We live in a world of amazing complexity. In spite of that (or maybe because of that), religious truths are laughably trivial. Is the finitude of the individual the reason for this embarrassing mediocrity of the religions? Let me make my point with a short piece of fiction.
The problem with religions is that they are too simple. Creation of the universe and of life; relation between gods and men; the fate of everything; for all those issues, religions give trivial answers.
Sometimes, religious questions even look complex, but transubstantiation, miracles, soul-body relation, the paradox between God’s omniscience and human’s freewill are only philosophical dramas when hold by scholastic hands of theologians with all their affection for circular and hermetic reasoning.
Upon scrutinity, however, the most complex rituals and lifelong sacerdotal dedications only disguise trivialities, dressing them as exoteric wisdom. The most involved analysis of the most rigorous Cabalist will only reveal formulas already known, maybe with new pompous words.
And it gets even worse down the road: the faith of the simple layman does not care about those metaphysical elucubrations. It is only a matter of invoking magic powers of divine beings and everything is possible, even the impossible.
Then, here is my the question: religions are simple, too simple for my taste. Everything under their magic lenses is easy to understand. And this is by itself paradoxical: is it not contradictory that the world, with its infinite multiplicity of things, facts and relations, could be so trivially explained?
This embarrassing mediocrity of the religions is a reflection of the finitude of the individuals. Their fallible memories, their limited reasoning and language, their short life spans make impossible to build any explanation minimally worth of the complexity of the universe.
But it is not completely true that there are no exceptions among the religions. There is one that stands out and work to overcome the limitations of individual beings.
Its followers have been spread around the world for centuries, maybe millenia. Each one of these individuals, far from knowing a complete system of myths and rituals, only knows an infinitesimal part of that his religion as a whole knows. Most of time, this infinitesimal part corresponds to the efforts of a whole life of dedication and study.
No one of these individuals knows the entire religious truth. They couldn’t know not even if they wish to do so. Maybe, if life were counted in centuries, not in years, and if memory did not succumbed under the weight of thousands of libraries, then a single priest would be able to grasp a bit more than an infinitesimal of his religion.
The complexity of that system is so imposing that many followers do not even know that they are holders of the religious knowledge. Unpretentious hosts, they only pass this knowledge ahead.
Generation after generation, thousands of priests meditate, follow rituals, and teach. Even when two of them occasionally join into a discussion, they only lose themselves in a borderless labyrinth of contradictory and confusing reflexions, as their knowledge only holds meaning when seen as a whole, which is just impossible for them.
I admire these determined however blind priests. But if no concrete knowledge, no moral lesson, no spiritual comfort can be derived from their religion, why do they still nurture and teach it?
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