Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was a television program that was on public television for 50 years. Which is a good example of leaving the world a better place. But the important thing Mr. Rogers said to the children was “This program is make believe. Make believe is fun but it is not real. It is important that you know the difference between realities and make believe.” Many people have not learned the difference. Take the message of the Christian God.
It all starts with the Bible. Read Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus to see a razor sharp clarification of how we got the book called The Bible. There are many people who swear it is the infallible and inerrant word of God. Some add “In the original texts.” There are no original texts. And it is the infallible and inerrant word of God because they believe it is, not because it is. But it is your challenge to find out what the real truth is about God. The intensity of a person’s belief does not increase the truthfulness his argument. That is the main thing to be weary of. People who, for whatever reason, claim that God is real and alive in their lives elevate their personal experience to be a fact of life for all, are in error. He may be. But that experience is personal to the believer. It cannot be transferred. Think of a beautiful sunset or sunrise. You cannot replicate that experience in words, logic, song, or force in another human being to have that same experience and you cannot replicate a personal experience with God either.
The force and the duty to replicate the experience is strong. Parents raise their children in obedience to the dictates of their religion. And as George Orwell wrote, “One cannot appreciate the naiveté of a child to believe what an older person is telling them is the truth.” That places us in Aristotle’s plight who said, “It is easier to teach a man who is ignorant than one in error. The ignorant man can hear the truth you have spoken, but the man in error must first be convinced that what he believed to be true is in fact false, before he can accept the truth.” That is why you will have a hard time finding the truth. What you believe about everything is probably false or incomplete. But have a teachable spirit and a humble attitude and it will make your path smoother.
Now here is the question, “Is God a fact in human existence?” How do you answer that question? Do you first have to believe he is a fact in order to believe he is real? Or do you have to believe there is a God before you can make him a fact if your life. Or do you have to have a personal experience that causes you to believe God intervened miraculously in your life in order to make God a fact in your life. My study indicates all three, and probably more, have proved God is real. But it is a personal experience that does not establish God as a fact for another who has not had a personal belief experience. It follows then, for any person to say, “My belief is more accurate than your belief,” is wrong. If God is an infinite reality, human knowledge begins and ends in the senses. Infinite things cannot be sensed-only believed to exist. Therefore, human knowledge cannot have certain knowledge about God. That is why people who speak with certainty about God are not to be believed.
But the pride of man is limitless. And nearly everyone who believes speaks with authority about the reality of God. Why they are not satisfied to believe themselves and leave everybody alone I don’t know. You have to know what you know and why you know it. Be comfortable in your own skin. All of the world’s religions are directed toward Love. The issue here on earth is to learn how to love through the ages. We need, we all need, to learn the definition of love that can stand for all humankind. Forget about the dogma your religion has taught you. Forget about the rituals your dogma has taught you. The motivation to Love has a new and different definition.
Love is the deep abiding gratitude for and appreciation of the object loved. If we can all do that we will fulfill the admonitions of the world’s religions.
This article was written by Lawrence McGrath.
Originally titled: 2nd Message for Millennials
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** Mr. McGrath is an author, father and grandfather. A retired marine pilot, lawyer, college professor, college president, bank president, and consultant.