Why People Believe or Not, And Where Differences Take Us Next
From ancient myths to the world’s great religions, Dr. Shearer expands our knowledge of how humans perceive, think, and shape our relationships with the Divine. Toward Interfaith Harmony: Why People Believe or Not, and Where Differences Take Us Next teaches that by understanding ourselves, we dare to transcend mere tolerance and celebrate the differences that make us whole.
Toward Interfaith Harmony: Why People Believe or Not, and Where Differences Take Us Next offers new perspectives in exploratory theology and religious thinking. It considers answers to the broad questions: What is religion? How does religious belief serve our needs? How did we come to the diversity of faiths found throughout our world today? How do we deal with our differences, and what can we find in common to bring us together?
A growing discipline is the study of religion as “neuro-theology,” a nascent exploration of the biological bases for human “spirituality.” Dr. Shearer explains the evidence, but stresses it is but one facet of complex processes that also include psychology, sociology, historical mythology, intellectual theology, and a range of influences from culture to environment. Toward Interfaith Harmony: Why People Believe or Not, and Where Differences Take Us Next demonstrates how these factors and more have worked together to bring humanity to our current ways of perceiving and believing. It offers a simple-to-follow integrated whole for examining one’s self and understanding others.
The book begins with succinct explanations of psychological processes, including the differences between feelings, thoughts, and actions. Introducing contexts leading to religious understanding, it explores how the mind perceives, extrapolates, and projects in the formation of the superstitions and myths that lead to complex belief systems. With examples from world history, it moves readers through the social and organizational dynamics of political systems that institutionalize faiths, thus affecting all aspects of human society. Included is a broad overview of how our dominant religions have grown and now thrive, how they adapt to perpetuate and compete, and how individuals respond both positively and negatively. It helps us understand how our responses can range from hostile fundamentalism to casual new-age spirituality.
In postulating more than a biologically based need for religion, Dr. Shearer details commonalities across all cultures, including a detailed look at many essential tenets readers are sure to recognize. He focuses on the basic desire for social justice in its unlimited myriad forms, then identifies the proven approaches guiding many successful congregations today.
In this age when many are seeking answers outside the framework of organized religion—a time when populations fear zealotry as a threat to their very lives—Dr. Shearer looks beyond what goes wrong to learn what fosters right, even as he finds hope and the most exquisite beauty in our world’s religious diversity.
Toward Interfaith Harmony: Why People Believe or Not, and Where Differences Take Us Next calls for an understanding of our potential for greater good, challenging each of us to answer the most poignant question of all: How big is your circle of love?