The phenomenon of religion is, in one form or another, ubiquitous across human civilization. As such, it is deserving of our most careful attention. So, what constitutes a scholarly treatise of religion?
Your average believer is one thing, and a serious theologian and/or philosopher is another.
The ‘new atheists’ who, under a pretense of scientific rationality, dismiss religion altogether in a broad sweep are often as one-sided as the religious fundamentalists they’re attacking (I know ’cause I’ve been there). They throw the baby out with the bathwater by discarding the metaphysic that lies beneath all the rubble of inessential, exoteric elements of particular cultural religions – to distinguish between the two requires philosophical sensibilities.
The whole belief structure of ‘scientism’ – the view that mistakes science to be synonimous with materialism -.is as laughable as blindly following scripture or religious authorities. Truth lies where extremes meet, and where skepticism marries open-mindedness.
What I’ll briefly suggest here is this: the most sober way to look at this question is to take a comparative approach: what are the shared features of the many religions and on what points do they differ? Examining world religions with a hermeneutic attitude in mind, will allow us to discern genuine insight from the cover stories and cop-outs. This line of inquiry will, I suspect, get us closer to extracting the philosophia perennis up from under the shroud of the numberless myths and legends.
It is my view that all authentic religious systems have a common basis in this fundamental reality; or a trans-cultural truth that found its various expressions through the most spiritually in-tuned people of all time. The entire corpus of humanity’s spiritual literature is thus a documentation of a relationship that countless many people throughout history have had with this transcendental dimension of existence which, although being fundamentally the same, was interpreted differently in different cultural contexts.
And so, the project continues…
Thanks for reading! I’d like to know what you think.
Authored by: Miodrag Vujaković
Artwork by: He Qi