Thu | Mar 30, 2017

There's no one true religion

Published:Friday | February 20, 2015 | 2:00 AMDexter Wharton

When man created religion, two primary things were desired. In the first instance, man wanted to have a closer walk with the supreme being(s) he struggled to understand. In the second instance, he wanted to control his fellow man.

The desire to worship one of a supernatural nature is as old as mankind itself. Man has always been afraid of, curious about, and fascinated with the unknown and what he does not understand. So, as man began to comprehend his environment and its characters and as he learnt about the laws of nature, man recognised that not only could he prescribe with authority the boundaries of his relationship with the supernatural, but he could also influence the actions and reactions of his neighbours.

By controlling what information is made available, man controls those who look for answers by blind faith alone and little or no consultation with intellect.

Today, much of what religion has 'evolved' into still serves as a means of controlling the masses. This practice is troubling at best, because it dictates to the followers of a particular religion how they ought to be perceived.

Not so long ago, we learnt that Pluto was a planet among eight others in our solar system. From that time until now, as science and technology continue to open our eyes to the previously unknown, we have given up on Pluto as a planet and added other planets to our solar system. To have believed Pluto was a planet back then was not false. There was evidence to support such a belief. But as the definition for what a planet is has changed, we, too, have been forced to revise our understanding of our solar system.

 

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

 

Growing up, many a person learnt that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. However, after a little research, one gathers that the sun does not rise nor set at all. In fact, it sits stationary at the accepted centre of our solar system. Yet we continue to teach younger generations about sunrise and sunset. Again, it is all a matter of perspective.

The beauty about truth is that it is oftentimes not absolute. So, the persons believing that the sun rises and sets, and the persons believing that the Earth is what moves and determines how we perceive the sun, both know some truth.

There is nothing that makes one religion truer than another. All religions have their antecedents in man's desire to learn about and honour the supernatural, and to exercise dominion over his kind.

When Christians celebrate Lent, they do so with the understanding that it represents a custom or tradition of their religion. There is nothing about Lent that makes it right or wrong. The fact that my religion honours the presumed temptations of the Christ and yours does not, does not mean my religion is true and yours is false.

 

FOLLOWERS' BELIEF

 

What makes a religion true is the belief of its followers. Not always going hand in hand, the knowledge of its followers sometimes also accounts for practising a particular faith. All religions, however, have to be responsible with what truth they defend. It is one thing to not know yet believe.

It is reprehensible on the other hand to know one thing and teach others something else so that they believe what you want them to believe. Manipulating truth to serve some selfish agenda ought to be discouraged and condemned. And as sad as it is to say, quite a few religions 'doctor' the truth.

Let us stop focusing on whose religion might be right and whose wrong. Let us stop the practice of believing that we alone know the truth. For, as much as we think we know, we don't know everything. Instead, let us make an effort in understanding each other.

We do not have to agree with each other's positions and beliefs, but we can still respect those beliefs and our individual right to have them.

- Dexter Wharton is a linguist, theologian and communications officer at the Global Interfaith Council. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com