It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

There is no need for the Abrahamic religions to be so text-based

page: 1
0

log in

join
share:

posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 10:12 PM
link   
Look at Hinduism or Buddhism for the fantastic intellectual flowering that can take place when people are allowed to use their common sense and curiosity, as well as personal experience, to explore the divine (there are monotheistic strains in Hinduism so that right there is evidence that montheism without reliance on a single text is possible).

Now, the examples above certainly have sacred texts, to be sure...gigantic libraries-full of them. But (with a VERY FEW exceptions, like Nichren Shoshu Buddhism) they don't claim to have a SINGLE TEXT that is seen to be THE ONLY WAY. Nor, usually, are they obsessed with parsing every sentence and word at a micro-level to tease out the "real" meaning. Rather, they accept at the outset that words are slippery, especially when talking about the divine realm. They acknolwedge the need for a loose, common-sense approach. Buddha said don't believe a word he himself said if it counteracts your own experience. "Many roads, one mountain," the Zen people say, in refefence to the fact that there is a divine summit to be reached, but there is no single correct way to get there.

Conspiracy angle: The obsessive involvement of the Abrahamic religions with their sacred texts and the insistance that there can be only one "right way" to the summit is an attempt by a priestly caste or class to foist its power onto the population. In the East, many religions were allowed to flourish side-by-side as long as they acknowledged each other's validity and prayed for the wellbeing of the Emperor, Maharaja, etc., as well as for the nation. Their function was less overtly political in most cases, and their roles were more well-defined relative to secular warriors and kings.

In the West and Middle-East, you have a different story. The division between political and religious power was not so clear-cut. In Judaism, the Rabbis wrote the Law and were the leaders of the community dowen through many ages. In Islam, the power of the state was tied up with the duty of Jihad and the Caliph (or Imam, for the Shiites) was looked to as a secular as well as a sacred leader. In Europe, you have popes playing frankly political roles down through history, and the Christian Right continues this tradition.

So a picture emerges: Rather than having a clerical caste clearly "under the thumb" of a Chinese or Japanese emperor, for example, the separation between the "Law" or politics and pure religion has been much less clear-cut in the West and Middle-East. The result is that Talmudic/Biblical/Koranic scholars have acted for centuries as "lawyers" or "judges," ruling on specific moral and politcial cases in society to a great extent as well as looking for the Kingdom of Heaven within. It doesn't have to be this way...the early Christian desert Fathers and medieval mystics were interested in fleeing the world and seeking their own "interior castles" through meditation and contemplation, rather than parsing texts and making pronouncements presumed to have a bearing on society at large, to pick one example.

[edit on 10/13/09 by silent thunder]




posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 10:49 PM
link   
Actually, they do have to be so text-based, because that's what they're based on. Saying they don't need to be so "text-based" is like saying they don't need to concern themselves so much with God. It's fundamental to the religions.

Only some sects of Christianity are wholly text-based. Most Christians accept that the Bible isn't all there is, and that it may not even be completely correct. Islam is based on the Koran, but also considers the sayings of Muhammad, called the Hadith. Judaism is based on both oral and written law; the written law is called the Torah.

But yes, each of these religions is founded upon scriptures. That is their basis. It is essential to the religions.

I agree that living a spiritual life doesn't require any scriptures at all. Many devout, pious people never learned how to read, yet live holy lives. Lack of scripture doesn't necessarily bar you from finding God (or enlightenment, or whatever). Following scripture doesn't necessarily bar you from finding God, either. It's not so much the path, as the pilgrim, that matters.



posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 10:56 PM
link   
reply to post by chiron613
 


Well, we seem to be in some sort of agreement, in an odd way. In your first paragraph you say there IS a need for this, and then you say that NOT ALL Christians/Jews/Muslims need to follow this road. So it sounds like in the first paragraph you are disagreeing with me and in the second you are agreeing.


