You've Got Me All Wrong
I invite you to read these five sample chapters from the new book. I will be here on this page over the next few days to chat with you about these chapters. So be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment thread below. I look forward to hearing from you.
The Basis of So Much
IT'S NOT A SMALL THING to be wrong about God.
And if nearly everyone on the planet is wrong about God, it’s really not a small thing.
If nearly everyone on the planet has mistaken notions about God, then nearly everything that everyone on the planet is doing will not work the way it was intended. This is because the basis of so much of what they’re doing is found in so many of their beliefs about God.
Nearly all of civilization’s modern laws emerged from the early rules and laws of some faith tradition. Nearly all of humanity’s moral codes derive from the mandates of a religion. Nearly every political movement and economic theory is based on ideas of justice, right-and-wrong, and basic fairness first espoused by spiritual teachers.
Even those who don’t believe in God are impacted and guided by many of the fundamental principles placed into the Cultural Story by those who do.
And a striking number of the personal decisions made by billions of individuals across the globe are made within the context of what they believe to be the purpose of life, what they believe happens when this life is over, what they believe about God, and about what God wants.
So it’s not a small thing to be wrong about God.
Proposition: Not one of the systems we have put into place to make life better on this planet is working.
Wait. It’s worse.
Not only have the systems we have put into place failed to produce the outcomes for which they were intended—they are actually producing exactly the opposite.
I have made this point before, in previous books. I believe it is worth repeating, with emphasis.
Our political systems are actually increasing disagreement and disarray. Our economic systems are actually increasing poverty and the gulf between the rich and the poor. Our ecological systems are actually increasing environmental degradation.
Our health care systems are actually increasing inequality of access to modern medicines and health care services. Our educational systems are actually increasing the knowledge gap. Our social systems are actually increasing disparity, disharmony, and injustice.
And, perhaps saddest of all, our spiritual systems are actually increasing righteousness, intolerance, anger, hatred, violence, and war.
If the improvement of human life upon the earth were a laboratory experiment, it would have long ago been considered an abject failure.
Indeed, an appalling disaster.
Not everyone agrees. There are those who believe that humanity is evolving to higher and higher levels of sophistication and achievement, producing a better and better quality of life for all the members of our species.
It is possible that they would not, however, be among the 842 million people (one in eight in the world) who do not have enough to eat. It is certain that they would not be the parents of the over 650 children who die of starvation every hour.
They would presumably not be among the 20.9 million women and children who are bought and sold into commercial sexual servitude every year.
They would also, one imagines, not be among the over three billion people who live on less than $2.50 a day, or the billions who have no access to health care. (Some 19,000 children die each day from preventable health issues, such as malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia.)
They would probably also not be among the 1.7 billion people who lack clean water, or the 2.6 billion without basic sanitation, or the 1.6 billion people—a quarter of humanity—who live without electricity.
That’s right. In the first quarter of the twenty-first century, 2.6 billion people live without toilets, and 1.6 billion without electricity.
How is this possible?, you might ask. And that is a very good question.
It is an especially good question given that humanity imagines itself to be a “civilized” species. To the people in the above categories, the “civilization of Civilization” has not even begun.
A planet where 5 percent of the population owns or controls 95 percent of the wealth and resources—and where most of that 5 percent think this is perfectly okay, even as unconscionable numbers languish in lack and suffering—would not seem to be a planet on which a great deal of humanitarian advancement has been achieved.
All of this is possible because of the collective values of those people who can do something about it. And where do those values come from? I suggest they derive in large part from the well-intentioned, but mistaken, beliefs about God held by many human beings—including those who do not believe in God at all.
Does anybody care that our species has been such a failure—or why?
Does anybody imagine it has not been?
Does anybody want to know how this whole situation can be turned around in the blink of an eye?
Does anyone want to know how his or her own personal life can be changed for the better with the embracing of a single idea?
Do you? Do you want to know?
Are You Ready for the Great What If?
IF YOU WERE THINKING this was going to be a once-over-easy book, you were mistaken. If, on the other hand, you are up to an intriguing, often controversial intellectual and spiritual challenge, you’ve come to just the right place.
More than that, this could also be one of the most important books you have ever read. For the world, it is intended to be exactly that: One of the most important books ever read.
If that sounds pretentious, I’m sorry. But it’s a time for bold statements. God knows, it’s time.
This book explores seventeen statements about God. Here
• God is to be feared.
• God may not even exist.
• God exists and is a superhuman male being.
• God demands obedience.
• God sees us as imperfect, and we may not return to God in an imperfect state.
• God requires us to believe in God, and to worship God in a specific way.
• God is vengeful and God’s love can turn to wrath.
• God was at war with the Devil, and that’s how this all began.
• God determines what is right and wrong.
• God’s forgiveness is required for us to get into heaven.
• God has a plan for us.
• God is on our side.
• God honors self-sacrifice, long-suffering (preferably in silence), and martyrdom.
• God sometimes answers our prayers and sometimes does not.
• God will reward us or punish us on Judgment Day.
• God wants us to return to heaven.
• God is separate from us.
