I HAVE JUST PUBLISHED
GOD, WAR AND REINCARNATION
IN PAPERBACK AND ON KINDLE
Hello and welcome to my new Philosophy page.
Philosophy is generally viewed as something that is for academics and theologians only, a study that it is so obscure and difficult that its arguments are above most people’s heads. However, this site is truly meant to be philosophy for all, because in truth we are all philosophers. Each one of us has his or her understanding of what life means for us personally. I have tried to be objective in my approach but of course this is never entirely possible. This site will reflect my philosophy but I hope that it may be of some help to others. I also hope that my writing is neither too academic nor obscure.
I studied philosophy for three years as a mature student at the University of East Anglia. Previously I had travelled extensively, two years in the Merchant Navy, followed by two overland trips to India and the Far East and one overland trip across Africa. There were shorter dips into Egypt, Morocco and Mexico, the Orient Express to Istanbul and motor cycle trips around Europe and Greece.
I was brought up with regular visits to Sunday school and even have some early certificates for Bible studies. The travelling gave me a deep interest in other faiths and cultures. I read translations of the Koran and the Upanishads. On a dusty pavement in India I found an old man with a toothless grin and a turban squatting among the equally dusty books he had for sale. Among them was a copy of Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy which I carried in my rucksack and read and re-read over the rest of the trip.
It all led to my late entry into university where after a false start I eventually emerged with a degree at the B-plus level. The false start was my first philosophy essay. I naively filled it with my own ideas and got down-marked to a C- minus. I read all the critical notes and realized that I was only expected to regurgitate all that we had been taught in the lectures. From there on I dutifully regurgitated and the marks went up, although I only once scored a double-A.
I left university and wrote God, Faith and Reason. I submitted the MS to every publisher I could find with philosophy titles on their list. The nearest I received to a positive response came from a publisher who said that he would have published the book if I had held a teaching post at university. It seemed that in his view philosophy books were only bought by university students and to get on their reading lists you had to actually be a lecturer. This, of course, was back in the good old days, before publishers decided that aspiring authors were rabid creatures best kept at bay behind barricades of agents. Now it seems that most agents are of the same opinion with what they call unsolicited manuscripts.
I did have a promising writing career back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. I wrote a long stream of crime, spy and adventure thrillers which were published by Robert hale Ltd. I sold foreign rights in most languages in Europe and eight titles were published in the USA. Twice I sold film options and there were more flickers of film interest. The books paid for all my travels and the travels provided backgrounds for the books.
That all disappeared with the recession of the 1980s. Hale stopped publishing crime and thrillers and all my paperback publishers and editors disappeared. I was getting contracts on outlines and Corgi had accepted one book on contract before the recession. The book was written and accepted but then Corgi decided that because of the recession they couldn’t publish. Foolishly I took the contract to a solicitor who said that the publishers were in breach of contract. I threatened to sue, Corgi published, but only a token edition. I had a good agent at the time but she dropped me like a hot potato and I have never since been accepted by a mainline publisher or been able interest another agent.
Since retirement I have written regular feature articles for local magazines and have published a few local histories and guide books. My fiction from these later years I have self published and all the titles and details can be found on my main website at www.robertleaderauthor.com.
I have also written God, Faith and Terror, which I have also published beside God, Faith and Reason. Both of those books are also available from Amazon through the Robert Leader website.
Now I am writing my third and what will probably be my last book of philosophy. I am over eighty now, possibly the perfect age to be writing philosophy, and so I have decided to print up on this website the chapters that are already written and to add each new chapter as I write. I can still dance and sing and swim twenty lengths, so hopefully I will get to the end of the book.
Below are a few of the magnificent examples of religious architecture which I encountered on my travels. These magnificent collections of mosques, temples, cathedrals and pagodas stimulated my interest in faith and religion. God is acknowledged and worshiped throughout the world through many understandings and it seems that this only makes sense if in some miraculous way all faiths lead to God.
. Is it really conceivable that all the people who have built and worshiped in all these magnificent buildings could all be totally wrong?
