Sunday, March 20, 2011
One World...One God....and the Same Sheet of Music.
Note: The introduction of this blog lists statistics for Christianity. I simply do not have the desire or time to list all stats for the world's major religions. Please consider the vastness and sheer size this would entail. However this blog is dedicated to ALL the world's major religions. For all intents and purposes I shall be mainly blogging about Christian beliefs. It is what I know best and assume the reader can most relate.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" Genesis 1:1 (KJV)
OK,Lets STOP! ...and press pause!
Ladies and Gentlemen,citizens of the world,
Choose your weapon:
1.New International Version c.2011
2.New American Standard Bible
5.New Living Translation
6.King James Version
7.English Standard Version
8.Contemporary English Version
9.New King James Version
10.New Century Version
11.GOD'S WORD Translation
12.Common English Bible
13.21st Century King James Version
14.American Standard Version
15.Young's Literal Translation
17.Holman Christian Standard Bible
18.New International Reader's Version
19.Wycliffe New Testament
20.Worldwide English (New Testament)
....and many more! These are just the English versions of our sheet music.(Holy books)
Now pick your poison:
I wish I had time to list the 33,000+ different Christian denominations to choose from,but according to the 2001 World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian,and Johnson there are 10,000 distinct religions,of which 150 of them have 1 million or more followers.
The rest of the world's religions and their different sects,denominations,and holy texts are very much a part of the story I'm about to tell,but for the sake of not boring the reader I shall hereby keep these stats at bay.
Here now is a list of the world's major religions and the approximate number of subscribers:
1.Christianity: 2.1 billion
2.Islam: 1.5 billion
3.Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
4.Hinduism: 900 million
5.Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
6.Buddhism: 376 million
7. primal-indigenous: 300 million
8.African Traditional &Diasporic: 100 million
9.Sikhism: 23 million
10.Juche: 19 million
11.Spiritism: 15 million
12.Judaism: 14 million
13.Baha'i: 7 million
14.Jainism: 4.2 million
15.Shinto: 4 million
16.Cao Dai: 4 million
17.Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
18. Tenrikyo: 2 million
19.Neo-Paganism: 1 million
20. Unitarian-Universalism: 800K
Sizes shown are approximate estimates,and are here mainly for the purpose of ordering the groups,not providing a definitive number. The secular/non-religious crowd are not really considered a religion by any means but considering they rank #3 behind the Christians and Muslims in population, you would want to include their considerations in the following ideas.
OK,Lets press PLAY:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" Genesis 1:1 (KJV)
It does not matter whether you interpret your version of the bible literally or metaphorically. The fact remains the same: Every member of the human species lives or has lived on this planet we call Earth. There is no place else in the universe (as far as our sciences can tell) that is able to support life. Consider the sheer size of this universe we live. The countless galaxies,stars,and planets. How puny the Earth must seem from afar.
"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena....Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark."----Carl Sagan
Dear Christians,Muslims,and Jews...etc..
If you are under the impression that God is CEO of this universe and that he is responsible for managing a simple speck of dust and all its inhabitants therein, please explain to me why all his "creation" is not on the same sheet of music!?! Why are there tens of thousands of different religious beliefs to choose from? How did all these"false gods" creep into the picture? It seems to me that someone is not minding the store. A complete and utter mismanagement of a little experiment called Earth.
Ever look at a map that details the world's religions? They are very geographical. Certain parts of the world have unique religions and this is no accident. Ancient cultures invented their gods in their parts of the world long before other cultures had a chance to invade. And thus their gods were invading as well. Culture clashes and god wars and may the best religion win. (please see link provided below for a 90 second look at the history of the worlds religions)
Believers of all faiths fail to openly acknowledge and completely turn a blind eye to all the other competing religious ideals. These competing faiths are genuinely making incompatible claims about life and death and and every believer simply ignores and avoids the conflicts between these competitions of religions and of course their respective gods. Your religion is either true...or its not. Author Sam Harris (End of Faith,and Letter to a Christian Nation) offers some interesting views on this subject in a speech he gave on "Faith vs. Reason in the Modern World"
"They can't all be true[religion]...given the sheer diversity of religions on offer. Even if we knew that one of them was absolutely true.Even if we knew this was God's multiple choice exam...Is it A) Judaism B)Christianity C)Islam...even if we knew we were in this situation,every believer should expect to wind up in Hell purely as a matter of probability. It seems to me that this should give religious people pause before the espouse their religious certainties. It never does but it should"
Try this experiment. Give me a representative of ten different denominations just in the Christian faith alone. I'll take a Baptist,Catholic,Methodist,Pentecostal Holiness,Morman,Jehovah's Witness,Luthern,Amish,Presbyterian,and a Nazerine.
Put them in a the same room and watch how divided they become on almost any biblical topic.
- Is the Bible literal...or metaphorical?
-Which bible translation is more accurate?
-Is sickness caused by sin?
-Are Christian's allowed to prosper?
-Can you lose your salvation?
-Will we ascend to an actual Heaven or will the Earth one day become heaven?
-Is Hell a fiery pit...or just separation from God?
-Will Hell last forever or just temporary?
Lets break it down further. How much division do you think there is between the Baptists? Southern Baptists,Independent Baptists,Free Will Baptists,Full Gospel Baptists, Evangelical Free Baptists,Reformed Baptists, Seventh Day Baptists, United Baptists...and many more...
Dear God in Heaven, you are conducting the biggest Earthly orchestra imaginable and not a damn one of us is on the same sheet of music. Who's to blame?
This conclusion will actually serve as next weeks introduction. I was chatting with a friend of mine last week and he says "The most fascinating thing about religion is that the majority of people on Earth need something to tell them how to think and to live their lives." And then it occurred to me as I replied:
"I think people's personal beliefs on God and their religion boils down to one thing: People need a mental insurance policy on what happens after death."
And next week...we shall venture to the unknown....
To Be Continued......
2001 World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett,Kurian,Johnson.(Oxford Univ.Press,2nd edition,2001)
King James Bible (Liberty Study Bible)
youtube videos: "Sam Harris: Faith vs. Reason in the modern world" and "A House Divided"