I guess I can live with both approaches...as long as everyone else can. It just seems like these religions have become extremely text-based where history shows that they weren't always so in every time and place. That's the basic point I was trying to make (and perhaps didn't make so well). I just want to remind people that there are perfectly valid forms of these religions that are not fundamentally scripture-based but also include one's personal mystical insights, traditions, inward rather than outward focus, etc. It seems that this strain in all three religions has dwindled almost to insignifcance, and this makes me sad.

[edit on 10/13/09 by silent thunder]



posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 11:21 PM
link   
Your basic premise assumes no or variable truth. In addition, there's the assumption that there is no God.

Or, if there is, that God must conform to best practices as logically determined by this or that person (typically, in this thought experiment, it is our own infallible logic that is the measure), and to do it another way would be either foolish or inefficient.

Just look at politics throughout the world to see the futility of that, though.

If we were to assume there was a God who wanted to make Himself known to us as He truly is, and that very same God is omniscient, He would be aware of the roll our emotions play in corrupting truth and logic. An effective way of contesting this would be to have a Holy text.

What would have to be some characteristics of this text?

It would have to be completely written by God in some manner or another. There would not be room for man or woman to interject their own words, since we are not omniscient. Instead, everything authored in the original language, to the letter, would have to come from God.

If written by an omniscient God, every word would be significant. One could even say every letter significant.

It could not be contradictory. If it contradicts itself, it would mean either God got confused or man wrote it. Otherwise, it would allow we humans, in our failed logic, to pick and choose what parts are true and what aren't with no justification except for what we feel or what our limited experience has told us is likely.

It would speak of characteristics of a God who wants to be known.

The entire text would relevant. All of it would be significant, not just what we perceive to be important.

If we seek actual truth, instead of an emotional feeling of the moment, we need to look outside of ourselves. Someone could, with utter conviction and belief, believe that 2 +2 = 5. If we are to base truth on their convictions and emotions, then they are right, and 2 + 2 does equal 5. However, if we were to base it instead on the reality of the universe, disregarding what they sincerely believe, they would be wrong and 2 + 2 would still equal 4, no matter how much they believed otherwise.

How might you demonstrate to that individual that 2 and 2 really is 4? Perhaps hold two fingers up on each hand and tell them to count how many fingers you were holding up. How might God demonstrate to us who He really is despite our present circumstance clouding our vision? He might write us a letter telling us who He is that we can go back to.



posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 11:35 PM
link   

Originally posted by junglejake
Your basic premise assumes no or variable truth. In addition, there's the assumption that there is no God.

Or, if there is, that God must conform to best practices as logically determined by this or that person (typically, in this thought experiment, it is our own infallible logic that is the measure), and to do it another way would be either foolish or inefficient.


That's not what I intended to convey.

I'll try to put it as simply as possible. I believe in God, and I believe in an absolute truth. However, I believe the divine is primarily accessed in an intuitve, inner way that cannot be adequately expressed in words. Given this, texts will always be inadequite. I also believe all sacred texts were written by humans, and that humans are fallable. I disagree with the supposition that the Bible, Torah, or Koran comes "directly from God."

This is a mystic's point of view, whether you are talking Christianity, Jainism, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, or what have you. It is 180-degrees opposite from a "revealed text"-based view. I don't believe God is revealed in words. I believe He is revealed only the heart of the believer. You may disagree, and since this is a millenia-old argument, I don't expect to solve it in this thread.

Or, to use a metaphor, words are linear and 1-dimensional, while the divine is omnidimensional. Its like the problem of representing a round earth on a flat 2D paper map...there is always distortion. Greenland, for example, is roughly the same length as Florida, but it looks much bigger on most maps because its impossible to accurately project a 3D world on a 2D map. Trying to access God through verbal means strikes me a similar problem, only many times larger. We can use words to indicate or point towards the truth (just as maps aren't "totally useless" despite certain imperfections), but eventually we must go beyond words. Perhaps you do not share this opinion; I am aware millions don't.

[edit on 10/13/09 by silent thunder]




top topics
 
0

log in

join