Two Approaches to Religion

04 Dec 2018

There is a fundamental difference between religious people that has to do with the manner in which they see their own religion and other religions. Some religious people see religion as a set of facts or acts that they must adhere to (believe in, have faith in) or engage in order to gain some type of salvation or heaven. These types of people are generally hostile to differing religions because the logic of their position is that only one set of facts can be the correct set of facts, or only one set of acts can be the correct set of acts. If their set of facts and acts leads to heaven, how could it be that another set of facts and acts in another religion would also lead to heaven. So these types of people generally have an express or hidden hostility toward other religions. You can see this kind of hostility between different Christian churches that may overwhelmingly share the same underlying principles but differ in some small degree with regard to specific beliefs or acts.

Then there is another type of religious person who sees everything contained within a religion—the beliefs, the stories, the images, the rituals, the commandments, as a set of tools to bring them closer to God, closer to the ideal, and help them become as much like this ideal as possible. For these people religion is a process by which to reach higher human understanding and progress. One result of this is that they are less prone to believe that heaven lies in some other realm and is obtained by a set of prescribed beliefs and acts in this world, but rather see heaven as something that can be built here and now, little by little, through the processes found within religion. These people also generally have a much more favorable view toward other religions because they recognize that nearly all religions share in this goal of furthering the progression of man. Because different religions have specialized in different ways to bring man closer to the divine, a person of this religious proclivity is generally interested in learning as much as they can about other religions out of a recognition that any additional tool to help one draw closer to God is to be sought after, not feared. These kinds of people may feel that their faith tradition offers superior tools in the progress toward God, or perhaps offers the best tools for their own personality, but they have a respect for any tradition striving toward an ideal, and have an open mind for any additional concept that can be learned to further that progress toward the ideal. 

I see the second approach to religion as vastly superior.