The eloquence of Reader Fred in his reply to The Greatest Sin is Prejudice has sparked responses that reflect the same plight in others. The Christian faith, among many, has not answered the need of “secular” individuals who, despite the rejection of classic doctrines and Biblical mythology, still want a place in a divine world. Where is God?
Many theologians try to address this; Dominic Crosssan, Marcus Borg and Walter Brueggeman are three prominent writers. Marcus Borg in particular has focused on transferring Christian values to a new Christian paradigm not dependent as much on Biblical mythology.
In the last post, mariner referenced a YouTube site showing several videos central to Joseph Campbell’s interpretation of myths as a tool to explain something we cannot understand or a value important in our lives but difficult to describe. The importance of Campbell’s work is that it allows us to observe how other ages and cultures used myths as a means of having faith. Campbell’s insight places faith and belief in a more understandable light.
As secularists pursue faith and doctrine that is meaningful, they must be willing to accept new beliefs of divine forces that replace inadequate beliefs; new beliefs that provide an understanding of extra-human realities that, for the individual, are not subject to human interference.
Six thousand years before Christ, the earliest cultures had no scientific basis for anything. These cultures, most found around Western Turkey, believed that an obese woman, quite fecund like a queen bee, was the source of all creation and for centuries was the origin of human beings. Clearly, we today consider this belief to be in error. However, it was the story that explained creation; faith in it was strong and lasted millennia.
How did we travel from a fecund woman as the source of life to Adam and Eve, to sorcerer powers like separating the Red Sea and turning a snake into a stick, to the belief in a personal god that manages our lives, to Jesus, to the source of love and grace and to an amorphous, impersonal god as the source of creation? Millions of pages have been written about the changing of spiritual icons and the power behind a universe we still are discovering.
After Saint Augustine, the story of love and giving became accepted as the true, central principle of Christianity. All other stories expressed lesser, but still important virtues that were meaningful to many believers. However, true faith lies in the two great commandments. Today, love itself as the power of creation is becoming popular. Could a secularist believe love – in whatever form – is the power behind the universe? Love is a power that humans can use that somehow has the ability to ameliorate a situation. Is amelioration a form of creation? Once asked in an earlier post, is love the true measure of evolution rather than intellectuality? Further, is “God” constrained by anthropomorphic assumptions?
The natural adoption of meaningful theological principles is relatively easy. It may take time but the process is simple. Continue to search for overarching ideas that cannot be disturbed by human knowledge but are a dynamic influence in your life. Your ideas must support a reality that explains how the universe was created, how the universe works – including all elements of evolution, both stars and bacteria.
There are many social behaviors that leave open questions: Will computers be the ultimate evolution of humanity? Is Stephen Hawking right that Homo sapiens will be extinct within ten thousand years? Whatever your belief, it must encompass all potential events.
The Book of Revelation in the New Testament speaks of an Armageddon that will end all life save the righteous. Interestingly, the end indeed will be an Armageddon when the Sun begins to die. The theological question is: what is the definition of “righteous?”