Thursday, November 07, 2002

Birth Of Religion

While surfing the net this morning, I came across the official YES page, with links to Jon Anderson's pages. Jon Anderson is one of the greatest vocalists around. He is one of my favorite people to listen to. He's been featured on at least one Christian compilation CD, and Phil Keaggy has done some guitar work for an upcoming CD which also features Jon Anderson.

But I have a problem with Jon's religion. I'd describe his religious viewpoint as typical New-Age. He is currently a devotee to someone called Divine Mother. Divine Mother is from Hawaii.

On July 13, 1914, Divine Mother was born in the little sugar town of Waipahu on the Island of Oahu, in Hawaii. She was the second of eight children. Her family was very poor and could only afford to send her to school up through the eighth grade.

Throughout childhood, Mother was deeply spiritual and always prayed for others. She was sent to work as a maid and later married. She had five children and remained at home to care for the family. Around 1972, a divine messenger appeared to Mother and told Mother that Sri Ramakrishna had sent her to show Mother how to give out "God is" message for this age.

So here is yet another person who has received a personal divine revelation. As I stated in an earlier seems that these divine messages come to people when no-one else is around. But they are so "miraculous" that they end up turning their experience into a religion, gather followers.

My question...why would I believe that a person's revelation is actually the truth? What do I have to base this belief on?

When I first became a born again Christian, I remember reading the intro to the Book of Mormon. I was mesmerized and astonished at Joseph Smith's story. I had to immediately tell my brother about my "discovery".

Fortunately, he put me in my place, and admonished me that the story was not true.

I had been of the New-Age kind of gatherer of religious beliefs. I kind of believed everything and anything metaphysical. From witchcraft, to theosophy and astral projection, to east Indian religions and everything in between. I believed what Jon's Divine Mother teaches, that God comes to men through various devoted masters through the ages. And all the religous teachers and icons are paths to the same place.

I really don't buy that now. I don't think that Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddah, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed etc., etc. are all perfect masters of the same path. I frankly think that most, if not all of these paths are just made up by mere men. Regardless of the antiquity of said religions, I cannot now see a clear path to God.

And even speaking from the viewpoint where I have the most experience...that is Christianity...what we see in today's Christian church is NOT what was started by Jesus. Throughout hundreds and thousands of years, the Christian church changed and permutated to what came down to us. And even during The Reformation times, those who protested against the P.C. church of the time, created their own versions of what they thought was the true church.


So is religion, just a feel-good, new-agey, religious feeling that we get? What are those beliefs based on? Where do they come from?

In Jon Anderson's case of his devotion to Divine Mother...she became enlightened when a "divine messenger" appeared to her. Said messenger was Sri Ramakrishna, an avatar, a divine incarnation of God who was born in India in 1836, and died on August 15, 1886.

Says Who?

And where did he get HIS beliefs. And stretch back in time to where all of it began. IMHO a lone idea of a single person who "saw" or "discovered" a belief.

Ancient Beliefs

Akhenaten's Religious revolution.
Akhenaten was Pharaoh in Egypt about 3,500 years ago. His claim to fame was in overthrowing the polytheistic religion of Egypt and instituting the monotheistic worship of one single god; Aten, the sun god.

When he did this, the priests were infuriated. Mainly because Akhenaten was putting them out of business. Though historians don't know the real reason for this religious revolution, some say it was politically based. After Akenaten’s death, the old priests and politicians sought to wipe any memory of Akenaten and his religion from the face of Egypt. They reverted to their old polytheistic beliefs.

Zoroaster (aka Zarathustra)
According to the sources, Zoroaster probably was a priest. Having received a vision from Ahura Mazda (which is simply the name meaning, "the Wise Lord"), the Lord appointed him to preach the truth. Zoroaster apparently was opposed in his teachings by the civil and religious authorities in the area in which he preached. It is not clear whether these authorities were from his native region or from Chorasmia prior to the conversion of Vishtaspa. Confident in the truth revealed to him by Ahura Mazda, Zoroaster apparently did not try to overthrow belief in the older Iranian religion, which was polytheistic; he did, however, place Ahura Mazda at the centre of a kingdom of justice that promised immortality and bliss.

Zoroastrianism evolved into the monotheistic religion that it is today. But it began from one person’s vision. But this religion taught certain beliefs about their version of the one true God, that came from some person’s mind. (see the detail at the URL linked above).

Abraham was from polytheistic Ur, in Mesopotamia. He received a vision where he met Yahweh and was told to go out from his land to a new land that was promised to him and his descendants. For many years, Abraham's religion was that of his and his immediate family. It was after his descendants spent time in Egypt, and multiplied into a greater nation, that the religion of Abraham was embrace by the nation of Israel.

According to the Bible, Moses was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, in polytheistic Egypt. Moses ultimately left the court of Pharaoh and Egypt and fled to Ethiopia. There, Yahweh appears to him in the form of a burning bush. Moses is given a mission to lead Yahweh’s people out of Egypt.

Another time, Moses goes up to the Mountain, alone, and receives the Law from Yahweh.

The Point
So, the point to this missive and my continued questions are these:

Who started these religions?
Is one religion as good or bad as the next? Why or Why not? Weren't they all just made up my the minds of men and women?