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Len of the Chilterns

35. A contemplation of Western religions

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A general description of Caucasian people or race is one of the traditional divisions of humankind, covering a broad group of peoples from Europe, western Asia, and parts of India and North Africa. [so named because the German physiologist Blumenbach believed that it originated in the Caucasus region of SE Europe. In other respects Blumenbach was deluded]

The Caucasians included the Sumerians who dominated the Middle-East, centred in Mesopotamia, what is now Iran and Iraq. This was the birthplace of the major religions of the Caucasian world, represented by, in the order in which they arose, Judaism, Christianity and Islam

The Bible (Old Testament) mainly deals with the history of Abram (Abraham) and his descendants, (a sort of family history) but the first 11 chapters give a résumé of earlier events from the beginning of the universe to the birth of Abram about 2000 BCE.
Abraham is called Ibrahim by Muslims. They see him as the father of the Arab people as well as the Jewish people through his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael (Isma'il in

Abraham is depicted in the Qur'an as somebody who, from a very early age, had problems trying to understand God and trying to discover God; being restless, knowing that perhaps the Pagan environment which he was in did not have the answers. That, ultimately, God was not the star or the sun or the wind or the moon - all these forces that he saw - God was in something else. In this respect his thought was not unlike that of Plato,. Plato (427 - 347 B.C) was a philosopher in Classical Greece with no affiliations to Judaism , Christianity or Islam. He was also a mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Plato regarded the soul as being like the brain but without the physical properties; a rational, free-floating eternal intelligence. He regarded God in the same light but omnipotent.

And so from that perspective, Abraham is considered to be neither a Jewish person, nor a Christian person nor a Muslim, but somebody who essentially and intrinsically knows that there is really only one God. And he is praised for this essential and innate yearning to discover the unity of God.

There have been thousands of prophets and numbers of messengers but there are only four or five that have been designated a specific title according to Islam: Jesus is one, Moses is one and the Prophet Muhammad is one but also Abraham, who is known as a friend of God.

Abraham had a specific allocation given to him by God, which is that from his progeny will be all the prophets and from them - for Muslims - comes Muhammad. But he does have a relationship with God: first of all he is baffled as to how he has a son at such a late stage through Hagar and then through Sarah.

The tradition of God testing Abraham's devotion to him by asking him to sacrifice Ishmael is the heart of the Abrahamic tradition and the Abrahamic stories. Abraham was the first Prophet who was asked for the ultimate sacrifice: "I want you to sacrifice your own flesh and blood for me". And he passed the test because he was prepared to do it, in his submission and devotion to God.

And so from that perspective, Abraham is considered to be neither a Jewish person, nor a Christian person nor a Muslim, but somebody who essentially and intrinsically knows that there is really only one God. And he is praised for this essential and innate yearning to discover the unity of

This period of history is derived from two earlier histories current among the people of Judah and Israel. The older of the two manuscripts known to scholars as the J Document (J for Judean) contains legends that were current among the tribal people of the area. They were probably written down in their present form in about 700 years Before Christan Era (BCE) in the strongest kingdom in the Tigris/Euphrates Valley in what is now Iraq. This culture dominated Western Asia and the Sumerians, who lived there, invented writing. The Sumerian legends and theories of the Creation spread to all neighbouring cultures. The later document, dubbed the P Document (P for Priest) was gathered together and written down during the period when the people of Judah (the Jews) were in captivity in the Tigris/Euphrates valley in the 6th century BCE when the dominant culture was Chaldean, whose capital was Babylon. This was based on some 200 years of thought originating with the Sumerians The two documents were merged by later scholars whose main concern was not to detract from either version

The Sumerians were the most sophisticated people in the world, in their day, and the power of their thought was no less than that of modern scholars. They began elementary science although they did lack thousands of years of accumulated data and modern investigative tools. They were well ahead of the other leading cultures of the world, including Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, European etc. There is no other ancient or primitive document written before modern science that is as logical and rational as the book of Genesis. Originally, these histories were written in Assyrian, later Hebrew then Greek after which translations appeared in most languages of the modern world. Even in English there have been various translation from the Hebrew and Greek and many versions have appeared with subtle differences (In the beginning was the word/in the beginning was the sound). Often, in translating a Hebrew word into another language, several words had to be used to make sense.

