Thursday, October 7, 2010

See it another way - Part 1

Let’s take another look at some of what we think we know about the Bible and see if we can find some new, deeper truths there. As I share this, I invite you notice when resistance arises. I’m not asking you to change your belief system but for now just keep an open mind and rather than shutting down when you disagree with what I say just allow yourself to consider the possibility that perhaps there is more to the story than meets the eye.

This is going to have to be a multi-part installment because it is rather long. One thing I’d like to point out before I continue is that I am not looking to disprove or dismiss any religion or its teachings. Rather I want to encourage you to expand your view of them, drop your limiting beliefs and see deeper truths contained within the ancient teachings. The truth is there in all the religions but we have to sort out the message from the messengers and from manipulation. We are all human and religion is a product of mankind. The sacred texts from the religions are also a product of mankind and are therefore subject to human interpretation, misunderstanding and manipulation (consciously or unconsciously).

Since Christianity is the religion that I, and I believe most Americans, are most familiar with, it is the one that I will primarily focus on. I will also try to show you parallels in other dominate world religions but for sake of clarity I will try to hold my focus on Christianity. The principles behind what I hope to reveal will apply to any religion and its teachings. Truth is one, paths are many. In our ascent to Universal Truth we see that each religion is simply another path which presents us with a slightly different view on our journey. All paths are equal but each is unique.

I’m going to include a few links to sites for additional background information on the topics I’m touching on. These links are for your reference and should be considered an easy entry point for gaining deeper insights. I find Wikipedia to be full of useful info with many links to more detailed information so that is the main site I reference. I hope you’ll do your own web surfing to lead you to the information you need. To try and get all of the information into this blog would really be too much and detract from the main narrative, so please follow these links as far as you feel led to.


To begin, let’s take a look at the big picture story presented by the Bible in relation to Jesus. We are told that Mary was visited by an angel and told that she would become pregnant from the Holy Spirit and that she would be birthing a Savior for the world. As time for the birth arrived, Mary and Joseph were traveling and could only find shelter in a manger. Meanwhile, wise men from far away were traveling to where Mary was so that they could worship this newborn king. They were navigating to where Jesus was born by following a star.

The Bible then tells a bit about the childhood of Jesus up through his early teens. He then seems to be absent for roughly 18 years and then reappears as Jesus Christ. This is where the stories of his miracles and the main body of his teachings begin. We’re told stories of how Jesus rebelled against the political establishment and challenged the reigning religious beliefs with radical new teachings. We’re also introduced to his group of 12 disciples and told of his interactions with Mary Magdelain. In the current version of the Bible, Mary is basically written off as a trouble making whore and nothing more.

All of this ultimately leads to Jesus being betrayed by one of his followers, Judas, and being taken into custody by the local rulers, tried and sentenced to death for his rebellious actions. He is then taken along with other common criminals and nailed to a cross and crucified. After his death, he is put in a tomb and three days later, as Jesus had predicted, he arose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Jesus said that his death would cause everyone’s sins to be forgiven and that he would watch over us and be back when the time came to bring an end to the world.

In the Christian religious belief system, they teach that the Bible is the inspired word of God. They are taught that the stories are literal and given to us directly by the hand of God. The believers are supposed to take all this on faith and follow the teachings in the Bible to the letter. By trusting in Jesus to cleanse them of their sins when they ask for forgiveness, they are all set to gain entry into Heaven at the time of the human death. Those who do not believe are instead sent to Hell to suffer for an eternity in an eternal pit of fire.


To the casual observer, that all seems like quite the story. When compared to the present day reality and laws of Nature, it becomes a bit hard to swallow. As the Dali Lama says “when you examine reality and it doesn’t line up with your beliefs, then it’s time to change your beliefs.” The reality that we know tells us that virgins don’t have babies and that dead people don’t come back to life after being dead for three days. This says that stories that we’re being given aren’t describing physical reality because the Laws of Nature have not changed in the 2000 years since the time of Jesus. If this is the case then what are these stories about?

To begin to appreciate these stories for what they truly are, which is metaphorical teachings, you have to look at the history of the Bible and Jesus and see them both for what they are. The Bible is a collection of stories written by humans for humans. These stories were selected by those in power, translated and edited by humans and passed on to the next generation. The Bible was created by taking the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, and adding the new stories about Jesus, the New Testament. It was used to define the budding Christian religion and hold its teachings. Historically, it was modified and used by those in political power to maintain power and control over the people.

Let’s take a closer look at the story of Jesus and put it into historical perspective and align it with the reality which we believe to exist based upon physics, scientific fact and experience. It is important to not only understand the stories but to view them in the context of the time in which they were written. 2000 years ago, Paganism was the dominate religious philosophy of the time in the area where Jesus grew up. In this belief system, Mother Earth is worshipped as the Creator of life. This belief led to the worship of the feminine and by extension females as the embodiment of the Divine. It was also believed that the Earth was flat, that we were the center of the creation and that all things revolved around us.


