How to Choose a Religion VI: Languages of Spirit

In this post I’d like to start exploring religion from a different perspective, using language as a metaphor. I’ve been pulling together my thoughts on this for a couple of months now, and I’ve found that looking at religion in this way resolves the fundamental issues I talked about in my last post on this topic, The Search for Truth, and explains a number of other puzzles about religion such as:

  • What is the purpose of religion?
  • Does it make sense to ask whether a religion is “true”?
  • Are some religions “better” than others?
  • Is it possible to predict the future development of a religion — whether it will grow, change, or wither away?
  • How is the development of a religion changed by contact with other religions?
  • In what ways can religions vary? Are they infinitely variable, or are there limits?
  • Why are the older religions of humanity (shamanism, paganism, etc.) quite similar all over the world, while the newer religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, scientific theories) so different from one another?
  • Why is it that children seem to be natural born pagans?
  • And of course: how do you go about choosing a religion that is best for yourself?

The Metaphor.


Religions and languages have a lot in common, so it’s not much of a stretch to compare the two. They’re both frequently associated with ethnic groups; they are learned by children and used throughout life (and the one you learn in childhood has a powerful effect on how you learn others as an adult); they are distinctive, both defining and defined by the cultures that use them; they are uniquely human; and they change over time.

If you look deeper, you see even more similarities. A language, after all, is not just a list of words; it also consists of rules governing how those words may be combined to create meaning. Similarly, a religion defines a set of rules governing interactions between humanity and Spirit. A speech act (like a sentence) is rule-governed behavior; the rules of the language define which words are allowed, how you can put them together, and what they mean when you follow the rules. A religious act is similarly rule-governed — the religion defines the underlying concepts and tenets that must be accepted, the actions required for a ritual, and what it all means.

Now, the remarkable thing is that a lot more is known about language than is known about religion. Languages are out in the open for everyone to see; they’re used all the time, morning till night; you can observe how children learn them, how people use them, and how they change over time. Perhaps most importantly, it’s easy to see what their building blocks are: words, sentences, and lesser-known things like phonemes and morphemes.

By contrast, religions tend to be little more secret, used somewhat less frequently, and a lot of it goes on in people’s heads, where you can’t see it. Plus, it’s harder to break a religion down into component parts for study. And, of course, it’s hard to really study religions objectively.

Linguists know a lot about language: what its purpose is, whether some languages are better than others, how they can vary, etc. If religion is a lot like language, maybe the answers to these questions can be mapped onto religion.

For example, take the first question: what is the purpose of religion? Well, first we ask: what is the purpose of language? Answer: language’s purpose is to allow humans to communicate with other humans. Well, then, by analogy, religion’s purpose is to allow humans to communicate with Spirit, and Spirit to communicate with humans. In this way, a religion can be thought of as a language of Spirit. Personally I think that’s at least 90% of the purpose of religion, though I’m sure there’s plenty of room for discussion on this point.

All of which is just to say that the answers below are just projections from language onto religion, and the projection might not work in all cases. But it’s a different perspective; and I think it casts a lot of light.

Answers to the Questions

Each of the questions in the list above deserves a whole book’s worth of discussion, maybe even a whole library’s worth. But since I know you’re dying to hear the answers now, I’m going to answer them all quickly in this post, and then discuss them at length in the later posts that will round out this series.

What is the purpose of religion?

The purpose of religion is to allow people to communicate with Spirit, and to allow Spirit to communicate with people. (See above.)

Does it make sense to ask whether a religion is “true”?

No. It makes no sense to ask whether a language is true; it’s just a medium of communication. By analogy, the same is true of religion.

Are some religions “better” than others?

Some languages are better at some things, others are better at other things. Computer languages are very good at allowing people to communicate with computers, but they’re rotten for communicating between people. There is also variation between human languages; some have a rich tense and aspect system (like Latin and English), some have rich noun classification systems (like Chinese and Japanese), etc. Anything can be communicated in any human language, but some can handle certain messages more parsimoniously. By analogy, some religions may be better for some things, and others better at others. But in general, a religion is better if it is rich enough to allow expressive, complex communication with Spirit.

Is it possible to predict the future development of a religion — whether it will grow, change, or wither away?

The short answer is no. The future of languages is determined largely by the forces of history. However, you can say what a language will do under certain conditions. For example, a language will always change over time. And if a language is spread over a large number of people spread out among a number of geographic areas or social strata, it will break apart — first into dialects, and eventually into separate languages. The same is probably true of religions.

