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Posted by Paul R. Martin on March 15, 2002 01:10:46 UTC

Hi Jessica,

Thank you for your response.

***What I get from your post is that, to you, religion is just an extra little thing in life, not necessary, just an accessory.***

I am sorry that is what you got from my post. I should have been more clear. The thing you missed was the distinction between religion and religious organizations. To me, there is a huge difference.

To me, religion is one of the most important things in life. It may not be necessary to live, but I believe it is necessary to a healthy, complete, and fulfilled life. It is definitely not an accessory.

To me religion is the relationship between an individual and God. I think that relationship should be acknowledged, explored, understood, appreciated, and acted upon. It is, as I said, very important.

Religious organizations, on the other hand, I believe are the worst evil that has visited Earth.

What has consistently happened is that some individuals have, in one way or another, discovered some important aspects of their relationship with God. They have tried to share these insights with others (Disciples or other followers). Then, from that beginning, religious organizations form, and that is where the trouble begins.

The insights are reduced to creeds and scriptures which are misunderstood and exploited. Worse, the organization gains temporal power and it's off to the races. The objectives of consolidating and maintaining this power quickly overshadows and replaces the original motives of the organization. Of course, a "front" of those motives is carried along to keep the membership loyal, but the real objectives of the organization is to maintain and increase power.

This pattern can be seen in all the major religions on Earth, and it can be seen in the small examples of Jim Jones and Whatshisname Applwaite. Yes, a lot of good is done by these organizations, but when you weigh it against the harm that is done, I think there is no comparison.

I think there is ample evidence at this point in our news and in our history books, to back up what I am saying.

I hope that clears up the difference between religion and religious organizations.

***What are your beliefs in the afterlife? Do you believe in an afterlife?***

I believe that the question is very much more complex than people think it is. The thing that I believe makes it so complex is that in the biggest picture of reality, there are additional dimensions of time beyond our one familiar dimension of time. So when you ask about an "after"life, I am sure you mean "after" in the sense of our common conception of time. I believe that in the big picture of reality, that question has no meaning.

But, if you ask me if this life is all there is, then I would say, no. There is a lot more. You can think of the rest of it as happening "before" now, or "after" now, but in the biggest picture of reality, it is really all happening at once, or "now", if you will. I think it is so complex in reality that humans may not be able to comprehend it, even in principle.

Another way of asking your question might be, does consciousness survive death? Phrased that way, I believe that it does.

Basically, I am a strong believer that each individual has the capacity to come to know God personally in a way that may be unique. I am also a strong believer that if you look to someone else, or some book, to tell you what your relationship is to God, that you are very likely to get sucked into a big error. It can get so bad that a mother feels that she is saving her children from eternal damnation by drowning them before they sin too much. Or that in order to try to stop the great satan, it is worth sacrificing 19 young people and a few thousand innocent people by blowing up a few buildings. It can really get ugly.

Warm regards,

Paul

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