Secularized Christian Belief: Religion is a cultural/human universal

One of these so-called secular accounts that are in fact Christian is the belief that all cultures have a religion. It is simply a secularization of the Christian belief that the biblical God gave religion to humankind, which was transformed into the assumption that religion is a cultural universal during the Enlightenment. This pre-theoretical assumption precedes all empirical research and theory-formation on religion and culture. From the early missionaries to the contemporary anthropologists, no one has ever even doubted that the phenomenon of religion is universal to all cultures. All psychological and sociological and even biological and neurological explanations of religion take this pre-theoretical Christian theological assumption as a starting point. Now, this is hardly scientific, isn’t it? In his book ‘The Heathen in His Blindness: Asia, the West and the dynamic of religion’, Balagangadhara shows that the belief that all cultures have religion has more to do with the structure of the Christian religion than with the nature of human cultures. Furthermore, he develops a theory of religion which reveals that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are at present the only instances of the phenomenon of religion. On top of that, he shows why those belonging to these religions and to the cultures they have created, are deeply inclined to believe that all human cultures must have a religion or at least a world view. The latter belief in the universality of religion is not a scientific hypothesis at all, but a religious doctrine. He also shows that the pagan traditions have a structure that is completely different from that of these three religions. In other words, the semitic religions and the pagan traditions are not variants of the same supposedly universal phenomenon of religion, rather they are different phenomena .

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