Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Challenge

The whole subject of religion, it appears to me, can be pared down to one important concept: Faith. Either you have it or you don’t.

Now I’m slightly hazy on the subject of faith, but as I understand it, it comes in two basic flavours. Flavour one: The one favoured by my grandparents and their generation, namely that of blind faith. This is where a persons beliefs are instilled in them at an early age, never questioned and accepted as part of their daily life until they go the way of all flesh. Flavour two: born again faith. This is where a person undergoes some kind of life changing experience or epiphany that leads to a belief in a particular religion.

Blind faith believers have no place in this debate since they have never questioned their beliefs, therefore, it is logical for us to focus on the latter flavour. It occurs to me that they too can be separated into two groups. One group would comprise of people who were looking for some kind of help or direction or psychological crutch in the first place. The second (and I suspect much smaller) group would comprise of people for whom religion was the furthest thing from their minds when they had their experience.

IF you accept that this second group of born again believers are scarce enough to be fairly described as an unexplained anomaly, THEN it is only the first group of born again believers that should be of concern.

I believe that these people need to be challenged, and not only for sport but for their own wellbeing.

The challenges are these:

1. Given that you had to undergo a profound religious experience in order for your faith to manifest itself, how can you expect non believers to treat your beliefs with anything other than scepticism, without an experience of their own? Since that experience took place because you went looking for it, is it reasonable to belief that someone who is happy with their life will experience a similar thing? After all, if one has no questions, one does not need to search for answers.

2. Given that you were searching for them in the first place, does it not strike you as an amazing coincidence that you found it so easy to find help and/or answers in an institution that peddles exactly that? Could it be that your circumstances left you wide open to suggestion and exploitation?

3. In your quest for truth or help or awakening, have you spent an equal amount of time studying all the main religions? I suspect that the answer for most of you is a resounding “No”. Well then, how do you know that you are on the right track? I have read a great deal of posts recently, berating a particular sceptic because he appears to be concentrating his fire on Christianity while laying off other beliefs. The reverse is also true. I certainly have met a great deal of Christians who have almost no knowledge of Islam or Hinduism of Buddhism. What if they have interpreted the signs incorrectly and are following the wrong faith? It find it telling that most born again Christians appear to have fallen into that particular faith because it just happens to be the most prevalent in their society.