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As the title and the introduction of this book suggest, my goal is to enhance world peace by following the Religion of God through understanding and appropriately utilizing the laws of nature. The following objectives provide more details on how to achieve this goal.
1. To encourage religions to focus on the spiritual relationship of man with God
2. To enhance peace and happiness around the world by eliminating or reducing religious differences
3. To encourage the development of a common religion, or at least to find common ground for agreement in teachings that are beneficial to all mankind and other living things
4. To encourage religious teachers to incorporate knowledge from other disciplines and use common sense logic rather than simply depend on faith and beliefs that have existed for hundreds or even thousands of years
5. To strive to understand the true nature of God through His natural laws and the tendencies of His dynamic creation and the creative processes of all living as well as non-living things
6. To provide an alternative for religion for people who may wish to compete with each other yet benefit mankind
Clearly, the burden of fulfilling the above objectives cannot rest on the shoulders of religion alone. The people of the whole world need to come together at different levels to harness and act according to the knowledge that exists in various fields: religion, mathematics, physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, economics, social science, psychology, and all other systematic sources of our knowledge. However, the religions need to carve out a small but a significant role by utilizing the proven knowledge that exists and go beyond to the realm of the unknown. But they should always cooperate in the discovery of the truth, and they should always remain beneficial to all living and non-living things according to the order of importance described in the "rings of focus" (see appendix C).
To present and discuss my ideas, I have chosen to use a question-answer format in the following chapters. I have raised a number of pertinent questions and provided my answers to them. As mentioned in the preface, I have tried to keep my discussions simple without difficult religious jargon. Furthermore, I have not quoted from any source, including religious books. My ideas are applicable to all religions.
What is God?
In different religions and scholarly literatures, God has been defined and described in various ways, even using seemingly contradictory terms. I have come to the conclusion that given the current state of knowledge, it is not possible for human beings to define or describe God in a meaningful way. But to some extent we can see and understand God through His dynamic creations that exist all around us. We feel the wind blow, see the water flow, watch plants grow, observe animals walk. We see the moon, the sun, the light, the planet, the stars, and more.
Who created all these things? Can something be created out of nothing? Can things create themselves? Scientists theorize that the universe was created by a "big bang." But who caused the bang? As I mentioned in the preface, I will keep the book simple; hence, I simply and safely assume that God created everything. But like an atheist, if I did not believe in God it would not matter because the laws of God (or the laws of nature) affect us all equally, without exception.
What are God's Laws (Laws of Nature)?
God's laws, or the laws of nature, are limitless. We human beings have discovered many of these laws and continue to discover more and more every day. Yet we know only a very small proportion of the laws that govern the universe; only God can know it all. However, through our observations over the centuries, coupled with our imaginations, we are able to formulate a model on a portion of God's design that is relevant to us. The model is workable for us because we are able to observe things happening according to the concepts presented in this book. As it is not the purpose of this book to develop any kind of model or theory, the tentative flow diagram of the proposed model has been relegated to appendix A. The concepts in the following list are some of the basic conclusions I have drawn about the characteristics of natural laws pertinent to the objectives of this book:
1. The natural laws of God apply equally to all living and non-living things, including humans, regardless of their religion, race, caste, faith, or lack of faith in God.
2. All living beings are born with God-given instincts. The most important is the survival and control instinct of all living things. The survival and control instinct is tied to the desire to procreate (sexual instinct), eat, sleep, etc., since these activities help us live longer, either through ourselves or through our progeny. Furthermore, the above instincts play an overarching role from the basic protection of mind and body to ultimate immortality. Generally, happiness and peace come when we are assured of our survival and feel reasonably in control of our situation, which, however, varies from individual to individual.
3. All living and non-living things also go through the dynamic process of evolution. The nature of adjustment varies according to the object or the subject.
4. The dynamic process and the cycle of birth and death is the product of the above laws and instincts. Every living and non-living thing goes through this process.
5. Any laws of nature can be circumvented by another law of nature. For example, human beings are not designed to fly, but the knowledge of aerodynamics has helped us to fly.
