Saturday, 23 June 2012

The 38,000 Club

It occurs to me that the Creator of the Universe is not lacking in bandwidth. By all accounts he is communicating daily with followers all over the planet.
Thing is, I'm apt to wonder whether the comms are quite as clear cut as we might hope for? For example just dwell on the following statistic; there are 38,000 denominations within Christianity alone. Let that one settle for a moment if you will. The Lord appears to revealing his "absolute truth" in a variety of ways, many of which appear to differ from the "absolute truth" revealed to other Christian sects.
In some cases disagreements in doctrine are minor, whilst in others there is a vast gulf in ideas that have given us such delights as the crusades and the inquisition. A modern day example of division could be the 7 day Creationists vilifying the "Intelligent Design" movement, the latter believing that God used evolution to shape humanity. There are differences over the acceptance of Gays, of female clergy, of theology, and these have real effects in the real world.
Now rewind for just a moment. 38,000 variety's of the same faith is a lot of disagreement. Point is, what is the more likely here; is God deliberately giving mutually contradictory "truths" to different denominations, or is it more likely that each and every person who has ever claimed to have received divine revelation has simply received their message from somewhere inside their brains?
I can see arms being flung into the air as I type. No! God has spoken to me! I can feel his presence, he guides me daily. The message is from beyond rather than within.
Really? Really? What makes you so sure? Where's your evidence?
Let me guess; certain things have happened that could only have been from God? A job at the right time perhaps? A healing from some malignancy? Some sign or other just at the perfect moment?
Here's my take. Humans are pattern seeking mammals. We have a facility called hyperactive agency detection, which is simply to say we actively seek to detect patterns in our own experience. So if you're a Christian and you get that job it was a gift from God; read the same for that car parking space, or the time you found your wedding ring after praying etc. What I'm suggesting is that if we we already believe something we are more inclined to go on believing it and find ways to do so.
So back to the question of 38,000 distinct revelations. Taking the above into account what is the more likely. That a God has deliberately infused confusion amidst his faithful followers, or that certain cultures merely imbibed a basic message and then began installing there own "truths"?
In computer terms it's called a software update. You add stuff on. It doesn't mean for a second that the basic message has any truth to it; merely that you've run with an idea and now you're decorating it with your own personality.

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