Friday, February 17, 2012

Answers in Pandeism: Part I: Did Jesus exist?

Recently I received this email:


I am a 17 year-old that has been thinking about becoming a Pandeist for the past few days. Currently, I am a Christian and come from a background of Christians. I have read a lot on Pandeism recently and have a basic understanding of it. I share a lot of similar beliefs, but I just have a few questions:

Do you acknowledge the existence of Jesus?

Do you pray?

What do you do as a Pandeist? Do you congregate (as in a church or synagogue)?

If I change to Pandeism, how should I approach my parents about not being a Christian anymore?

If I convert, what is some advice for beginning the conversion from Christianity to Pandeism?

Well, those are some good and important questions, and so (having obtained the permission of their asker) I aim to give them as full and serious thought as  can and answer them in a series of blog posts, beginning with this one:

Do you acknowledge the existence of Jesus?  

I don't pretend that there is a uniform Pandeist position on that question, Pandeism being a theory for which the existence or nonexistence of Jesus would not affect its general applicability. But for me personally, I think it is surely absurd to deny that Jesus, the man, existed -- that he was born in the Middle East around the beginning years of the First Century, that he spoke publicly and gave wise lessons to his fellowmen.  For me, the most compelling proof is actually the suggestion that Jesus, in his young adulthood (the so-called 'missing years' of the Bible) travelled to India and learned firsthand lessons of Buddhism and Hinduism, a proposition which exhibits startling concordance with the substance Jesus' teachings (so far as their recounting may be taken as accurate).  And I believe as well that much of what Jesus taught (as much of what the Buddha taught) is consistent with a pandeistic model (for example the idea theretofore unknown in Judaism that harming one's fellowman was directly and actually harming one's Creator).

The idea of Jesus travelling to India seems generally scoffed at by mainline Christians, though it is supported by village traditions of the places in India where he was believed to have studied under the Hindu or Buddhist masters of the day. Such scoffing is somewhat adverse to the desire amongst Christians to prove that Jesus existed, for it seems like useful proof to show that places in a region of the world which served as a common trade destination of the day claim relics and stories of his visits there, and that his philosophy upon returning contains elements of the philosophy which he would have learned had the journey been truly undertaken. But it seems that the desire to put forth logical proof of the existence of Jesus wanes in the face of the desire to maintain the extremely profitable franchise which derives from the prevailing narrative, as it was constructed a few decades after the death of Jesus.

It is, naturally, important to recall that Pandeism holds that, all of us being within and of our Creator, all miracles, prophecies, revelations, scriptures, and so on from all religions are accounted for as simply manifestations of the unconscious underlying power of that Creator. And so, were we to presume that every miracle and prophecy and revelation actually happened exactly as relayed in the portions of the Bible claimed to have been witnessed by its authors (which is essentially the happenings from the time of Abraham on), including the accounts relating to Jesus, these things are still fully accounted for by the pandeistic model, as are similar accounts relayed in Hinduism, Shinto, Islam, even Mormonism and Ba'hai and other more recent formulations.

We observe in our lives, there are certain people who simply have a talent for something which surpasses everybody else in the field. Almost anybody may do math, or strum a guitar, or shoot a basketball, but there are precious few mathematicians like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, or guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, or basketballers like Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. People like Jesus and Buddha might have been all of them rolled into one when it came to spirituality, having the talent to explore the presence of our Creator as aware fragments of itself, and possibly to translate the power of our Creator into miraculous acts. And because Jesus and Buddha were in touch with the presence of the Creator, they understood our position in our Universe, and the destiny to which we were headed — that we are the Creator’s experience, so to do harm to another person is truly to do harm to our Creator, and to create an experience of harm which will be carried into the next world when we all share in every experience which has happened in the existence of our Universe, but with particularity on the experiences for which we were responsible in our own lives!!

Simply being part of Creator doesn’t mean that any one of us can perform miracles, even if we are fully aware of this status — just as a man may love music and be fully aware of it as a subject of theoretical study, and yet never pick up the ability to play at any more than a child’s level on a piano or a guitar. But every once in a long while comes that Michael Jordan, or that Stephen Hawking, that Mozart, that Jesus, that Buddha.  It is easy to see how somebody with an exceptional talent in touching the presence of God within us might be mistaken for a God endorsing the views and biases of an idolizer of that exceptional person (for we like to imagine that those who we idolize would share our views on things).  It is even easier to see how somebody with that talent and a glimpse of a true understanding of the nature of a pandeistic Universe might have great difficulty explaining this concept to others who lacked that vision, but who were instead so used to the concept of anthropomorphised tribal gods that they would reject the complexity of Pandeism.  And so, in actuality the perception passed down is more likely that of the followers who misunderstand the message and set their own biases into its retelling!!


Anonymous said...

If God created us and is in us, whats he doing? Just chilling out being "God"? What hapens next? How do you know?
Religion is about having faith in God for heaven, a savior, freedom, happiness, blessings.
Padeism all sounds like a wishy-washy mass of cultures. You can't pick sides so you just beileve in some God and hope for the best? What is there to have faith in?

Knuje said...

It is not clear to me that you understand the proposition of Pandeism -- I'd suggest you read the earlier post in this blog, Pandeism Fully Accounts. Pandeism is discerned from very precise logic -- and so it necessarily sets aside the human vanity and self-importance inherent in the construction of theistic faiths.

This problem is highlighted by the proposition that religion is in some part about 'a savior' -- an externalization which places man a the most important thing in existence and would make our Creator man's servant, existing to 'save' the all-important human ego. Which is why Pandeism is not about 'picking sides' -- theists treat their religions like a favorite football team, they choose which team to like and then argue for why it ought to win every game, and make excuses when it doesn't. Reality, obviously, is much harder on the ego than this. In Pandeism we have faith in that most fundamental of human gifts, the ability to reason, to examine our Universe itself as proof of our origin and purpose, and to use logic to eliminate all which is vain and biased and self-serving, in order to drill down to truths which may be of no immediate benefit to us, but which are valuable naetheless because our Universe is designed to reveal these truths to us. And that by itself is the most compelling proof of all!!