There is a great deal of confusion about religion right now, which is not altogether surprising, given the world events of this moment. While many peoples clearly see their religion as the answer to the world's needs, many others see religion as the main threat and danger to their established way of life. There is no consensus any longer that binds us together. From a Christian perspective, however, some response does need to be made, in the face of 'all religion' being caricatured by some social commentators as fundamentalist and dangerous.
The fact is, all religions are very different from each other. Any tendency to 'lump' them all together, as if they are essentially one and the same, is a mistake.
A second objection often raised to faith is that all religions are man-made, a form of social constructs that have evolved over time to give communities a sense of signifiance and hope, or to help them alleviate their pre-scientific fears of the things they do not understand, such as suffering and death. That puts it simply, but I think that is a fair assessment of much 'religious phenomena'. That view is well-evidenced by social anthropologists, sociologists and other academics. The central question, however, is whether every religion known to man, is accurately explained in this way. In other words, are we only left with different sets of human constructs, or is there a credible and justifiable claim of divine revelation in the midst of it all?
From a specifically Judeo/Christian perspective, the use of human agency in Biblical revelation is fully recognised. But it remains our distinctive belief that behind human agency, is the revelation of the true and living God. Of course, that assertion cannot be proven or disproven, but it forms the basis of our faith. And in the fullness of this divine revelation, we see the perfect image of God in Jesus Christ. For us, it all rests on this truth claim. It is all about Jesus and his true identity.
Lots of people reject that claim because they believe the Bible to be a myth, a fable and not historically valid. Another alternative to this one goes something like this... "Science has disproved religion. Evolution explains our origins. We don't need God or gods anymore."
There are many more arguments like these which we could add, but many people subscribe to one or more of these favourite 'caricatures' of religion without really knowing much about the subject matter. It's easy to be dismissive of the Bible but if you have rarely read it in any serious way its a bit flaky on the intellectual front. Intellectual inquiry rejects the idea that we can make up our minds in advance of doing the research. Merely resorting to parody lacks intellectual integrity. We all need to do better than that.
What do you think?
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