The good, the true, and the beautiful. These are known as the “transcendentals“. Philosophers as early as Plato and Aristotle recognized and lived with these realities in mind. The idea of verifiable truth, recognizable beauty, and affirmable goodness were foundational pillars to having meaning and purpose in life. One must have an understanding of each of these if we are going to answer large questions of life such as: what is real? what is right? what is lovely? The reality is we all believe things to be true, see certain actions as good, and recognize the beauty around us. The difference is in how we determine those things, which really took a shift about 100 years ago.
In the late 19th and early 20th Century, society’s thinking seemed to take a turn in thinking about the true, good, and beautiful. You see, transcendentals by definition are nonphysical. They extend beyond our sensory experiences and thus are considered immaterial or spiritual. And that is where human understanding of our world shifted. The overwhelming consensus (at least in the West) began to emerge that matter is all that exists. Matter is all there was, is and ever will be. Along with this material-only way of understanding our world, arose the narrative that religion (ways of seeing the world that included “transcendentals”) may not be all that good for us. Actually, religion may be harmful, evil, and bad for human flourishing. But what if that were not true?
This is just one data point Mark Clark brings up in his article “Think Again: Why Religion is Good for Us?“. The narrative of religion (especially Christianity) as bad for us, has almost taken on unquestionable truth. However, Clark points out several reasons we should reconsider that assumption. He includes numerous resources and lists 16 more reasons why religion is actually good for us. The observations range from education, to sex, to crime rates, and health benefits.
This topic has intrigued me for the last few months. While truth is of utmost importance, I am beginning to see that our culture, while struggling deeply to know what is or is not true, cannot even ask the question of truth without first considering the goodness of a teaching or concept. This is one reason why I am hoping to teach on the subject “Is Christianity Good?” this coming fall. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the benefits of religion for us. Do you believe religion is good for us? Or is it bad? Is it just one or the other is has religion contributed both good and evil to our current context?
As always I’d love to hear from you and encourage you to be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day.
Until Next Time…