Not one of these statements is true.
True or not, these statements epitomize what the largest number of people in our world who believe there is a God, believe about God.
This book challenges those beliefs. On these pages we’re going to deeply examine The Great What If?
What if even half of the above statements are not true? What if a third of them are not? What if only one of them turns out to be mistaken?
Here’s what’s so: If even one of the seventeen statements about God above is not true, the whole list crumbles. The world’s dogma about Deity falls apart. Because one depends upon the other for the whole dogma to hold together.
Yet the purpose of this book is not to dismantle anyone’s belief in God, but just the opposite. The purpose of this book is to recreate that belief, to make it bigger and better than ever— by revealing a God who is bigger and better than most people ever imagined.
It will be no surprise, then, that some of the things that will be said here may take you to the edge of your comfort zone. They certainly will stretch believability.
If they were instantly, totally believable, people would be believing them now. Most people do not believe them now for a remarkably sad reason: They’re too good to be true.
Yet if beliefs about God cannot be too good to be true, what can?
Still, I totally understand if you find it a little unnerving to enter into an exploration about God that moves outside the boundaries you are used to. Yet it shouldn’t be a discomforting or disquieting experience to explore our understandings about God.
Nor should it be one that produces anger. Even if this book does nothing else but confirm your own present beliefs about God, it will have done exactly what it was intended to do. You see that, don’t you? The point of the book is to point you to your innermost truth—and invite you to live it more profoundly.
The book simply opens the question. It simply engages the discussion. It invites a very personal examination by you of what you believe. To that end, it can’t fail—unless you fail to engage it with a deep purity in your heart, a deep desire to undertake what could be, as I said, the most important personal exploration of your life.
God invites you to question. God invites you to wonder. God invites you to come to your own conclusions, not blindly accept the conclusions of others. This is bravery, not blasphemy. And the last I heard, God does not punish bravery.
What should be alarming to us is not exploring our understandings—ever. This can do more than simply bring our personal and spiritual growth to a halt. If millions of us decided to “stay put”—if millions of us simply refused to even explore or investigate ideas and beliefs about God other than those we have always adopted—that wouldn’t be good for our species.
Millions of us have decided to “stay put.”
That hasn’t been good for our species.
In fact, it’s one of the main reasons that such dismal conditions exist on our planet, and that huge numbers of people are unhappy—including many of those who are supposedly living the “good life.”
When even people who you would think have every reason to be happy are not happy, you know something’s amiss. And you know the problem must be systemic, or such a huge number of people would not be unhappy such a huge amount of the time.
That shouldn’t be. That doesn’t make sense. On a planet as blessed as ours, with a species as intelligent and innovative and inventive as ours, that shouldn’t be happening. Something is not adding up.
So here’s a question for all of us to ponder:
Is it possible that there is something
we don’t fully understand about God,
the understanding of which
could change everything?
Our First Misunderstanding about God:
God is to be Feared
OF ALL THE THINGS I'VE been told about God through all the years that I’ve been on the planet, the saddest thing I’ve ever heard is something that has been spoken over and over and over again by all the voices of authority: Be afraid of God. Christianity is replete with such admonitions. So is Islam. So are the teachings of Judaism. From each of these major religions we hear words such as these . . .
“Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13); “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10); “And whoever fears Allah, he will make for him a way out.” (Surah at Talaq 65:2); “Let all the earth fear the Lord.” (Psalms 33:8)
There’s more. Much more.
“Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Holiness is perfected through the fear of God? Yes, that’s been the teaching. And it has been shared not just with the pious and holy few in monasteries and studious seclusion who have been seeking “holiness,” but widely spoken, so that “all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it [is] mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:24)
Now comes The Great What If . . .
What if we need not
fear God for any reason?
Would it make a difference? Does it matter? In the overall scheme of things, would it have any significant impact in our planetary experience?
Yes. Of course it would. If we thought that we had no reason to fear God, the bottom would drop out of most every religious doctrine in the world. Religion itself would not disappear (I do not think the idea and the practice of honoring our natural impulse toward The Divine will ever vanish from the human experience), but only its “high” would remain. Its bottom—the notion that God must be feared because God is an angry, judgmental, condemning, and punishing Deity—would dissolve.
Then, we would have to find another reason to act or not act in a certain way, do or not do a certain thing, hold or not hold a certain thought about life, about each other, about why we are here in physical form, and about the whole experience, top to bottom, of humanity’s presence on this planet.
But it would take a lot to convince us that God is not to be feared. We’ve gotten the message. And in case we haven’t, it’s been repeated to us—taken from the scriptures and put into their own words—by many people we have reason to admire.
Like David Livingstone, a widely known and immensely popular national hero in Great Britain, whose meeting with H. M. Stanley in 1871 while working as a medical missionary in Africa gave rise to the popular quotation, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”, and who told us: “Fear God and work hard.” Like Oswald Chambers, the early twentieth-century Scottish evangelist and teacher, best known as the author of the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, who told us: “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
Like Ray Comfort, a present-day Christian minister and evangelist who wrote The Way of the Master, and who told us: “When men don’t fear God, they give themselves to evil.“ (In other words, it’s only fear of God that stops us from behaving badly.)
