Posts Tagged ‘Charter for Compassion’

the future of religion

Earlier this year, I read Sam Harris’ The End of Faith, in which the renowned atheist called for an end to religious belief on account for the evil it makes us all do to each other. All religion, Harris argues, is at best fundamentalist and sectarian by nature (claiming it is the sole path to paradise/God/life), and at worst militant and violent against non-believers. The solution, Harris argues, is a putting to rest the childish fairy tales of religion — “to close the door on a certain style of irrationality” — in favor of a goodness and compassion drawn from our being human.

While there are certain truths to Harris’ plea, he forgets that while we are beyond the days of Christendom — where Christian faith is taken for granted in the West — complete secularism has also been tried, and has failed.  In other words, places like Western Europe have attempted to live free of religious faith and spirituality, and people keep running back to their God or gods.  Why is that?

Which brings me to Karen Armstrong’s TED Talk (HT: Steve Knight and the Shearons) earlier this year.  Armstrong, a former nun who has written extensively on religions and the role they play in society, has recently turned her attention to the unifying elements of the major world religions.  What she found was that in all major world religions lies one central truth: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” (or its negative variant, “don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them doing to you”)  In short, Armstrong believes that we could have the possibility of a much more sane and peaceful world by pointing out and reclaiming our religions from fundamentalism that would stray from those things which bind us together.  OK, enough of a teaser … I hope you’ll take a few minutes and watch her 21-minute TED Talk, posted below. I found myself nodding along throughout. (as opposed to nodding off) It’s worth your time, if you have it. If not, why? =)

What do you think?  Is she crazy?  Does this scare you just a little bit?  Sound off.