Edward C. Paolella

"Humans are divided into different clans and tribes, and belong to countries and towns.But I find myself a stranger to all communities and belong to no settlement. The universe is my country and the human family is my tribe."
--Kahlil Gibran (Lebonese-American, 1883-1931), "The Poet's Voice"

One's God is unique to each individual as each self is unique to each human being. No one can speak of one's God but oneself because one's God, as others' selves, is a purely subjective experience to each human being.

What revelations one has are one's own and only one's own. That is why enlightenment is unique to each individual self. No one can experience enlightenment for someone else or through someone else. Enlightenment is a subjective, personal experience, just as the experience of God is subjective and personal.

Does one have a personal "soul" that lives on beyond one's physical life? No one can experience in a scientifically verifiable sense a "future" life. For whatever one's reasons, one may choose to believe it on faith--and faith in "something" is no proof that that "something" one has faith in beyond one's physical life is provable. It is purely a subjective experience that one may choose to turn into a belief one holds, for it is impossible to prove that one is capable of experiencing life after death before one is actually dead--that is why it is called life "after" death. How can one experience life "after" death while one is still alive?

Some individuals have hallucinations. What they hallucinate does not make the "content" of the hallucination proof of its own objective existence any more than the monsters one creates in one's imagination or in one's dreams are scientific proof of their objective existence. One can dream of a three-headed monster or draw one, but one cannot verify its material existence in the material world. One can verify that matter exists objectively, and so can anyone else who applies the laws of physics and chemistry to the material world. One cannot prove the verifiable existence of God or the soul because the laws of nature do not apply in the domain beyond ("meta") the physical. That is the difference between physics and metaphysics.

Physics can be verified objectively by anyone who repeats the experience and gets the same results over and over again. "Expérience" in French is the word for the English word "experiment." In French one form of the verb "to experiment" is "faire des expériences," literally "to make or create experiences" (although the verb "expérimenter" also exists) and the verb "to experience" in French is "éprouver." For the French, "to experience" something is "to prove" it ("éprouver").

It is not possible to prove in a scientifically verifiable way something that is "beyond the physical," something that is "metaphysical." One's "experience" of "God" is purely subjective--which science explains biochemically, but cannot verify one's "God" or one's "faith" scientifically as having an objective, material existence. It may be someone's subjective reality, but that in no way confirms its objective existence.

That Jesus died is verifiable. All human beings die. That he rose from the dead--or did anything else supernatural--beyond that which is natural--is pure hearsay evidence that is not allowable in a court of law as being objectively true or scientifically provable. That is why the courts in the United States have disallowed public schools to teach "creationism" or the concept of "intelligent design." The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled, based upon the separation of church and state, that creationism and the concept of intelligent design are RELIGIOUS concepts, not verifiable by SCIENCE. Evolution is a scientific theory that since Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859 has accumulated more and more scientific evidence to support the claims of the theory. To support the creationist, Christian–Jewish and Muslim--fundamentalist theological belief that God created the universe in 4,004 BCE and that Jesus, as God, as espoused in the "Mystery of the Holy Trinity," did the creating is not science, but theology. In fact, no where in the Gospels--no where--does Jesus ever make the claim that he IS God. Others may have said it of him or theologians believe it, but what they say does not make it so.

Ninety-nine people may claim to "experience" the existence of God out of 100. The one person who does not is in no way obligated to believe as scientifically, objectively, experimentally, verifiably true the existence of God because they are a minority of one. In the domain of metaphysics, one is purely in the realm of unverifiable, subjective, unprovable objective reality in the natural world, that is, as having verifiable existence in the physical world--where the origin of the word "physics" is derived from the ancient Greek word "physis," a word that in Greek means "nature."

Physics is physics; nature is nature; metaphysics is metaphysics; the supernatural is the supernatural--there is no mixing or matching the physical with the metaphysical or the natural with the supernatural. If anyone chooses to mix and match, they do so at their own risk–one calls most people who do such mixing and matching "crazy," or at least some do. And anyone who believes others when they say that they saw someone rise from the dead is definitely "crazy" to take their word for it without having been there to see it with their own eyes.
When it comes to metaphysical and supernatural claims that many have supposedly made throughout history, there are those who are on the side of the doubting Thomases every time, unless they see the happenings for themselves. If someone tells another that China exists, one does not have to take their word for it; that would be hearsay evidence. But if one can get on a plane, train, boat or walk to or take pictures, on earth or from space, of China and see it for themselves, then they will believe it to be true. Seeing is believing for most human beings every time.

And anyone who is willing to believe what they read to be true is playing the fool each time. Something has to be verified to be true, not claimed to be true by "divine inspiration."
Visions are visions are visions to those who claim to have them--whether of the Virgin Mary or Jesus or the ghost of Hamlet's father--their visions are not necessarily any one else’s truth unless one can objectively prove that what someone says they see is REALLY there scientifically, verified by the laws of nature (physics).

