THINKING AND DESTINY

Harold W. Percival

CHAPTER III

OBJECTIONS TO THE LAW OF THOUGHT

Section 3

Religions. Gods. Their claims. The need of religions. The moral code.

Religions, which turn around personal gods, seem incompatible with the law of thought as destiny. Some of their doctrines are particularly designed to settle inquiries into the mysteries of the law by statements which must be accepted by faith and without contradiction.

A religion is the relation between man and a God or gods, which he has helped to fashion or maintain, largely for the purpose of getting comfort and protection. The religion into which a man is born, or which he accepts during life, indicates the stage of his development. The commands of the god whom he worships, the form of the worship, the punishments threatened, and the rewards promised, show the particular element of nature to which his doer is attuned.

Nature is the nature-matter in those parts of the spheres of fire, air, and water which reach into the sphere of earth; a part of which earth sphere is the human physical world in which is the visible universe, including the moon, sun, planets and stars, (Fig. I-E). A part of the human world is personalized in the organs, systems and senses in the human body. All these are made up of matter belonging to the four elements. Each of the senses is a nature unit, doing service in a human body. The four senses of seeing, hearing, tasting and smelling are the connections which relate the doer in the human as a distinct entity, to nature as a whole through its four elements.

There is a constant pull, on the one hand, by each of the four elements of nature on its particular sense in the human body, and, on the other hand, by nature on the doer through the connection of the four senses with the doer-in-the-body. The senses are the emissaries of nature: the messengers, agents, priests, through which nature speaks to the doer. The pull is like a call from nature to man; it is experienced as a feeling, an emotion, a sentiment, a longing. The human is overwhelmed by uncertainty and the fear of powers against which he is helpless. He responds to that call, and to his wish for comfort and protection, by worship. That worship must take some form. The form is the religion of the particular human.

The human worships nature in terms of personality. The reason for this is that the human identifies himself with his body, and so does not think of nature, power, love, or intelligence, except as proceeding from a personality. Man cannot conceive of anything without identity or form; therefore, when he wants to worship nature he gives to nature form and identity. So he creates gods which are nature gods—magnified men and women. His religion is the tie between him and his gods.

These nature gods cannot continue to exist without worship, for they need and depend on human thought for nourishment. That is why they are continually crying for and commanding worship. There are ceremonies and symbols with which they demand to be adored; and certain places, temples and buildings for their worship. The symbols appear in ornaments on, or in the very form of, vestments, temples, and structures; or in dances or rites performed in these by worshippers.

The symbols represent chiefly procreation, food and punishment. Among such religious symbols are, for the male deities, the sun and the rays of the sun; fire and that which carries fire—as a torch or a candle; and for the goddesses, the earth, the moon and water. Then there are directly the generative parts of the human body, and the symbols which indicate them; as, for the male, the stem of a palm-tree, conifers, a shaft, a pillar, a staff, an obelisk, an arrow, a lance, a sword, an erect serpent, a bull, a goat and other animals. The female is represented by a woman holding a child; and by a vessel, an arch, a grove, a door, a lozenge, a shell, a boat, a rose, a pomegranate, a cow, a cat, and similar fertile animals. The parts of man are made to appear in the conventional forms of the male triad, trefoil and bishop’s crook; and the female symbols are such things as the vesica pisces, a bowl, a goblet or an urn. These symbols are used alone or jointly. The conventional forms appear in many combinations, generally in cross or star forms, indicating junction.

Nature and the nature gods have no feeling and no desire in themselves; but they feel and desire with human feelings and desires. They get these through human bodies. That is not to say that these gods are subservient to man, or that they are powerless. They are beings of splendor and of vast power: the force of nature is behind them. They can and they do punish and reward. Their worshippers they reward with the objects of the worship. They are as faithful to man as he is to them. They reward a man or a people as far as they can. There is a limit to their powers; but they can bestow strength and beauty of body, and health, possessions, worldly power, success in undertakings, long life, and posterity. The gods do this as long as a man or a people are faithful in worship and obedient to their commands. However, the power of these gods is limited in a twofold way: by the worship of the people, and by the boundaries set by the law of thought.