Or—not to put too fine a point on it, but—like Charles Inglis, an Irishman and the first bishop in the Church of England for the diocese of Nova Scotia in the early nineteenth century, who modeled what thousands of clergy have done before and since, perfectly echoing scripture when he told us: “To fear God is one of the first and greatest duties of his rational creatures.”
So we see, then, that fearing God is a duty.
My childhood experience of Catholicism was that it is a really friendly religion. All I had to do was go to Mass on Sunday, go to Confession on Saturday, receive Holy Communion regularly, obey the Commandments, follow the teachings of the church, live a life as free of sin as possible, and I’d be good with God.
But if I seriously questioned what I was taught—and most certainly if I rejected any major aspect of it—God would not be happy with me, and there could be hell to pay.
And my religion was not the only religion that historically put fear into the hearts of men and women. Consider this announcement, made back in May of 1420:
A Sudanese court has sentenced a pregnant 27-year-old woman, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, to death for marrying a Christian man and affirming her faith in Christianity.
The woman stands accused and convicted of apostasy, as the court in Khartoum regards her as a Muslim. The court considered immaterial the fact that she was raised Christian by her mother after her Muslim father left when she was six years old.
Because her father was Muslim, the courts considered her one, too, making her marriage to a non-Muslim man not recognized and void. She has therefore also been convicted of adultery, and sentenced to 100 lashes.
I’m so sorry, I made a typo there. I typed those numbers in reverse order. That was not back in May, 1420—that was back in May, 2014.
You read that right. In 2014 a woman was sentenced to death after being convicted of renunciation of her Islamic faith. Her conviction was overturned only after an international outcry. And so we see that between the fear of hell and the fear of death, religions have, to this day, found a way to keep the faithful . . . well . . .
. . . faithful.
Merely questioning official religious doctrine can result in being shunned or marginalized by one’s spiritual community—to say nothing of, in some nations, facing formal charges of apostasy, resulting in expulsion from the country, or even a sentence of death.
On top of the anxiety and terror that has been instilled in the faithful (or should they be called “the fearful”?), there is that previously mentioned natural inclination in many people to never in any event doubt, question, or challenge their most deeply held beliefs, because they think that to do so would dishonor their family, tradition, or culture.
Put fear of God and reluctance to dishonor the past together and it’s no wonder that spiritual exploration beyond the borders of accepted doctrine and adopted orthodoxy does not come easily to human beings. Yes, it can be deeply unsettling at best, and scary at worst.
Where does this age-old idea that we are supposed to fear God come from? It is based on the false notion that there are two things that God wants: Love and Justice.
We are told that to fulfill His first desire, God has granted each human being ample and repeated opportunity to be reconciled with Him. To fulfill the second, God, at the end of each human life, sits in judgment of every human soul, deciding at this “reckoning” whether the soul has earned everlasting reward in heaven or everlasting damnation in hell—or something in between: a possible sentence of temporary, but agonizing, “purification” in what Catholics and some other Christians call Purgatory.
(Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refer to this not-eternally-damned place as Spirit Prison, where souls are said to exist in pain, guilt, and anguish, but only until the final judgment, when all are given another and last chance to declare that Jesus Christ is their savior.)
The reason for all this, we are told, is that nothing but perfection and holiness may exist in heaven. (We’ll be talking more about this later.) Since few of us die in a state of absolute perfection and complete holiness, some of us must go to an interim location in order to be cleansed of our sins through torment and suffering that is hellish, but not eternal. The length of our suffering is apparently determined by the length of the list of our sins.
Others of us must go straight to hell, there to suffer forever for sins we’ve committed that are so serious, they cannot even be burned away through temporary torment; they simply cannot and will not be forgiven by God.
While Catholics speak of purgatory perhaps more than people of some other faiths, this notion of an interim (and fearful) experience prior to entering heaven is not limited to Catholicism, nor even to the broader category of all the sects in Christianity. The practice of caring for the dead and praying for them existed long before the birth of Christ—as, for instance, in certain Egyptian rites. It is found in Islamic and Judaic traditions as well.
Indeed, ancient holy scriptures speak of a process of apocatastasis—a term derived from the ancient Greek which is understood to mean reconstitution, restitution, or restoration to the original or primordial condition.
Human beings on the earth are said to be able to assist the souls of the dearly departed through prayers and offerings. In early Christianity the wealthy could be said to obtain for their deceased beloveds what was called a Plenary Indulgence—springing them free from purgatory instantly upon the bestowing of a great sum of money, or lands, or both to the Catholic Church (which practice led to Martin Luther’s decision to openly protest, resulting in the Protestant movement called The Reformation).
With all this worrying about, praying and caring for the dead having gone on for all these thousands of years, it is small wonder that so many people to this very day fear what God’s wrath may impose on them after death.
God has been telling us from the very beginning, and it is becoming more clear to us every day, that humanity’s Ancient Cultural Story about needing to fear God is plainly and simply inaccurate.
