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Special Corner - Richard Rowley Convince Who? January 15, 2010

Original Post: 04-22-2009

I have come to realize the hard way that we can't change people's beliefs by reasoning and argument. We can't tell and evangelical or a born again Christian that the Bible is not the word of God, or that they are not going to be saved by Jesus in the way they think,, when they believe that Jesus has turned their life around or that they have a personal relationship with God. We can't bring doubt to them, nor take away their comfort blanket without incurring a lot of anger and hate - their defensive reaction is powerful, and sometimes dangerous.

I have a close relative who is now a born-again Christian, and that person has cursed me many times and says I will rot in hell. Similarly, when I carelessly mentioned to a Jewish lady that Jahweh is only a local mountain volcano god, I incurred her wrath and venom, and it was impossible to continue the discussion. In the same way fundamentalist Muslims can't take a joke - how many people have been killed in riots over the Danish cartoons, and earlier, Salman Rushdie produced a similar reaction from one glib remark in his Satanic Verses.

We can't persuade true believers of the many Hindu gods that they are imaginary, or that the African and South American religions which believe in various spirit entities are merely invoking and materializing thought forms, or their own mental creations. The Spiritualist group in Toronto which create "Philip" demonstrated this. In the same way, Tibetan monks can produce a "tulpa." These spirits or gods can be quite powerful and sometimes dangerous, since they do attract low level malevolent spirits which increase their power for mischief and even murder. The amount of havoc created depends on the motives of the priests and worshippers. We can see what happens in wartime just by taking a look at history - for example, Germany and the Nazis in WW II, or Cambodia and Rwanda, when negative beliefs were backed up by equally dangerous spiritual forces which got out of control.

This downside of religion and belief systems has for the most part been avoided by Spiritualists, Spiritists, Buddhists, Bahai's and some other sects, since they provide a tolerance and middle path between various philosophies. The South American Catholics, with their Day of the Dead, the Chinese and Japanese, with their ancestor worship, and a acceptance by a large percentage of the world population of some aspect of the theory of reincarnation, provide an opening toward a more tolerant view of humankind's belief systems.

Once we get past the various superstitious beliefs in many gods, entities and spirits, and look into the concept of one God and supreme intelligence above all others, we move into uncharted, unfathomable waters, and they are too deep for us to investigate with our present mental equipment. I for one prefer to keep out of the discussion with atheists and materialists, and just demonstrate what I know of the river of life, close by, with contact with our loved ones, friends and guides in spirit. We will learn more when we join them one day, sooner or later.

But with regard to other people's orthodox beliefs and deep convictions, we can't take away a dog's bone without getting a few savage bites, and a good guard dog will defend his territory to the bitter end. So, can we ever change what we consider to be erroneous or false beliefs in others? I leave the answer open, since I do not know. Perhaps we are here to test our own beliefs, rather than impose ours on others, and make a reality check, and learn for ourselves. We can only continue quietly to demonstrate the truth of life as we know it, and as we see and hear it. Whether we survive these present turbulent times or not, we know that we will survive and continue our work, beyond. I'm sure of that.

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