Our knowledge has come a long way since that time and we can use that knowledge to allow us to see the humanity of these writings. Our study of history and the history of the Bible, in addition to the content and context of the Bible, begins to transform what seems to be a supernatural story into something that we can more directly relate to. One of the cornerstones of the Christian faith is the story of the “virgin birth in a manger”. 2000 years the word virgin meant something entirely different than it does now. Then it meant “an un-wed woman” and had no relevance to sexuality. A “manger” was a regular home which had a place on the lower floor for the families’ livestock. The warmth of the animals helped to keep the house warm during the night.

If we take this knowledge and apply it to the Jesus story then things begin to come back into alignment with the physical reality that we know today. This means that Mary would have had to have sex to become pregnant and that could explain how protective Joseph was and it would seem to indicate that Joseph was the father of Jesus. Two humans having sex and producing a human child returns the humanity to Jesus and keeps the story in alignment with physical law. The humanity within Jesus is what makes the rest of his story then come alive in a new and more profound way. The greatest teachers the world has known have achieved their greatness by the quality of the life they live and by their actions not by the stories they tell.

So how did “wise men” follow a star to find and worship Jesus? Let’s use science to help us re-examine this part of the story. We now know that the stars we see at night are two things. Some of the bright points of light are actually other planets in our solar system reflecting the light from our star, the Sun. The other stars are actually just like our Sun, a giant ball of various gases which radiate heat, light and the nutrients essential for the creation and preservation of life as we know it. They are not simply tiny points of light which light up at night like a giant string of twinkle lights. If a star tried to come close enough to our planet to guide travelers, our planet would be disintegrated from the heat of that star. If you see it as “they used a star to navigate by”, then how would they know when or where to stop? Stars, when used for navigation on the sea, help sailors find their way back to land not to a specific place in the middle of the land.


It’s important to remember that all the stories from the Bible are filled with metaphors and symbolism. Metaphors are powerful writing tools which help to unlock different meanings in the mind of the reader based upon their knowledge level. They can tell a mundane story on the surface to the casual reader but hold deeper truths for the adept especially when combined with symbolism. During the time of Jesus anyone who disagreed with those in power, including for their religious beliefs, could be put to death. This is where symbols come in. Rather than use specific names in the story, and risk death, often animals were used instead and then when the story was passed on, the translation keys were shared from teacher to student. This is why Jesus is often referred to in the Bible as the Lion or the Lamb.

It’s also important to keep in mind that even the first of the stories involving Jesus were written 40 to 50 years after his death and the rest came much later. Most of the stories were written by people who weren’t even alive during that time because the stories were passed on orally until someone chose to write them down. Just like with Genesis, there was not a scribe running around following God and documenting his story from creation to up through the political workings of ancient Egypt. The stories were written by those wanting to bring forth the teachings to preserve them for future generations from a story-tellers perspective and not as an eye witness account.

The stories that we find contained in today’s Bible were written independently and later gathered together to create the Bible hundreds of years after the original writing of the individual stories. ( The sands of time have presented us with additional insights into these stories as well. In 1946 a cave was found near the West Bank which contained ancient scrolls. These scrolls were original copies of some of the books used in the Bible as well as many that did not make it into the Bible during the canonization process. Researchers have learned a great deal about the story of Jesus from these documents. They were able to see how the current stories have been altered over the years as well as gain additional insights into the political, social and religious history of the people. These documents have become known as "The Dead Sea Scrolls"

Every religion has its own version of the story of creation but they are just that, stories. They are the attempt by the author(s) to explain how we got here and not an eye witness report of the events. Yes, the stories do contain factual components too but it is important to understand their origin and the climate in which they were created. It’s also important to remember that the original story may have been written in one language and translated and retranslated into others. Mistranslations were common as were intentional changes in the story to suit the needs of those using the stories to create the Bible. Changes have been made to the stories through the years as well to suit the political, social or religious needs of those in power. Again taking a historical perspective, these changes were easy to make because there were very few copies of the original manuscripts. The printing press had not been created yet and so only those in power had copies of the texts.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when reading these ancient texts is that the same rules of physics and nature were in force then as now. When you read these stories if there is something that isn’t physically possible now, it wasn’t possible then. Yet just because a story isn’t 100% factual, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful. We can’t get caught up in the meaning of any single word or quibble over statements or events but rather see the teachings contained in the stories and learn from them. Story telling is meant to grab and hold the reader’s attention. This allows the teachings to be passed along by creating imagery that unfolds in the mind of the reader in a way that it will be remembered more easily.


That’s it for part 1. Part 2 will be up shortly so please stay tuned. In the meantime I invite you to look at stories which have shaped your life, your family, or the world and ask yourself this “even if it’s just a story and not based on fact, what can I learn from it anyway?”


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