Often in life people of good will find it very difficult to understand or even tolerate the other let alone find areas of agreement. Upon closer analysis when one understands the core beliefs of people their opinions and actions become far less perplexing. This is important because once understood we can more easily anticipate certain views even those views that are in opposition to what we may hold as being true. Let’s categorize and extrapolate some conclusions.
Those who claim to need more proof to believe in God, don’t believe in God or are against those who espouse a belief in God conclude the following:
We can only theorize how the physical universe came to be. The only explanation for life on earth is that complex life evolved via natural selection to more complex life over millions of years. When one is taught this and comes to believe that it is true certain consequences will eventually occur. The existence of physical laws cannot be denied therefore science and what can be discovered i.e. proven become the standard. Therefore religious faith is categorized as a myth and a crutch. The elite and intellectuals gravitate towards this position as sons and daughters of the age of reason. They being uniquely gifted need to acquire positions of influence in order to impart this wisdom to the unassuming masses. This is done via enacted policy in the public sector, entertainment, education and control of the media. Since God does not exist what becomes legal or politically correct to the masses is interpreted as what is right since divine standards of behavior have been rejected. With no God those holding these views become the standard for what is and is not permitted in society. Social mores can be challenged and changed to suit the whims of the enlightened. Since God does not exist there will be no consequences to ones actions after death. Just eternal sleep. With this view Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mother Teresa and Billy Graham…you and I all go to the same place. This is the ultimate equality of outcomes. They often expect the same in this life and when ‘things’ occur not to their liking they may have issues coping. What we do in this life really does not matter just so we please ourselves and do whatever we want. Ultimately everyone gets away with everything. Critical thought is discouraged and conformity to humanistic values encouraged. What folks will never hear from the ideologues, who tell them what to think, is the absence of Creator and creative action could NEVER result in everything that exists in the physical universe. Equipped with the belief that we are evolutionary accidents and life has no real meaning hopelessness encroaches as one approaches death. What the brilliant among these ranks NEVER tell those they influence is those who hold this view will NEVER be rewarded and can NEVER be proven right because when they die all dies with them. There can NEVER be hope for something much better beyond this existence.
Throughout history people believing in a higher power thought they could please the deity by following ritualistic, legalistic and exclusionary behavior. Those who tend to be more ritualistic believe the performance of certain rituals pleases the higher power. The existence of rituals can be found in most faiths but some adherents believe the strict observance of these rituals is necessary for their salvation.
Other faiths can be legalistic. This means there is an observance and interpretation of not only scriptural laws but texts that interpret scripture and at times other texts that interpret the interpretations. They believe not only the scripture is inspired but also the other texts provided by their religious leaders. Since these texts are written to ensure group conformity in terms of observance these non-scriptural commentaries are also legalistically followed and applied.
There are also those who believe in and follow ideologies that exhibit exclusionary behavior. This faith has rituals to be followed and can be legalistic in its application. What makes this different is its stated doctrine concerning others. The ideology that exemplifies exclusionary behavior more than any other faith is Islam.
Islamic law embraces a dualistic approach in its application of its laws regarding others. Allah loves believers but not unbelievers. Muslims are slaves of Allah but Kafirs should be slaves of Muslims. Kafirs rule the Dar al Harb [House of war] while Muslims rule the Dar al Salam [House of Peace]. Kafirs are told Islam is the religion of Peace, but Islam conquered Kafir lands with the sword. The Rashidun Jihad brought fidelity to the infidels, but the Crusades were unjust and evil. Muslims are to be truthful to one another but may deceive the Kafir. The Kafir must tolerate Islam but a Kafir who criticizes Islam can be killed. Those who believe Jesus is the Son of God are unbelievers who are condemned, but those who believe Jesus is a prophet of Allah are believers. Jews are God’s chosen and the ‘apple of his eye’ in the Bible, but Jews became loathed sons of apes and monkeys in the Qur’an and Sunna. Muslims are friends of each other to the exclusion of Kafirs. There is no compulsion in religion yet apostates are to be killed. Adultery is a punishable sin UNLESS a Muslim has sex with a captured married woman. Lying, stealing and murder are wrong UNLESS these acts defend or advance Islam. Jews and Christians are People of the Book yet their desired status in an Islamic society is as a Dhimmi. Allah’s Qur’an is a preserved tablet yet ayah’s [verses] can be abrogated. Islam is a religion of peace yet Allah terrorizes Islam’s enemies. Islam demands toleration when in the minority but forces non-Muslims to abide by Shari’a when they assume power.
On the other hand, Biblical Christianity de-emphasizes participation in rituals. It encourages not only Church attendance but involvement in weekly Bible studies and training in outreach and missionary work not only in ones community but throughout the world. The model for Biblical Christianity is the life of Jesus and the behavior of the Apostles in the Book of Acts. Jesus and the Apostles did not build a structure and tell the faithful to come visit them once per week. Rather they emphasized knowledge of the scriptures and missionary outreach just like Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament. Services consist of uplifting contemporary Christian music and instructional preaching. Pastors tend to dress like the congregants to convey that they are sinners like everyone in the Church and their salvation is solely dependent in the belief that Jesus died for us and his atoning death bought pardon for us. Relationship with Christ not religion is stressed. Church membership is dependent on repentance and Baptism. Anyone who asks forgiveness, no matter the act, is granted forgiveness by way of the grace bestowed through Jesus our Lord.