Categorized | Opinions

Valuing spirituality and allegory

Earlier in the week I read post on a website that said if religious texts claim to be true then they will be scientifically tested and held up against similar evidence for the natural world.

This comes up all too often and completely misses the point of the nature of divinity in people’s lives.
“Testing” if God exists in the natural world ignores metaphor and allegory as a means of accessing truth about the human condition (not to mention it assumes that if humans can’t perceive it then it can’t exist).

When religious texts refer to “the hand of God” they very clearly invite us to interpret them allegorically.

By metamorphosing the essence of human behavior into a story we are in fact distancing ourselves from human behavior in order to study it “under a microscope.”
We are unable to examine the human condition in our everyday lives because we haven’t the distance from it, just as a neurologist cannot study their own brain, they must study the brain of someone else.

It is too easy to assume that religion superseded myth, and science will supersede religion in its turn, but this is false.

The fact is that religion never replaced myth—look at how widely read the Greek tragedies and poems are, and how much truth is still gained from them!

And science will certainly not replace religion because gaining a feeling of morality, belonging, and justice (things science can’t offer) may be as important to people as knowing precisely how the world works.

Indeed, spirituality is more than God or not-God (as atheists would frame the discussion). Theology is not the study of the physical world but of the world humans have constructed for themselves. It is a study of humanity, and science can’t replace that.

Scientists like Richard Dawkins have drawn up a sort of scientific piety by attempting to replace theology with scientific inquiry.

Science will never conquer religion or vice versa because the two are irreconcilable and in fact deal with completely different things.

Theology is highly speculative and helps us understand what it means to be human and spiritual beings. The various sciences, on the other hand, allow us to understand how things work in a practical manner.

And I suspect most atheists and agnostics were disillusioned from religion by the few Young Earth Creationists and Biblical Literalists, though this has unfortunately been translated into a desire for all religion to be conquered.

They should target their criticism where it belongs and leave the rest of the spiritualists alone.

Sometime since the beatific Zen era of hippies and beatniks, the youth generation fell into the pitfall of atheism and agnosticism; the openly spiritual seem to encompass a minority of young people.

Many young people likely believe they will be lumped with far-right fundamentalists or fear being labeled as a conservative.

Fundamentalists on all ends of the religious spectrum have turned us toward materialism and away from spiritual affluence.

Indeed, it is all too easy to turn against theology, spirituality, and religion because a minority of misguided people use God to justify their politics.

Jon Stewart is true in saying that 15-20% of Americans control the conversation that is had about politics and spirituality, but I implore you not to disregard spirituality, not to disregard that there is more to the human condition than what can be perceived using our five senses.

I implore you to accept the value of spirituality, allegory, metaphors, literature, and origin narratives in helping us understand the human condition and what it means to be human.

I implore you to accept that some things might not be perceivable by humans. In essence, I implore you to use your imagination in finding more than one kind of truth in the world—truth that transcends the physical, material, scientifically quantifiable truth: truth about the human condition.

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Literature student in the English department

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