Thursday, 12 February 2015

Which religion should I choose - and on what grounds should I choose? A suggestion

Find a religion - or if you are already Christian, then a denomination of Christianity - which warms your heart more, the more you discover about it; which focuses on what you consider most important; which (to put it bluntly) 'offers' that which you most deeply need.

And then see if it is true.

If it is true (using the standards of truth you sincerely believe are appropriate to evaluating a religion), then you are home-and-dry; but if it is untrue - then keep looking.


This is not so ridiculous a suggestion as it may seem! Because it is very striking that how little most religions offer as a reward. 

For example, you might imagine that liberal Christianity offers a lot - since liberal Christians have abandoned all the demanding and tough aspects of being a Christian - but it doesn't work like that at all!

With liberal Christianity you don't have to worry about Hell, but then liberals don't believe in Heaven either (if pressed, they will say that Heaven is an attitude of mind we may hope to experience on this earth, during mortal life). Liberal Christians pretty much  accept secular Leftist morality on the sexual revolution - so the church approves sex outside marriage and with a wide range of choices; but then sex has no religious meaning, no transcendental stability, no magic about it at all! Sex has gone from being sacred to being a diversion.

My point is that it might have been expected that liberal Christianity would offer its adherents everything they wanted, all at once; but it doesn't and indeed no religion does. From a perspective of fulfilling our wishes, all religions apparently give with one hand and take away with the other - you never gain license without losing power. You never destroy restriction without losing direction.


I am not (NOT NOT) saying that all religions are the same and therefore a matter of indifference! But I am saying that there is a kind of basic honesty about religions, by which they seem to end-up offering only what they can give.

Liberal Christianity can alleviate worry about what might happen after death, but only by making death an extinction. Buddhism can alleviate the pain of attachment to this world, but only at the cost of making each reincarnated life a matter of indifference, merely a means to an end - and the end is annihilation.

And 'Heaven' - what is it? Some say a sensuous paradise, some say a bliss of absorption into timeless divinity, some say we retain our sexuality and live with our families, some say we lose our sexuality and are absorbed in worship...


The thought experiment is one putting aside doubts for a moment, and of saying: I can have what I want: here it is. Now what?

Why should this work, as I think it does? The reason is 'metaphysics'. Each religion is, in part, a metaphysical system- a description of ultimate reality; and metaphysical systems have an innate desire to be simple, comprehensible, and coherent. 

So whatever principle a religion places at the centre and as the focus of its metaphysical system will- in order to be believable - affect all other aspects of that metaphysical system: the principle will organise the metaphysics around-itself. 

Therefore, whatever a religion regards as most important will necessarily take what it needs from the rest of the religion; so, no religion offers everything, because to offer everything would be in fact to offer nothing (nothing except a string of utterly unconvincing claims).

For a religion to work, it needs a metaphysical system; and for a metaphysical to work it must be simple, comprehensible and coherent- and this happens automatically (no matter how much religious professionals try to stop it) ; and that metaphysical system can only convincingly offer one that at the cost of another thing: that is 'life' (as we call it).


It will, I think, be found that for most religions we would not want what they had to offer even on the assumption that they really do offer everything they claim.

But we may be fortunate to find a religion or a denomination that offers just exactly that thing which we most profoundly desire of existence; only better expressed than ever we could have done for ourselves.

Keep looking: what you want is probably there, somewhere.

(I am pretty confident I know roughly where that will turn-out to be; but you need to find it for yourself. )


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