It is okay now to remove this ancient teaching from our current story, and to stop telling this to ourselves and to our children.
The last thing God would suggest is that we fear God.
God does not even command us to love God. We can love God if we want to, but God does not need us to, require us to, or command us to. Love is not something God commands. Love is what God is.
God experiences what God is whether we know it or not. God does not need us to supply to God what God is, in order for God to experience it. God supplies us with what God is, and the sadness is, we very often refuse to experience it.
What kind of a Deity would command us to fear God and to love God at the same time? This is the question you have to ask if you are going to fairly address the matter of whether this kind of theology makes sense.
The current theology of billions asserts that God is a jealous God, a vengeful God, and an angry God who uses violence on human beings and who has commanded human beings to do so on each other. It also declares that God is a caring God, a compassionate God, a merciful God, and a loving God who wants nothing but the best for us.
One result of this teaching: Even as most humans feel they have to fear God, they also want to love God. Many human beings thus confuse fear and love, seeing them as connected in some way.
Where God is concerned, we love to be afraid and we’re afraid not to love. We’ve actually made it a virtue to be “God fearing,” even as we seek to keep the commandment to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, all thy heart, and all thy soul.”
According to our Ancient Cultural Story, God has made it clear that He loves humans if they do what He wants. If they do not, humans shall know His wrath. They’ll be condemned to everlasting damnation.
Some say that God acts with love when He shows His wrath. He takes kind of a “this hurts me more than it hurts you” parental profile. He is loving when He condemns people to eternal and unspeakable torture. With this explanation, they seek to preserve the image and the notion of a loving God.
Thus, many people have become very confused about the true nature of love. Human beings “get,” at some deeply intuitive level, that the imposing of unending punishment does not seem like a very loving thing to do. Yet they are told that such punishment is a demonstration of the purest and highest love, with God simply seeking to preserve perfect justice and pure holiness in heaven. Since God is just, He must exact justice, so the ancient story goes. It’s God’s love in action (God’s love of perfection, if not God’s love of people).
This packaging of love and fear in human theology has not been without consequences in human behavior. People have become skittish about the very thing they want the most.
The notion that God must exact justice through punishment suggests that God is paralyzed by His own law, and has less freedom than a judge in a human court of law. God is simply unable to do as He says He chooses.
This would indeed give us cause to be fearful, for we have a God who apparently has no choice regarding His own decisions.
It’s not unusual for human beings to therefore be afraid of human love, even as they have been made afraid of God’s love. They have been taught that God’s love can turn to wrath in a flicker, producing horrifying results—and that God has no choice about this. “Dem’s da rules.”
Or, worse yet, that God does have a choice about it, and actively chooses, every single time, without exception for mercy or compassion, to condemn souls to everlasting damnation, unrelenting torture, eternal anguish, and indescribable suffering in the fires of Hades.
Having had all of this made clear about their relationship with God, people often move into a closer love relationship with each other plagued by an understandable thought: “Now what is this person going to want, need, or expect from me? And how will I be punished if I don’t supply it? Will I hear the answer to that question in Divorce Court, where I will be judged?”
This is, after all, our understanding of the nature of our relationship with an all-powerful God. Why or how would it be anything less with a much weaker fellow human being?
There is also the corollary thought that partners in a relationship have a right to expect certain things in exchange for love—even as God expects certain things—and that love is therefore a quid pro quo proposition.
These expectations and fears undermine many love relationships at the outset. They certainly undermine our relationship with God.
And there is another ramification of all of this. Because the highest love describable and the worst torture imaginable have been linked in the minds of humans as natural expressions on the part of God, most humans believe that it’s right and proper for them, as well, to love and torture others at the same time—and to personally judge, condemn, and punish others who offend them.
This has created an entire system of what we have labeled “justice” in our world—much of which perpetrates, by almost everyone’s most candid assessments, injustice far too often.
Let us be clear, now and forevermore, that fear of God is not the ideal or highest state of holiness, consciousness, spirituality, or even religiosity. It is, in fact, the furthest thing from it.
Let us make a point of that.
Fear of God is not the ideal
or highest state of holiness,
consciousness, spirituality, or even
religiosity. It is, in fact, the
furthest thing from it.
Fear of God must necessarily be based on a false thought. The thought is that God is going to “get” us if we don’t do what God wants. Somewhere inside of us we know that this can’t be true, and so fear of God feels the way a lie feels. Have you ever noticed how your stomach turns when you know you’re telling a lie? That is how your stomach feels when someone tells you to fear God.
The sadness of most theologies is that they require us to adopt the notion that the joyous nature and the wondrous quality of both this life and the life hereafter is not a guarantee. Embracing a fear of God is your declaration that God has a preference in the matter of how you live your life—and that God has no way of experiencing this preference without using on you the threat of retribution beyond your worst nightmare.
Fear is the logical outcome of humanity having accepted, as if they were true, five fallacies about God: First, that God needs something. Second, that God can fail to get what He needs. Third, that God has separated you from Him because you have not given Him what He needs. Fourth, that God still needs what He needs so badly that God now requires you, from your separated position, to give it to Him. Fifth, that God will destroy you if you do not meet His requirements.
