Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The majority religion of humanity

None of the so-called major religions of the world is a majority; the closest, if you lumped together all the flavors, is Christianity, so you might call it a plurality.

This made me think of Religion A and Religion B, connected to Kierkegaard. Essentially, Religion A is the result of believing that you are a law unto yourself, and should be guided by the morality your reason and experience discover. Religion B is the result of believing that your reason and experience are not capable of carrying out this program.

A quite complicated, but interesting reading of this position in regard to Kant and Kierkegaard is here. The following is Kierkegaard's essential position from that paper:

the finite subject, far from being, as Kant would insist, the autonomous source of the moral law who stands in a necessary relation to the eternal truth, must recognize that he is in fact a sinner, a radically temporal being for whom Socratic escape "back into the eternal" by way of either speculative thought or moral virtue is forever barred.

Religion A, it turns out, is not restricted to the daughters of Enlightenment secularism and rationalism. Even in the big tent of Christianity, Religion A is rampant, where religion is about PR or spiritual success or judgmental morality without inward reflection. If you think a little, you will come up with your own examples of Religion A. Jesus had his own in his day: "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" (Matt. 15.7-9)

So there is this common theme that runs through most of the world's religions, hard to kill, vicious to the spirit. It struck me the other day that the majority religion of humanity is rightly called Inertia.


Mike said...

You have an interesting take on religion. Plus, you read Kant and Kierkegaard.

I find Kierkegaard very difficult to read. I prefer Marcus Borg.

Highly recommneded: Andrew Porter's "By the Waters of Naturalism."

I enjoyed reading your blog.

Dan Lewis said...

Sadly, my formal philosophy runs broad and not deep. I can throw names and concepts around, but I love the gist better than the grit.

I have never lost my love of Kierkegaard, though. I think it is because I recognized some of my own criticisms of my own religion in his work; kindred spirits like that are harder to find than ever in these troubling times, don't you think?

I've read Borg briefly (I forget the name of the book I did read), but it wouldn't really be fair for me to criticize him for a "popular audiences" book. I've found the classic modern theologians more relevant, if less accessible. The best book on religion that I have read is The Analogical Imagination, by David Tracy.

I'll check out the Porter; I ran out of books the other day.

Thanks for your kind words; stop in again sometime.