Thursday, September 16, 2010

Questions for People of Faith

With all the demands for Muslims to answer questions about their faith, I thought it might be helpful to develop six simple questions one can ask of all peoples of faith:

1. Do you think your faith is the one true faith, or do you believe that there are many paths to Truth?

2. If your faith has a Holy Book, what makes it holy? How do you know your book is true? Are the Holy Books of other religions as holy as your own? If not, why not?

3. As a person of faith, what is your obligation to all the other peoples in the world?

4. When they die, what happens to those who do not accept your faith?

5. When your theology disagrees with scientific fact and proven theory (theory as understood in scientific circles not everyday speech), do you adapt to science, or insist science adapt to your theology?

6. Why do you believe what you believe about God, creation, humanity, and the afterlife?

Just to be fair, let me briefly answer my own questions:

1. I believe Truth cannot be reduced to any system of thought, though many systems of thought do glimpse a part of it.

2. A book is holy when a community considers it holy. All holy books derive from this sociological phenomenon, so all holy books are equally holy. This does not mean that any holy book or all holy books are true or equally true. Each may contain wise and beneficial teachings, but no book can contain absolute Truth.

3. All people are obligated to treat all life with compassion and respect.

4. I believe that as we die we become aware of a greater and all–inclusive level of reality in which all things exist. When we die we return to that.

5. I change my theology.

6. I would like to say I believe what I believe based on a combination of everyday experience, study, and experiences had during spiritual practice. And while this may be true, I also suspect that I have no idea why I believe what I believe. Not knowing why I believe as I do, and knowing that Truth cannot be reduced to belief, I am humbled. Humility is the sign of true spirituality. Arrogance and certainty are the sign of religious posturing.


rbarenblat said...

Lovely questions, Reb Rami. Not surprisingly, my answers are very much aligned with yours!

Wishing you a g'mar chatimah tovah.

Gaspar said...

Great reflective questions. Right on with social groups addapting "holy" books into structured belief systems. By including the ones we agree with, we subcontiously define the ones we do not. Therfore, the more complex our beliefs become the more finite is our community.

I imagine if we were to find an all inclusive "holy" book it would be published with blank pages.

Unknown said...

Interesting post. I like the questions. Very provocative.

Unknown said...

I love the questions. Here's my take:
1. There are many paths to Love, and Love is the path to Spirit, Wisdom and Truth.
2. Everything is holy. Many books contain glimmers of wisdom, even works of fiction and books no one would consider "holy". Every little thing on Earth is holy.
3. We love others because every being has value and worth just because they are.
4. Spirit cares little about what you believed in each life. All souls are immortal.
5. All things are possible, Spirit has no limits, scientific or otherwise. I believe what feels right at the moment.
6. I believe what I believe from personal experience and because Spirit has led me down a path of believing it. It's likely true for everyone, so I can't hate them for what they believe when it's Spirit that led them to that belief. All beliefs must serve a purpose even if I can't understand.

Big Chaddy Daddy said...

Good questions, but I believe we can hold our personal viewpoints as sacred and holy without demeaning another's perspective. I am a Christian. As such, I must accept the teachings and words of Christ. He stated that He is the Way. Therefore, I either believe Him or reject Him. I cannot have it both ways. That surety in my faith, does not permit me to mitigate another's beliefs. I only know, by personal experience, that Jesus is Truth for me. I do not accept other religions as truth, but I do respect them for the value and morality that they promote. Blessings to you and your journey!

Migdalor Guy said...

Well asked, and well answered. These are great things to be considering not only at this time of year, but at all times.

Unknown said...

I am uncomfortable with any absolutes of human origin, and inspired or not, all holy texts and clergy can be traced back to human origins. These are excellent questions that people of all faiths, or no faith at all, should ask themselves. All professions of faith are strengthened by introspection and criticism.

Unknown said...

1. Absolutely not. There are many paths to Truth.

2. No holy book in my faith, but those of other religions are holy because those who revere those words think it so.

3. My obligation to other people of the world is to live in an ethical way and, when I am in the role of being clergy to others, to help them connect with the divine in whatever way the divine speaks to them.

4. Nothing terrible, I'm sure. Lots of people don't accept my faith and many of them are good people, so I can't imagine hellfire and brimstone for those who simply believe differently than I do.

5. Easy. I'm a scientist and Apollo is a god of reason, so my theology adapts to science.

6. And this is the hardest question of all. I have an experience of the divine and though much of this cannot be known, I feel that my belief is right for me. It just seems to fit with what I know about the world.