Each of these statements would seem to be so obviously fallacious on their surface that they hardly deserve further discussion. Yet taken as a group, they comprise the foundational basis of most of the world’s religions. And what is remarkable is that humanity has been unable to acknowledge that these five fallacies have brought more pain and destruction to day-today existence than all other beliefs about life combined.
The fact is that, as spiritual teacher Ernest Holmes wrote in his wonderful book, The Science of Mind:
“Love is the central flame of the universe; nay, the very fire itself. It is written that God is Love, and that we are His expressed likeness, the image of the Eternal Being.
“Love is self-givingness through creation, the impartation of The Divine through the human. Love is an essence, an atmosphere, which defies analysis, as does life itself. It is that which IS and cannot be explained: it is common to all people, to all animal life, and evident in the response of plants to those who love them. Love reigns supreme over all.
“The essence of love, while elusive, pervades everything, fires the heart, stimulates the emotions, renews the soul and proclaims the Spirit.
“Only love knows love, and love knows only love. Words cannot express its depths or meaning. A universal sense alone bears witness to the divine fact: God is Love and Love is God.”
What is to fear in that?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Yet millions—nay, billions— continue to be enslaved by the thought that it is wise and good to be “God fearing.”
What the world would grandly benefit from right now is a civil rights movement for the soul, freeing humanity at last from the oppression of its beliefs in a violent, angry, and vindictive God.
Another Misunderstanding about God:
God requires us to believe in God, and
to worship God in a specific way
MUCH OF THE WORLD BELIEVES in a God who is a male superbeing who demands obedience, who says we are imperfect because we have not been obedient, and who tells us that in order for us to be in God’s good graces (and thus, eligible for admission into heaven), we must meet certain requirements.
Among those requirements are that we believe in God in a certain way, and worship God in a particular fashion.
What this comes down to is that we must belong to a specific religion—or at least, hold true to its tenets.
The thought that we even need to be in a good placewith God arises out of the idea we explored above: that only absolute purity and total perfection is allowable or present in heaven, and that this probably does not describe us—so we’d better do something about it.
This thought, in turn, emerges from the other thought explored earlier: that we entered this world in a state of impurity, branded at birth with Original Sin, Inherited Imperfection, or Ancestral Guilt, and that we all have in any event offended God with our own sins during our own lives.
And this thought surfaces from a deeply-held belief that we can sin, and that God can be offended.
From these congealed notions is born a deep concern in the hearts of many people that we are not in God’s good graces now. And so we look, individually and as a collective, for ways in which we can get into God’s good graces—before it is too late.
The popularity of religions is based on this yearning, and on their promises that they can produce this result. Religions, we are told, are our passports into heaven. All we have to do is follow their mandates, live according to their guidelines, obey their rules, and respond affirmatively to their injunctions.
Dramatically increasing the stakes in all this is the statement of some denominations that their religion offers the only way to achieve what is called “salvation.”
We are told that if we do not believe what they teach, if we do not embrace their doctrine, if we do not accept their canon, creed, and credo as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, we are condemned by God to everlasting damnation.
There is no question about this among the faithful within those denominations: We must believe in God and worship God in a certain and particular way or our eternal soul is eternally doomed.
Now comes The Great What If . . .
What if God does not need to be worshipped,
and does not need to have humans believe
in God in any certain way? What if God does not
need human beings to believe in God at all?
Would it make a difference? Does it matter? In the overall scheme of things, would it have any significant impact in our planetary experience?
Yes, of course it would. If we let go of the thought that one way is the only way to worship God and get to heaven, the spiritual self-righteousness that appears deeply embedded in humanity’s experience of God would virtually disappear. And absent that self-righteousness, all of the religious wars and inter-denominational struggles, the ruthless and senseless killing that has soiled the pages of human history for millennia, would likewise ultimately disappear.
If we felt that we didn’t even need to believe in God for God to welcome us back Home, we could then enter into whatever belief in God we might develop—if, indeed, we chose to embrace such a belief at all—and do so as an expression of pure joy and absolute wonderment, rather than an outgrowth of angst or a product of trepidation. A loss of fear about what will happen if we do not profess a belief in God would spell the end of all fear-based religions.
Indeed, as the love-me-or-else threat was taken out of our experience of God, our entire relationship with The Divine would shift dramatically, putting us into a genuine friendship with God in which our worried trembling would be replaced by our empowerment.
On another level, if we held the thought that God has no need for our worship, our species would stop seeing the whole notion of “worship” as a good thing, but would view it, accurately, as the kind of subjugating human activity that denies our own divinely bestowed magnificence—to say nothing of our own presence in that which we say we adore.
This elevating of the human self to its rightful place of awesome inclusion in the expression that is God would reshape humanity’s basic identity, altering our species’ understanding and expression of itself. And it would do this so completely as to remove and eliminate selfish, hurtful, malicious, or malevolent behavior from the human experience forever. We would suddenly know who we really are, and who everyone else is, and we would treat ourselves and everyone else much differently.
