We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Roots of Religion

All religions are inextricably bound to the social, spiritual, and cultural milieux from which they arose and in which they developed.  It is not prophets who create religions   Prophets are, above all, reformers who redefine and reinterpret the existing beliefs and practices of their communities, providing fresh sets of symbols and metaphors with which succeeding generations can describe the nature of reality.  Indeed, it is most often the prophet's successors who take upon themselves the responsibility of refashioning their master's words and deeds into unified, easily comprehensible religious systems.

Reza Aslan
No god but God (Random House Trade Paperback edition, 2011)
page 17