Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Fiction of Theology

I find theology to be a very interesting topic.  I love looking at and talking about all things religious and spiritual.  I know people who have devoted their entire lives to the subject of God and studying the various interpretations of God which men have come up with.  I have to say though that I find the very word theology to be funny.  Theology simply means the study of God.  The problem for me with the word is how does one actually study God? 

If you are a biologist you study life.  Life is all around us.  It can be seen, felt, tasted, touched.  Biology studies that which can be known.  Astrology studies the cosmos.  The cosmos is a known thing even though it is vast and much of it is not able to be seen with our current technology, but we can look up in the sky every night see the stars and know for sure that there are planets and suns to be explored.  Proctology is the study of...well, maybe we should not go there.  The point is that if you slap the ending "ology" onto a word it means the study of that particular word which you have added "ology" onto.  Thus, as I said earlier Theology is the study of God (derived from the Greek word theos which translates as God).

This is where things get a little bit confusing for me.  How does someone study something which may or may not be there, and cannot even be proven to exist.  Now please don't get really pissed at me here; I am not at all saying there is no God.  What I am saying is that even if there is a God, he/she/it is not present and accounted for.  Where does one go to "study God"?  What tools have been made for exploring God?  How can theories on God be tested?  What evidence will a theologist present to prove his theories upon God to be accurate?  How does one truly study what cannot even be seen?  When was the last time some busted out the old Godoscope and had a look-see?

If one wanted to become a Brentologist at least this would make sense, because I am physically present and can be watched, explored, poked and prodded, and studied.  I would not recommend studying Brent as I am scary and you might not like what you find, but if you really wanted to, you could.  My point is that you cannot really study God, because God (if there is a God) is not corporeal and therefore cannot be studied.  The best anyone can do really is guess.  So, for all the different teachings on God, and all the different books and theories on the subject, none of it is verifiable.  At its very best all theology is fiction.

Wait, before you freak out and try to kill me, understand (again) that I am not saying there is no God.  I am not saying that God is fiction, I am saying that the study of God is fiction.  If someone were to say they were studying God they would not be being entirely truthful, because even they would admit (I hope) that God cannot actually be studied.  Theologians do not study God, they theorize about God.  They should  not call themselves theologists because they do not study God.  Theology is a misnomer. Theologists should call themsleves God theorists.  They think a lot and come up with ideas which sound plausible to them and then they write those ideas down and share them with others.  They literally create works of fiction.  Now, there is nothing wrong with fiction.  Fiction is a wonderful and powerful tool which can motivate and inspire people and change humanity.  Fiction is also often true.  Just because someone comes up with an idea does not mean that the idea is false.  There can be truth in fiction.  But, fiction is not fact.

So, what is my point?  My point is simply this,  fiction is not worth killing over.  Fiction is not worth preventing homosexual people from marrying over.  Fiction is not worth making people feel guilty, worthless, or valueless over.  Fiction is not worth judging other people over and saying my version of fiction is better than your version of fiction.  People fight and bicker over things which cannot even be proven true or not.  Something has really gone wrong with us when our fictional theologies become more important and valuable to us than the tangible people on the planet whom we know are here and real.  Something is really wrong when we will cause real hurt and pain to real people over made up theories about God.  Even if God is real, are man-made theories really worth hurting people over?

If you have found a theory about God which works for you, I am happy for you.  I have no desire to take your theories away from you (unless those theories are causing harm to you or others, because I like people more than theories).  Your theories may carry truth for you which works in your life and I celebrate that fact with you.  But, never forget that while they may be true and valuable for you, they are still just theories.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Softening Our Religion

It has been a while since I really wrote anything on here.  I am back in school so most of my creative energy gets sucked into other endeavors.  I am sure many will be happy to not have to hear from me so often.  But, I will try to get on from time to time just so the world knows that I am still alive and still questioning.

I am deeply troubled today.  Seeing the news about Americans being killed in Libya in response to a movie about Islam sickens me.  I cannot help but wonder how many people will need to die in the name of God and religion before we as humans wake up and see that something is terribly wrong.  What is the point of religion?  What is religion truly achieveing for humanity?  Is the world any better off for having religion? 

In theory, I guess relgion could be fine.  I have no problem with people believing there is some sort of divine force.  I have no problem with people worshipping said force.  It seems though that most times people have to take their seeking of a god to a very sick and unhealthy place.  If we could all just simply let our views on god be our views on god, and let others be free to believe and think differently, then religion would be no problem for me.  Sadly, the ability to let others think differently than us is not very common among many religious people.  Why must so many humans become so fanatical about their spiritual beliefs?

I think a lot of it has to do with with how inconsistent and scary life on this planet can be.  Life is unpredictable and just when we feel like things are making a little bit of sense we get thrown another curve ball.  Our brains have a natural tendency to want to make sense of all the chaos we see around us.  Our brains, in an effort to keep us alive and whole, tries to find patterns to make life safer and more manageable (this has been scientifically proven).  We naturally seek out order.  In our desires for order relgion can make a lot of sense to people.  Religion gives us an answer to the tough questions, and that answer is God (in whatever form).

The problem is for there to really be order in the chaos your religion (order) must be the right one.  If not, then it is all still just chaos, and chaos is scary.  So, it is no wonder people get so freaky when it comes to religion. To threaten someone's religion is to threaten the very thing which makes life make sense to them.  Threatening religion threatens to push the mind of the religious back into chaos, and chaos is just flat scary. 

I understand fully the desire for life to "make sense".  This desire is why I stayed in religion as long as I did.   If you need God and religion to get you through, fine.  If you need to think that you are right, that's okay as well.  Just know that others are having the very same struggle as you; they are trying to make sense of all the chaos they see around them.  If they find a different order in the universe than you do, just take a deep breath and remind yourself of what makes the world make sense for you.  Don't freak out.  Don't judge.  Don't fight over whose answers are the best.  Just enjoy your anwers and let them have theirs.  Who knows maybe both of your answers are somehow right.  Maybe you are both wrong.  No matter what, our answers are not worth hurting, fighting with, and killing each other.  In the end, for me I am uncomfortable with answers.  I think I will stick with questioning and just ride the wave of the chaos around me, but I do understand the desire for religion and order.  Let's just try to remember that we are all in the same boat; we are all looking for comfort and security.  I do not begrudge you your answers.  Please do not begrudge others theirs.  In doing so maybe we can bring a little bit of our own order into the chaos.