This is, in fact, what has occurred within the civilizations of all highly evolved beings in the universe. The effect that such a shift in beliefs would have on the planet would be to, at last, civilize civilization.
God has been telling us from the very beginning, and it is becoming more clear to us every day, that humanity’s Ancient Cultural Story about God demanding that we worship, believe in, and approach God in a certain and particular way is plainly and simply inaccurate.
It is okay now to remove this ancient teaching from our current story, and to stop telling this to ourselves and to our children.
God does not care what religion we belong to (or whether we belong to any religion at all). Religions are the inventions and conventions of humanity.
God doesn’t care what we believe about God (or whether we believe in God at all). Beliefs are the inventions and conventions of humanity.
God doesn’t look to us to provide God with something that God needs (because God needs nothing at all). Needs are the inventions and conventions of humanity.
The need to be worshipped (to say nothing of the command to be loved) could only be the characteristic of an insecure, unfulfilled, imperious, tyrannical ruler—which cannot possibly describe the God of this universe.
The need to be approached in a single and specific way, making every other approach (no matter how sincere the motive, no matter how pure the intent, no matter how arduous the effort) not only insufficient, but a cause for judgment, condemnation, and damnation, could only be the characteristic of a totally unreasonable, utterly intolerant, preposterously hypersensitive, unbelievably small-minded, and insanely draconian despot—which cannot possibly describe the God of this universe.
The idea that God demands to be loved defies all reason and logic. Yet it is held by many, for it is written, in what has been labeled as The Greatest Commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
So let it be said clearly and without equivocation: The God of this universe—by virtue of being God—needs or requires the adulation of no one. As well, the God of this universe—by virtue of being God—has nothing to lose by welcoming any soul who arrives at divinity by any path, and is nothing but overjoyed when any soul has found its way back Home by realizing, accepting, and assuming its true identity.
The idea that God rejects everyone except those who come to God by one singular and particular path is simply mistaken. It defies all rational thought and directly contradicts the definition of Love.
The idea that God rejects
everyone except those who come
to God by one singular and
particular path is simply mistaken.
The good news is that our Deity is not the God of the brand name.
God’s love, God’s acceptance, and God’s joy in us is not dependent upon what words we say in prayer, what name we invoke in supplication, or what faith we embrace in hopefulness.
In the eyes of God a Jew is as good as a Christian, a Christian is as good as a Muslim, a Muslim is as good as a Buddhist, a Buddhist is as good as a Mormon, a Mormon is as good as a Bahá’í, and an atheist is as good as all of the above.
That Which Is is That Which Is, and neither its Isness, nor its joy and bliss in being the Isness, is dependent upon any particular expression in any particular way of any particular part of the Isness.
Let us go even further. It is not even necessary for human beings to have any belief that there is a God in order for God’s blessings to flow. The flowing of God’s blessings is God’s greatest joy, and it is a process that is uninterrupted and eternal.
It has nothing whatsoever to do with our love for God, and everything to do with God’s love for us.
Again, this may be the toughest concept for human beings to accept. The largest number of us just can’t seem to embrace the notion that divine love flows freely to all, without exception, requirement, or condition of any kind.
Or, in a remarkable inversion, many declare that God’s love does flow freely to all, and that God’s condemnation and punishment of His subjects for not believing in God, or for any wrongdoing, is a demonstration of His love.
It is only through such convoluted theological architecture that the idea of a God kind and good can be constructed and preserved—although is it questionable if such preservation has been achieved at the level that those who have constructed this theology might have wished. It seems far more evidentiary that the idea of a God kind and good has been simply forfeited by religion, and that this is the chief reason for the rejection, by millions, of the idea of any sort of God at all.
This is one of the greatest sorrows to have befallen the human race, for it has robbed so many members of the species of their greatest resource, therefore crippling the species itself immeasurably.
We shall explore this effect next.
Is This Really a Message from God?
AS SURELY AS ANYTHING in life is a message from The Divine (and much of it has been declared by many to be exactly that), the ideas in this book are also. You brought them to yourself, drawing them into your sphere as certainly as you have at some level magnetized everything in your experience, and all for the same purpose: your own evolution.
God has placed the messages found here before the world prior to this moment. Many, many times have these messages been sent. Through all the years and all the ages of humanity have these truths been made known, in the voices and in the writings of countless people.
And now, the day of the individual messenger is over. This is the moment in our history when the cumulative message of all of humanity is displaying its cumulative effect in fullness. Because now, for the first time in the experience of our species, we can all talk to each other instantly.
The Internet in this moment has done for humanity what Gutenberg’s printing press did in 1440. That method of printing not only created a revolution in the production of books, but also pushed the evolution of an entire species forward at triple speed by making it practical to spread knowledge and share wisdom through the making of texts—and the information they carried—widely available.
Then, just when we’d thought we’d reached the height of information transferability by the middle of the twentieth century, along came the Internet, doing precisely the same thing now that the printing press did 500 years ago, but this time lurching humanity’s evolution forward at quintuple speed.
