Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Traveling throughout the world has expanded my understanding of the similarities and differences between various people. It has been an honor to meet individuals from all corners of the world, to experience their culture, and learn what the same planet looks like in their eyes. I have discovered some very interesting common themes between the multitude of global residents and myself, as well as some deeply divisive gulfs. The material presented in this course provided me with many valuable tools to further explore the reasons why people believe what they believe and the origins of many of the legends, myths, and stories we have today. By taking this course I also have a deeper understanding of myself.
The most intense revelation for me, by being exposed to so many different ideologies, is the realization about how grossly under informed I am in the matters of different belief systems. In my own life there has been a progressive shift from taking things for granted simply due to the fact an influential person told me something, to searching for the truth through observation and scientific study. It has taken too long for me to finally ask the necessary questions. Surprisingly, many of the answers I am finding are contrary to what I was taught. There is some bitterness in the feeling of being deceived, but there is also relief in knowing that the answers can be found. I can not subscribe to an ideology that decides it is the truth with no proof. Many religions take this stand simply because any admittance of possible error would decimate the whole belief system. Science on the other hand, takes a different approach. Science begins by being ignorant of the truth and establishing a path to find the answers, a search for facts. Studying the different religions of the world using a scientific approach is not a process in place to destroy a faith based belief structure, but a manner of explaining and understanding why a belief is in place. To search for the origin of a story is an extremely exciting study, especially when an other than expected answer is found. It is not enough to simply mull over books or take in a National Geographic program to completely understand another group of people. A person almost needs to be submerged in the other society in order to grasp true understanding. The same stands for studying their beliefs and philosophies. Several times throughout the Religious Philosophy course I caught myself instantly dismissing a belief or idea that did not conform to the “truth” according to the program that I grew up with. By identifying the propensity to immediately default to my opinions based in the propaganda of a particular belief structure, injected into my life prior to being allowed to develop my own views, I will hopefully generate a freer atmosphere for knowledge and understanding to blossom. It saddened me to learn and observe the lack of consideration and open-mindedness that pervades many so called advanced civilizations. Most are comfortably barricaded in the security of ignorance and they leave little opportunity to experience the beauty of the world’s vast differences. Those most guilty of this philosophical prison are all too often members of the larger religious organizations. These larger organizations also have the unfortunate nature of being the most fractured due to the narrowness of their ideology. One such example is the division of an entire church over the matter of the acceptable color of a song book.
Of course I do not and cannot accept all belief systems. However, this course helped me to see that it is not necessary to personally “believe” in all things but is enough to accept the validity of a belief systems’ existence. There also seems to be an “ethical” foundation to most of the religions of the world so at least that element ties much of humanity together. It has unfortunately been mankind that has corrupted and spoiled the most precious possession humanity has. We all innately possess the knowledge of “greater possibilities.” This is the key we will have to use in the evolution of our understanding our existence.
Rev. Dale Furr
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