The Crucial Question
Over at the Mennonite Weekly Review’s “The World Together” blog, writer and activist Bert Newton has written a really thought-provoking piece on “the crucial question” when it comes to religion. So many debates and conversations on the nature of religion and irreligion focus on “belief in God” or its absence. Newton helpfully probes the common assumption that this is the central question, and asks us to ask harder and more honest questions about how and why we invest in the formation and maintenance of the views we hold about the world.
It’s a short article and well worth the read, but here are a few of the quotes that jumped out at me this afternoon:
Belief and non-belief are dispositions that humans adopt regardless of their stated intentions.
For example, we Christians claim to believe in a God of love, but most of us daily place our trust in financial security in a worldly economic system based on greed. We are functional materialists.
Similarly, many people who claim not to believe in any transcendent reality, who claim to be philosophical materialists, actually believe in more than a strictly material universe. If you believe in love, if you believe in ethics or the sanctity of life, you have already departed from materialism. A strictly material universe does not provide for any of this….
The question for us is not whether we will believe, because we will believe in something, in some sort of God. The question for us is what sort of God will we believe in, and where will we find this God, what story will inform our faith and what sort of practices will form it.