Before we get started, I’d like to pre-warn people. This entry is not sponsored by any church, business or individual. I have no ulterior motive for this entry and hold no undeclared affiliations. What is written here is purely my interpretation of my world from my perspective.
I’m not going to spend any time talking about the movie because I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve read the book but I’m not going to talk about that either, but for a different reason. When I read the book, I bought it in the fiction section and I read it for entertainment, not for education or enlightenment or research. Dan Brown has never put his work forward as anything more than fiction. It is carefully researched and skilfully written which makes it seem feasible. But it’s still fiction – that’s why the movie was made by Hollywood rather than The Discovery Channel.
And that’s the secret to writing good fiction – make it believable. Look up fact in the dictionary; and in a definition taking fully half a column, there is no reference to believability. Look up believability or believe in the dictionary; a similar sized definition never mentions the word fact. I’m the first to admit the two are similar in some respects but they are not mutually inclusive.
Calling The Da Vinci Code blasphemous opens up a controversial dialogue. It’s fiction, just like trashy romance novels that “promote” adultery. While we’re preparing to have Dan Brown hung, drawn and quartered, let’s burn Barbara Cartland at the stake as well.
What I’m going to talk about today was an internal conversation that was started by the recent attention given to the Da Vinci Code.
BIg Mike 101.
I get quoted out of context a lot. Let’s have a look at me and my upbringing, so you know where this outburst has come from. I was raised in a Christian society by a mother with strong Christian beliefs and moderate participation, and a father with mild Christian beliefs and little to no participation. The school system of my youth exposed me to 1 hour each week of religious education, which was basically Sunday school on a weekday – purely Christian. Not like today in Australian schools – religion wasn’t taught at all for over a decade and now that it is being re-introduced it is being taught as a subject, not a belief, and there is exposure given to several different systems of worship.
Out of those beginnings evolved an adult who is kind, friendly, tolerant, diligent, trusting, trustworthy, helpful, caring, smart and good looking (not so much of the latter). In short, I am the pinnacle of a mothers hopes for her new born child. And from that smoother than caramel persona emerged a person unable to think the worst of anyone.
In keeping with my no-one is bad personal philosophy I hereby offer my theory on the origins of world religion.
My theory of how world religion came to be the way it is today isn’t a concrete thing. I haven’t done any research to verify historical data. But I know what I know.
I will offer you my theory as a series of observations and questions for you to ponder. And from that, let’s just see if you come to the same conclusions that I do.
Glaring differences. Glaring similarities.
The funny thing is that for all the huge differences (the very differences that are currently killing thousands in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places) there are also many very deep-seated similarities.
The status of women within societies based on Islam is not too dissimilar to the plight of women in European society a few centuries back.
What is the difference between the divergence of Islam and Judaism 3 or 4 or 5 millennia ago and the divergence of Judaism and Christianity 2000 years ago? Or Catholic and Protestant Christians several centuries ago?
If these are all distinctly individual religions with little commonality, isn’t it strange that Christmas, Chanukah and Ramadan all fall at roughly the same time of year. I’d say that the dates are near enough to IDENTICAL considering our current calendar system was only developed a few hundred years ago and still isn’t in universal use around the world.
Islam outlaws any visual representation of their deity. Judaism outlaws any direct reference to their deity.
Judaism and Christianity have the same history based in Old Testament times. Judaism even has some sections of its holy books that would be very familiar to even casual Christians. Christianity emerged from a further series of modern day writings of the experience of some very radical Jews. These writings are now commonly referred to as the New Testament.
Everyone’s heard the term. Almost everyone has played the game. Has anyone guessed where I’m going with this?
Is it at all possible that at some time in the distant past there was one religion that was carried to the corners of the earth by different tribes and then the historical equivalent of chinese whispers morphed this original into many different "flavours".
Or maybe it isn’t chinese whispers, but rather different interpretations of the same series of events. Similar to how BBC, CNN, NBC and FOX all see the same footage and all report different "angles". Maybe Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and all the other religions are just different versions of the same thing.
There you go.
One species, created by one God and separated by 70 centuries of cultural evolution.
The question remains…
One God! or One God?
I stand by the former. My God is the one true God. I know him through a Christian Bible. But I have glimpsed him in a book of Mormon, a Talmud and a Koran. None of which I have completely read cover to cover, including the Bible. My world is based on this perspective and I hold out hope that my tolerance is available to the hearts of everyone.
I am fully prepared to laugh myself silly at the final judgement when all the extremists have to stand side by side with the pacifists to await their fate, or receive their reward, as the case may be.
It’s just a theory.