Thursday, July 26, 2012

Religion as a Guide (or... Is Religion out of date? Yes! And that is good!)

Ελληνικό άρθρο (Greek article)Η Θρησκεία σαν Πολιτιστικό Φαινόμενο


Author: Spiros Kakos

For many years religions around the world have been the guides for peoples’ lives. We may mock what religion tells us to do today, but why does that REALLY happen? If we give careful consideration to the teachings of Orthodox Christianism, we will see that it contains rules to valuable that only when we are struck by a personal disaster do we understand their value. This was always true, but it is “more” true today where the materialistic and all-consuming way of life has engulfed every aspect of our life.

As we can see from a random selection of some Christian rules on “how to live”, most of these rules can and must be applied today! It is not a coincidence that most of these rules are “rediscovered” by science to day…

For example:

  • Is the rule to fast (Greek νηστεία) some days during the year “correct”? Many atheists laugh at that exhortation. But when a dietitian prompts us to do the same and restrain from eating meat for some days in order to clean our organism, we listen carefully…
  • Is the rule for sexual relations only with the woman who we will marry “correct”? When a priest tells us so, we think he is old-fashioned. But when we listen to psychologists on the benefits of stable relations we listen very cautiously their “scientific” advice…
  • Is the rule for showing respect to our father and mother correct? When we listen that advice from the Church we node our heads bored, but when we are the parents we demand respect…
  • Is the advice for love to the other human being correct? When we listen that advice from the lips of the Church we do not pay much attention, but when “emotional intelligence” experts tell us the same, we are all ears…
  • Is the advice for continence correct? When the Church tells us so, we can barely hold our laughter. But when our organism is destroyed by alcohol, drug and food abuses, the laughter stops…
  • Is the advice “give your second cloak to your poor neighbor” correct? Many of us may be too much addicted to money and material products, but few of us can deny the beauty of such an advice for kindness to other who do not have the necessary to live by…
  • Is the advice for Forgiveness correct? Many might think this advice is graphical but all great philosophers agree on the greatness of people who forgive others…

The catalogue is endless. Surely religion is dogmatic in many things. But in what kind of things? Whoever compares the religious dogmas with the dogmas found in other fields of human thought must keep in mind that only via the result can we judge how bad a specific dogma is. Religious dogmas are usually massive and we must judge how good or bad they are by cas-by-case analysis. For example I am not sure if someone can quantify the USEFULNESS of the "Thou shalt not murder" dogma in an era where killing another fellow human was like... going for coffee. And I am not sure if someone can quantify the NEGATIVE effects of the mechanistic view of human nature in the human psychology today, where science has accepted that view in medicine and all related fields.

The advices of Religion today, where materialism and overconsumption have flooded everything, are more valuable than ever. Many people urge Church to “modernize” itself. But why should it do that if “modernization” means that it will enslave its principles to materialism, greed, dehumanization and hatred which destroy our lives today? Principles are not fashion. If many times the advices of religion seem to be “out of date”, it is because they are INDEED out of date! AND THAT IS A GOOD THING! People today have forgotten how it is to love, to care, to show compassion, to be human instead of a super-all-consuming animale (Gr. Υπερκαταναλωτικό ζώο). And a voice which reminds us of all these things is a good thing…


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