How is the development of a religion changed by contact with other religions?

Contact between languages always means cross-pollination. It can be a light contact, such that just a few words are borrowed, or intensive contact, in which both languages are profoundly changed, and may even merge into a new one. The same is probably true of religions.

In what ways can religions vary? Are they infinitely variable, or are there limits?

Languages are extremely variable, but there are limits. All languages have nouns and verbs, for example. Plus, there are some things that are extremely common but not quite universal (like the letter “p”) and others that are relatively uncommon (like the sound “th”). The likelihood is that religions are the same way — some things are universal, others very common, etc. The place to look for these things is in comparative mythology.

Why are the older religions of humanity (shamanism, paganism, etc.) quite similar all over the world, while the newer religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, scientific theories) so different from one another?

Here we come to it. My feeling is that the older religions are more like natural human languages, and the newer ones are more like constructed languages, like Esperanto or computer languages. The reason for this lies in their history. An older religion, like a human language, is the product of tens of thousands of years of development; it has been enriched by contact with other religions, and has had contributions from generations of individual shamans and seers and storytellers. Over the millenia, it’s been shaped into a form the human mind is comfortable with. Younger religions, like constructed languages, are usually made by a small number of people, and so they simply aren’t as rich, and there’s a lot more variation between them.

Why is it that children seem to be natural born pagans?

Children are natural linguists. They seem to come hard-wired with knowledge about how languages work, and how to go about learning them. One of my children was learning nearly eighteen words a day last February and March (yes, we were counting!), when she was just one and a half. Could you do that? (Most people lose this natural linguistic ability at puberty.) I bet children come with the same hard-wired knowledge about religion. If so, and if the older religions are a more natural fit for the human mind, that would explain why children are natural pagans. (If it seems like I’m going too fast, I am! I’m just trying to answer the questions for now; I’m going to revisit this in depth later.)

And of course: how do you go about choosing a religion that is best for yourself?

Imagine if you were going to choose a language to learn. What is your purpose in learning it? Are you urgently in need of just basic communication, so that you can find a bathroom in Paris? Or is this something you want to take your time with, something you want to enjoy and get a lot out of, something you want to use your whole life in all kinds of circumstances? If the former, pick a language that is easy to learn and can help you rapidly. If the latter, pick something with a lot of history and rich linguistic and cultural texture.

The same holds true for religion. If this analogy holds, then picking a religion is not about deciding which one is “true”. It makes no sense to ask whether a religion is true! Instead, ask yourself what you’re going to use the religion for. Different religions are better at different things. If you’re dying and you need faith healing (because medical science says it can’t help you), for goodness’ sake choose a religion that you can learn quickly and has a tradition of faith healing. Christian Science might be just what you’re after. On the other hand, if you want something that can take a lifetime to master, is intuitively satisfying, and can help you in all kinds of life situations, an older religion might be the ticket.

Choose one you can learn, choose one that fits you, choose one in which you can express yourself. Use it to talk to Spirit.

Then let Spirit use your religion to speak to you.

Links to other Posts in this series: How to Choose a Religion I: Intro

29 responses to “How to Choose a Religion VI: Languages of Spirit”

  1. That is one of the most elegant analogies I have ever encountered. It really helped me pull some random thoughts and observations together. I’ve been lurking on your site for a couple of weeks and have to say that many of your observations have resonated with me. This one is especially resonant. Thanks!


  2. I am really enjoying your posts. I wish I’d stumbled in here sooner. This one has a lot of meat. I’m glad to hear you’ll be going into further detail.

    I just finished reading a special issue of Scientific American, all about human evolution. One of the articles in the issue said that human conversation probably first developed with children who were trying to communicate things they didn’t want the adults to know. As those children grew up, their children learned the communication symbols. Another metaphor for religion?


  3. Soul Searching, thanks! Given my background in linguistics, it really was inevitable that I would try to draw the connection. (If you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail… 🙂 ) I’m very, very glad you found it useful.

    Anne, thank you. I’d love to see the background research in the Scientific American article you mentioned. I’ve seen a lot of wild speculation about the origins of language; there’s just no fossil record. 🙂 But it sure would be neat if the first religions were invented by children, as you suggest.


  4. Is there somewhere where you have all the How to Chose a Religion posts gathered together? I’m trying to find them, but I can’t easily find the older ones.


