Why the need for certainty ?

The few times I have a longer discussions with Christians I’m always struck with their need for certainty - and worse their demand and expectation of certainty, that one’s weird. Like it’s okay to believe a lie because its the belief itself that’s important. What is that about?

I’m mean, what’s wrong with belief in this incredible planet and biosphere* and learning how to constructive nurture that along with your life, rather being committed to sucking our resources dry fast as possible?

{* that created us and that we will die back into.}

What’s wrong with that?

I’m mean yes the notion of certainty is nice, but life is anything but certain, never has been, never will be, so why not learn to deal with it? Why not appreciate that you have to move and dance and be aware and be thankful, because any moment it could be gone.

Then that need for worshipping something - I mean it’s beyond need and love of ritual and thanksgivings - It’s tough to explain, spend some time listening to Christian radio, it doesn’t take long to notice all the worship this and worship and on and on and endlessly.

Just wondering.

night, night

I think their need comes from the fact they think, “Why are we here?” is a valid question.

As soon as one thinks there’s an externally imposed reason for each of us to be here, they’re trapped in a mindset that can’t accept the reality that there is no ‘why’.

You’ve probably noticed that the “Why are we here?” question is where many conversations devolve to.

I get this with many aware and mostly secular people. It was one of the last things I was able to let go of after leaving all my other superstitions behind. The question of “why” is still there, I’ve just re-prioritized all the other stuff above that, like appreciating every breath and my relationships and the ability to appreciate at all. I’ve redirected that energy to wanting more knowledge instead of just some vague hole that needed to be filled.

But that took some work. I had to figure out the logic of how knowing what’s real is more likely to result in my happiness than is accepting some comforting notion about spiritual knowledge or meeting more intelligent beings or finding out answers after I die or having a revelation through meditation and fasting or something .

As to why Christians have a need for certainty:

Because Christianity is unique among the world religions in having a diety that demands orthodoxy (correct beliefs about doctrine) over orthopraxy (outward religious practice or behavior). It also has an eternal punishment in hell for people who get it wrong. And for a large branch of Christianity, Protestantism, God judges you ONLY on having the correct doctrinal belief. Even good people go to hell, if they don’t believe the right things about Jesus.

From INSIDE that thought framework, it should be obvious why certainty is important.

NOT ALL CHRISTIANS BELIEVE THIS, but the idea IS part of Christian doctrine and is held by many.

A lot of people just assume all religions require belief like Christianity does, and have their own hell for nonbelievers, but this isn’t true. Islam is the closest, but as long as you make a VERBAL confession of faith (recite the shahada), and OUTWARDLY conform to Islamic law, you are okay … Allah does not care as much about what is inside your mind.

Most other religions don’t have punishment in an afterlife, or, if they do, it is for bad ACTIONS, not just thinking wrong beliefs.

 

 

Tee Bryan Peneguy: Because Christianity is unique among the world religions in having a diety that demands orthodoxy (correct beliefs about doctrine) over orthopraxy (outward religious practice or behavior). It also has an eternal punishment in hell for people who get it wrong. And for a large branch of Christianity, Protestantism, God judges you ONLY on having the correct doctrinal belief. Even good people go to hell, if they don’t believe the right things about Jesus.

A lot of people just assume all religions require belief like Christianity does, and have their own hell for nonbelievers, but this isn’t true. Islam is the closest, but as long as you make a VERBAL confession of faith (recite the shahada), and OUTWARDLY conform to Islamic law, you are okay … Allah does not care as much about what is inside your mind.


Hmmm, interesting. Lausten would you agree with Tee?

He’s our local scripture aficionado.

I do agree. The similarities would derive from Zoroastrianism. Finding the exact source of something as complex as hell is not really possible, but connections from it to Abrahamic and other philosophies and religions can be drawn. Christianity though, yeah, I can’t think of a stronger proponent of burning forever.

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170406-this-obscure-religion-shaped-the-west

 

Assuming this is correct…

 

To avoid ending up in Zoroastrian Hell, individuals must avoid sins such as adultery, slander and murder. Abuse of spouses and children, neglecting animals and being lazy are also sins within Zoroastrianism. When an individual dies, God judges the person based on the actions of her life and consigns her to Heaven or Hell where she awaits the end of the world.
and
The Zoroastrian Hell (is) a place of fire with a terrible stench... individuals impose all punishments -- such as eating rotten food and performing repetitive tasks -- on themselves.
and

 

The Zoroastrian Hell, however, is not eternal and at the end of the world God will purify all souls.
...then I'd argue the Christian hell is much, much worse. To be clear, many Christians interpret the fires of hell metaphorically (Eastern Orthodoxy always has, mostly), but the Christians who interpret it literally say it is a place of eternal torment, burning alive forever and ever.

