Why True and False Don't Matter
Religion and spirituality is full of a lot of crazy shit. Chakras, spontaneous healing, angels, chariots of fire, mountains moving, world-wide floods, people coming back to life after death, etc. Much of this is scientifically impossible or highly-unlikely from a rational perspective.
If you are reading this you probably are part of a relatively secular society that values empiricism, fact, truth, and reason. Do you have to throw all of your values in order to embrace spirituality? Do you have to just blindly “have faith”?
Fortunately, the answer is NO. Nor do you have to spin religion's inherent irrationality into a pretzel to make it scientifically viable.
Because religion and spirituality have an entirely different measuring stick than rationality. It doesn’t matter if it is true. It only matters if it is effective.
It only matters if meditation calms you, if praying dries your tears, if playing in a drum circle makes you feel whole. No matter the the paradigm, it doesn’t matter if it’s a scientific "fact" or not because this realm, like the arts, plays by other rules.
The purpose of religion is not to explain the natural world or try to modify our perception of it by insisting there are “invisible forces” in it. The purpose of religion/spirituality is to give humanity something to hold on to when life sucks, to give color and meaning, to give potent symbols that help us understand our interior world.
For example, the value of the story of Christ's Passion is not “2,000 years ago, a nice guy was tortured to death and came back to life.”
The value is in using it as a metaphor you can use to help you understand the suffering in your own life. It’s a way to come to terms with the elements of life that are torturing you to death even though you’re a nice person. It’s a promise that you too can “come back to life” from the things that “kill” you.
Will there be scars from the ordeal? Yes. But it will make you stronger than you ever thought possible (perhaps even divine.) It will happen again and again in your life, but always you will rise.
From that lens, does it really matter if the nice guy from 2,000 years ago was ACTUALLY tortured to death? If he was ACTUALLY forced to carry his own cross or if someone carried it for him? No.
Does this story, and the rituals that bring it to life every Easter season, make suffering and life more meaningful for people? Yes.
Does a particular myth warm your heart? Go ahead and claim it in the same way you would your favorite movie or book.
You can claim a world of myth and magic and miracles and still be a smart, rational person. I promise.
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