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Many desire a God intimately involved in our every breath. Is He, however, an indifferent Prime Mover?

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Religious literature dates the appearance of the Hebrews and their monotheism to about 3500 years ago. (Image: Study.com)

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Man’s conflicting visions of what is Divine, along with reaching new frontiers in human civilization, have, time and again, caused conflict. Believers, intolerant of conflicting opinion, have almost always launched violent efforts to expunge from existence those of a different view. While multiple creeds co-existed in the distant past, warring among believers has been the constant.

Akenathon of Egypt eradicated all adherence to multiple deities in Egypt, during his reign, in favor of the exclusive worship of the sun as the Prime Mover. He broke with the tradition of multiple gods with territorial jurisdiction and areas of influence governing specific human activities. A practiced monotheism almost 3300 years ago did not survive its founder’s death.

Religious literature dates the appearance of the Hebrews and their monotheism to about 3500 years ago. Israel has been mentioned in ancient Egyptian texts. The unitary and exclusive God of the Hebrew conception evolved from a tribal one of war and the liberation of a homeless people, into the universal One, in the nation state they established. They insisted in the end that their deity had jurisdiction governing every aspect of human life for all peoples, not just the Hebrews.

The monotheistic creed of those who became the Jews was launched into the wider world, consequent on their conquest by Imperial Rome, and eventual Roman acceptance of a modified Christian rite ascribed to a Jew named Jesus.

Jews, dispersed from their land, at one time reportedly (sic Josephus) constituted ten percent of the population of the Roman world. Some were associated with the Jesus sect. They were the first martyrs in a pagan world. The Judeo-Christian offering made by the disciple, Paul (adopted in modified form by the Romans), also denied the existence of any other divinity (in contrast with the pantheon of gods then in place in Rome), and presented a unitary God.

Paul’s innovation for the creed was his God’s promise of eternal life to followers, (as evidenced by the idea of a Jesus risen bodily from the dead,) in return for their faith in this doctrine. That attracted the masses of gentiles. (Traditional Judaism insisted on much more baggage and made fewer promises.)

A Catholic doctrinal decision around 300 AD, deified Jesus, and reviled Jews for insisting on their own path. Divine exclusivity was demanded from millions of Christian adherents attracted by proselytization and induced by the force of arms. Islam in its turn arrived in 613 AD, and demanded, and demands the same, to this day. All of the monotheistic creeds, in their turn, have been intolerant of others’ approaches to Divinity.

Humans around the globe have sought to access the Divine since time immemorial. Asia is replete with different approaches. Many desire a God intimately involved in our every breath. Is He, however, an indifferent Prime Mover? Doubters of the existence of a supreme divinity have to explain how our universe, life, the forces we witness around us, came into existence? Wasn’t a supernatural agency necessary to have brought all of this into being? But is He/She the caregiver many of us wish for? Are we made in God’s image, or did we create God in our own?

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Our western society has adopted some of the ethical values of the religious mantra philosophically to encourage an orderly and peaceful human interaction among individuals, communities and nations. We have moved in the direction of the separation of church and state, (an American innovation, by way of Napoleon?) to ensure the freedom of religious choice. In most western countries, religious observance has been divorced, in some measure, from the operations of the state apparatus.

In those countries where Islam holds sway, religion and its observance continues to be dictated by the power of the state. In the last fifty or sixty years, Islam (as expressed by the Wahabism financed by the Saudis), rather than following the Reformation path of other monotheistic religions in the direction of democracy and freedom of choice, has persisted in maintaining theocracies, or authoritarian governments, that do not offer this freedom. It strongly insists on the accretion of all humans to its creed.

Many Muslims, some of whom have come to live among us, even if a minority, support coercive efforts regarding Islamic observance, a view at variance with the principles of freedom of choice and speech that most of us have adopted. This is a well-travelled road fraught with danger, raising all manner of sensitivities among those wedded to freedom of choice.

Hate and murder as a consequence of any contradiction to an exclusive view of Divine expression, has come to our streets around the globe.

In our era, open borders in the West, the universality of social media, together with access to lethal weapons, has permitted extremist views to play themselves out wherever we live. And reactionary forces of a racist expression are showing their strength.

On Sept. 3, an ISIS-inspired terrorist had knifed six people, 3 seriously, at the LynnMall Countdown supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand. In May he was convicted of possessing ISIS propaganda and sentenced to one year of “supervision”. He was being watched by police and national security services, including an armed tactical squad, yet was able to take a knife off the store shelves and attack innocent shoppers before being shot by police. (Screencap: AFP/TVNZ)

We remain with our questions regarding divinity, faith in, and hope of, finding a benevolent God that we can approach. We maintain our continuing effort to achieve a more enlightened humanity. Can we avoid despair in an existence replete with inexplicable suffering and purposelessness? We wonder at the place of humans in the universe.

We see our sacred writings, with their contradictions, and the evident hand of scribes rewriting histories and aspirations with the benefit of hindsight and narrow ‘political’ self-interest. We are full of questions.

We can understand that our cosmos is a laboratory where anything is possible, but we cannot rationally explain how the laboratory came into being. We may not be the only sentient beings to exist, but why does life exist at all if there is no higher purpose? Why is there something, why is there a universe, instead of nothing? Can sentient beings achieve some access to the Architect? In the end, is that search itself the purpose of our existence?

We seek, as always, to comprehend the Divine. 

Max Roytenberg is an author, poet and blogger, with many published articles in Jewish periodicals in Dublin, New York, Winnipeg and Vancouver. After a career as an Economist and Executive in the Food Industry, in Canada and abroad, he writes, and lives with his Bride, in Vancouver. He has children and grandchildren in the US, Canada, China and Israel. His last book, “Hero In My Own Eyes”, is available through major booksellers and on Amazon.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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