And consider, all the empires of kings and conquerors come and go; at the most they last just a few hundred years. By contrast the great religious faiths go on and on, seemingly forever.
HERE ARE THE FIRST FEW CHAPTERS OF GOD, WAR AND REINCARNATION
i HAVE INCLUDED A PROVISIONAL CHAPTER LIST TO SHOW WHERE i AM GOING
OTHER CHAPTERS WILL FOLLOW AS I WRITE THEM
GOD, WAR AND REINCARNATION
Why does God Allow war?
Is there reincarnation?
These are the questions which dominate this exhaustive survey of religious experience, politics, psychology, philosophy, legend and anything else that could possible shed light on these issues.
War is as perennial as the grass in the meadows or the leaves on the trees. Every generation is blighted by war and it seems that humanity never learns. Generals and politicians study the history of warfare but only to learn tactics and the skills of warfare, taking little or no heed of the endless lessons of futility and waste. If there is a God why does he allow this to happen?
War leads to multiple deaths but everyone dies so does it matter? And what happens when we die? Western religions offer heaven or hell. The Eastern religions all offer some form of reincarnation. The atheist option is simply nothing, oblivion and extinction.
There are no definitive answers, but we can look at the options and weigh the probabilities.
GOD, WAR AND REINCARNATION.
Chapter One: The Big Questions.
Chapter Two: The Christian experience.
Chapter Three: The Moslem Experience.
Chapter Four: The Jewish Experience.
Chapter Five: The Hindu Experience.
Chapter Six: The Buddhist Experience.
Chapter Seven: The Sikh Experience.
Chapter Eight: The Chinese Experience.
Chapter Nine: The Japanese Experience.
Chapter Ten: The Ancient religions.
Chapter Eleven: The New World religions.
Chapter Twelve: The Primal religions.
Chapter Thirteen: The psychology of Aggression.
Chapter Fourteen: Politics and the Security Dilemma.
Chapter Fifteen: The Spirit World.
Chapter Sixteen: The Mystic Experience.
Chapter Seventeen: Near Death Experiences.
Chapter Eighteen: The Journey of the Soul.
Chapter Nineteen: Legend and Fiction.
Chapter twenty: Philosophy answers.
Chapter Twenty One: God at the heart of All Faiths.
Chapter Twenty Two: Conclusions.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
“What am I?”
“Why am I here?
What happens to me when I die?”
Mankind has been asking these questions ever since the dawn of reason. They are probably among the first questions the first thinking ape ever pondered. Thinkers and philosophers have been arguing over the answers ever since. The Neolithic hunters and gatherers moved through a world of unseen ghosts and spirits, similar to the Dream Time still remembered by the Australian aborigines of today. When civilizations were born in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Mohenjo-Daro and the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys in China, religions arose to supply new meaning to the old questions.
The religions differed slightly, each one springing from its own soil with roots in its own area history and culture. Each one tried to make sense of the spirit world and some of the spirits were elevated into gods who could be approached through prayer and sacrifice to obtain their blessings. In Ancient Persia, with Zoroaster, and later in Palestine and the West, there developed the concept of One God. In the eastern religions there were many gods, but gradually came the philosophical understanding that they were all images or manifestations of the One God.
New questions arose as our human minds expanded.
“Is there a God?”
“What is His nature?”
“What is the nature of the world around us?”
“What is the nature of the moon and stars and of the universe?”
The questions multiplied and philosophers and theologians struggled. Religion generally held its ground because religion did provide meaning and most people would not accept that their existence was meaningless. The idea that there was no God governing the heavens and dispensing final justice was unacceptable. The idea that human beings had no immortal soul and that like the leaves on the tress when they died their bodies and everything within them simply rotted and disappeared was unacceptable.
Then came the age of science. Charles Darwin showed that nature operated through the process of evolution. Nuclear physicists told us that the world was created with a Big Bang which was still expanding. Religious philosophy had always stressed that to explain the existence of creation there had to be a creator. Suddenly there was no need for a Creator, no need for God. Friedrich Nietzsche glorified this new freedom in Thus Spoke Zarathustra with the triumphant cry, “There is no God.
