The Idea Emporium
Cosmic Forces of the Universe
THE ULTIMATE REALITY
It's such a commonplace these days, people saying that all religions are basically the same.
But are they?
Then, if you say anything not very nice about some religion or other, the answer is always that people got it wrong. In other words, the religion is okay. Even if you give quotes from a religious text that shows something not very nice, the response is identical: it's people who wrote the texts, and they're fallible. So once again the religion is fine, it's just people who have made mistakes.
So, according to masses of people, all religions are basically the same and basically okay.
The question: does this stance make sense?
After all, the religions disagree: heaven and hell, nothing at all, reincarnation, earthly paradise. They certainly don't sound basically the same.
But one thing does seem likely: there is one ultimate reality. That includes: it may be the ultimate reality envisaged by most atheists: nothingness after death.
So what is the ultimate reality most likely to be?
Where do I stand in all this?
One thing I agree with is: whatever exists - one or more deities, one or more cosmic forces - does exist. So it doesn't matter what any religious text says, what exists, exists. Likewise, it doesn't matter what is done in the name of religion, whatever cosmic force/forces, whatever god/goddess/goddesses/gods exist, these exist.
But - here I begin to diverge from those who hold all religions are basically the same - it's not just the different religions which are concerned with the same ultimate reality, it's every atheist and agnostic. Whatever ultimate reality exists, exists. Whatever doesn't exist, doesn't exist.
Do I hold that all religions are the same? No. A quote comes to mind: by their fruit shall ye judge them. I think it's from the Bible. If violence is done in the name of a religion, by those fruits do I judge the religion. If women and men, people of all races, people of all sexual orientations, people of all castes are not given equal status, by these fruits I judge the religions - and I judge them wanting.
My position is simple and clear. There is some ultimate reality. It may or may not contain cosmic forces, gods, deities. Whichever it is, is. It's not only religious people - both the traditionally religious and the present-day people who consider themselves spiritual rather than religious - who aspire to know, be in contact with, understand, learn from this ultimate reality. So do atheists and agnostics.
Are all religions equal? Some are harsh and punitive. Some are loving. Some value all life. Others uphold animal sacrifice. Some believe in a hell where most people are to burn forever. Some have a final death. Others believe in reincarnation. Some hold there will be a coming back to life of the people who followed that particular religion.
Are all these equal? Certainly they are not the same.
Could they all have equal validity? That doesn't make sense.
Would it make sense that whatever happens is whatever you believe in? That makes equally little sense. Then the cosmic forces would have to give you whatever you believe in - 70 virgins if you die in jihad, according to some adherents of Islam.
That would mean, if there is a god, that god would not have free will.
No sense at all in such a universe, in which gods are captive to human beliefs.
What do I believe?
I am more inclined to believe there is some cosmic force than that there is not.
One side of me believes such a cosmic force is either helpless or uncaring.
Uncaring - I look at the animal universe with the balance of nature, life for billions of years. So much killing to survive. Species evolved to survive by killing. Other species are either culled or overpopulate until there is massive starvation. And that leaves out the massive violence done by humans to other humans, as well as to animals.
Helpless - I cannot imagine a force that can see so much pain and suffering and not hurt with the hurt. I can only imagine that a cosmic force, if caring, is able to let this happen for millions of years if it is helpless to intervene, to make things better.
A seeming detour. Computers. We humans are creating computers, which are becoming increasingly complex. Within a few years we should be building mega-computers with more computing power than that of all the humans on the planet combined.
Imagine that, however this happens, that some of these computers come to some other planet or even further part of the universe, and lose awareness of where they came from.
Could they ever understand us? Could they ever imagine creatures so unlike them, yet able to create them - their beginnings, at least? We have no little memory, such a short life span, such a weird container. Yet we are massively numerous. And then there is how we reproduce. So much time and energy teaching the young. So much energy put into reproduction and educating. So many conflicting emotions, including love and hate, compassion and lack of empathy, greed, laziness.
Could those computer beings in that far-off segment of the universe ever understand us? imagine us?
We sound worse than the worst pantheon of gods. Worse than the the Greek gods - jealous, raping, seducing, uncaring, thriving on admiration, hating to be thwarted.
And now, back to the universe and us. What might that cosmic force be like, as I imagine it.
Well, if it was ever involved with us, I don't imagine it ever imagined how things would turn out. Let's say that it or they did have something to do with the start of life on earth. Would it or they have imagined that, from those first beginnings of life, something sentient would emerge? Something that would long, love, feel hurt and pain? Something that often would not care if it hurt others - in fact, that would often need not to care to survive? It would not be of any benefit to a lion to care about its prey. So evolution would reward not caring about prey - and caring about one's own.
How do I imagine that cosmic force? If it cares, it would do its nebulous best to have us make things as right as possible.
The earth never was a garden - but we have imagined it as a garden, with lamb and lion lying down together. In other words, the lion would not be eyeing the lamb as prey, and the lamb would know this.
How could that happen? I can only see that happening with human intervention.
I believe that, whether or not there are cosmic forces, it is up to us.