  5. Choose a religion in which you can express yourself to Spirit and then let Spirit use that religion to speak to you.

    I really, really, really, really like that. It cuts through all the bullshit (pardon my expletive) and gets to the meat of the matter.


  6. Kullervo, no, I don’t, I’ve been meaning to for weeks. I will carve out the time later today. My apologies!


  7. […] How to Choose a Religion VII – Languages of Spirit […]


  8. Wow, Jeff. It’s such an obvious way to go about it, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought about choosing a religion based on my own personal needs. duh!

    I’ve recently been drawn towards some kind of meditation, as I feel, I really need to rid myself from a lot of mental baggage, but I haven’t really pursued it much, while in the meantime, I’ve also been feeling kind of lost and religiousless.

    This post has helped me put 2X2 together.


  9. I’m so glad it was helpful, Mahud! Most people think that the only real way to choose a religion is to pick the one that’s true, ignoring what works for them personally. That’s certainly the way I looked at it for a long time. This analogy was a real eye-opener for me, too.

    If you decide to try meditation, do try out the “Meet a Guide” meditation I’ve posted and let me know how it goes! If you’re feeling lost, maybe a guide is just who you need to meet. 😉


  10. […] How to Choose a Religion VII – Languages of Spirit […]


  11. […] In other articles I’ve written at some length about the similarities between religion and language. While the correspondences between them are not perfect, there are a lot of common features. Thus: […]


  12. If we consider religion as a sort of language:

    Hmmm … psychologists/neurologists believe that the brain has a “sensitive period” for acquiring language[s] — if you want to handle a language like a native, you’d better acquire it before puberty: and if something prevents you from acquiring any language whatsoever before puberty (those unfortunate kids locked for years in attics by crazy parents, or the still-extant cases of deaf kids raised in the entire absence of a language they can see), you’ll never acquire even a first language no matter how many lessons you get afterwards.

    So does the brain have a similar “sensitive period” for acquiring religions?

    If you don’t get raised in a religion, or at least “bump up against” a religion —

    or perhaps if your upbringing includes too many tiny and mutually contradictory splinters of too many mutually incompatible/mishandled religions to let your brain make sense of any of them separately or together —

    do you have trouble “getting” even the notion of religion/Spirit/what-have-you?

    In college I knew a young man (I’ll call him “Richard”) whom that would seem to describe. On both sides, his family consisted of several generations of [mostly] homeschooled atheists, with enough atheists also among the neighbors to make a sort of atheist enclave; until going to college, he literally had never known anyone who did anything for a religious reason, and he had not even known the trivia-level stuff that most people know about other folks’ religions (“Christians get baptized, Hindus venerate cows” — that sort of thing … he had not even “picked up” on the fact Christmas had anything to do with anyone but Santa Claus: specifically, that it had something to do with some guy named “Jesus” that his homeschooling parents had very vaguely referred to as an obscure ancient philosopher, and had VERY briefly and selectively quoted for that purpose.

    Even after “Richard” met folks who had cut their teeth on some sort of religion or another, he never quite “got” that there exists —

    not just “religion” as a set of often very odd stories —

    but *different* religions: which command things and prohibit things (and which have different lists of the commanded/prohibited), which tell different and often mutually contradictory stories, etc.

    For example — when he learned that a classmate’s Buddhist sect required vegetarianism, he didn’t understand why this stopped the classmate from sharing a pepperoni pizza with him: because “Richard” didn’t understand how a mere story could command, prohibit, or require anything.

    To “Richard,” the fact that one’s religion commands/prohibits an action just didn’t sound like anything possibly connectable to doing doing/not doing the action —

    so he didn’t understand why his Buddhist friend wouldn’t find it perfectly acceptable to eat meat and then just go on claiming vegetarianism among his co-religionists and perhaps elsewhere — the way that a STAR TREK fan impersonating the vegetarian Mr. Spock at a science-fiction convention would also publicly claim to avoid meat while in fact happily eating it the moment the convention ends and the plastic ears come off.

