A Humbler Theology: Ananthropic

  • Another possible bridge for communications and flow between the domains would be an attitude shift in religions that represent the Sacred (note also the “Attitude” entry elsewhere in this website). In our analysis to date, we initially form the hypothesis that it is the rigidity and pride of the theologians that follows long after the initial insights of the founders or prophets that lead to many of the problems within the Sacred. The result is a set of overly rigid rules, beliefs, dogmas that are largely and deeply contaminated by the obsessions and needs of humans. This results in a degraded theology that is more characteristic of the drastic limitations of human awareness than it is of the original insights of the founders. It may seem not very humble of us to even try to untangle the original from the contaminated, but for us just to admit the possibility — even likelihood — of contamination seems the humbler course. [51F/W’13]
  • It is critical to note that the additions to many theologies come long after the original formulations. It is very difficult to identify and expose these “additions.” The dogmatic followers of the sacred simply eliminate this possibility by claiming that all texts are directly given and so infallible. They allow no recognition of influence of interpretation or evolution of understanding. On the contrary, scholars try to trace the original meaning, some to discredit the entire sacred movement, but others to sincerely try to better “see” the original text. For example, the “historical Jesus” movement of modern scholars and even the more critical look at secular historians like Josephus or Eusebius attempt to separate the more original and authentic texts from the doctored ones that may have resulted from overly enthusiastic followers, extensions, or exaggerations. It is interesting that in one version of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus explicitly commands his apostles to only pass on His teachings and not alter or extend them. It is also important for modern readers to recognize that all the early texts were hand copies of more original ones, or to go back to the original Greek texts (as many early Christian texts – especially the New Testament –  were not written in the native language in the cases of the Abrahaminic religions). When one compares the original Christian texts to the Islamic Koran it is embarassing to note that the requirements for the latter were much more rigorous than the former; several independent scholars had to agree on what Mohammad said while we have no such control over Christian sayings (the improvements of passage of six centuries may have helped).  [52F/W’13]
  • It is also important for the critical reader using their innate intelligence to recognize that human language is notoriously promiscuous. There are many diverse meanings for the same word, and different senses of a word in different contexts and dialects. To use the huge range of texts that represent all the claimed sacred revelations without any admission of the innate promiscuity and fallibility of these necessarily human texts is to defy rationality. Often the separation between a single authoritative collection and original sources  was lengthy; 400 years for Chritianity, 20 years for the Koran. [53F/W’13]
  • The serious use of science and knowledge to expose these limitations ironically may actually make a positive contribution to theology thus effecting a “bridge” between the two. For example, some of recent brain science results, or aspects of the secular like semantics, exposes the limitations of human understanding, conception, and communication.(refs) Other studies reveal the hidden bias toward error in much of human-based decision-making and a resistance to changing one’s mind even when faced with facts, especially when faced with new facts. (refs) These case studies can alert us, make us aware of ways in which we may have sullied the Sacred in the past to avoid doing it in the future and to create a purer but simpler set of guides to improve our relation to the Sacred in the future. [54F/W’13]
  • The contribution of modern science to theology might lead to ananthropic theology. The prefix “an” placed before a word gives it a meaning opposite the core word. So this neologism would mean a less human-centered theology. It might lead to a theology more “other” because “anthropic” means of or pertaining to humans or the period of presence on earth.” And “other” is a theme common to both Christianity and non-divinity philosophies like Buddhism or Dao. Considering that theology is the study of an “otherness” so profoundly different from human, ananthropic theology may be the way to go. (131Sm’14)

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