Religion Is a Human Construct

What the errors we have discussed in the last few blogs demonstrate is that all organized religion is, to a large extent, a human construct.  Organized religion is the attempt of humans to codify a particular interpretation of God’s communication to us.  This is a worthwhile effort because as the human condition tells us we need to work with others to determine the truth of what God is saying.  What organized religion must understand is their doctrines are not the inspired word of God; they are just the feeble attempts of humans to understand an infinite God.

Catholic Church has its pronouncements from its councils and the popes that it claims are inspired by God just like the Bible.  The Jewish religion has its Mishnah and the Talmud and the Muslims have their Hadith and Sunnah.  Certain groups within these two religions also claim these books, which are interpretations of their holy book (the Torah and the Qur’an), are also inspired by God.  Claiming God endorses a particular interpretation of a holy book is the height of human arrogance.

Another example of the fact that organized religion is a human construct is the way religion reacts to threats to its existence—it reacts just like any other human institution or human being.  As Jeffrey Lockwood states:  “. . .all human organizations . . . have as their primary goal the acquisition and maintenance of power, not the search for and reporting of the truth” [1] and we find evidence of that in religion.  The Catholic Church is always criticized for its action against Galileo and the usual take is that this contest was religion against science.  That might not be the case.  The Catholic Church was in power at that time and it was very involved in the science of astronomy.  The Church did not dispute the observations made by Galileo and in fact they made the same observations.  What they disagreed about was the interpretation of those observations.  At that time the Church decided what was accepted as the truth and when this power was threatened by a young upstart called science, it reacted in very human ways to preserve its power.

Now that science has obtained a considerable amount of power in our society, we see science reacting in a similar fashion when its power is threatened.  It’s version of excommunication is to deny grants, deny scientists time on scientific instruments, deny tenure, and to prevent publishing research that is critical of its tenants such as the Big Bang theory, Darwinian evolution, and human caused global warming.  (For an example, read Seeing Red by Halton Arp.)

What all these problems and faults of religion tell us is if religion was the unadulterated message of God to us, we should see more God like actions by religious groups instead of the fallible human actions we have noted in the last few blogs.  Therefore, we can only conclude that organize religion is very human and should not represent itself as the infallible message of God.  To assert that we know exactly what God meant in his word to us is to ignore all we have learned about the human condition.  It is pride that causes religions to assert they know precisely the mind of God and to maintain they are the one and only true religion.

When Job and his friend were discussing the religious beliefs of their time (how God relates to people on earth and why Job had suffered so much calamity), God ends the discussion with the question:  “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?  (Job 38:2).  While God did seem to side somewhat with Job and against his friends (Job 42:7), God still took Job to task for his beliefs (Job 38:1-2).

Job and his friends are no different than us today.  Each of us believes that we know exactly how God is working with everyone on this earth but because of our human condition, can we really claim to know the mind of God?  Our response should be like Job who stated:  “. . .Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”  (Job 42:3).


[1]   Jeffrey A. Lockwood, Six-Legged Soldiers (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2009), p. ix.

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