Monday, July 13, 2015

Religions Are Not All Basically the Same

Historian Rodney Stark explains why the theology of God in different religions produces very different religions. All religions cannot basically be the same because their gods are not the same; some religions don’t even have a deity. The kind of god one believes in determines whether or not morality is part of the religion (some religions have no moral guidelines) and whether or not we are meant to have relationship with the deity. Some gods, as conceived by various religions, just are not capable of being moral or having a relationship with human beings. Stark explains in For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery.... Keep reading
This section in the final paragraph particularly caught my attention when I read this article.

"As Justin Barrett put it, ritual precision is required in dealings with “dumb gods.” This same logic applies, if to a somewhat lesser extent, to religions based on Gods of limited scope. They, too, may take note not of the intent of rituals but only of their execution. Indeed, there is a substantial element of compulsion in interactions with small Gods, as well as with the creatures that are sometimes invoked by magic (see the introduction). Here, too, the rituals must be perfect; otherwise the supernatural agent will not find them binding. In contrast, the omnipotent Gods of monotheism are thought to be fully aware of the intentions of the supplicant. Consequently, rituals are far less important, and precision is barely an issue when humans deal with Gods conceived of as all-seeing—if the priest errs, Jehovah knows what was meant, and the efficacy of a prayer does not hinge on precise adherence to a sacred formula."

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