None of these gods has intelligence of his own; a god is not an Intelligence and has no Light of an Intelligence, except what he gets in the thoughts of human worship. All the intelligence a god has he gets through doers in human bodies. Such a nature god is subject to the Intelligences which rule the earth sphere. Yet each nature god desires to be considered by his human servitors as the Supreme Intelligence of the Universe. It is from the doer that the god gets the idea of being worshipped as the Supreme Intelligence. The god desires such worship because, if the doer feels so about him, it will be faithful to him. The god is what the human beings make him. They actually endow him with all their ambitions and desires, their brutality and revenge, their mercy, kindness and love. Nature gods crave Light of an Intelligence. It is impossible for them to receive it except as they get control of doers in human bodies.

When the doer responds to the claims of the god, Light of the Intelligence goes out in the doer’s thought which follows the pull of nature. Light of its Intelligence furnishes the doer with the means of accomplishing the doer’s worship. But the doer is not aware of this. The great effort of nature gods is to obtain the subjugation and service of human thinking. Therefore it is represented by the priests of a religion that the thinking is inferior to belief. The believer is given to believe that feeling is superior to thinking, and that, in religion, thinking should follow the promptings of feeling.

The priests may say that thinking leads the soul away from the god. They say that if the soul gives up its devotion to the god it will be led away from him and be lost to God as a soul. This is quite true. When the doer follows the Light of the Intelligence, it is led away from nature and from the gods it has fashioned out of nature.

The nearer an embodied doer is to nature, the more quickly will that doer respond to the pull of nature by religious worship; and it is proper that such a doer should worship in this way while it is sense-bound. As a doer responds more to the Light of its Intelligence, it begins to question. The questions are about power, right and wrong, God and man, the visible and invisible, the real and unreal. These a nature god answers through the senses; his messages are interpreted in terms of feeling, and they affect the heart. By contrast, the Triune Self answers with the Light, showing to the doer the solution by the Light. At the proper time, the doer must choose between the worship of nature and that of the Triune Self and Light. Every doer knows when that time has come.

As the doer advances in development, it recedes from belief until it may reach through agnosticism and denial to disbelief in any god. Disbelief usually comes through progress in the natural sciences and through thinking, which disprove some of the assertions of theology, discredit some of the sources of revelation, question the motives of the revealers and of the priesthood, and lead to disbelief in everything that cannot be verified by physical measurements and the reactions of science. Disbelief also comes when thinking is developed in the doer to the extent that it realizes the injustice of a god who disobeys the moral code which he proclaims for his children, and who demands that the “will of God,” the “wrath of God,” and the “ways of Providence” be accepted as an excuse or explanation of his iniquities.

Disbelief, however, is wrong. It is worse for one to break away from religion, deny the existence of a god and assert that death ends all, than to share the naïve belief in the “ways of Providence” and the “will of God.” The gods do exist; and they can furnish to the body food and things that make physical life pleasant. They are entitled to gratitude for what they give: but not to worship as the Supreme Intelligence.

The manner in which humans are taught the law of thought is the way in which they want to think or learn. That way is to let the doer, so long as it remains sense-bound, consider a personal God as its creator, a God of mercy and love, the source of power, and the administrator of justice according to a moral code. Complete Triune Selves, The Government of the world, provide the code of morals by influencing the human beings who develop a religion. This code is suited to the requirements of the people who look to their God as their creator, preserver, destroyer and lawgiver. Without religions, the doers in human beings would have nothing to hold them in check. Each feels the presence of his Triune Self, but in their sensuous stages people do not sense its qualities and power, and in their ignorance they seek in nature for their God.

The threatenings of a god cause fear. The human fears that he is not immortal. He fears the wrath of his God. He senses that he does wrong, and that he cannot help but do wrong when temptation beckons. These conditions of the human are permitted by the Triune Selves to impress a moral code upon him. The gods are quite willing to pose as the lawgivers and dictators. Human priests are ready to take advantage of the ignorance and the fear of the human beings. So the moral code given by the Triune Selves is used at the same time by nature gods and their priests to maintain themselves and to keep the doers in human beings in dependence. The teaching of the “wrath of God” and the doctrine of “original sin,” are illustrative of this. Yet these doctrines have a meaning.