Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reinterpreting Parables of Theology

A common contention between the philosopher and the priest, by Robert Jastrow:

"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

This is a false metaphor.

Let alone the cracks in it that cry out for prodding. (Such as the bias which makes it seem like the religious don't have problems with faith, with belief, with understanding, with God. The metaphor pretends that theology has all the answers which science is trying to discover, neglecting the ones religion never thought of. Also, it's kind of pretentious to assume that there's only one path -- religion -- which leads to the end of "the story".)

There is no singular mountain of ignorance. There is no singular peak we are all climbing. Each test of faith or knowledge is similar in their trials, in their tests of our deepest selves, but as each person is different, so too is each path different that each person follows.

The mountain you will reach with science or religion -- or some combination, maybe some alternative -- is a mountain only for you. Upon it you will find no one, because there is no one else who will believe exactly as you do. Never exactly.

Remember the words of the Mahatma, "God has no religion." There are myriad paths to God, or to Life. There are various ways to heaven, hell, or some end that you choose for yourself. Just as there are leaves on a tree, branching out like roots in the ground, there are many ways to live. Sometimes knowledge occupies those dark spaces beneath, and sometimes it is rarefied like the air. But each person's journey through existence is all too brief in the greater scheme of things, and each journey is unique, such that none will ever be the same. No matter what path you tread, or trail you clear, those who follow will begin an entirely new journey. So it goes...

Upon this, however, the priest and the philosopher must agree: we all die.


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