On the Exclusiveness of religion
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine regarding the exclusiveness principle in many of the world’s religions (by “exclusiveness principle” I’m referring to the concept that one is right and the other are, by default, wrong). For the last couple of years, I’ve been attempting to understand why this principle exists and, perhaps more importantly, why it exists so prevalently.
One explanation goes back to the core idea that human beings seem to seek out ways to marginalize others to make themselves feel worth. One great example of this lies in the ways minorities are treated throughout history. It seems any excuse to “prop” oneself up on the platform of self-righteous at the expense of another person is the norm time and time again in human history. It only takes a rudimentary observation of the social interaction in elementary school to see these principles in action at a very young age. Those with a different hair color, size, shape, accent, etc. than the “norm” are often treated unfairly by the majority. The fact that this behavior begins at such a young age is, in my opinion, indicative of something far deeper … perhaps at the very core of humanity.
I often view this as the very definition of our lack of spiritual understanding. Whatever “the fall” was (i.e. whatever event took place that caused these feelings of inadequacy) it exists almost universally. Religion is meant to try and solve these feelings through all sorts of means. However, it all begins with one religion saying, “the methods that exist in the world an inadequate to solve this problem. We have a different way.”
Getting back to the topic at hand, this whole ordeal begs the question: How probable is it that one belief structure is right and the others are all wrong? Why do they claim to solve the same problems? Why do some outlooks work very well for some people and not so well for others? And, perhaps most importantly, is it possible that perhaps these exclusions were created to make one group feel better about itself?
I grew up in the church, and I’ve seen human beings do some pretty mean things to other human beings in the name of religion. In fact, although I’m ashamed to admit it, I’ve participated in those same sorts of actions.
My motivation was a complete and total belief that I had the “right” answer and those who disagreed with me had the “wrong” answer. But how could I be so sure that it could so negatively impact my moral compass and, perhaps more importantly, those of humanity at large past, present, and future?
I guess my point is adopting this kind of principle is, from my perspective, a quick way to living a life that does not reflect the values that Christ certainly spoke of, and values that are reflected in the ideals of practically every religion.
So, for my money, I’ve decided to stay away from that rhetoric.
What do you think?