Why Religion Matters

On vacation, blogging via iPhone. Gotta love technology, Brigid be praised! After all, what is technology but bigger and better smithcraft?

I fInished the first of my vacation books: Why Religion Matters by Huston Smith. His basic argument is that a “traditional” (ie – theistic) worldview is more helpful to meaning-seeking humans than the modern or postmodern views. His preference for hierarchy is troubling and some of his criticism of science is flat-out wrong, but on the whole he makes a strong case that belief and a search for the Ultimate is a better way to live.

Smith says that in any society you’ll find four types of people: atheists (there is no god), polytheists (there are many gods and goddesses), monotheists (there is one God), and mystics (there is only God). That part makes good sense. But then he says that each level is superior to the one “below” it. I can’t buy that. I know too many people who can’t honestly believe in anything that can’t be proved. For them, atheism is the only path with any intrgrity. And while the monotheistic religions have developed some fine ethical systems, I can’t see that they’re superior to polytheism in either theory or practice.

But I’m complaining about the 10% of the book I disagree with. The other 90% is quite good. In particular, Smith does a good job of showing that the “big questions” of life are worth asking, and religion provides the best answers.

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