I also believe that, if there are cosmic forces or deities, they want us to ditch all those old-time religions with hell and heaven, all those religions which call on us to believe that only one religion or another is right when they are all so far off the mark.
Are all religions the same?
They all claim knowledge of deities, gods, cosmic forces. Often they are very far from the mark.
How might you see which religions and non-religious belief systems are far from or closer to the mark?
Insofar as you believe the cosmic forces are nasty, hating, sadistic, cruel, you would believe a religion is close to the mark if it wants us to suffer, and wants animals to suffer. Such cosmic forces would be close to religions which want us to destroy, kill, confine, disempower, cut down.
Insofar as you believe the cosmic forces are caring, you would believe a religion is close to the mark if it is for the full development and empowerment of all people, and also the full living of animals, the full care of the planet.
Is there heaven and hell? If there are nasty sadistic cosmic forces, hell makes sense.
Personally, even if such forces exist, I would rather not align myself with them.
What about heaven? Maybe it's part of my current human limitations, my love of challenge and stimulation, but non-stop heavenly bliss - often accompanied by harp playing - feels painful. It doesn't make sense to me that cosmic forces that have either caused or allowed or been unable to prevent our evolution, would want us, after death, to be satisfied with heaven.
It's like asking a long-distance runner to enjoy being paralyzed from the waist down. Yes, a long-distance runner can learn to find pleasure living in a wheelchair - sometimes as a wheelchair athlete. But it would not make sense to reward a long-distance runner with paralysis.
So, heaven and hell. They don't make sense to me.
Nothingness. Those make more sense. I feel grief at the thought of nothingness - the total loss of those who have died. But it makes more sense than heaven and hell.
Some nebulous otherness. Emotionally, that makes sense to me. I know I felt my father's presence for a couple of years after his death - and can still call up the feeling of his presence. I also feel animals who have died.
But this, I know, could all be my imagination - stuff that those computer creatures, if they ever wondered how they got started - might not be able to understand at all. Imagination - it's not like having a hypothesis.
Imagination - things feel real, even if they often have no basis in reality.
This is the hard part. What is that ultimate reality?
Some things are obvious. Most traditional religions do at least as much to keep us away from it, as to bring us closer to it.
What does my inner "knowledge" say?
Whatever holds for people, holds for animals. So if anything from humans lives on, so it does for animals.
If human sacrifice is wrong, so is animal sacrifice.
It's up to us. And whatever good cosmic forces there are want us to make the world a garden.
My guess is, if they exist, they never imagined where "life" might go. Consciousness.
Now it is up to those with consciousness to make the earth a garden.
This garden will draw on technology - much of it destructive, from pesticides to pollution - yet also capable of leading to knowledge only dreamed of, of life perhaps - in my wildest imaginings - everlasting, or anyway lasting as long as we want it.
March 14, 2009
copyright © Elsa Schieder, 2009, 2011, all rights reserved
Click here for more speculation on the ultimate reality,
in this case,
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True Stories of the Paranormal.
Click here for still more speculation o
part of an ultimate reality,
What Might Life after Death Be Like?
What Is The Ultimate Reality?
Do Any Religious Beliefs, Beliefs About God,
Make Sense? What is God?
What Is Modern Religion?
What About Cosmic Forces?
Are All Religions Equal?
And Now, It's Your Turn!
Click here to see what others have said.
The Ultimate Reality
What's your vision of the ultimate reality?
MORE IMPORTANT, why is this your vision?
top of page
What Is The Ultimate Reality? Do Any Religious Beliefs,
Beliefs About God, Make Sense? What is God?
What Is Modern Religion? What About Cosmic Forces?
Are All Religions Equal?
The Idea Emporium
- why and what
One of my lifelong concerns has
been trying to make sense of reality. What is happening? What is real? What about things I can't see, taste, feel? What is the ultimate reality?
Does god exist? If so, what is god?
In childhood, I got few answers. My parents had left traditional religion - Catholicism, in their case. My father always cared ardently to figure out the ultimate reality, and always somehow believed that knowledge of it related to a true understanding of the bible.
As a teen, I encountered the Jehovah's Witnesses, who claimed to know the ultimate reality, who claimed they had all the answers about god, about what is god, about what god wants, about what happens after death, about everything and anything.
There was only one problem. I could not swallow their answers. They stuck in my throat. Science saved me. Science and comparative religion. They showed the flaws in the arguments of the Jehovah's Witnesses - in most traditional religious beliefs about god and the ultimate realty.
It's taken me a long time to come back to questions going through my mind from early on: especially, what is the ultimate reality?
The Jehovah's Witnesses and other traditional religions have never again played a significant role in my life.
Instead around me I've been bombarded by the message that all religions - no matter how different they may seem on the surface - are in essence the same. Also, all around me float what I experience as the ultimate modern religion, a spirituality that makes claims including that we totally choose our lives, including that - before conception - we choose our parents in order to learn lessons.
Here, finally, I've put together my conclusions and speculations.
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2009, 2011 - all rights reserved
publishing house - FlufferDuff Impressions 2009, 2011