What is Buddha is an Atheist Part II: Atheist misconceptions about religion

Buddha is an Atheist: a Spiritual Autopsy of Science and Religion is an upcoming 125,000 word book taking apart atheist misconceptions of Science and Religion through a series of specific topics.

In Religion, the topics are: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing a lot on the political machinations within and around these systems. There is also a lot of material on the true, but not well-publicized, actual beliefs. The Judaic covenant, for example, is an agreement with God to make the twelve tribes of Israel rulers of the entire earth. The growing part of Christianity is politically divided between secretive neo-Calvinists (the elect) and Evangelists. Islam is totally misrepresented and almost willfully misunderstood by atheists. The book paints a completely different picture than the dangerous ‘Clash of Civilizations’ picture we are given.

Judaism is seen to be the strongest tribal religion there is. The covenant with God is explored historically, as a people who invents a powerful God, then makes a deal with him. Rather, he gives commands that they must follow to gain favor. The Jews are to wipe out the Palestinians and take the Holy Land. If not, they will suffer from God. The Old Testament is a command for the twelve tribes to commit genocide on an innocent people. Joshua is the prime author of this event. The Palestinians have done nothing – they are just living in the Holy Land, worshiping one of God’s enemies. The covenant is still in effect to this day. Now, the tribes await God’s return at the apocalypse, when they will be made ‘rulers of all earth.’ Of course, not all Jews believe this, but it is the actual theology. And though there is far more to the religion, Judaism cannot be understood without it.

Christianity is presented as a misconception of Jesus – he was absurdly misrepresented, with most of his New Testament identity a fabrication of the authors. The four gospels, in fact, were not written by M, M, L, and J- as any Bible scholar knows. Jesus was probably one of a thousand apocalyptic preachers. There is even evidence that he never existed, that the Gospels were written as a type of Midrash – fictional stories based on Old Testament scripture. Most of his actions occurred piecemeal in the Old Testament. The apocalyptic strain was then pasted onto a Salvific cult, which were legion in those days.

Paul emerges as the true founder of Christianity. And he may not have believed in an earthly Jesus. He only refers to the Crucifixion and he may have thought of Jesus as only a heavenly being.

We also see the great loss of Christianity – the wide-ranging Gnostic tradition. This murdered tradition had many different forms, but the common thread is that the Old Testament God is evil and Jesus introduced a means to be free from his tyranny. Gnosis often focuses on the inner experience and has no need of priests. It was far more democratic and held women as equal. Rational and intuitive gnosis (knowing) were both valid.

Next is the modern day problems of Christianity – most Christians are suffering from a disconnect with non-Christians and image problems with the Church, especially Evangelicals. Worse, powerful forms of Christianity (Dominionism) are politically controlled and seek an entirely Christian world. Many leaders feel they are ‘elect’ and can do anything they desire without threatening their link to Christ. Obviously, this is an abusive, even terrifying problem for the world.

Islam is probably the most misrepresented religion in the world. Buddha is an Atheist tries for a more accurate, less politically motivated portrait. The Koran is shown to be a non-contradictory book: one man wrote it, not hundreds. It is non-narrative, but rather thematic. Thus, it does not have the consistency problems of the Bible. Mohammed was not the figure he is portrayed as by atheists. Far more of a strong and savvy political leader than a theologian, he seems to put community (uma) and social justice above most other concerns. Religion and life are not separate for the prophet, and thus not for Islam. He respected, as does Islam, the other monotheistic traditions. In fact, Moses and Jesus are extremely important Islamic prophets. Islam does not seek any holy war with either tradition. That is a myth. The infidel definition is properly defined as polytheists. Even an atheist would not be technically an infidel.

The theology is profound. God is ineffable, and manifests both far (terrifying) and near (love). Hell is merely the feeling of being separated from God.

Islamic law and view is fiercely democratic. It is not good to display vulgar wealth. Most Islamic women do not feel oppressed by Islam, but rather liberated by it. The Sharia is based on the life of the prophet and is supposed to bring one closer to God. It is hammered out as human law. There are even esoteric schools (Sufism) of Islam that enjoy a wide cultural acceptance.

Islam has many forms – it is not a monolothic religion. Most adherents profess serious non-violence and condemn acts of terrorism. Terrorists, in their own words, almost always express political desires, such as ending US interference in their sovereignty. This separates fundamentalism from extremism. Fundamentalism is living in strict accord with Islamic law and religious approach – belief in God and prophet, prayer, alms, fasting, and pilgrimage. Never taking innocent life and respecting the community. Extremism is a political phenomenon, not a religious one. The Palestinians object to their occupation under Israel.

Islam is in an intractable position – they abhor the social injustice of corporate imperialism, but desperately want to repair their image as a religion of peace.

The book draws toward a close with an examination of God’s existence, a proper atheist question, from several perspectives. God is found to not exist, based on empirical criteria – he cannot be found. A discussion of morality follows with an explanation of karmic cause and effect. The Buddhist religious approach forms a counterpoint to the theological ones. It is based on compassion and wisdom, achievable by anyone.

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