Here is another piece noting the link between a narrative and how it actually makes an empirical difference in the lives of people. Even though the essay is about the recent passing of legislation in Australia regarding the granting or denial of asylum, it certainly touches the issues noted in my recent post. Again, this doesn’t “prove” empirically that God exists or that the narrative leading to the results is “True.” There is no attempt here to create an algebraic syllogism. However, can these types of empirical results and their link to the narrative be seen as signs, clues, nods, or leanings toward the truth explicated and woven through that very narrative? While not the only form of evaluation, again, it is one way of reflecting upon differing narratives and how we might determine their truth.
One can assert that a differing narrative should or could provide the same consequences. That is great in theory, but the question will always be, “But has it?” Can we look at history, or the present day, and draw a direct link between the ideas contained within the narrative and their intended consequences? If we can’t, then one’s talk of what any supposed narrative should or could do is just that, talk.
Here we see the difference between a transcendent view of humanity as opposed to the immanent, secular, and purely material view of humanity. The argument here is not for any one transcendent view (Christianity, Judaism, Islam), but simply for the religious or transcendent view and what it has meant in creating a “hospitable” world, a world that “ought” to be over and against the world that “is.”
Does this mean that all three religious are “True”? No. It means that a certain way of viewing the world has significant and life changing consequences. Should it dispose us toward one religion over the other? No, not on this basis alone. Further, the writer is trying to make a different case, one noting the limitations of secular states, and not as something in favor of a specific transcendental narrative. But it should cause any secular person to reflect upon why it is that these views tend to create a more hospitable world and why opposing narratives have no historical record of doing the same. And by opposing narratives I mean any narrative of a purely materialistic nature—one that holds the physical/material is all there is and thus tied to an epistemology of empiricism. From the essay:
“The religious foundations of hospitality”
“…There are two key theological arguments that often underpin the work of organisations offering hospitality to asylum seekers. The first is God’s love for the whole of humanity. As Timothy Keller has recently argued, it is the transformative power of God’s grace that should inspire Christians to pursue justice on behalf of the poor, oppressed and vulnerable. The second is the sacredness of the human being – the belief that every human is marked with the image of God, establishing a fundamental dignity that cannot be removed or undermined.
Elie Wiesel emphasises the same belief within the Jewish tradition: “Any human being is a sanctuary. Every human being is the dwelling of God – man or woman or child, Christian or Jewish or Buddhist. Any person, by virtue of being a son or daughter of humanity, is a living sanctuary whom nobody has the right to invade.” Muddathir ‘Abd al-Rahim likewise highlights a long tradition of hospitality towards asylum seekers and refugees in Islam coming directly out of the belief that all human beings have been transformed by God’s love and grace and thus possess dignity that makes them worthy of compassion and respect.
These views provide grounding for the universality of human rights that goes beyond the immanent frame of nation-states and is embedded in more transcendental, eternal perspectives. But they also offer additional reasons why religious believers should agree to accord one another dignity and equality – because of their belief in the eternal consequences of such actions, that the lives we live now matter for the future, in both the immanent and the transcendent realms.”