Monday, June 6, 2011

How do we know, and How do we know we know?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Recently, a Huffpost Religion article featured Archbishop Desmond Tutu's latest book, entitled, God Is Not A Christian: And Other Provocations. The article quotes The Reverend Tutu as saying:

"My first point seems overwhelmingly simple: that the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong. The chances are very great that if you were born in Pakistan you are a Muslim, or a Hindu if you happened to be born in India, or a Shintoist if it is Japan, and a Christian if you were born in Italy. I don't know what significant fact can be drawn from this -- perhaps that we should not succumb too easily to the temptation to exclusiveness and dogmatic claims to a monopoly of the truth of our particular faith. You could so easily have been an adherent of the faith that you are now denigrating, but for the fact that you were born here rather than there."

I think this is a very worthy idea to consider. Clearly, our biography determines (too strong a word?) our theology; so can our travel ("How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm after They've Seen Paree").

Which points to this truth: There is a deep sociological aspect both to our faith experience and to our dogmatic inclinations. Said another way, within our given world-view (the world given to us) we feel secure, but this world is actually comprised of huge assumptions and the action of socialization. 

What this opens to us is the true dynamic of the post-modern problem -- that of epistemology: How do we know, and How do we know we know?