Friday, July 16, 2010

Reasonable Religion

Good morning God,
Thank you for the gift of reason, and for the invitation you extend to all of us to use it to understand, appreciate and evolve, to grow as your children into the inheritance you have prepared for us.

There is, of course, a world of difference between the genuine attempts of both science and theology to understand why and how the world is as it is - and the less distinguished (but understandably human) efforts of all too many to find someone or something to blame for the mess we are in.
It is much easier to blame than explain. Its often much more rewarding too - especially if we can blame those who are at the top of the current scape-goat list: In the past this list has included Jews, Blacks, Communists, Gays, Liberals, Fundamentalists, Catholics, Muslims, Politicians..
You know the list I mean, the people it is fashionable to blame for holding humanity back, for the wars, for the hatred, for the economy, for.. well, whatever it is we want to have a rant about really..
No matter how apparently rationally it is presented however, blaming is not the same as explaining - and does nothing to further human growth and development.

Science and theology require an openness to reason without prejudice, but most people are too willing to sacrifice reason on the altar of prejudice. Take Dawkins for example, and the new breed of militant atheists. Many will happily throw away all scientific objectivity to take a pop at religion - as though 'religion' is a genus, easy to categorize, define, analyze and generalise about! All 'religious' are fanatics, 'Bible Bashers', irrational etc etc. Yes, yes - of course, just as all Politicians are liars, all Communists are evil, all Liberals wishy-washy etc etc etc.

What fascinates me is the way in which those more interested in blaming than explaining seem to think that they actually KNOW how 'the religious' (whoever they are)  or 'Politicians' or 'Gays' etc behave, think, act etc..

The Social Sciences may have proven that violence begets violence - that even watching acts of violence can lead to violence, but the gospel doesn't allow us to blame the TV or Computer games, or politicians or 'the religious' or anyone else for it. You have repeatedly shown us that the violence that really destroys this world begins in ourselves.
In the life of Christ, you showed us the best of what humanity is capable of, and in the death of Christ you showed us the worst of what humanity is capable of.  The gospels thus become an invitation to do more than blame others for the past, they invite us to consider an uncomfortable explanation - that the violence we claim to abhor, begins in ourselves.

We may have mapped the human genome, but to the best of my knowledge, we have yet to find a way of accurately and predictably mapping the thoughts of a single human mind..  Even though we know this, even though we know that we cannot really know the mind or heart of another human being, we persist in pretending that we know enough to identify, label and blame..

Because it is easier to blame others than it is to look to ourselves.

You gave us reason - for a reason. Not to make a god of our intelligence (time and time again we see how wrong we are and how little we really understand). You gave us reason as an invitation to learn and grow and understand. Reason enables us to recognise that we are made in your image, to wonder, to be curious, to explore what it is to be. And not content with this, you gave us the ability to develop our reasoning to remember and to imagine, to learn from the past and envisage a new future. A future where we take full responsibility for our own acts of violence, greed, fear and prejudice - and so learn how to deal with them before they create more of the same in others.