Plus, the topic of this thread was about why Christians feel a need to be “certain.” At least in Zoroastrianism, God judges on your BEHAVIOR. In Christianity, you can go to hell simply for BELIEVING INCORRECT DOCTRINE.

The CURRENT teaching of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church (as just one example) is this:

Lutherans believe that Scripture teaches that at the moment of death the souls of believers enter the joy of heaven (Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59; Rev. 14:13; Phil. 1:23-24), while the souls of unbelievers at death are consigned to "the prison" of everlasting judgment in hell (1 Peter 3:19-20; Acts 1:25).

 


and

"In both "body and soul" unbelievers will suffer eternal separation and condemnation in hell (Matt. 18:8 and 25:46; Mark 9:43; John 3:36; 2 Thess. 1:9; Jude 13; Rev. 14:11).[40] Indescribable torment will be experienced consciously, the degree determined by the nature of the sins to be punished (Matt. 11:20-24 and 23:15; Luke 12:47-48)."
and
(Question: What about people who have never heard of Christ?)

Christ, the Savior of the world, answered the first question in this way: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). The apostle Peter put it another way: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The same truth is expressed in John 3:16 and 18:36; Rom. 2:12; Eph. 2:11-13.

Though such people have not heard the Gospel, they are without excuse* (Rom. 1:19-23 and 2:12). God has not left Himself without witness (Acts 14:17), but He has revealed His existence by the works of nature and wants men to seek Him, if “haply they might feel after Him and find Him” (Acts 17:27).

  • In other words, if you spent your life in Africa in a hut and never heard of Jesus, it’s your own damn fault. And this was long before the Internet…

 

 

 

 

https://classroom.synonym.com/beliefs-of-the-zoroastrians-on-hell-12085986.html

In memory of the lasting philosophies of George Carlin, this little skit seems appropriate and in context of the conversation.

Warning, crude language.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-e2NDSTuE

An oldie but goodie

Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, yipes that’s the one I was “Confirmed” in at the rip age 12 - though by 15/16 I’d “renounced” it. At the time because of the hypocrisy of disgusting church leaders I was able to witness, and things like heaven and hell making less and less sense. I did like Jesus though. But, learned to appreciate he was much misrepresented by people out for their own profit.


From the little things I've learned along the way, I have the impression that Zoroastrian writings were liberally plagiarized by Christian writers.  Am I in the ball park?

True story: In high school (late 1970s), I became a confirmed Lutheran in the American Lutheran Church (which has since merged). It was a liberal branch: Genesis was symbolic, etc.

My college roommate was Missouri Synod. OMG, OMG. Here is a short, hilarious memory about her:

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-worst-creationist-argument-youve-heard/answer/Teresa-Bryan-Peneguy-2

I don’t know much about Zoroastrianism, except that Freddie Mercury of Queen was raised in it:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/theconversation.com/amp/freddie-mercurys-family-faith-the-ancient-religion-of-zoroastrianism-105806

And the “three wise men” in the Christmas narrative were most likely Zoroastrian:

https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/we-three-kings-who-were-the-magi.html

 

I know Christianity was influenced by all sorts of religions around it. I’m not sure “plagiarism” was a thing, only because at that time, people didn’t have ideas of intellectual property as they do today … everybody plagiarized everybody, and it wasn’t a big deal because it’s just how ideas spread.

I did know that Mithraism and Christianity were massively overlapped:

 

Mithraism ancient roman religion from the 1st century BCE1,2. It flourished in the first few centuries CE by which time it had many features in common with Christianity3(as did multiple religions and cults of the era3,4,5) including the motif of a crucified-and-resurrected god-man who comes to bring salvation from sin, and the primacy of 12 followers... Jesus, son of the Hebrew sky God, and Mithras, son of Ormuzd are both retellings of the same myth. The rituals of Christianitycoincide with the earlier rituals of Mithraism, including the Eucharist ...the blood of a transformed saviour washing away sins and granting eternal life, the apocalyptic end of time when God/Ormuzd sends the wicked to hell and establishes peace.
But just checking into Zorastrianism, even though it is small today, it appears to have had massive influence, over everything:
Zoroastrianism is a founding belief systemacknowledged to have heavily influenced both Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and Dharmic (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) religions.
I recall learning about Mithraism in college (Philosophy 101) and that roomate telling me that it was all "lies." I thought that was ridiculous, obviously, but it always stuck with me.... If believing in Christ was the only way to be saved from hell, why would God allow all these similar beliefs to exist? It seemed like a dirty trick...
 

