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Entry 668, on 2008-01-08 at 23:14:28 (Rating 3, Religion)
According to the title of an opinion piece by my local paper's religious writer today: true faith places Christianity before religious conditioning. He went on to say that organised religions shouldn't detract from the message of Jesus, which he refers to as "the man Jesus and the mythic Christ".
Apparently he accepts the idea that someone generally answering to the description of Jesus existed but that the stories we now have are fictitious. This seems fairly reasonable although I would even query whether the man existed because there are so many people claiming to be religious leaders documented at the time and none of them really sound much like Jesus!
The point that blindly following the teachings and rites of an organised religion isn't really faith but following Jesus is true faith is also debatable. By accepting Jesus as the one and only person with a message important enough to form a basis for living he is really just accepting another dogma. Admittedly it is a more reasonable one than Catholicism for example, but in the end any alleged teachings of Jesus are just what comes from the Bible and that clearly is written with the main purpose of establishing a new religion.
So this brings us to the question, what actually is true Christianity? Well, of course, it doesn't exist. How can a true belief exist based on stories which are obviously fake? That's why there has always been so much conflict and fragmentation in Christianity over history: its all a big myth, so anyone has the chance to establish their own "truth". Unfortunately, none of these truths are true which is why none have become established as the true Christianity.
The writer does make a good point. No one should follow the dogma of an established church as a way to establish a set of rules for living. It might be advantageous to some people to belong to a church for the social contact it provides, but on balance I would suggest there must be much better ways to achieve that.
So what should be our attitude to the (alleged) teachings of Jesus, the beliefs of Christianity, the beliefs of other religions, and other philosophies? I say, let's treat them all equally, look at everything they have to say, and choose our own philosophy based partly on what others (including those claiming to be religious leaders) have to say. There might be parts which come from Christianity, but I would also suggest there's a lot of good philosophy in Buddhism, Epicurus, Hume, and hundreds of other thinkers.
And I also object to the idea of faith in the strongest way. Faith is so often held up as a great thing but I believe it is a nice label for stupidity and ignorance. Anyone who really studies the nature of the universe, morality, and other important subjects doesn't need faith. So true faith (whatever that actually is) isn't something to strive for anyway and the writer's argument collapses on that point as well.
My message is forget about true faith (or any other type of faith for that matter) and build an individual philosophy based on the ideas from as many sources as possible, not just some ancient writings from an old book of doubtful origin.
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