Notes on Heaven and Hell

Any survey of religious faiths will uncover a mind-boggling hotchpotch of differing conceptions of heaven and hell. Every culture has had something to say about the immortality of the soul and its progress after death to a more or less perfect existence. They are very ancient and persistent ideas. Consequently, our beliefs about the afterlife, and the various experiences we might have therein, have created an immense labyrinth from which it’s not easy to emerge with anything resembling the pure and simple truth. Perhaps the full truth on such matters cannot be communicated in words alone. And even if they could, these brief notes can’t cut through the maze entirely; but they can provide a clue. Continue reading

Good and Evil

Struggling with the concepts of good and evil, and particularly the so-called ‘problem of evil’, has led some to question the notion of God as the All-fair, the All-true and the All-good.  The material thinking part of our nature seems bound by the logic that either God is not absolute, or is in some way the cause of evil in the world. However, the mystical traditions have ever sought a truer and deeper insight into the nature of good and evil than is available to our intellectual reasoning faculty. Continue reading

Belief in God

At best many of the current debates about God are noisy and ill-humoured; and more often than not they are spiteful and cruel. At worst they are despicable inversions of any notion we might have of righteousness or ethical behaviour. In the West, aggressive materialists appear determined to stamp out all expressions of religious faith from public life. From their perspective, belief in God is an outdated superstition, delusional, and incompatible with a modern civilised world. Some of them openly argue that religious faith is the root of all evil.  Because of the corruption and decay of religious institutions and practices, these detractors have been able in large parts of the modern world to make steady progress towards achieving their mission.  In other parts of the world fundamentalist religious tradition-keepers are making every effort to turn back history by eradicating all manifestations of modernity, particularly the modernising and materialistic influences of the West. If some of the attacks on traditional religions by materialists are hypocritical, malicious and ominous, the religious communities themselves can hardly claim the higher moral ground. Child abuse, the treatment of women, sectarian hatred and the slaughter of innocents are too common and widespread for that. Continue reading