My brother is an artist. If I want, I can take a piece he created and analyze it based on a set of rules. I can take his whole body of work and see how certain pieces are consistent with each other. I can take those observations and make conclusions about what he was trying to say in his work. People can look at my conclusions and say they’re logical, obvious and make sense.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve gotten it all completely right. I won’t know that unless I talk with him.
That said, here’s something I don’t know what to do with. Go read it and then come back if you’re still interested.
I understand what Seth is saying. I understand when anyone looks at religion from a scientific/third party aspect. Basically, there are certain things that help some religions grow. Depending on how you look at it, it’s quantifiable.
The problem is, this often leads to a little bit of aloofness on the part of the person making the observations. If I observe the growth patterns, traits and flaws of a city, person or organization, I’m in a way above the grasp of that thing. I understand its flaws or why it works. Like a magician whose secret is revealed, the ‘trick’ has lost its power.
Is it the same with religions? To quantify means you “understand” it. Is it safe to say that because religions grow a certain way that they’re all the same and work off the same rules? What if, with religions, they work off a certain set of rules because there is a God who created us who put certain desires and needs inside of us that we act upon.
I come from a Christian perspective. I know what I know to be true. But I don’t just accept it out of a blind faith or mindless experience.
Christianity (which Seth isn’t even mentioning, but many of the traits of religions he lists apply just the same) does have a few noticeable things that have made it stick around. But when you look a little deeper, you’ll see it also has a lot that works against it. Much of what Jesus calls people to goes against human nature. Throughout history and in many parts of the world today, it’s a quick way to death. If not death, true followers will be outsiders to certain groups – no matter how much loving and serving they do. Yet Christianity still grows.
We can make observations about how people respond to religion as a whole. But it’s dangerous to let those observations lull us into a comfortable place where we feel like we have this ‘religion thing’ figured out. Just because you can observe it doesn’t mean the mystery is gone. God is going to be at work based on his set of rules regardless of our conclusions. He’s bigger than our boxes.
Ok, rant done :). I love reading Seth‘s work. This just got me thinking about our need to box things in and feel comfortable …