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Why can’t religion be more like science?

When a scientific discovery is made, it’s called a hypothesis, and scientists immediately jump in to attack it. When they found that CO2 is released in the air and it might cause pollution, scientists from all over the world began testing it. It’s called the scientific method and scientists are applauded and given huge grants to doubt each others’ conclusions.

But when a religious discovery is announced, it’s called a dogma and believers are expected to accept it without question. When a Catholic priest in 1517 wrote down 95 attacks against the practice of buying indulgences to free a soul from purgatory and hung them on the church door in Germany as professors did in those days to initiate a debate, he was not treated as a scientist but as a heretic and thrown out of the church.

Why can’t religion be more like science?

Science continually investigates and challenges and improves. We would never have landed on the moon if we had believed that “man can’t fly.” And just look at your cell phone. If I had told you 30 years ago, about a little card that would enable you to call your bank in your car, and then calculate and pay your bills while your child spent hours playing games on his own little card, you would have laughed at me. Science made it happen.

But religion discourages doubt and investigation and reform. When a Catholic priest in 1966 wanted to consider the scriptural accounts of the birth of Jesus as parabolic or mythical stories, he was immediately condemned as a heretic and forbidden to teach anymore. No discussion; no investigation. Religion had spoken.

Why can’t religion be more like science?

Brian McClaren has written a new book called: “The Great Spiritual Migration.” Brian claims that believers, especially Christians, are sick of being stuck in outmoded religious traditions. They’re moving out of the stodgy churches in droves, and migrating to new congregations where they emphasize love not dogma. These people are alive with images of a God who is not “up there” but “here” — a part of us, as we renew and reform the world around us.

I am finally beginning to realize that a great number — perhaps thousands — of Middle Georgia Christians and Jews have put aside the ancient chains of prejudice and injustice that bound them to a religion of exclusion. Some of them have no need of churches or synagogues anymore; they find their fellowship in clubs and groups of loving companions. Others have joined inclusive churches like First Baptist Church of Christ and the Unitarian/Universalist Church, and New Height’s Baptist Church, as well as several Episcopal Churches and Synagogues, too. Places of worship that welcome all.

I know my righteous fundamentalists will bristle and burn as they read my words and accuse me, once again, of trying to destroy the faith of believers. But what can I say? it’s too late, guys, the train has already left the station. Look around. The poor are fed every day at centers all over Macon. Abandoned children are adopted, new homes are built for grateful families. And nobody is asked: “Wait, do you believe in the trinity, the virgin birth, transubstantiation and the resurrection?” There is no litmus test. Love abounds. Dogma is brushed aside.

Even the dogmatic Paul, who loved to preach to his Greek converts that they could be saved only by faith in the resurrected Christ (Gal. 3:2), could break away from this transcendent mythology, and pen the most magnificent theology of his career which ends with these words:

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love (1Cor. 13:13).

Paul knew that love is like science: continually searching out new ways to serve.

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