Religion was in crisis. Science was triumphant. The western world veered on to a secular course, casting off religion as a defeated superstition. Karl Marx had even defined it as “The Opium of the masses.” God and the spiritual dimension, the proud new philosophy claimed, simply didn’t exist.
Well, almost. The majority of people still believed, despite the new knowledge. Faith in the eastern religions remained largely untouched. In Islam and in a lesser degree in the West faith still stubbornly persisted. It could be acknowledged that evolution was the process through which God worked. Just as an architect needed bricklayers and carpenters to turn his ideas into reality so God used evolution to bring His great concept into being. In the same way the Big Bang could be simply God’s method of bringing all of creation into being. You can kick-start an engine, but someone or something has to do the kicking.
Gradually the scientists began to fill in the details and now it seems that our universe has been fine-tuned in multiple ways which do suggest that it must have had a creator. The Goldilocks theory was established. In the children’s story of Goldilocks and the three bears, Goldilocks finds the three bear’s cottage in the woods. The bears are absent but their bowls of breakfast porridge are on the table. Goldilocks tastes them all in turn. One bowl is too hot, the next bowl is too cold, but baby bear’s porridge is just right.
Just right is the essence of the Goldilocks theory. Think of our planet Earth. If it had been closer to the sun it would be too hot, like Mercury a lifeless furnace. If it had been further out it would have been too cold, like the remote ice planets. Instead the earth’s orbit is just right; its distance from the sun makes it just warm enough to be life-sustaining. Scientists now look for Earth-like planets in the Goldilocks orbits of other solar systems and have identified thousands of planets which could support life like ours.
In many other ways the universe as a whole is just right for life as we know it to eventually arise. There is just enough hydrogen to create water and water is essential for life. The balance between gravitational and electro-magnetic forces is just right; too much gravity and we would all be squashed flat, too little and we all be torn apart. These are just two examples. In many other ways the necessary chemical and molecular balances seem to be just right. Everything about our universe fits with the Goldilocks hypothesis. What at first appeared to be a random big bang now seems to have been finely tuned and adjusted to create the only kind of universe in which intelligent life such as ours could have evolved?
Thus the atheist triumph is undermined. The old teleological argument is back in force again. Our world appears to have been designed for the specific purpose of making it habitable for our particular human species. We cannot have design without a Designer and the Catholic Church has agreed that the Big Bang is not incompatible with Christian theology.
Some atheist cosmologists have speculated that ours is not the only universe. Instead they have suggested that there are an infinite number of multiple universes. The purpose of this idea is to suggest that our universe does not necessarily have to have a creator to explain the fine-tuning that makes it possible for intelligent life to arise. If there were billions of universes our particular universe could appear at random. In this multi-universe lottery we were just lucky enough to appear on the winning ticket.
Here we see the consistency of uncertainty which I first described in God, Faith and Reason, appearing yet again. The bottom line of every field of philosophical enquiry is always a faint enigma, just a shadow of doubt to leave enough room for faith. So I would suggest that the vast scope of our one visible and actual universe is for most of us difficult enough to comprehend. The probability of the universe we can see being the only universe is a million times higher than the probability that there are multiple universes for which there is simply no evidence. The desperate speculations of diehard atheists do not really need to concern us,
One of the key questions of religious philosophy had always been that of the nature and creation of God Himself. If God was the First Cause who had created everything, then how had God himself come into being? Science had briefly pushed God out of the way and replaced him with the Big Bang, only to find that the Big Bang itself was in all probability the work of a creator. But the first cause question still remains. Who or what created the Big Bang? The First Cause question has simply been pushed back a step, and if the answer is that God had created the Big Bang then nothing has changed.
In God, Faith and Reason I explained how it was rational to believe in God, even though Science could not prove that God existed. One of the first lessons of philosophy is to understand that there is a fundamental difference between belief and knowledge. We cannot know, but we can still believe when belief becomes the best probable explanation.
