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Christianity == Buddhism == God is in our Minds

I didn't expect The Lost Symbol to change my life. I just started reading the book a few days ago, but as is the case with escapist type literature, it's best read in large doses so that you can remember the details and really almost transport yourself into the story. It's not the type of book you need to put down and think about.

If you've not read the book but want to some day, you may want to stop here.

However, the denouement contains some interesting tidbits that really say a lot - to me - about Christianity. These parts essentially put forth the idea that 99.99% of Christians have it wrong - that there really is no "God" per se. Rather, "God" is the "global consciousness." That each person is a god or is capable of becoming a god. There are several passages in the Bible - and many other religious texts - which refer to the body being a temple, and to look within yourself, and to become "one" with some sort of spiritual force.

Of course, there's a bunch of junk science and stuff thrown in there too, but if you can get past the parts about how one character "weighed a human soul" the last few chapters are fairly riveting from a thought experiment standpoint.

I've never studied the Bible very much, so for all I know Dan Brown made a bunch of stuff up, or relied on coincidence1 or distorted things, but I know enough of the phrases exist and even if they didn't, seemed to connect some dots.

The problem with Christianity may very well be that it's practiced by human beings. I've never gotten really deep into studying the Bible because most of what I'd heard of it came from people who were trying to teach it to me - in Sunday school, chats with friends that lasted for hours, etc. Not once did their interpretations resonate with me. Not once did I care about the differences between the thousands of different forms of Christianity - who cares if one group believes you should wash your feet before you take communion2?

I've long believed that the Bible, written by man, is a book of parables, a book of allegories, a book of riddles and rhymes. I've rejected out of hand the fundamentalist beliefs that it's to be read literally. And given this, that makes Christianity the practice of properly interpreting the stories, riddles, rhymes, parables, and allegories.

The Lost Symbol puts a new twist on this - for good or bad - and frames the Bible in such a way that it can be interpreted in an entirely different way. There's a commonality in those thousands of variations of Christianity - that there's actually some "God" somewhere - that's entirely different from the concept of "thought" or "consciousness" being a "god" that each of us possess.

Every religion in the world is after the same "truth." I've long found it, well, stupid that one faith belittle another faith or say "unless you believe as I do, you aren't going to heaven." I said it a few days ago: no god worth believing in punishes people for seeking the truth.

If one best interpretation of the Bible is that that we're all gods and it is our global, international human collective that makes us so, then that makes a lot of sense to me. It not only drastically closes the gap between, say, Christianity and Buddhism and every other religion (that I know of), but it makes Christianity itself a lot more powerful.

Part of the problem I have with Christianity is that its practitioners often seem at odds with things I accept as fact. They cannot fathom an instance in which, as I wrote before (first link) that God created the Big Bang. Some try to tell me the earth is 20,000 years old and that man has never changed form - we've always looked like we do now, for the most part, and that we certainly didn't come from apes.

Yet The Lost Symbol contains a sentence in which one of the characters says that "God's image" (because mankind was created "in God's image") isn't our physical form, but rather our mental form. It's our minds that God created in his image - our bodies are simply the ways to access them.

To say that I've "believed" in a spiritual system at all is a bit of a stretch - the system I talked about a year ago was more like a pet thought experiment than anything "real." Yet even that system speaks to some level about the mind's quest for peace and eternal happiness. There's no "God" in my pet system - just a similar global consciousness and a lot of emphasis on the mind or soul as the "key" piece.

In a perfect world, I could explore this stuff for the next week, month, or decade. I could seek out people to talk to, I could read extensively, and so on. But this world isn't perfect, and doing all of that is not only impractical but selfish. I have money to make, family to enjoy, and food to eat. 😛

For now, though, it's something to think about. I wonder, as I write this, if I'll be making fun of myself in a few days for attributing so much to such a book, but I suppose I'm not really - it simply served as a catalyst of sorts to a lot of thought.

Footnotes

  1. The part where he points out that the side of your head is called a "temple" rang as such.
  2. Yes, I made that up, but I think you get the point.

7 Responses to "Christianity == Buddhism == God is in our Minds"

  1. [...] This is a bit of a follow-up to my post from yesterday… [...]

  2. Interesting, I've argued for sometime that the "image" is our consciousness/mind not our physical form. I agree with you that the Bible is a collection of stories about how to coexist and live in this world rather than a literal history (an idea which only gained widespread appeal fairly recently), but don't try to convince the Evangelicals.

  3. "They cannot fathom an instance in which (...) that God created the Big Bang." ...A christian that doesn't believe the earth is older than 22,000 years, and believes Adam rode a dinosaur to sunday school, sounds a little like a strawman to me. (Not that i haven't met people who believe that stuff, but they've never provided very stimulating conversation.) There are plenty of christians out there who aren't the crazy weirdos who somehow believe science is anti-religion.

    I agree that the christian "image" of god has less to do with physical form (what use would God have with arms?) and more to do with mind. Our drive to create, our understanding of self and death and love, etc. Most of the concepts we see as distinctly "human" things are the way we're made in "God's image." ...that's always been an interesting take to me.

    The idea that we're all gods, it's in ourselves, though, really sounds to me like some new-age hippy dippy stuff, and while maybe interesting, doesn't really sound like it has much to do with "christianity" in any meaningful way. Dan Brown seems to use the bible like a numerologist uses a math book. 😛

  4. Jeff Foster said on February 21, 2010:

    The idea that we're all gods, it's in ourselves, though, really sounds to me like some new-age hippy dippy stuff, and while maybe interesting, doesn't really sound like it has much to do with "christianity" in any meaningful way.

    It doesn't sound like hippy dippy stuff to me. It sounds empowering - that each of us has tremendous untapped power. And this isn't something we can type out to really truly understand each other, so… "okay." 🙂 I don't know what more to say.

    I think there's less separating a lot of the religions out there than people seem willing to admit.

    (And the 20,000 year thing is from a previous post not long ago. One to which you responded, so I think you know where that came from. I just mean the fundamentalist side of things is on perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum from this way of interpreting the Bible.)

  5. what about islam?

  6. someone said on February 22, 2010:

    what about islam?

    Uh, what about it?

  7. I’m not sure I’m going to rely on Dan Brown’s hermeneutics when he pulls “stuff” out of the Bible to fit the storyline of one of his books. But that’s just me. 🙂

    As for idea of people becoming a god, that’s going to be a pretty tough sell to Christians since it ends up going against the first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3). As for the body as a temple passage, it occurs once (1 Corinthians 6:19) and the context of the verses surrounding it have to do with sexual immorality and reminding Christians that the Holy Spirit lives inside of them and they should remember to practice responsible stewardship of their bodies, since “You are not your own” (end of verse 19). The rest of the temple passages deal with the actual temple building or the corporate church. There is nothing about “looking within oneself” to become a god as man is corrupted by sin and cannot improve himself.

    As for man being created in God’s image (imago Dei) traditionally it is the qualities such as reason, morality, creativity (such as art), and capacity for relationships governed by love and commitment that sets man apart from the other animals a well as that man represents God as having the authority to rule over the other animals of the earth.

    We can email or IM about this but a phone call sometime might be more practical.


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