 


 

 

 

 

In the interest of the performing arts, I think this Lewis Black presentation might be appropriate.

warning, crude language

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcTjGs6_yhU

In conclusion;

This is baaad!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDO6HV6xTmI&t=63s

 

Once we get to heaven Paul Simon has some instructions.

The Afterlife; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQzSMvNMvBY

Well, I don’t know. This still seems unclear:

 

After I died, and the makeup had dried I went back to my place No moon that night But a heavenly light shone on my face Still I thought it was odd There was no sign of God just to usher me in Then a voice from above Sugar coated with love, said, "Let us begin" You got to fill out a form first And then you wait in the line You got to fill out a form first And then you wait in the line Okay, a new kid in school Got to follow the rule You got to learn the routine Woah, there's a girl over there With the sunshiny hair, like a homecomin' queen I said, "Hey, what you say? It's a glorious day, By the way how long you been dead?" Maybe you, maybe me Maybe baby makes three But she just shook her head You got to fill out a form first And then you wait in the line You got to fill out a form first And then you wait in the line Buddah and Moses and all the noses from narrow to flat Had to stand in the line Just to glimpse the divine What you think about that? Well it seems like our fate to suffer And wait for the knowledge we seek It's all his design, no one cuts in the line No one here, likes a sneak You got to fill out a form first And then you wait in the line You got to fill out a form first And then you wait in the line After you climb, up the ladder of time The Lord God is here Face to face, in the vastness of space Your words disappear And you feel like swimming in an ocean of love, And the current is strong But all that remains when you Try to explain is a fragment of song Lord is it, be bop a lu la Or ooh poppa do Lord, be bop a lu la or ooh poppa do Be bop a lu la

Yesterday (August 13) would have been my father’s 98th birthday. He died in 2013.

One of his belongings that I wish I’d salvaged was an old copy of The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a collection of spells which enable the soul of the deceased to navigate the afterlife. The famous title was given the work by western scholars; the actual title would translate as The Book of Coming Forth by Day or Spells for Going Forth by Day and a more apt translation to English would be The Egyptian Book of Life....

The Book of the Dead was never codified and no two copies of the work are exactly the same. They were created specifically for each individual who could afford to purchase one as a kind of manual to help them after death.


My father’s was the one you can find in any bookstore, of course. He was agnostic. He had lots of books on the history of ancient civilizations.

One of my MANY regrets from my years of being a Christian was that these sorts of things frightened me, like the books he had on early religions were evil, just sitting on the shelves.

I’d love to have it now. It’s fascinating how complex religious beliefs were, even at that very early time.

 

 

Chapter 125

Here is an image of

Chapter 125 https://imgur.com/a/lyX3vWQ

Chapter 125 is famous in modern studies of ancient Egypt for its tabulated denials of wrongdoing (the 'Negative Confession', Chapter 125B), and for the illustration that generally accompanies the composition, depicting the weighing of the heart of the dead individual in the presence of the god Osiris, ruler of the dead. Most manuscripts include an address to Osiris, in which the deceased declares innocence of a series of sins, on arrival at the broad court of the Two Goddesses of What is Right. This introductory passage was labelled by Edouard Naville 'Chapter 125A', in his standard edition of New Kingdom Books of the Dead.
 

In my VERY non-Christian college days we were playing with all sorts of pseudo-religious stuff like this. I was introduced to the Tao Te Ching, meditation, Carlos Castaneda was huge, and a few people said I “have to” read the Tibetan book of the Dead. I guess it’s similar to the Egyptian one. Anyway, I didn’t get it. It was a bunch of things you whisper into a dead person’s ear. It didn’t relate to anything about grieving or the meaning of life or anything. I didn’t challenge anyone then. Might be interesting to look them up and ask them now.

I wouldn’t expect any of these texts to have spiritual meanings for people today. I’m fascinated in them as anthropology, sociology, psychology…a direct window into the way humans used to think.

If you look at the teachings of ancient philosophers, so much of what seems “obvious” to us, actually had to be “thunk out” by people thousands of years ago.