Monday, May 9, 2011
Is Religion More Like Science or Art?
The following statement tactfully summarizes my complaint against the fundamentalist faith of my childhood: I view religion as the art of reaching out to God, not the science of reaching out to God. Expanding on this, I believe religion lays in a category with art, not in a category with science. As GK Chesterton said, “Art is the signature of humanity.” When we look at a beautiful painting, it can impart a profound and unique meaning to us. Many different people can look at the same painting and receive different meanings from it. Though each viewer’s interpretation is different, and probably doesn’t reflect the artist’s intentions (if there were any), each interpretation can impart meaning and a kind of truth to the beholder. The painting meets the beholder with all his baggage, from whatever background, with whatever experiences and ideas, and imparts a message tailored just for him. I think God is like the unpainted painting. Now to become more pointed, Christians are like the group in the museum trying to ensure that everyone agrees with them on which painting is the best one, and what is the correct interpretation and meaning to take from that painting. They’re treating the paintings as science, not art, thereby missing the painting’s profound power. They’re treating religion as the science of reaching out to God, not the art of reaching out to God, thereby missing God’s profound power. Once people start developing formulas they believe God operates by and formulas they believe everyone must follow for correct spirituality and salvation, they’re treating religion as a science. In short, and with less tact, I believe religion should not be taken so literally.
Posted by David Baker at 9:14 PM