    (And “Richard” didn’t ever understand why a Jewish friend might feel at all bemused, perhaps even insulted, by receiving, as a Christmas present, a nicely bound and illustrated New Testament … )


  13. That’s a neat story, Kate! I have no idea whether this kind of stunted spiritual development is really possible. The analogy with language rather breaks down at this point, because a language is always used in a human community, but a religion is for communicating with Spirit. A child may be abused and isolated and fail to lay down the neural architecture for language, but (at least in my belief system) a child can never really be isolated from Spirit. There are plenty of intensely spiritual children who grow up in non-spiritual households; my mother and her siblings are good examples. My grandparents were completely uninterested in spiritual matters, but all three of their children grew up to be very spiritual (in completely different ways — one conservative Christian, one liberal Christian, and one… well, mostly Zennish.)


  14. I can only say that Richard *seemed* spiritually “amputated” (not so much “stunted”/starved, but with the “religion chip” just plain missing — and apparently no place to “install” one — although this didn’t make hin anything but a fine person in many, many other ways).

    Though I would not have the presumption to say that Spirit (or whatever word we may use for anything that lies beyond humanity & gives us our ideas of gods and what-have-you) cannot possibly communicate with some folks, neither would I have the presumption to say that it always *does* communicate with everybody … or that everybody always has the equipment to receive its communications. (For all we know, some particular combinations of genes and/or environmental influences could prevent the message from getting through to a particular individual whatever conditions God[s]/Spirit/what-have-you has created/accepted for communicating with life-forms on Planet Earth — something like disconnecting that particular “bio-computer” from the “spiritual Internet,” or even like that story you wrote where using an instataneous-transport device permanently destroyed the physical pathway allowing God to communicate with humans. (Even if we assume that God[s]/Spirit/whatever could choose to miraculously restore all damaged “Internet connections,” that gives no reassurance that He/She/It/They *would* in fact always choose to do so. We do not, after all, entirely know the motives and goals of any non-human entity. Heck, back when I had housecats, half the time I couldn’t even figure out what the *cats* had in mind when they did some of the things they did: so don’t ask me to always figure out the purposes of something that I wouldn’t understand even as far as a kitten would understand this blog-entry.)


  15. Kate, this is a fascinating question. Can there be people with no spiritual connection at all? Most religions would say NO, categorically, and I’d agree, but I have to admit that I have little more than my intuition to go on.

    There’s this wrinkle: I feel that it’s very likely that many parts of what we generally think of as “ourselves” are really parts of Spirit, or at least places where we overlap with Spirit. The word inspiration illustrates this nicely. Ideas that come out of nowhere, inspired ideas, come at least partly from Spirit, I think. Is there anyone on earth who was never struck suddenly with an idea, a thought, a memory…?

    Again, I have no arguments to offer, only my intuition.


  16. Re: “Can there be people with no spiritual connection at all? .. it’s very likely that many parts of what we generally think of as ‘ourselves’ are really parts of Spirit, or at least places where we overlap with Spirit. … Is there anyone on earth who was never struck suddenly with an idea, a thought, a memory…?”

    If it matters — as I recall, the former acquaintance I’ve called “Richard” did claim that this had never happened to him. He didn’t have thoughts “just come” to him at times, as most people do.


  17. Fascinating!


  18. Re the intuitiveness vs. unintuitiveness of different types of religions (or languages) … possibly some people find intuitive — and therefore easy — that which many (or most?) other folks would find amazingly difficult because counterintuitive.

    Real-world example with languages — I studied both Russian and Italian in adulthood: found Russian quite easy, yet found even elementary Italian quite difficult — most language-students have the opposite experience, and find even elementary Russian forbiddingly difficult unless they already speak a language extremely similar to Russian. (And, also in the Russian department, I actually ran into a student who claimed to find Russian far easier for him than his two *native* languages: Spanish and English. Other Russian students, and his teachers and family members corroborated my impression that he spoke terrific, absolutely native-sounding grammatically correct Russian, — which he had studied only for one year, in adulthood — but spoke both his native languages in a noticeably stumbling, dysfluent, grammatically/phonologically “off” way which didn’t sound “native speaker” at all. People joked that “Eduardo’s brain must be hard-wired for Slavic languages” and “he’s a delivery error: somebody ‘upstairs’ obviously misread the shipping label on his soul.” (He himself said that he had never “thought in words” until studying Russian … and that now he thought in Russian!)

    Similarly, we could imagine the same happening with religions: some people (even if only a very few) having much more adjustable, or much less adjustable, “spiritual language acquisition devices” than the rest of the species … which might pose a problem if the locally available “spiritual language[s]” didn’t happen to fit any setting their devices could adjust to.