And just as there were mighty efforts to stop the masses from being opened to certain ideas by banning certain books (a practice that continues to this day), so, too, are there now gargantuan efforts in some countries to ban certain websites, and in many more nations to limit the overall reach of the Internet itself, for everyone—and all toward the same end: So that certain ideas—ideas that those in control, those in positions of power, do not want shared—cannot be easily or quickly spread.
Yet the forward movement of evolution will not, and cannot, be stifled, only slightly slowed—and the day will come when the sharing of revolutionary ideas about God will create a Whole New Cultural Story for humanity.
I tell you, the day will yet come when we will wonder how we could ever have thought that we and God were not One; how we could ever have thought that we and every other human being in every other country did not hold the exact same interest, and was not due the same share, in all the wealth, resources, and wonder that is available in physical life on this glorious planet.
The day will yet come when we will wonder how we could ever have thought that God had “chosen ones” who were better than any other of God’s people, that men were better than women, that whites were better than blacks, that straights were better than gays—or that the idea of “better” even existed in the mind of God.
For this day to come sooner rather than later, we are going to have to shift our emphasis on how to solve humanity’s problems. To be fair to our species, it is not as if we have not tried. We have. But the difficulty—the reason that billions upon billions still live in abject poverty, without even electricity or the dignity of indoor sanitation—is that humanity has for centuries tried to solve its problems at every level except the level at which the problems exist.
It continues to do so today.
We approach our problems today as if they were political problems, open to political solutions. We talk about them, we hold debates about them, we pass resolutions about them.
When nothing changes, we seek to solve our problems through economic means. We throw money at them, or withhold money from them, as in the case of sanctions.
When that fails we say, “Aha! This is a problem to give to the military. We’ll solve it with force.” So we shoot bullets at it and drop bombs on it. That never works, either, if a long-term solution is what anyone is looking for. But do you think we would learn?
No. We just start the cycle all over again. So we call for “peace talks” and return to the negotiating table. There, we negotiate reparations and financial aid to heal the open wounds and quell the teeming masses. When that proves to be only a stopgap, we're at it again. Bring out the guns. Bring in the body bags.
The reason we keep running like a mouse on a wheel is that no one dares to look at the cause of the ongoing condition we seemed fated to endure.
Either we truly don’t know, or we’re afraid to admit, that our biggest problem today is not a political problem, it’s not an economic problem, and it’s not a military problem.
The problem facing humanity today is a spiritual problem. It has to do with humanity’s beliefs.
Once this is understood, the solution becomes obvious. Until it’s understood, the solution escapes everyone.
I observe that most people construct their lives around two responses: thinking and doing. They think about things, and they do things; think about things and do things; think about things and do things. And what they do depends on what they think.
This may seem almost absurdly obvious, yet it is important to say here nonetheless, because nearly every one of the planet’s nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies are seeking to better our world by changing what humans are doing rather than what humans are thinking.
It’s what people believe that creates their behavior. We have said this here over and over again, and it can’t be said often enough. It is at the level of belief, not at the level of behavior, where humanity’s experience will be most profoundly modified.
For decades we’ve been talking in psychology circles about behavior modification, or Behavior Mod. What we really should be talking about is Belief Mod. Yet we’re talking now about the most sacred part of people’s underpinnings. Many people would rather die for their beliefs—or kill others—than change them.
It doesn’t matter whether the beliefs themselves are functional. It doesn’t matter whether they are making people happy and producing a better life. Some people would rather be unhappy doing what they believe, than happy doing something else.
This is the crux of the problem. This is where the human family must now focus all of its attention. If we really want to change our own lives and, in the wonderful words of Robert Kennedy, seek a newer world, this is where we must now focus all of our attention.
Consider this final excerpt from The New Revelations:
All behaviors are sponsored by beliefs.
You cannot make a long-term change in behaviors without addressing the beliefs that underlie them.
Your world is facing enormous problems right now, and you must solve the problems at the level of belief. You cannot solve the problems at the level of behavior.
Seek to change beliefs, not behaviors.
After you change a belief, the behavior will change by itself.
But we are a very action-oriented society. The Western world, in particular, has always found it solutions in action, not in quiet contemplation or philosophy.
You can take whatever action you want to take to alter someone else’s behavior or to stop it, but unless you alter the beliefs that produced such behavior, you will alter nothing and stop nothing. You can alter a belief in two ways. Either by enlarging upon it, or by changing it completely. But you must do one or the other or you will not alter behavior. You will merely interrupt it.
In other words, the behavior will return.
Is there any question about that? Do you not see your history repeating itself?
I see that, yes. And it’s frustrating.
Your species does the same thing over and over again because your species has not changed its basic beliefs—about God and about Life—in millennia.
Beliefs are taught in virtually every school on your planet, in nearly every culture, in one form or another. Often you present beliefs as “facts,” but they are beliefs nonetheless.
This would not be so bad, and would not produce such terrible results, if what you believe, if what you taught, was what is so. But it is not what is so. You teach your children what is not so, and tell them “this is what’s so.”
