God from our plane of reality, relegating Him to an external world to come and asserting that they alone can-speak for Him.
Our world of theological polarization has set the body and soul apart, when they are in fact one. We have set heaven and earth as differing planes,, when in fact they are the same, the earth being that part of heaven we experience "now". We have polarized the secular world from the spiritual world and removed the Creator from Her creation. We categorize all diversity, and too often, condemn what fails to meet our self-centered beliefs. Our religious ideals bring about as much intolerance as they do tolerance.
It is true that the answers to all our problems will not be found in a responsible theology, but if we begin to recognize God's presence in the reality around us, and begin to appreciate the miracle of that reality; we just might begin to change our ways enough to see that the gift which God has bestowed upon us is in the experience of life itself. With God as the singularity that is responsible for the Big Bang, and all we see because of it, we can open our eyes and give thanks for the opposition and diversity that harmonizes to produce reality. And, just maybe, we might develop more tolerance to actually learn from one another. Putting a religious emphasis on "a Creator in the creation," clergymen could motivate people to see God and Her miracles all around us - a God who performs those miracles for everyone on the face of the earth, not just a chosen few. Perhaps, if people were encouraged to see the reality of God in the reality of living, it would be easier to incorporate the ideals associated with a God in the social reality of living.
Responsible theology need not abandon the old, but it must look at it in a new light. We need to remove the magical projection out of religious ideals; without removing the spirituality. We need to emphasize: the miracle of life, the importance of working toward a quality of life for all, and the tremendous gift that life is; and in doing so, we need not make promises of world's to come for we have already prepared for anything God may choose to bless us with. We don't have to polarize life and death, for they are truly part of the same cycle. It's a lesson of natural revelation we can learn from a dying star, because we now realize all that supernovas give birth to. Out of the massive release of energy comes the atoms from which we are built.
We need to look at things in a different light, and theology needs to get back to the root of seeing the reality of God's active participation in the creation. While the perceptions may differ the truth remains the same. A truth that the author of Psalms seen, one which sees the reality of God's participation in the creation:
Bless the Lord, my soul; 0 Lord my God, Thou art great indeed, clothed in majesty and splendor, and wrapped in a robe of light.
Thou has spread out the heavens like a tent and on their waters laid the beams of Thy pavilion; who takes the clouds for Thy chariot, riding on the wings of the wind; Who makes the winds Thy messengers and flames of fire Thy servants; Thou did fix the earth on its foundation so that it can never be shaken; the deep overspread it like a cloak, and the waters lay above the mountains. At Thy rebuke they ran, at the sound of Thy thunder they rushed away, flowing over the hills, pouring down into the valleys to the place appointed for them. Thou did fix the boundary which they might not pass; They shall not return to cover the earth.
Thou did make springs break out in the gullies, so that the water runs between the hills. The wild beasts all drink from them, the wild asses quench their thirst; the birds of the air nests on their banks and sing among the leaves.
From Thy high pavilion Thou did water the hills; the earth is enriched by Thy provision. Thou made grass grow for the cattle and green things for those who toil for man, bringing bread out of the earth and wine to gladden men's hearts, oil to make their faces shine and bread to sustain their strength.
The trees of the Lord are green and leafy, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted; the birds build their nests in them, the stork makes their homes in the tops. High hills are a haunt of the mountain-goat, and boulders a refuge for the rock badger.
Thou has made the moon to measure the year and taught the sun where to set. When Thou makes darkness and it is night, all the beasts of the forest come forth; the young lions roar for prey,
seeking their food from God. When Thou makes the sun rise, they slink away and go to rest in their liars; but man comes out to work and to his labors until evening.
Countless are the thing Thou has made, 0 Lord, Thou has made all by Thy wisdom; and the earth is full of Thy creatures, beast great and small.
Here is the great immeasurable sea, in which move creatures beyond number. Here ships sail to and fro, here is Leviathan who You have made Thy plaything. All of them look expectantly to Thee to give them their food at the proper time. What Thou gives them they gather up. When Thou opens Thy hand, they eat their fill. Then Thou hides Thy face, and they are restless and troubled, when Thou takes away their breath, they fail and they return to the dust from which they came, but when Thou breathes into them, they, recover; Thou gives new life to the earth.
May the glory of the Lord stand forever and may He rejoice in His works! When He looks at the earth, it quakes; when He touches the hills, they pour forth smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live all my life I will sing, psalms to my God. May my meditations please the Lord, as I show my joy in Him.
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