Looking back in history, and you will find that religion is one of the essences of human civilization. Every civilizations that thrived has its own religious component, be it Polytheism or Monotheism. Egypt, China and India were several civilizations that worshiped multiple gods, also not forgetting the Inca, Maya and almost all tribal or jungle dwelling ethnics.
The mesopotamia civilization started in present day Iraq, and it is the birthplace of three of the most related-yet-conflicting religions in the world; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Christianity came from Judaism, and Islam was founded some 400 years after Christianity. Yet the three of them hold different principles, hate one another and of course, worship the same God. Ironic huh~
|Temple of the Maya|
The notorious churches of Europe were responsible for the downfall of Europe during the dark ages. During this period, the church authority was so influential that they owned land, and influenced the outcome of royal infighting. The Catholic church oppressed science scholars, preventing them from teaching science as most of its principles contradicted that of the churches'.
Take astronomy for example, Mr Copernicus was a priest of a certain clergy somewhere in Europe in medieval time. He was convinced that the Sun was the centre of the universe, and not the Earth. He secretly wrote a book whilst fearing for his position as a priest, and published it when he was on his deathbed.
There were many other scholars who were pressured by the church authority to accommodate their teachings in accordance to the church.
They killed in the name of God and their presence sent fear across Europe. The Christian and Muslim war went on for centuries, never resolved and never won by neither side. Next in line was the bubonic plaque, which wiped out 1/3 of the population of Europe at that time, and church was once again responsible for the slow recovery of the population. The disaster was thought to be the punishment of God. And once I read from the Nat Geo website that an ancient skull was found to have a brick in its jaw. It was believed that the skull belonged to a women that was believed to be a vampire that rose up at night to feast on the blood of the deceased. This is an example of wrong perceptions incorporated by the churches upon its believers during the medieval time.
Enough of history, let us observe the people around us. We can see that the Muslim world is uneasy about Israel, and also the minority muslim ethnic of Uighurs of China being relentlessly bullied by the majority Hans. There are also minority Muslim in Southern Thailand, close to Perlis, constantly living in fear. There are also Muslims in the southern part of Philippines being oppressed by the majority Christians of the Philippines.
Looking at this, perhaps we should ponder:
What is the purpose of religion?
If religion separates us and leads to war, what is the good of religion?
If we fear God, instead of loving Him, then why did He created us in the first place?
If evolution is true, what is God's purpose?
If Big Bang is true, then where is God's place in the creation of the world?
Last week I went to church and the visiting pastor was preaching something about the state of Israel and its history in the Bible, one that stirred something deep within me.
I am not going to mention the pastor's name, and all information stated here is merely for reference, judge whatever you like.(cheh, act pro gila...)
First, the pastor highlighted Isaiah 22:20-24
"22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 23 I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat [a] of honor for the house of his father. 24 All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars."
This verse highlights the promise of God to strengthen the Israelites amongst the nations, and that they are to be the leader of the world.
The pastor went on and urged the congregation to pray for Jerusalem. Now that the city of David is in the land of Israel, the surrounding 22 Muslim countries are preparing for war against Israel.
Why war? What war? According to what I read from TIMES, Iran is currently developing nuclear arms. And the entire Muslim world is now united, something which never happened before, for a single aim; the destruction of Israel. The Muslims were hitherto disputing over territories, oil revenues, clean water, etc. But now, the destruction of the state of Israel has united them and Iran is apparently the leader. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted saying that " the enemy can do nothing to stop us!" by the TIMES.
The determination of the Muslim states is adamant, and I personally think that this war is inevitable should Israel continue to oppress the state of Palestine and its people. The pastor even said that God's chosen people should ultimately prevail. Well he should also understand the fact that the anger of the Muslim community sparked from the decision by United Nations some 60 years ago to give the land of Palestine to the Jewish people for NO APPARENT REASON. What's worse, the Jewish people has since expanded their territory countless times until the Palestinian territory shrunk to what it is now.
|Israel-Palestine map from 1947-2000. Green-Palestine Land, White-Jewish Land.|
Dear pastor, as far as I can see, the United States is the greatest ally any country could have, and Israel is sitting right on top of it. You're asking United Nations to protect Israel, then who is voicing out to protect the state of Palestine?
Next the pastor highlighted Psalm 83
O God, do not keep silent;
be not quiet, O God, be not still.
2 See how your enemies are astir,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 "Come," they say, "let us destroy them as a nation,
that the name of Israel be remembered no more."