    To take an extreme example … which you should feel free to use for your science fiction if you like it … what if 95% of _Homo_sapiens_ [or some other sentient species] came hard-wired for some form of paganism but could more-or-less adapt to other modes of spirituality … yet the other 5% of the species came hard-wired for some form of monotheism and could not adapt well — or at all — to a polytheistic environs?
    The oddball 5% might then have to *invent* monotheism, just to stay sane/spiritual!

    They (and their children presumably inheriting the same trait) would have immense motivation to carve out for themselves (possibly not very gently!) a monotheistic society … and then to take monotheism with them wherever members of that society went; remodeling the environment as they went (the human and possibly the non-human enviroment) to make it more “monotheism-friendly” —

    for much the same reason that a society of blind or deaf people would have strong motivation to remodel the environment in certain ways, wherever members of that society settled in large enough numbers to have an influence.

    Of course, neither pattern of cerebral wiring (pro-polytheist or pro-monotheist) would by its mere existence guarantee that “this pattern of wiring matches the way the universe really works” … for that matter, no possible *logical* argument even exists against the possibility (actually raised by C. S. Lewis as an extreme-but-unlikely “fringe” possibility in Chapter 2 of his chilling but well-worth-reading small book/essay THE ABOLITION OF MAN) that accurately perceiving the universe might kill you!

    As Lewis puts it: “The true doctrine might be a doctrine which[,] if we accept[,] we die”: no very surprising sentiment from a faith which has had its share of martyrs.

    (My own analogy — there could, conceivably, exist somewhere in the universe a race of sentients among whom 95% or more have a genetic quirk that will, as a remote side-effect, cause their brain-cells to explode if they ever formulate the thought “142857 x 7 = 999999”:
    the fact of such a latent mental quirk — one day to become lethal when those sentients get far enough with arithmetic — does not of course say one thing either for or against 142857 x 7 equaling 999999 [as in fact it does].)

    By the way … despite or perhaps *because* of the vast creepiness of certain parts of THE ABOLITION OF MAN, in my opinion all Narnia fans ought to read ABOLITION because:
    /1/ the creepy parts very directly explain/demonstrate/warn against some serious evils that Lewis most struggled *against* & that Lewis most recognized as threatening, not just to his form of Christianity, but to humanity and to human life (and its quality) as a whole: in many cases, things that Lewis’ Narnians and their Earthly allies also had to fight.
    /2/ the non-creepy parts (including the whole of the fourth-and-last chapter) show exactly how a man like Lewis could (and did) come to the conclusion that *all* those who strive for basic decency “fight on the side of Aslan” whether they know it or not.
    /3/ the book as a whole has many (MANY!) tie-ins with THE LAST BATTLE: in ways that make that boom more welcome/welcoming/”deal-with”-able even (or especially) for non-Christians like me and you.

    So you *may* find THE ABOLITION provides very useful (if challenging/disturbing) background info as we collaborate on THE WARDROBE TAROT —

    note that you can read all of that very short book for free on-line at (where a footnote somewhat sheepishly explains: “Posted by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, March 2002, because the book is only in print sporadically” … I will leave it to the Club, not to us, to work out intellectual-property issues if Lewis’ estate gets wind of that and pays them a call.)


  19. […] quoted saying this before: “Different religions are better at different things” (How to Choose a Religion VII: Languages of Spirit). I think that seems to be the case here. Of course, Monotheistic religions promote a love and […]


  20. Kate: your acquaintance ‘Eduardo’ who appeared out of place: I can tell you unequivocally that his experience is totally contradicted by every linguistic theory out there. It qualifies as “magic”. Personally it makes me believe even more strongly in reincarnation. 🙂

    It is indeed logically possible that we might die if we ever figured out the truth about the universe. There’s a great Larry Niven story that plays with this idea; I wish I could remember the name of it… The funny thing is that I suspect it’s quite true in a sense: if we ever found out the truth, our old “selves” would certainly come to an end, in the sense that it would change us perhaps beyond recognition. But then, change is happening all the time. Our five-year-old selves are quite dead. That child is really gone forever, and I’m sure any parent would agree with me, it’s a real loss.

    And I will definitely check out “The Abolition”. Thanks for the link!


  21. And … as it happens, I also believe in reincarnation … and have believed in it since *before* I knew it had a name. (Ask me sometime — privately — how a small but strange event in my own adult life got my dad believing in it too: he saw the event, and could not find any other reasonable explanation, despite his lifelong tendency to avoid all sorts of “mumbo-jumbo” as he calls such things.)

