Thursday, 17 May 2012

Religion and Science

Do you find meaning and value in your received religious tradition?
Is every aspect of that tradition valid?
Do you interpret all of its doctrines literally?
Do alternative traditions lack meaning and value?

Inheritance of a tradition is an accident of birth. No tradition is either unchanging or unaffected by others. Each tradition is an attempt to formulate the truth. Human understanding interprets reality and life and alleged revelations about them. We need to know what is real and how to live and interpretation is necessary. Traditions can be expected to contain insights and errors. Traditions differ so cannot all be right but some might approach the truth more closely than others.

Ancient traditions must now be compared not only with each other but also with modern scientific knowledge. We commend those who applied observation and reason instead of just accepting tradition and authority. Now that the world is understood scientifically, what do religious traditions transmit that is of value? Myths, histories, art, literature and moral teachings.

"Myth" means either "falsehood" or "meaningful story". We value Greek and Hindu myths. Christianity dramatises, but also historicises, the myth of death and resurrection. That both myth and history matter is an insight. That the resurrection is not only mythical but also historical is an error, I think. Dialogue is possible with some though not all Christians.

Buddhist traditions also transmit non-theistic philosophies and meditative techniques. Neo-Pagan traditions also transmit respect for natural processes and celebration of seasonal changes. We must not throw out the baby with the bath water but we must distinguish between them. 


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