For the most part you are not doing this intentionally. You do not know that these are falsehoods. They are, after all, the things that you were taught. You thus assume them to be true. It is in this way that the “sins of the father are visited upon the son, even unto the seventh generation.”
In some schools—particularly some religious schools where children in their earliest years are encouraged to view life through the prism of particular religious doctrines and cultural prejudices—the result of this is the inbreeding of incredibly negative behaviors reflecting extraordinarily mistaken beliefs.
You teach your children to believe in an intolerant God, and thus condone for them their own behaviors of intolerance.
You teach your children to believe in an angry God, and thus condone for them their own behaviors of anger.
You teach your children to believe in a vengeful God, and thus condone for them their own behaviors of vengeance.
Then you send these, your children, to do battle with the demons of your own creation. It is not an accident that by far the highest numbers of “warriors” in any radical movement are the young.
When you move the youngest among you from religious schools or military academies directly into your fighting forces, promising them that they are struggling for “a higher cause” or “a grander purpose” or that God is on their side, what are they to think?
Are they to contradict their elders, their teachers, their priests, their ulama?
Yet if you are not careful, your own children will undo you.
And so the central challenge of our time is clear: to invite, encourage, induce humanity to consider—just consider—the possibility that there may be something we do not fully understand about God and about life, the understanding of which would change everything.
What our world needs now is a civil rights movement for the soul, freeing humanity at last from the oppression of its beliefs in a violent, angry, and vindictive God.
To that end I have joined with those who agree with this point of view around the world to create Humanity’s Team (www.HumanitysTeam.org), and through that worldwide organization to ignite an Evolution Revolution.
I invite you all to join in that effort, for the elevation of humanity through the evolution of humanity is not something that can be accomplished without you. It invites, encourages— nay, pleads for—your direct involvement.
The great sadness is that we imagine we can’t change any of this. The great happiness is that we can. All it takes is a shift in consciousness—and that is easier to bring about than most people think.
All change in consciousness is created by people who have already changed their consciousness, and who then actively, excitedly, and expansively talk about their ideas with others, describing the possibilities that a New Cultural Story places before humanity.
In The Storm Before the Calm, I shared a sparklingly brilliant observation shared with humanity by Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (2002). Ms. Wheatley is not someone without credentials. A globally known consultant on organizational behavior, she received her doctorate from Harvard University, holds an M.A. in systems thinking from New York University, and has worked on every inhabited continent in virtually every type of organization. Here’s what she says:
“There is no more powerful way to initiate significant social change than to start a conversation.”
And so you see, there is something you can do. And you do not have to turn your own life upside-down, or sign up to devote hundreds of hours a month that you do not have to spare, in order to do it. You simply need to be willing to talk about things. To say out loud what is in your heart.
You can do this by bringing the subject up whenever and wherever stimulating people congregate. You could even cause them to congregate by starting a discussion group in your own home. If you want to be really daring, invite the pastor of your local church to allow you to start a discussion group there.
If this seems all too “visible” for your taste, you could become what I call a “quiet activist.” Offer this book to family and friends from the “for what it’s worth department,” and just ask them what they think of it. Accidentally leave copies of it everywhere. Forget that you placed it on a park bench or your subway seat. Add it to the reading material on the table at the hair styling salon. Misplace it at the coffee shop. Lose it on an airplane. Let it find its way to the book table at your organization’s charity rummage sale. Create ways to join an underground distribution network.
If you think that openly talking about all of this might feel out of place in today’s fast-paced, sorry-no-time-to-talk world, consider that Ms. Wheatley observed in a 2002 article in Utne Reader that “. . . true conversation is . . . a timeless and reliable way for humans to think together. Before there were classrooms, meetings, or group facilitators, there were people sitting around talking.
“We can take courage from the fact that this is a process we all know how to do. We can also take courage in the fact that many people are longing to converse again . . . we are awakening an ancient practice, a way of being gathered that all humans intimately understand.”
Having said that, Ms. Wheatley offered a powerful concluding comment:
“Change doesn’t happen from someone announcing the plan. Change begins from deep inside a system, when a few people notice something they will no longer tolerate, or when they respond to someone’s dream of what’s possible.”
That is precisely, to the letter, what the Evolution Revolution is all about. It is a call to people everywhere, gathering in small groups of spiritual activists around the world, to ignite a global conversation that will sow seeds of sanity, producing at last the civilization of Civilization.
I invite you to the effort, for the work of the evolution of our beloved species will advance only if you see this work as truly your own.
I just pour everything into God.
I don’t know if my god is
the same as your god:
Is it made of Love?
Does it want for you what you want for you?
Does it come to you with hands opened,
asking nothing, but ready for anything?
Does it whisper to you of Light and of
Stillness, and point you toward any
of the paths that will take you there?
Does it remind you of your Seeing?
Does it remind you of your Knowing?
Does it remind you of the gentlest Lover
ever you’ve dreamed, soothing you
all the way down the length of your body,
or caressing a weariness from your heart?
Is it ever late?
Is it ever gone?
Is it made of Love?
“Is It Made of Love?”
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God’s Message to the World
You’ve Got Me All Wrong
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