In continuation from my last post “Our identity and belief system“, I would like to expand on the reflection about our evolution as spiritual beings on a human journey.
If an alien were to visit earth from outer space and see three human beings, and among the three, one professes to be a christian, one to be a muslim, one to be a buddhist, what would the alien actually see? A christian, a muslim and a buddhist? No, the alien would see only human beings because they all share a common humanity, regardless of their belief systems.
Suppose if we are really serious about defining our identity based on our belief system, and many of us have been serious about it to some extent, going by the sheer number of denominations within one religion alone, such as in the case of christianity, we would want to sit down and carefully enumerate the fine details of our individual belief system and try to categorise ourselves based on what we believe in.
Let’s say we decide to define ourselves as a christian because we decide to embrace a certain set of beliefs about God and ourselves. Ok, that is the first step to attempt to differentiate ourselves from other people. We can now call ourselves “christians” and other people “non-christians”.
But wait a minute? What exactly makes a christian? A follower of Jesus? A keeper of the ten commandments? A believer of certain church creeds or belief statements?
In our attempts to answer the above questions, we have amassed a huge array of answers, which resulted in an equally huge mass (or can we call it “mess”?) of different christian denominations, with broad categories (such as baptists, anglicans, methodists, presbyterians, charismatics, preterists, universalists, etc) and sub-categories (such as southern baptists, conservative baptists, fundamentalist baptists, etc), and even hybrid categories (such as preterist charismatics, etc).
All that is fine, until someone wants to know which is the “correct” belief system or denomination. We can easily see that this is a futile question – challenging at best, impossible at worst – to yield any satisfactory answer because each denomination (or sub-denomination) is likely to claim they have the “correct” set of belief system about God and ourselves.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg because even within each denomination or sub-denomination of a religion, there are also minute differences in beliefs and opinions held by each individual believer about God and ourselves. Is each individual believer going to have to lose their sleep and pull their hair out in trying to see exactly where they fit in whenever they revise their belief system based on each new revelation about God and ourselves, or based on changing circumstances, or based on the latest scientific discovery or theory or philosophy of the day, or based on who believes in what and who disbelieves in what and whether we should follow their footsteps?
My conclusion for now: Religion and/or spirituality is subjective. Each of us is constantly evolving in our mindsets or belief systems, but our common identity as human beings remains unchanged. May more people awake to who we really are and set aside our differences and embrace our unity in diversity as we continue to progress in the age of reason, peace and enlightenment.