It seems that God has thrown us a challenge to control or escape the perpetual cycle of life and death. He expects human beings to circumvent an unfavorable law by using another one, which requires new knowledge. Knowledge is the key. We understand these laws of nature much better today than we did hundreds and thousands of years ago. In fact, every year we are making a number of new discoveries. Our knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate.
If our religious books and teachings fail to take note of the growing body of new knowledge, their usefulness to humanity will be considerably reduced. Furthermore, the natural laws bind us all together, and I have a strange feeling that we are all moving in the same direction toward attaining immortality, whether we know it or not and whether we want it or not. Unfortunately, we are moving in a zigzag fashion toward our goal. If we moved in a straight line, we would make more progress.
What is God's Challenge to Us?
As mentioned earlier, we are being constantly affected by the dynamic process of birth and death. In addition, there are God-given negative tendencies in every living being; for example, we have selfishness, cruelty, dishonesty, anger, and so on. We also have opposite good tendencies. Furthermore, the natural laws of God, which by their nature are neutral, could affect us negatively or positively depending upon the situation. But fortunately God has given us the powerful, innate ability to control the negative effects of the laws as well as the tendencies. The challenge is this: can we as human beings effectively harness our mental and physical resources to ensure that the weakest may live; to ensure that we have peace, understanding, and harmony around the world; and to ensure that we move in a straight line toward the ultimate goal of immortality?
To accomplish the challenges above, we need to have great societies with a great civilization that has appropriate religious ideas and legal, administrative, social, economic, and international systems; in fact, this would be quite similar to the system we already have, or are trying to have, but it needs to be much better and maybe have a different orientation. We must think for the rest of the world the same way we think for our own nation and people. To avoid our narrow focus on our own country, we should collectively develop beneficial international systems, procedures, provisions, etc., and apply them uniformly to all nations. We should expect imperfections in any man-made system, but we should try to learn from our experiences and fine-tune our systems.
My focus in this book is on religion, which is a very powerful force in every society, affecting our lives in many ways. Furthermore, religion has a special place in our minds and hearts because it guides us toward our spiritual connection to God and more. Before I focus my discussion on religion, let me pose and address an assortment of questions which, besides being themselves interesting, should also help the readers understand my perception of God and how His laws affect us all.
Is God Merciful or Unmerciful?
God is neutral. He does not intervene to save any one because He is pleased, and He does not put someone in danger because He is displeased. Thinking of Him in any other way is to bring him down to the human level. In my opinion, miracles happen according to God's laws, not because of God's special intervention. For example, you might hear news about a plane crash in which some passengers were miraculously saved. The plane happened to hit a snowy mountain, which killed everyone except a very few people in the tail of the plane, which came down the mountain like an expert skier. It was certainly a miracle for the people who lived. Did God personally intervene? In my opinion, absolutely not. If we knew exactly where the tail broke off, how it fell, where it fell, and at what angle it fell, etc., we would know why the tail came down skiing. It all happened according to the laws of physics or the laws of nature. We see these kinds of unusual things happening all the time. No one can cure cancer or cause a blind man to see or a lame man to walk simply by touching him. If these things seem to have happened, then there are other reasons why they happened. No one can cause a miracle outside the laws of nature.
You may have heard about the tsunami that hit South Asia, particularly Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and a few other places in December of 2004. There were so many cases of miraculous escapes (some waves pulled people to the middle of the ocean, and then other waves pushed them ashore). Of course, over 150,000 people died and many more were rendered homeless. Was God unmerciful or downright cruel to all the people who died and merciful to only to the few who escaped? Anyone with a bit of common sense and logic will know that it cannot be true. But everything happened according to God's laws. The tsunami was the result of a massive earthquake, which in turn was the result of other forces at work under the ocean. With better knowledge, communication, and early warning systems, many lives could have been saved. Yet the reasons provided by some religious people about why the tsunami happened or why so many people died are truly mind-boggling, as if the religious people have no sense of God or reality. As Japan is hit by tsunamis often, the country is better prepared to anticipate incoming tsunamis; hence, it protects its people to a great erextent. Appropriate knowledge and actions are the key in protecting people.
Is It Evolution, or Is It Creation?
