Asking questions is the only way to get answers. Sounds so easy, but is so hard. When you mistakenly believe you know everything, or that things are “unknowable”, good sense has been abandoned.
There is an old saying, “Anyone who thinks they have all the answers is simply not aware of all the questions.” Never stop asking…..never!!
If you look at history, you will confirm for yourself that humanity has the very self-destructive habit of each generation believing that the status quo will continue, only to get shocked into reality when major changes occur. If there is any lesson that each of us must learn it is that the only thing permanent, in this material existence, is change…..and even that is subject to change at any moment without prior notice. The failure to ask “What comes next?” leads to, well…..failure!!
In like manner, as regards the Book which purports Divine inspiration, an appropriate question is, “What else could this mean?”
So, in 1968, I found myself at a new beginning. Not being one to shy away from a challenge, I began reading everything I could find that was outside the mainstream of what I had previously assumed was the “truth”. I suppose I could have just blown that off and lived as the fundamentalist that I was raised to be. Frankly, my upbringing had the unintended consequence of not allowing that option. My parents likely now wish that their focus on self reliance and rugged independence had not been so deeply instilled in their firstborn.
One of these books was the Zohar. I found its approach astounding and invigorating. If you have not read it, it is one of the few books I would recommend. While there are many valuable passages, this one stuck out.
“Thus the tales related in the Torah are simply her outer garments, and woe to the man who regards that outer garb as the Torah itself, for such a man will be deprived of portion in the next world. Thus David said: ‘Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law’ (Psalms 119:18), that is to say, the things that are underneath. See now. The most visible part of a man are the clothes that he has on, and they who lack understanding, when they look at the man, are apt not to see more in him than these clothes. In reality, however, it is the body of the man that constitutes the pride of his clothes, and his soul constitutes the pride of his body.”
There was nothing in my experience that would have allowed me to believe that Biblical understanding was anything more (or less) than the literal word.
Gradually, as I kept knocking, doors were opened; opened as if by some magic or hidden force. At the same time, the historical basis for my belief system was being taken apart slowly but surely. Forty years later, I wonder why I did not crumble with it. Certainly I have been witness to such melt downs as the unanswered questions pile up.
At this point, attempts to prove the existence of God outside of the Bible were miserable failures. Studying all other attempts to do so proved futile as well. As a matter of fact, proving the existence of God, even using the Bible was useless, as the Bible merely assumes that He exists.
In a strange way, my upbringing forced me to hold onto a sliver of faith; faith that there were answers; faith in the fulfillment of promises made in the Bible. Even though I now acknowledge that, at the time, I had no real understanding of what those promises were. Rather than abandon faith, my engineering and mathematical oriented brain restructured it in answer to one basic question. “What should I have faith in?”
Stevie Wonder had a hit song out called “Superstition”. One line in it struck a real chord with me. “If you believe in things you don’t understand then you suffer.” The only thing I was certain about at this point was that there was a ton of stuff I did not understand.
Resolving that the only sensible option was to hold that in which you have complete faith to an absolute minimum, I came up with just three things in which I have absolute, unwavering, unquestioning faith.
First, even though my understanding of the human spirit has grown over the years, I took it as tautological fact that the human spirit is eternal.
Second, that there is a Divine Creator.
Lastly, I am not Him!!!!
For the most part, these serve me well to this day. As this blog continues, they will be referred to constantly.
As a brief digression, let us suppose that you believe in none of these. How would acting as if these are not true express in your life? You may come up with a few scenarios, but consider this. If none of the above three “Faiths” are true then life has no ultimate purpose and nothing you or I do ever matters. At their inception, call it my own ego, but I was unwilling to assume that nothing matters.
Upon taking the Zhoharian perspective seriously, and given the newly acquired tenets of faith, back into the Bible I went. This time, however, I was intent that I would never again be tricked and twisted by manmade religious dogma. I started over as freshly as possible. Studying the origins of the Bible as we know it, taking into consideration the books that some group of men decided to omit. Finding the ways in which it had been altered by revision or interpretation was critical and difficult. Setting the books in chronological order was a part of this process.
It struck me that a work that was truly divinely inspired would be as perfect as the Divinity that created it. The perfection of Literature, as you will. When the literal words were considered as the “outer garments”, then knowledge and insight could come from seeking the understanding of how the literal word was a reflection of the use of perfect metaphor, perfect allegory and the perfect use of all the known aspects of literature, leaving open the possibility that some aspects may not be known.
So I began, anew, the quest for truth within the “Word of God”
Naively, I figured I could read through everything it short concentrated order.
It would take me years to get past Genesis.