Flexibility in region has been one of its strongest allies when it comes to conversion – especially when the religion you are talking about is Catholicism. I find this strange, especially if you are a Christian who believes and teaches that the bible and your traditions are the result of a one true and infallible God. To me a religion’s ability to change, fundamentally change, in order to gain followers at any cost is more evidence religion is more about power and an innate desire to belong than it is proof religion is a supernatural phenomena.
For example, while I was in Guatemala, we ran across church after church which had implemented aspects of the Mayan faith in order to gain acceptance of the Catholic church by the local residents. The result is an almost hybrid tradition of Mayan legends, imagery, and stories seamlessly integrated with Catholicism. Sometimes to the point where the former Christian and/or Mayan tradition is almost unrecognizable as its original form. Yet, the Catholic church completely accepts them as Christians and proud members of the church body – a further extension of the power of the Vatican. If there is one true religion, on true law passed down by a supernatural God, then do these hybrids qualify?
Human NOT Supernatural
The fact that most of the world shares a belief in a supreme and supernatural power, but cannot agree upon which supernatural power is “right” leads me to believe that the answer lies within ourselves rather than the supernatural.
It is natural to desire a feeling of transcendence and connection – even if that means making up a religion, a God, or a tradition to develop that connection. Native American tribes did it, the Romans did it, and so has everyone else – the one difference – no one agreed about who is really in charge up there.
Similarly with the Catholic/Mayan hybrids these developments were for people – no the supernatural. They were designed to recruit followers, to empower the already powerful church – NOT to celebrate a strict set of laws written in the Bible.
I get it
I want to draw a clear distinction in my argument. I am not arguing that what the Catholics did was wrong, nor am I arguing that their conversion tactics somehow violated the laws of their religion. Rather, I am arguing that this sheds light to the fundamental nature of mankind and their desire to follow a group. Whether one worships a Mayan, Christian, or Sky God makes little difference as long as the need for community and transcendence is fulfilled.
It seems to me that if there were one true God and religious law there wouldn’t be so much variety in religious experience. If God created men, revealed himself, and created a natural instinct to know him wouldn’t we all be Christian’s by default? However, this isn’t the case.
Native Americans, Mayans, Buddhists, Christians etc. had no inclination each other existed before they bumped into each other throughout history. They had no idea that one group served multiple Gods while another served one. There was no feeling of wrongness for their beliefs, no questioning. This variety of belief, even in geographically close proximity, is evidence religion is a human creation not supernatural one.