    Re “Eduardo” — as far as I know, he never found any reasonable explanation for his (shall we say) unusual pattern of linguistic abilities and deficits: because (as you say) according to all theories a guy like “Eduardo” shouldn’t happen, nobody in the linguistics department really wanted to talk about it very much (even to him).


  22. Re:

    ” … a child can never really be isolated from Spirit. There are plenty of intensely spiritual children who grow up in non-spiritual households … ”

    It may happen (again, just going by a few things I’ve seen) that some “non-spiritual households” differ from others, in how open they leave the possibility of their children’s eventually installing (or even wanting to install) a “spirituality chip.”

    A “non-spiritual household” where the parents go in for atheism/agnosticism out of a sincere striving for honesty and the fitness of things

    (perhaps even on purely pragmatic grounds: the parents don’t wish to believe anything unsupportable, and they don’t wish to instill in children anything that the adults don’t themselves believe)

    may leave things open for the kids to choose a more recognizably “spiritual” path later on
    (if the kids’ own quests for honesty and “fitness of things” leads them to such a path) …

    but another household

    (which might equally identify as “non-spiritual” —
    OR which might actually label itself by some religious/spiritual path or other)

    may *not* leave things open,
    if the home climate trivializes the whole subject

    (e.g., by treating it on the level of a hobby or social grace
    something done for amusement/social conformity/convenience, and therefore laid aside at the least inconvenience)

    This would describe “Richard’s” family — among non-atheists, it would also typify a fair number of upper-/middle-class American families that verbally identify with/give vague “lip service” to some of the more lukewarm varieties of Christianity or Judaism but have a “house rule of etiquette” stating that “decent people never talk about religion [or sex or politics.]” So “being Christian” in such a family may mean “gathering once a year around a Christmas tree, and then watching THE NUTCRACKER SUITE or IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” — or analogous once-a-year lukewarmnesses for “being Jewish” if the family identifies that way instead —

    but woe betide any chuld growing up in such a family who actually feels drawn to, and takes a serious stab at trying to learn and perform, any more substantial bits of what the family ostensibly “believes in” (let alone feeling drawn to/learning/performing anything that the family does *not* claim it believes in). I would give examples, but I suspect you can supply some from your own observation over the years.


  23. Very true, Kate. The second situation you describe seems particularly insidious.


  24. […] How to Choose a Religion VII: Languages of Spirit […]


  25. Re:
    “It makes no sense to ask whether a language is true; it’s just a medium of communication. By analogy, the same is true of religion.” —

    One can nevertheless use a language to say untruths (e.g., “Pigs always fly on Tuesdays because the sea is sometimes boiling hot”) or nonsense (“Colorless green ideas sleep furiously during the invisible pink unicorn diagonally from the twelfth Thursday of every week.”)

    More prosaically, a language can make it difficult NOT to speak untruths in the language. E.g., a language which used a phrase for “unimportant and immoral adult” as the only way to say “woman” would make it VERY difficult to describe any woman as important and/or moral! (Though I made up that particular example, several books on Tibet inform me that the Tibetan language similarly uses the phrase “low-born” as its way to say “woman” — similar enough to my “unimportant/unvirtuous” example, if Tibetan Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation regard one’s social position in this life as the result of one’s good or bad conduct in previous lives)

    So .. just as one can use any language to tell outright lies (or to speak sheer nonsense, or to prevent the communication of important facts), it seems to me VERY probable that one can also use any *religion* to present to other believers (or to try presenting to God/Spirit/Whatever) an outright lie, a bit of sheer nonsense, or anything that contravenes/prevents expressing some vital truth.

    What do *you* think?


  26. Kate, I completely agree. It is possible to use any language to confuse and mislead, rather than communicate; and any religious system can be used the same way. Furthermore, many languages are structurally lacking in one way or another — it may be impossible for ANY language to be constructed such that every possible thought can always be clearly expressed, and some languages may be more susceptible to corruption than others; and religions are the same way.

    None of which is to say, of course, that one should give up language or religion. As with any powerful tool, they’re best used with care. 🙂


  27. […] How to Choose a Religion VII: Languages of Spirit […]


  28. […] since I posted the previous essay in this series, Languages of Spirit, I’ve had a surprising number of page hits from people putting this question into Google. I […]


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