I love biscuits. Grands Biscuits in particular. Their soft, buttery, flaky exteriors make my mouth water just thinking about them. Slather on a little butter and strawberry jam, and I’m in heaven.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Biscuits? Those bready, golden balls of delicious goodness? Bueller?
If you live in the United States, you’re almost certainly familiar with this imagery. But if you’re from the United Kingdom, you might need some further context.
You see, biscuits over there aren’t necessarily what they are on this side of the pond. Biscuits in the UK can take on the general form of what we know them as here in the US, but they can also take on a different form: a sweet ball of dough cooked with a variety of different possibilities, including nuts or chocolate chips. We in the US know them as cookies. So, if you go over to the UK and ask for a biscuit without providing context, there is indeed a possibility that somebody will roll up with a cookie.
(Either case is a win, right?)
“No, no, no,” you say, “I asked for a biscuit.”
“Why, this is a biscuit!” the UK citizen explains.
Brow furrowed, you say, “No… this is a cookie.” At which point the UK citizen sighs and explains the misunderstanding. Silly Americans…
Dualism is an abstract idea of this versus that. Black versus white. Light versus dark. Cookie versus biscuit. And dualism is a pervasive concept in the world of religion. If you’re a Muslim, then you’re not a Christian. If you’re a Hindu, then you’re not a Buddhist. The general idea here is pretty simple: only one can be right.
Now, I come from and write from a Christian background, so I’m sure my fellow Jesus freaks know this idea quite well. Many churches preach an evangelistic message that we need to “win over” people to Christ. The sentiment isn’t particularly a bad one as there’s a lot of great stuff about the Jesus tradition, especially from a moralistic perspective.
The challenge with this idea is that we’re working off some pretty big assumptions, and that biggest assumption’s name is the Bible. If you take the Bible literally (and let’s not delve into what “literally” means right now), then you assume God verbally spoke to people, and those people wrote down what God said into what we know as the books of the Bible.
The issue with that is, well, nobody in living memory has been able to provide concrete evidence that that ever happened. Not saying it couldn’t have happened, but nobody since the invention of the tape recorder has ever gotten God to go “on the record.”
So, we can’t definitively say these people heard from God, but what else can we say about them? At the very least, we can say these people had some kind of personal experience that led them to conceive of what we know in the Bible. It may have been a burning bush, or it may have been that Moses was burning some “bush,” if you know what I mean. We don’t know which it was. All we know is that it was something.
Which leads us to question similarities with other worldviews and religions. From the Christian perspective, we’re generally taught that other religions are fictitious and made up by delusional people across history. We point to the inerrancy of the Bible as our shield in this arena and call it a day.
Interestingly, we label these other worldview and religious experiences as nothing more than personal experiences.
If you strip away the unfounded inerrancy of the Bible, all we have left is a series of personal experiences that came to form Christianity as we know it. Which leaves us with a big question, THE big question posed by dualism:
What makes the personal experiences that founded Christianity BETTER than the personal experiences that formed every other religion?
There’s not really a way to answer that question.
From a dualistic perspective, somebody always has to be the crazy one. Either Hindus are right and Christians are crazy, or Muslims are right and Buddhists are crazy. It’s a pretty bleak perspective.
Or what if we’re calling biscuits “cookies” and cookies “biscuits”?
What if dualism is wrong and everybody’s personal experience point to the same thing?
What if Allah and Yahweh are the same entity? What if the many gods of Hinduism are just the many aspects of one… thing?
Now, your mind might explode and find dualistic details of each religion that don’t match to one another, and my best explanation for that is that everybody probably screwed up on some level along the way. For the first year I dated my now wife, I earnestly thought her birthday was December 7 instead of the true December 4. If I earnestly screwed that up, who’s saying we didn’t screw something up about religion?
(Side bar: As this is being published, it is December 3, so you know my wife’s birthday is tomorrow. I made her a cheesecake, and not being a chef, I’m pretty dang proud about it and have to show it off.)
You’re probably wondering, then, why stick with the Jesus tradition, then? That merits a much longer post, but in short, I find Christianity to be a pretty solid worldview. It contains a lot of wisdom in the moral and practical perspectives, and I genuinely don’t find it to conflict with science at all. (Hint: You need to get away from biblical inerrancy in order to make that work.)
Let’s go ahead and wrap it up there. Catch you in the next post!