By the way, why is it not believable for Jews to accept that Muhammad was taken by the Archangel Gabriel to see God (visiting along his journey to converse with Moses and, in some orthodox Muslim views, Jesus) after his Night Journey (Isra and Miraj)? According to one version, he traveled on a winged horse with a woman's head visiting the mosque in Mecca and then to the mosque (eventually to be built on the Temple Mount, the current mosque of the Dome of the Rock). Why, then, is it unorthodox for Muslims to accept Jesus' resurrection or for Christians to also accept Muhammad's receiving directly from Allah, while the prophet was in heaven, the instructions about the "salat," the five required times of praying for all Muslims daily? If Jesus can, after his death, reappear here and there, and Elijah is, supposedly still alive, having been taken up alive in a chariot of fire to heaven, why do not all these religions–with stories of Lord Krishna appearing to Arjuna in the Hindu scriptures or legends quasi-deifying the Buddha--why are some of these supposed happenings not all accepted by all religions, since one religious dogma or mythology in any one religion is, from a rational point of view, as phantasmagorical as all the others?

Here is the "Night Flight" story believed by orthodox Muslims to be literally and physically true of Muhammad:

"Isra & Miraj"

While the Isra did happen (17:1, 53:1-18), fairytales associated with it do not make any sense when scrutinized [in the light of the] Quran....

This story is usually called in Muslim literature the story of al-isra'a and al-mi'raj or the prophet Muhammad's quiet night journey (al-isra'a) from Mecca to al-masjid al-aqsa (the farthest mosque) in Jerusalem, then his ascension to heaven (al-mi'raj) and his return in few minutes back to Mecca. They said it happened on the 27th night of Rajab (the 7th lunar month) in 621 AD (Muhammad was then 50-years old).

When he met the Lord, he received at first fifty daily salats (the contact prayers ritual). Following Moses' advise who was in the 7th heaven, Muhammad was going back and forth to the Lord debating on behalf of believers, who were down on earth, to lighten the number of salats for them. He could not do it anymore, out of shyness, when the Lord lowered many times this number fifty down to only five. (free-minds.org/articles.htm) ["The Messenger" Click on "Isra and Miraj"]

Incredible! If one believes God capable of performing the one story from the one religion, why not believe all the stories from all the religions? Why is one supposedly "divinely revealed" religion any truer than any other supposedly "divinely revealed" religion? Why is one a heretic and blasphemer to believe one story in one religion, but obliged to believe another story in another religion? Either man is "delusional" or God is. Surely, it is man! For all the bloodshed spilled in the name of God--created in man’s own image, not man in the All-Merciful, All-Loving, All-Compassionate image of God--is based upon all-to-humanly understandable, deeply-rooted, primitive emotional needs to cope with mankind’s suffering, old age, sickness, death, loneliness, fears, and the desire to achieve immortality.

Why do some jump from the domain of the reasonable (science) to the domain of the unreasonable (religion) simply because they cannot explain everything now through science? And the leap of faith that human beings make to accept their own brand of religion leads to just the opposite ends of religion–not to love God, not to love one another, to do to others what they do not want others to do to them.

Where do all these religions, ancient and modern, show anyone the evidence that the world is any better off for people believing in their various religions? History does not bear out any of the claims of universal brotherhood of man. Instead, at this very second, men are killing one another in the hegemonic belief that one religion, and one version of that religion, is truer than another religion or one version of it.

History reveals: Irish Catholics kill Anglicans and vice versa; Iraqi Sunnis kill Shites and vice versa; Indian Hindus kill Sikhs and vice versa; Croat Roman Catholics kill Greek Orthodox Serbs who both kill Muslim Bosnians and vice versa; Sri Lankan Buddhists kill Muslims and vice versa; Chechnyan Muslims kill Russian Orthodox Russians and vice versa; Rwandan Hutus kill Tutsis and vice versa; a young fundmentalist Muslim, Khalid al Islambuli, kills a Muslim moderate, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt; a young fundamentalist Jew, Yigal Amir, kills a moderate Israeli Jew, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel; Christian fundamentalists kill abortion doctors in America; religious extremists in various countries around the world kill lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered, and so on and so on and so on--all issues that also involve genocide ("ethnic cleansing") and racism and antisemitism and sexism and classism–one has only to pick up any reliable objective history of the world's religions or read the newspapers or watch the news on television, and the facts are there revealing the hatred and bloodshed in front of one’s very eyes.

Organized, institutionalized religions have been around some 5,000 years–is the world any better off for them? Perhaps mankind would have more of an opportunity to live peacefully together on the planet earth if the men and women and children of the world embraced rational principles instead of religious dogmas and mythologies to guide them. Organized, institutionalized religions do not work. They breed intolerance and warfare, destruction and death.

Why not give reason a chance?

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