In God, Faith and Terror I looked at the question of whether terrorism and the slaughter of all those who did not profess to any one particular faith could really be what God wants. My conclusion was that this was inconceivable. Why would a loving God create a diverse world of many faiths and cultures if he only wanted one faith and one culture to survive? And why would the command to love one another become embedded in every set of Holy Scriptures? Every one of the world’s great streams of religious faith holds up a version of the Golden Rule. It is expressed in the Holy Bible as, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” And in the Holy Koran in the words, “Be good unto others as Allah has been good unto you.”
Since I wrote God, Faith and Terror a Muslim academic Dr MuhammedTahir-ul-Qadi has written a new Quran Encyclopedia which dissects and explains all of the 6,000 verses in the holy book. There are 7000 pages in eight volumes and Dr Quadi claims that only one verse in the Koran actually urges its followers to kill unbelievers. It is known as the Sword Verse and reads: “Slay the idolaters wherever you may find them……” It is the fifth verse in the ninth chapter and refers only to one specific battle between Muslim and Pagan tribes. It is just one verse among 7,000 which the hate preachers and the crazed Jihadists have perverted into a call for mass killings by one small minority of Islamic fanatics. The bulk of the Koran is a call for submission to God, and for peace and tolerance to all who do not worship Him in exactly the same way.
So it would seem that the new Quaranic Encyclopedia endorses my own conclusions about religious terrorism. God does not want murder and atrocities committed in his name. God’s purpose would be best achieved by following the Golden Rule.
It seems that religion has now reached a key point in its own evolution with the understanding that all faith leads to God. All religions agree in three fundamental areas. One is that there is a God. Their definitions and understandings of His nature may all vary: Hinduism presents a multiplicity of gods, but the core philosophy behind them is that these are all manifestations or reincarnations of the One Creator God, or one spiritual source; Christianity offers us a Trinity of God-head, God the Father, God, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but these are all aspects of One God; Islam narrows it down to “There is no God but Allah.” The key point is that behind all these seemingly different definitions and understandings there is an overall Creator God.
The second point on which all religions agree is that there is a spiritual dimension to creation. In the monotheistic religions there are versions of heaven and angels, some religions worship saints or ancestor spirits, the more primitive religions worshipped totems or animal spirits and in some cases every aspect of nature was seen to have its own spirit. Some of these were benign and some were not. The world is full of stories of ghosts or djinns, of spirits that somehow have got left behind to protect or haunt the living instead of continuing their spiritual journeys.
The third point on which all religions agree is the Golden Rule. All scriptures contain some wording to the same affect. God’s Will is that we should help each other and love each other; that we must not do to anyone anything which we would not want done to ourselves.
All of this leads to the conclusion that all religions have the same roots, even if they have flowered in different ways, and so we can also conclude that all religions in some way will lead back to God.
There are two final areas of religious inquiry that have not been adequately examined in my previous two books. Throughout history every generation has gone to war, often more than once. War is a horrific waste of life but each generation still pursues its glory, blindly oblivious to the blood and slaughter reality discovered by each previous generation. In God, Faith and Terror I called it the Hobbit syndrome. Every young man wants to leave home, find adventure, defeat enemies, win the war against evil and return a triumphant hero. The fact that this dream almost always proves false is blithely ignored. Why does God allow this to happen?
The second area reverts back to the third of our opening questions, what happens when we die. The atheist says nothing, we simply cease to exist. The monotheistic religions offer us heaven or hell. We either join the angels around the heavenly throne or we burn in an everlasting hell. The eastern religions all say that we are re-incarnated, to live again in new bodies, perhaps forever or perhaps until we are sufficiently good to escape the wheel of re-birth. Perhaps then we will achieve union with God, or perhaps Enlightenment, which might or might not be a simply postponed extinction.
Why it is that mankind never learns from war?
When we die do we go up to endless hallelujahs or down to endless hellfire; or is there the option of rebirth due to our own merit?
These questions are the subject of God, War and Reincarnation.
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