Thursday, September 11, 2014
Is religion (not spirituality) the problem in the world today?
Jews vs. Muslims. Catholics vs. Protestants. Buddhists vs. Muslims. Mormons vs. Evangelicals. The list is endless. And the religious are supposed to be the good guys. The ones who are supposed to help us all get along. Where did everything go so wrong?
Religious fundamentalism is at the heart of the problem. Sure, race, culture, skin color, language, anything that makes people groups seem different from one another adds to the problem. Politics adds to it, too, but the biggest offender by far is fundamentalism.
For fundamentalism has no give. With fundamentalism, and its attendant sacred text, there is absolutely no wiggle room, no inlet for accommodation. With fundamentalism it stops becoming people dealing with people and becomes my sacred book vs. your sacred book. My way or the highway.
Fundamentalism has tremendous allures. Believe in this sacred book and all doubt and uncertainty as to how to live your life vanishes. Believe in this book and join countless millions who believe the same thing. People who will welcome you, reinforce your faith, give you social connection and perhaps even economic benefit.
But with fundamentalism comes death-grip rigidity. When a problem comes up, your only option is to consult your sacred text. That's how you deal with it—there's no debate, no questioning, no changing your response based on circumstances, based on the welfare of your fellow human beings.
Oh, fundamentalists mock 'situational ethics' and lament non-fundamentalists' lack of 'absolute values,' but no human being needs a book to tell them that murder and theft and every other bad thing human beings do to each other is wrong.
So the fundamentalist dilemma boils down to 'my book vs. your book.'
Which is a mess.
People worry about the devil and maybe rightfully so. They ascribe all kinds of evil qualities to him. He's deceitful and a mocker. He's a tempter, an enemy of all that's good. But if there is a devil, his biggest weapon is none of those things. Because by far and away his biggest weapon is getting human beings to believe that they are fundamentally different from one another.
Picture a spaceship with aliens eyeballing the Earth from outer space. Guess what they see as the Earth's inhabitants?
Human beings! The same beings! Two arms, two legs, eyes, ears, nose, brain and heart!
But through fundamentalism we become convinced that we are all different.
What a needless tragedy.
Image used in this blogpost is CC-BY-SA-2.0.