Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When God Talks to People

I've always thought that people who believe in revealed religions, those that feature direct communications from deities, have to deal with stories like this one involving a woman who threw her three young children into San Francisco Bay and "claimed she was sacrificing her young sons for God." Granted, in this case, the woman asked the court to consider her insane. But what if she had asked for her story to excuse her actions? What if she claimed God had told her to murder her children? Would any otherwise sane modern-day believers stand by her? And how much different would her story be from that of Abraham and Isaac?

I'm increasingly open to the possibilities of religion's metaphorical power, and even in the possibility that the metaphor persists because it does correspond, however roughly, to some larger truth that we will, alas, never have the capacity to fully know. But I've always been disturbed by the disjunction between what the most literalist of religious people claim they believe about the deep past and what they would be willing to believe in the present day.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Pirate said...

John, this topic has been covered in some detail by George Burns and the "Oh, God" movie series. People have a hard time accepting a message from God even if it is a good one; although I would say that it would make an interesting 4th entry into the series if George Burns suddenly told John Denver to start killing kids as a sacrifice to God.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Fox said...

What I find particularly suspect are the religions that contain a creed. These declarations of belief come at the beginning of the process of understanding, typically when being initiated. “I believe in twelve sentient beings, clad in gold lamé with big floppy ears.” My preference is for those (few) religions that admit that the path to spirituality comes step by step and the final understanding or enlightenment is a product of rigorous introspection. “Don’t accept what I say”, they begin, “Start here with your exploration, accept what you can but keep questioning”. Their premise is that truth will be revealed. And what an understated confidence they exhibit in their truth by allowing someone to come at it in their own time.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't David Coresh believe that he was the "Savior"? Not only was he convinced but, was able to persuade others of his delusions of grandeur. We call it a cult, they call it faith. What if he really was the savior and that was our last chance? Nah, we wouldn't be here reading your blog, we'd all be knee deep in Hell...

2:37 PM  

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