Getting Past Our Fear of God

Getting Past Our Fear of God

From the beginning of recorded history, religious clerics used the fear of God to control and manipulate their believers. Many of our cultures’ heinous acts continue to be justified as the will of God. How do we put a stop to this worldwide problem?

Not so very long ago, various cultures around the world employed human sacrifice to seek favor from their gods. This statement probably evokes thoughts of primitive behavior practiced by somebody else in millennia long past—the Aztecs or the worshipers of Moloch. We think we are more civilized now and do not commit such atrocities. But have you noticed that killing a human being on behalf of a religion in ritual sacrifice and in armed conflict renders the victim equally dead?

Sadly, there hasn’t been a single epoch in human history in which human sacrifice, in its several guises, has not been justified in the name of God. Protestants have fought Catholics just as Arabs have fought Jews since these systems of faith first sprang into existence. As long as we seek refuge in our preferred brand of worship, we see the rest of the world as awash in infidels. In 1999, high-level representatives of the United Nations and other secular organizations met with religious leaders in Switzerland to forge the Geneva Spiritual Appeal, which tendered as its first principle “a refusal to invoke a religious or spiritual power to justify violence of any kind.” Yet people continue to die needlessly each day because of hatred fomented by clerics of the very religions that endorsed the accord.

Why do we continue to violate the sanctity of life by killing our fellow humans in the name of religion? Consider this reasoning: The invariable human response to the unknown is fear, and there is no greater unknown than the vast Oneness underlying all things that we call God. Out of fear we turn to any port promising shelter from the perceived storm. We turn to religion as an intermediary, allowing religious leaders to interpret for us what we assume we cannot know ourselves. Surrendering to a prefabricated belief system, we identify with what we are told and organize our thoughts and actions around it.

As long as we are willing to give our power away, we are easily manipulated. This weakness of human nature has been exploited since the beginning of history by those who head our nations and write (or edit) our seminal texts. In the name of protection, salvation, or deliverance these shepherds skillfully lead their flocks to pastures of their own choosing.

Consider for instance the words of one influential national leader as he offered this prayer on behalf of his countrymen: “Almighty God, bless our arms when the hour comes. Be just, as Thou hast always been just. Judge now if we deserve our freedom. Lord, bless our struggle.” This familiar sentiment could have easily been expressed by almost any great man or woman throughout history. This particular quote is from Adolf Hitler’s {italic}Mein Kampf{/italic}. He wrote further: “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

Are we all that brainwashed that we can no longer think for ourselves? What ingrained habit prevents us from placing the basic tenets of our beliefs on the examining table, let alone perusing them closely? There is nothing sacrosanct about immersing ourselves in a religion simply because we were born into it, or because it represents the dominant view of our immediate community. What do you {italic}really{/italic} know about God that you have not learned from a book or another believer? The fact that the majority believes something does not necessarily make that belief true.

Fear arises whenever we believe ourselves to be separate from the limitless, conscious oneness that is God – such as when we call ourselves God’s children or God’s chosen people. For to belong {italic}to{/italic} God we have to be separate from him—or her, or it. It follows as surely as dominoes fall that we then see ourselves separate from all creation, including other humans, and ultimately separate from our selves. We get so mired in the ego, believing that we are no more than flesh and bones with a bit of brain, that we lose touch with our soul essence. It then becomes easy for us to believe in the dogma that our earthly existence is no more than a brief life in which to prove ourselves worthy for some imagined eternal reward.

There is never a need to fear limitless Oneness. But perhaps it would be imprudent for us not to have a healthy skepticism of those who claim the authority to speak on its behalf.


Jean-Claude Gerard Koven is a writer and speaker based in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. He was a featured weekly columnist for the UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum and is the author of Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense, recipient of both the Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award and the USABookNews.com Award for the Best Metaphysical Book of the Year.

©2004 – 2019. Jean-Claude Gerard Koven / All Rights Reserved.


 

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