Sunday, November 15, 2015

The fulfillment of its purpose

Memorials at the scene of the Siege of Paris, 13 November 2015
Although it can be attractive at a time like this to point out the theological insufficiencies of one religion compared to another, the truth is, that believers do what they want to do irrespective of their religion's official theology.

Judaism does not believe in an incarnate God, yet does not (in recent times) launch terrorist attacks against others. Hinduism believes in a pantheon of incarnated deities (avatars), many of which are depicted as violent and as inciting humans to violence, yet it does not produce terrorist attacks.

Islam has a long history of violence against itself and against others. There is no dispute about this, except in the minds of some Muslims who are unable to view the history of their religion objectively. Christianity is, however, right behind Islam, in having a violent history.

As I’ve pointed out many times, when Christians act violently they are acting against their scriptures, and when Muslims act violently, they are acting in obedience to their scriptures. It is still possible, nonetheless, for a non-aggressive form of Islam to exist.

Fundamentalist literalism in league with people whose objective is violence and control of others produces the kind of terrorism and aggression that we have seen in the history of religions, and which makes some wish that religion had never existed.

Scriptures record encounters of human beings with the Divine Nature, whether it is called God or gods. They are written entirely from the human side. In other words, God is speaking through them both ‘in us’ and ‘as us.’

When we make-believe that a scripture text has fallen ‘as is’ from God’s metaphorical lips to our ears, we are heading for deep waters, waters deeper than we can handle, waters in which to drown, not to swim in, waters that often turn to blood, followed by even worse plagues.

Religious communities can grow up, and they do, unless they are stunted by human control. This is where science can provide balance in religion, rather than being its unnecessary antidote.

God doesn’t oppose science. It’s the study of His facts in the same way that theology is the study of His acts. Religion is, or can be, and should be, a synthesis of both, as befitting human nature, which is both physical and metaphysical.

The world has room for religion when religion functions as it should, as civilizer of mankind in large and small matters. Moderate religion is not, as its gainsayers maintain, a betrayal or desertion of tradition and religion, but rather the fulfillment of its purpose.

‘This law that I enjoin on you today is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach. It is not in heaven, so that you need to wonder, “Who will go up to heaven for us and bring it down to us, so that we may hear it and keep it?”… No, the Word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.’ (Deuteronomy 30:11-12, 14 Jerusalem Bible)

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