Why Religion? Which Religion?
|To you who call yourself religious,
you may call yourself by a particular name,
Christian, Jew, or Muslim (Abrahamic faiths), or
Bahá’í, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh (Indo-European religions) or
Confucian, Taoist, or one of many different specially-defined, local groups of believers: Though my focus is on the first three groups because the tensions between them are so high and they are influencing the character of our little world, I write to all who have faith in God or many Gods.Here the literal interpretation of your religious texts will be questioned and challenged. Yes, the literal interpretation, whether it is of the Bible, the Qur’an, or the Tanakh or any other Religious Writings (and all the other associated religious documents with each), is limiting our depth of thought.
Fundamentalism and literalism make the same mistake no matter what the belief system. The frameworks for interpretation are limited.
Terrorists and warriors take the historic writings within their holy books and use-and-abuse them to justify the most ungodly behavior. The universal writings of the these books reflect God. The historic writings reflect humanity.
Within the Abrahamic traditions, there is Allah, Jehovah, and Yahweh. For those of us from non-Arab-speaking countries, Allah is the Arabic word for God. To discern which writing is historic (finite) and which is universal (infinite) is the work for scholars. It is hard work, called exegesis, and the discipline is called hermeneutics.
There are many ways to know your God, also known as the Infinite, the Perfect, the One, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Imminent, the Transcendent, the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent, Omnibenevolent…
All of the historic documents, especially all those lines-and-paragraphs within your Religious Writings that reflect the tensions of their unique times within which the words were written, need to be set aside as the history of a particular time. The universal writings, all the lines-and-paragraphs within your Religious Writings that are timeless, not in any way time-stamped, must be developed as a basis for a working faith.*
To discern between the historic and the universal is the key to our global future.
There are many groups and movements within Abrahamic faiths that have not done exegetical and hermeneutical work.
Within Christianity there is the KKK, the Christian Identity Movement, the Arayan Nations, and many more. Within Islam that includes movements like Salafism, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Taliban, ISIL, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and any others who believe, “Allah is our objective… death for the sake of Allah is our wish.” Within Judaism there is the Jewish Underground which includes informal groups like Price Tag, and more formal groups like Kach, Kahane Chai, and the Bat Ayin Underground.
To know about your God, one must read sacred texts. To know the face of God, one must study those elements within the sciences and mathematics that are universal and constant. And, those texts with no time stamp within our Religious Writings truly reveal the very nature of the God who creates and sustains. Here is a guide:
• The first form that defines our very being, our intelligence and our humanity is continuity, and its most basic function, a simple perfection, is to create order. In the traditions of the Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — this is the Creator-Sustainer God. Any order, that creates continuity, is a metaphor as well as a direct expression for the Creator-Sustainer God. Anything that creates order is from God. Anything that creates disorder is not from God, but from man.
• The second form is symmetry and in its perfection functions to create relations. In the Abrahamic tradition the perfection of that symmetry is the love doctrine, i.e., to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength, and one’s neighbor as oneself. Any symmetry that creates real relations is a metaphor and a direct expression of the presence of the Love of God. Anything that breaks relations is from man.
• The third form is dynamics and its perfection, a complex symmetry extended within time, is harmony. Again, in the Abrahamic tradition, the gift of God’s Spirit transcending a moment in space and time to create a profound joy, deep insight, compelling love… simply a moment of perfection. Any dynamic experienced as a harmony is a metaphor, albeit the real presence, of God’s Spirit within that moment.
Every scientific and religious assertion, both seeking to understand and define the universal, begins with the same first principle and evolves within its own understanding to the second and third. Therefore we have a diversity of faith statements which includes all of the sciences.
This is also the basis of the value chain. The more perfect a moment or an experience is, OR the more perfected a thing or system is, the more valuable it becomes. Thus, we have the beginnings of business. Here is the baseline beginning of value and values.
Any assertion that counters life’s evolving perfections is not religion (at best, it’s a cult*); it is also not business (it’s exploitation or a bad company); certainly it is not good government; and most often, it is not even good science.
My bottom line conclusion is simple, “Let us open another front within this epic battle with any and all people who cause the death of another.”
Thank you. – Bruce Camber
For more, please consider these pages:
*Back in 2006, while working on our television series, Small Business School, I proposed a book to the Oxford University Press people, The Synoptic Scriptures of the Christians, Jews and Muslims. They found it interesting, but not compelling enough. It still should be done!
Editor’s note: An early form of this post was a letter, originally written on the 3rd of March 2015 to Barack Hussein Obama, President, USA, and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Israel. It was then updated on Monday, December 28, 2015 to include Ali Khamanei, Ayatollah Seyyed, Iran. It was sent via those links embedded within their names (on that page) on February 10, 2016.