5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you-(referring to the 22 Arab Nations uniting for the first time in human history to plot the downfall of Israel)
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,(Edom is another name for Esau, Ishmaelites are people from Northern Arabia)
of Moab and the Hagrites,(Moab is modern day Jordan, Arabs east of Jordan River)
7 Gebal, [a] Ammon and Amalek,(Gebal is Northern Lebanon)
Philistia, with the people of Tyre. ( Philistia is the state of Palestine)
8 Even Assyria has joined them (Assyria centres in Iraq)
to lend strength to the descendants of Lot.
9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
and became like refuse on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,(claiming that Israelites should prevail over their enemies)
12 who said, "Let us take possession
of the pasturelands of God."
13 Make them like tumbleweed, O my God,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame
so that men will seek your name, O LORD.
17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
The book of Psalm was written by Asaph some 2500 years ago, and it foretold the event that is about to happen now, 2500 years later. The pastor also claimed that God is not done with Israel, therefore He will not let them perish in the hands of their enemy.
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is an organization that fights for the freedom of Palestine. They hate Israel and of course, they want it destroyed. In Islamic context, they are the real heroes who dare to challenge the supremacy of Israel, they are launching Jihad against God's enemy. Yet how many of us know that HAMAS means VIOLENCE in Hebrew? Here we're talking about a violent group claiming to be the savior running a country...
Israel too, is watching all this unfurls. She observes her violent neighbors, and building her own army as well. She's having the United States as ally, and so nobody dares to say no~
Several weeks ago, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu made several speeches to the country. He was quoting from the bible about the promises of God to deliver them from their enemies, to lift their hands and break the skulls of their enemies.
But the fact is, Israel was the one bullying her neighbors. Jews kicked Palestinians out from their land, and expanded their territory over the Palestinian border. Well pastor, I think that God is just, He will not help those who oppress others.
And yesterday I saw in the newspaper that Netanyahu was humiliated during his trip to United States. Apparently President Obama has had enough of the Middle East, and this time he isn't helping Israel. In fact he demanded some action to be taken by the Jewish state to restore peace in the Middle East.
The pastor went on and on, delivering mostly pro-Jewish messages.
One interesting thing that he highlighted was that God loves the Israelites even though they'd rejected Him, nailing Him on the cross. Christians accuse Jews for murdering Jesus. The Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. And the pastor insisted that God loves the Jews, and NOT NECESSARILY ALL CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS. He will still place the Jews ahead of us gentiles due to His promises to Abraham.
Now we have plenty of evidence to suggest that evolution is real, we do have fossil evidence of our primate ancestors, Ardi, the Hobbits, and we also have DNA analysis to suggest our relationship with these monkeys. How about the Bible's claim that there was a man called Samson that killed a lion with bare hand? If we can find bones of monkeys that died earlier than Samson, why can't we find bones of any of the biblical figure? It is sad that the Bible, despite its usefulness as a guide, being interpreted as the answer to all questions. It is an answer to our mental and emotional problem, but physical world is not shaped by mere words. Chaos is a good example.
In my opinion, bible scholars should not interpret the bible literally.
We humans have religion, because we can think. We have emotional feeling, and we feel hurt, disappointed at times. Therefore the bible is the answer to our pain, as in emotional pain. That is why animals do not have religion, simply because they do not feel emotional disappointment. They do feel pain, and hurt, because they have the pain-sensitive nerves, but they won't be disappointed, nor jealous. They will not plot against their enemies, and certainly will never fight over religion.
Lastly, the pastor said that Christians and the United Nations are the main perpetrator of the fate of Israel now. We, in many ways never raise a voice or heed the call for help from Gaza.
Upon hearing this I felt a sudden rush of anger within me. He was so into helping Israel, so believing in the literal interpretation of Bible that Israel is ALWAYS LOVED by God that he accuse us Christians as the source of their downfall. He also quoted what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
He inteprets this as though Jesus asking us to treat HIS JEWISH BROTHERS good, just like we would to Him.
This sermon ended in silence, not many people agreeing with the pastor. Given a chance, I would like to confront him and ask him some questions really. But I can see that he is quite a radical person, aggressor in a sense, so yea.. I probably will chicken out :P
I will not support the prayer for Israel, even after this message. They are often discriminated, yes I do agree to a certain extend. But to allow them to carry on with their violence across the Gaza strip, I beg to differ.
The Muslim world is angry, and rightly so. But there is a chinese proverb that says "killing each other continually, when would it end?" Someone has to give way... I hate the fact that they are waging war in the name of God. They claim to be the warrior of God on Earth, and that really is a jinx of humanity. They claim to be loving and kind.. and this is what they do to kids...
Modern day children sacrifice... akin to tribal practices.
note: I'm not supporting any side in this affair, as you can see I'm contradicting in my stance. I critisized both sides for causing all the problem. Let them fight on if they intend to. As for me, I don't think God needs us to go to war for Him.
If God is so weak that He needs you to wage war for Him, then that's a God not worth dying for.