The first Hebrew book of Moses began with “Bereshith”. It was usual in biblical times to refer to a book by its opening word or sentence. “Bereshith” means “In the beginning”. The nearest Greek match for that is “Genesis” meaning “coming into being”. Other Greek words in common use today are “chaos” meaning disorder and “cosmos” meaning order. The Semitic version of the Old Testament was Tanakh and Apocrypha. “Bible” comes from the Greek “biblios” for books.

Early manuscripts did not divide the Bible up into chapters or verses. That was the work of a Frenchman in 1560 and is how most English bibles are arranged. We are stuck with the system, though, as all references and commentaries since the sixteenth century are based upon it.

The first sentence of the scriptures refers to “in the beginning”, which is as sensible a place to start as any. All things have a beginning. You were born; I was born; all God’s children were born…. The vast majority of us does not actually remember the occasion but happily accept the words of others. We are far too trusting.

Before birth we did not exist. That was the ancient belief. We now know that is not true as, during the last few centuries, we have gradually become to accept life in the womb as valid and to expect to see ultra-sound pictures of the unborn child. It is difficult in these days of enlightenment and education to imagine that, not so long ago, a civilized young mother may not have connected the birth of her baby with an event of nine month earlier. It had come about by an act of God and being in a state of married grace. My own grandmother never had any carnal experience, so my sisters (who used to chat to the old lady) informed me, and her three children were Acts of God. The old lady was scared of electricity and, when her house was wired, kept the lights on in case the electricity escaped, filled the rooms and electrocuted them all as they slept.

So maybe life starts with conception? That sounds reasonable enough but when pair of disparate cells fuse and start multiplying when do they become a little person? Is the life force in the ovum and in sperm (or one or the other) or does it enter the foetus, say, at 12 weeks when the infantile brain begins to lay down memories? Some say that consciousness is a brain function although new science suggests that, although linked to brain, it is independent and may function separately. What goes for the human animal must go for all mammals, perhaps to a different degree. At what point does a conglomeration of cells become conscious or intelligent?

At the other end of the scale, all things die. Sometimes death is not quite definite. Most have heard of living in a vegetative state when a person’s body is alive but the brain dead. Even in that state, the tissue of the brain is healthy but something has departed, more often than not permanently. I have an interesting DVD pertaining to that. There is a case for the soul/consciousness being mostly departed but a small part remaining in the brain.
Denis Postle, teacher, author, psychologist, and psychotherapist wrote in his book The Mind Gymnasium “The human mind is perhaps more complex, more intricate, more subtle than any other known entity; perhaps it is the most extraordinary object in the whole universe".......................... So what is to be made of the following abstract from a scientific paper which hypothesises free floating intelligence:

Jahn & Dunne report on their Remote Perception work:-
“… the ability of human participants to acquire information about spatially (of or relating to space) and temporally (of or relating to time) a remote geographic target, otherwise inaccessible by any known sensory means, has been thoroughly demonstrated over several hundred carefully conducted experiments. The protocol requires one participant, the “agent” to be stationed at a randomly selected target at a given time and there to observe and record impressions of the details and ambience (the surroundings or atmosphere of a place) of the scene. A second participant, the “percipient”, located far from the scene and with no prior information about it, tries to sense its composition and character and report these in a similar format to the agent’s description. Even casual comparison of the agent and percipient narratives as produced in this body of experiments, reveals striking correspondences in both their general and specific aspects, indicative of some anomalous channel of information acquisition, well beyond any chance expectation. Incisive analytical techniques have been developed and applied to these data to establish more precisely the quantity and quality of objective and subjective information acquired, and to guide the design of more effective experiments. Beyond confirming the validity of the phenomenon, these analyses demonstrate that this capacity of human consciousness is also largely independent of the time between the specification of the target and the perception effort”.

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