Practically all religions have the concept that human beings were directly created and sent by God to the earth. It is understandable why hundreds and thousands of years ago even the learned, godlike people might have thought that way. There was little scientific understanding of how life was created, how humans evolved, and so forth. Furthermore, they saw human beings so far apart from the animal world in every respect that it was inconceivable to think that human beings had any similarity with the animal world or that human beings could have actually evolved from animals. In fact, they had no concept of evolution (see appendix A).
What is surprising to me is that even today, the religions continue to believe in the direct creation of human beings. It seems to me that they think as if evolution is a scientific invention and therefore different from the creative activity or God's creation. But they forget that evolution is a dynamic process of God's creation.
It seems to me that all living as well as non-living things go through the evolution process. The living things evolve into a more durable form, and the non-living things evolve to reach equilibrium in the universe.
Do We Have a Soul?
As far as I know, no one has either proven or disproven the existence of a "soul." It seems that practically every religion believes in the existence of a soul. It is really a matter of belief. It does not seem to hurt anyone if we believe in the existence of a soul. It is difficult to accept that when we die, we are gone forever. Some religions even believe in rebirth and that our souls come back and reside in other living beings on this earth. The soul is said to carry the "effects" of the good and bad deeds of our past lives and accordingly influences every aspect of our present lives. It may be a good concept to believe in since it gives us an incentive to be decent individuals and live pious lives; it is also a warning that everyone will be punished for their bad deeds in this life or the next.
The disadvantage, however, is that if our lives are not going well and we are barely eking out a living, we may accept our condition (rather than do something about it) as the punishment for our deeds in our past life (fatalistic attitude). Even worse, if the whole society has the same belief, it may be uncompassionate to the suffering of others, as if they deserve it. Maybe one can cope with his sufferings better by believing that he deserves it based on the deeds of his past life, but certainly such thoughts do not enhance our ability to change our present conditions and make any kind of progress.
I, personally, can live with the concept of soul, rebirth, and so forth, but something deep inside me tells me that when we die, we are gone forever! The elements we are made of may live forever, whether transformed into something else or not. But it will have nothing to do with us anymore. Furthermore, even if we have souls that do not die and we are born again and again on this earth, it really does not matter because we cannot remember any of it anyway.
In my opinion, we had better have a system to reward good deeds and punish the bad ones in this life and not wait for God to do it for us in the next life. As mentioned earlier, God does not intervene. It is up to us to improve our social, economic, legal, and administrative systems; increase our scientific knowledge to reward; punish people based on their deeds; and help develop a better society.
How Can We Understand and Experience God?
The best way to understand God is to understand his laws: the laws of nature. The more we understand the laws of nature, the more we understand God. We understand God a lot more now than we did at the beginning of human existence. We may also understand and experience Him through his creations: plants, animals, humans, water, air, land, chemical elements, the planet Earth, the solar system, and the universe itself. God is the perfect creator with perfect knowledge. To be one with God, to be immortal, we need to have perfect knowledge also!
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
As mentioned earlier, the laws of nature apply equally to everyone, whether one is a good or a bad person. For example, if a person is a good person who spends all his life in the service of other people or in the worship of God but while driving a car one day hits a truck, he may be injured or may even die, whether the accident was his fault or not. Bad things can happen to good people due to their association with bad people or a bad environment and whether they know it or not.
If you drive to work every day through a bad neighborhood, your probability of one day falling victim to someone bad is higher than if you used safer roads. Another example is Pan Am flight 103 which, due to a bomb explosion, blew up in the sky and fell like a fireball on the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988. The accident killed all the people in the plane, destroyed houses, and killed more people on the ground. It was not an act of God; it was the act of evil people: the terrorists who put the bomb in the plane. The passengers on Pan Am flight 103 died because they, although unknowingly, were in association with the act of evil people. Religious people from around the world may provide a spiritual answer to a tragedy, somehow involving God in it as they explain in the case of tsunami victims in South Asia. But the truth is that God has nothing to do with it. Once the bomb exploded, everything happened according to the laws of physics (and laws of nature). God did not wish these people to die, but God also made no effort to save them. It is up to human beings to have a system to prevent these kinds of accidents and also to try to understand what happened leading to the bombing of the plane. There are many examples like these.
Excerpted from The Religion of God FOR PEACE ON EARTH by Sam Sarkar Copyright © 2012 by Sam Sarkar. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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