Can we be open-minded in organized religion?

If we honestly seek the truth, we must be open to any conclusion. This is true of any field, and religion is no exception. Some might argue that if everyone agrees on something then it is probably true. This would mean that blind faith is acceptable. Whether this argument is valid or not, it does not apply to religion for the simple reason that people are nowhere close to a consensus. Therefore, questioning is essential.

Belonging to an organized religion can make questioning difficult because we are afraid to deviate from the mindset of those around us. Although we may be able to question finer points of doctrine, the environment likely makes it difficult to challenge any fundamental assumptions that would effectively preclude us from remaining in the religion. For example, it is hard to question the very existence of God, or the existence of a soul, from within the context of organized religion.

Nevertheless, it is important to question such things. People generally shrink from such uncertainty. They are afraid to challenge their secure world view, a view which is supported by the other members of their religion. The stakes are especially high because religion offers hope, it offers a way out, and therefore to challenge it is to admit the frightening possibility that our path to redemption is not valid. Such a fear-based mindset will get us nowhere. Religion is a search for truth, not a search for security or for pleasure. In any case, believing something simply because we were told it will not bring security: We will always be afraid that our belief is wrong. We must only believe something if we have questioned it and found it to be true.

Uncertainty is present whether we like it or not. Our only choice is whether to ignore it. We may think that blind faith brings security, but the opposite is true. The most secure path is through critical thinking – challenging our assumptions and questioning everything. If we do this, we either confirm our beliefs, or we come up with new and better beliefs. In either case, we will have confidence in them and will know that we have thought about them, rather than simply believing what we were told or what we believed yesterday. In the context of an organized religion, this open-mindedness may not be possible. If we are expected to maintain a certain set of core beliefs, then we dampen the spirit of inquiry. Therefore, although we may find the discussion and company of an organized religion useful, we should never be strongly identified with it. Open-mindedness is the real path to the truth.

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  1. The importance of questioning said,

    July 25, 2008 @ 8:31 am

    […] beliefs threatens this security. In same cases, our religion may discourage such challenges (see Can we be open-minded in organized religion?). However, unless we do question, we will never find the security we seek, because if we are not […]

  2. Tumi Leshabane said,

    April 1, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

    I like this a lot. I am currently reading a book called The sacredness of questioning everything and the first two chapter about questioning God and questioning religion link so well with what you are saying.

    As I tend to be an on again off again Christian, I find it difficult to merge with other Christians who seem so sure about it all. Im currently on again but with a lot of objections ,especially to the core beliefs. Some things I ha
    ve accepted as a mystery and really I can’t say I spend many hours doubting the existence of God. Though when regarding Jesus being the ‘only’ path to redemption, the existence of a hell and the Bible as being law, well my soul objects profusely. Its just that it is difficult to say these things to people around me as it goes against the very core of being a Christian.

    Im glad to hear your opinion. Im curious though, what are your opinions on the Bible, or theology in general?


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