Weekly Newsletter from Christian Vegetarian Association CVA - September 7, 2019
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. Science and Faith (continued): The Value of Religion
  2. All-Creatures.Org Ministry

1. Science and Faith, continued: The Value of Religion

A few weeks back I began a series on science and faith. I expressed concerns about how religion sometimes blinds people to verifiable facts, and this can lead to unwise decisions and unjust practices. Further, institutional religions can neglect their core mission to serve and instead become focused on self-interest and self-preservation. This, for example, can account for the shameful child sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church. Yet, for several reasons, I think religion can serve a valuable role in the struggle for peace and justice.

First, those who share a common faith often have similar values and beliefs that inspire them to work together. This has helped generate great places of worship, hospitals, and universities.

Second, members of religious communities, who are dedicated to each other, can be vital sources of support when members experience personal crises. None of us make it through life without personal crises, which include the loss of loved ones, the end of an important relationship, a health crisis, or a major career upheaval.

Third, religions often teach that we should serve God. This sentiment can inspire people to continue in the struggle for justice even if the short-term prospects are bleak. This is particularly true of animal protectionism, because the forces against animals are so strong. Many animal advocates "burn out" due to repeated failure, but those who see their work as dedicated to God can feel a sense of meaning and accomplishment even if there are no evident tangible changes.

Jesus taught us to work together as a community to serve God. He did not tell his disciples to worship him; he told his disciples to follow him. While faith can bind, it can also blind. Unquestioning faith is easily exploited by charismatic leaders and often leads to harm. The counter-balance is science, which can provide verifiable, reproducible evidence that should guide our choices. A central tenet of science is that no theory is unassailable. Just as any theory in science can be questioned, healthy religious communities permit members to question religious tenets. This can sometimes be uncomfortable, but a religion that does not countenance questioning is a religion that can readily do much harm.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

2. All-Creatures.Org Ministry

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