Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Metaphors of Religion

What are my religious views? Metaphors are created to explain what is currently unknowable. Religion is formalization of those metaphors into a belief system that often involves the necessity for particular practices. Far too often, religion takes their metaphors as fact. When knowledge is increased and what was previously unknowable is finally discovered, a religion will often cling to their metaphors. They may reinterpret them to conform to the new knowledge, or may oppose the new knowledge.
Imagine a person who has never seen or heard of a banana. Now imagine that person is hungry. A kind stranger walks along and hands that person a banana and tells them that it is food. The person tries to taste it without peeling it, but really doesn’t know what to do with it. All they know is that they’ve been told is that they can eat it. So, another kind stranger walks along seeing this hungry person looking at the banana. That stranger walks up and peels the banana for the hungry person. But now imagine that instead of eating the newly exposed banana flesh, the person throws the flesh aside and continues to grasp the peel as though the peel well feed them somehow.
This is kinda how religion tends to respond to new knowledge. When the metaphor is found to no longer be useful (peeled away to reveal knowledge), a religious system will often still hold on to it instead of taking in the newly discovered knowledge.
To break free from this, a person must realize that the metaphor has its place, not as factual representation of knowledge, but as a way to explain what is currently unknown. If one can admit that they do not know something, then the metaphor can be used effectively until such knowledge is obtained. This can be an empowering position.

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