I happened to read a bit about one world-traveling guru (it’s not important here who), and that inspired me to grumble a few words about this stupid idea that “the goal of all religions is the same: oneness with god”.
Consider the following a representative quote.
“His teachings are usually based on his native mythology, but he doesn’t call on anyone to change their religion. Instead he encourages people to go deeper into their own religion and to try to understand its true message. According to him, the goal of all religions is the same — to get humans to understand their oneness with God and all reality, and to give advice on how to attain this oneness.”
This all sounds nice and uplifting, but doesn’t have much meaning.
Oneness with God and all reality sounds nice — but what is it? Does it give you magic powers? Do you levitate, stop aging, miraculously heal the sick? Do you get, like, special insights into solving all of world’s problems? Do you become really good in settling disputes and giving moral advice?
Doesn’t oneness with God give at least a few insights? Maybe a cure for cancer, or blueprints for some really nifty carbon nanotubes? Just one instance where a miracle healing doesn’t turn out to be a hoax or something impossible to confirm? Just one genuinely levitating guru?
Doesn’t seem like it.
Is “the goal of all religions” instead something hazy and intra-cranial like “being really content”? Is it, to intentionally use a slightly ominous word, just a mental state? Because if that’s all, then I’ve heard a few pints of beer are a much cheaper and quicker way. So are drugs; there are many ways of being oblivious and self-satisfied while the handbasket accelerates.
Oh, and oneness with God — what god? Which god? And how does that oneness jive with the different things that all these different religions teach? If you’re one with god and all reality, what’s your stance on abortion? Or homosexuality? Death punishment? Suicide? Freedom of speech? Blasphemy? The position of women? What will come after life? What was before it? Is evolution true? Are ghosts real? What about miracles? And is Ken Ham a reptilian humanoid from Gamma Woowoo?
Surely if “the goal of all religions is the same”, there should be some unified illumination on some of these subjects, some specific answers instead of generic platitudes (“[insert god here] is Love&Peace!”) — unless, of course, oneness with God means a total lack of curiosity. Judge not, care not?
This oneness stuff seems to be built on the common mistake that all religions are somehow all good, but just misunderstood. That just isn’t so, unless you rephrase it as “you can pick and choose parts that are not morally objectionable from any religion” — but then the sentiment doesn’t sound so world-embracing anymore, does it?
This all seems to me to be, pardon my language, just flipping the bird at both the detailed doctrines of the religions involved, and the generally skeptical mindset opposed.
Sorry, but the one thing all religions share is that they are all made up: some because of greed, some because of delusion, but the most simply because the world is a big, complex, scary place and seems to need an overseer of some sort to keep on running.
The only connecting thing behind all religions is not some nebulous Overgod, but the tendency of men to make up stories to explain things that they don’t know, and to mistake elementary probability for deep mystical connections, paraeidolic quirks of the brain for signs from above.
(If you want a more saccharine formulation of that, “all religions are just a pursuit of meaning” — a wild goose chase.)
Still, if you want to get one with that, our tendency to be bloody awfully uncritical, be my guest.
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These New-Agey bovine excrement salesmen mild religious folks are just as bad as the smear-the-walls-with-poo maniacs fundamentalists, except from a different direction: whereas the latter hit you like a massive coprolith projectile straight to the forehead, the former ooze all over you like a mist of powderized fecal matter wafted by the rectal trumpets of platitude, obscuring all, revealing nothing.
Oy, that’s a pleasant turn of phrase.
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The sentiment of this piece brings to mind the occasional saw that atheists often feel they have more in common with religious fundamentalists than with moderates — which is, in a way, true.
Moderates are much nicer people, but they’re often so far into deism/agnosticism that they don’t really have anything to say about the world, no claims to defend, nothing miraculous that really, grown-up really, exists. Their claims are so diluted by modern knowledge and modern secular ethics that their Bible’s just a pamphlet of parables, and their God barely exists and never really acts.
As I said, they are much nicer and better people than fundamentalist whackaloons, but their vagueness and unwillingness to articulate what they really believe is really, really frustrating.
Or it would be, were they not sliding up the slope to contented atheism.