ControversialCaleb South on September 4, 2016 at 2:01 am
One way I’ve heard it described is that religions do change and progress, but a few decades behind the rest of society. Even if this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, I think it’s an interesting way to frame the issue, at least in the U.S. It would mean that there is always hope for change, but that religions won’t ever “catch up” and be in line with the mainstream. This way of describing it isn’t very charitable to religion, of course, which usually isn’t as antiquated or backwards as some people like to claim. However, I do think that most religions have a conservative bias, and I might argue that this is even the way it ought to be. Religion (as I know it, at least) is heavily reliant on tradition, including sacred texts, liturgy, and social beliefs which must be able to be transmitted from one generation to another. Many of the things I like best about my religion are centuries old, and haven’t changed too much since then. That said, my religion has progressed quite a lot, and I hope it continues to do so—without changing too much.
Many religions are anchored in long-practiced traditions, customs, beliefs, and ideas. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism have all been practiced for thousands of years. Over time, as our world evolves and changes, new beliefs, values, and perspectives can create tension between long-practiced traditions and customs.
These tensions give rise to new religions as well as reform within religions themselves. These reforms can be slow and conflict-loaded processes resembling very closely movements of social change within society: Some want to hold on to the status quo, while others want to see certain changes. Nevertheless, both identify strongly with the religion (or society) as a whole.
Should religions stay fixed or should they evolve with time? If they remain unchanged, how do religions survive the changing times? If they change over time, how can religions strike a balance between upholding traditions and customs and embracing new values and beliefs?
Please share your views about these issues, and explain what particular changes you would like to see or you would like to avoid in religions you are familiar with.