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RELIGIOUS DECONSTRUCTION

Religious deconstruction is a process of breaking down and analyzing the various parts of a belief system and its practices. The goal of deconstruction isn’t to ultimately accept or reject the belief system as a whole, but to assess each element individually. This allows you to decide what you believe without jumping to forgone conclusions or resorting to an all-or-nothing framework.

These are some of the main elements of religion examined during deconstruction and some questions to help you explore them. Remember, it’s not about finding the “right” answers, it's about giving yourself permission to explore.

TRUTH + GOOD/EVIL

 

Philosophers and theologians have been contemplating the nature of good and evil for centuries. Deconstructing this category is less about finding definitive answers and more about using curiosity as we explore things like ultimate truth, why suffering exists, and whether humans are fundamentally good, evil, or neutral. 

 

Explore:

  • Is God good? How can we determine this?

  • Does the world have universal rules of good and evil? 

  • Are good and evil objective (evident and consistent from different perspectives)?

  • How can humans determine what’s good and evil?

  • Are humans born fundamentally good or evil?

  • Are humans fundamentally sinful or do they just exist in a sinful world?

  • Can an evil person become good and vice versa? How?

  • Why is there evil, suffering or pain in the world?

  • Did God create the world intending for evil to happen? Why?

 

DESIGN

 

This category includes our beliefs about the origin of the world, the fate of the world, the meaning of life, the purpose of human existence, and the extent of responsibility that humans have over our choices. Our beliefs about everything from evolution to the end times fall into this category.

 

Explore:

  • How did the universe come into being (creation, evolution, etc)?

  • Are world events unfolding according to a greater plan?

  • Who (if anyone) is orchestrating world events?

  • Is evolution real? Why or why not?

  • How important are humans in the grand scheme of things?

  • Are all humans equal in value?

  • Do humans have agency over their choices?

  • Are humans’ actions predestined or predetermined? 

  • Can humans be held responsible for predetermined actions?

  • Were humans designed to fall into two distinct genders?

  • Were humans designed to be heterosexual?

  • Does God create and then punish people who don’t conform?

 

DIVINITY

 

Not every religious group believes that there is a god or that there is only one God. Deconstructing divinity means investigating the belief system’s “higher power” and questioning thinking like the extent of their power, their character, their motivations, their limitations, etc.

 

Explore:

  • Is there a God or gods?

  • How can humans determine which gods are true?

  • How can humans learn about God? 

  • What does God require from humans (if anything)?

  • Are good or evil spirits the same as gods? 

  • What is God’s character like? Are they good, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc? 

  • Can God’s character evolve as humans evoleve?

 

THE AFTERLIFE

 

Most religious belief systems speculate about what happens to the human body and/or spirit after we die. Deconstructing the afterlife means investigating our assumptions about the finality of death, and deciding what we believe about reincarnation, paradise, eternal punishment, resurrection, etc.

 

Explore:

  • Do the choices we make in life have eternal consequences?

  • What happens to the souls of humans when we die? 

  • Is there a heaven and hell?

  • Do humans get reincarnated?

  • Do non-believers get annihilated after death or go to hell?

  • Is hell a place of eternal conscious torment?

  • What criteria determine what happens to someone after death?

 

DOMINION

 

Deconstructing dominion means questioning how much power and authority we attribute to the things we believe in. Our assumptions about who and what has the inherent right to power (god, scripture, religious leaders, chosen groups, etc.) have major implications for how we interact with the rest of the world.

 

Explore:

  • Does religion hold the ultimate truth?

  • Should God’s desires be carried out on earth?

  • Should religion be involved in politics?

  • Is there a God-ordained hierarchy between genders?

  • Is there a God-ordained hierarchy between types of people?

  • Do humans have authority over the earth and animals?

  • Do religious groups or leaders deserve special power?

 

THE SACRED

 

Most religious groups have practices, objects, and traditions that they consider sacred. Deconstructing the sacred means assessing what makes something sacred, how necessary it is to our beliefs, and how flexible we can be in using it. A few examples are group gatherings, marriage ceremonies, interpreting scripture, and speaking to the divine.

 

Explore:

  • Why do we follow religious practices and traditions?

  • How strictly should religious practices be followed?

  • Is Scripture sacred?

  • Is Scripture inerrant (never wrong)?

  • Who has the right to interpret Scripture?

  • Do sacred events (miracles, signs, prophecies) occur?

  • How can a human know what’s sacred an what’s not?

  • Does prayer have a practical impact on the material world?

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