I'm going to go out on a limb here and post a poem by Australian poet Les Murray.
Given the themes raised in recent posts, I've been trying to articulate my thoughts about religion, but I'm having much difficulty. But speaking very generally and tentatively, my opinion is that current criticisms of religion (articulated by the likes of Dawkins et al.) do raise an important cautionary note about the dangers of unreflexive religiosity and fanaticism. But at the same time, I also feel that these criticisms are somewhat narrow in their insistence on reading religion solely on the modern scientific premises of true/false. If religion deals with 'truth', it does so in a somewhat different manner--this is of course not to say that it is immune to rational inquiry or that it has license to ignore scientific premises.
So how does religion deal with truth then? I can't really answer but I think Les Murray's poem makes a good attempt, even if it raises more questions than it answers. My aim here is not to restart the debate on religion as such but merely to explore new paths of inquiry in a debate that seem to have cloistered [<-- a religious metaphor but quite apt here, I think] itself. Anyway, FWIW:
Poetry And Religion
Religions are poems. They concert
our daylight and dreaming mind, our
emotions, instinct, breath and native gesture
into the only whole thinking: poetry.
Nothing's said till it's dreamed out in words
and nothing's true that figures in words only.
A poem, compared with an arrayed religion,
may be like a soldier's one short marriage night
to die and live by. But that is a small religion.
Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;
like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete
with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?
You can't pray a lie, said Huckleberry Finn;
you can't poe one either. It is the same mirror:
mobile, glancing, we call it poetry,
fixed centrally, we call it a religion,
and God is the poetry caught in any religion,
caught, not imprisoned. Caught as in a mirror
that he attracted, being in the world as poetry
is in the poem, a law against its closure.
There'll always be religion around while there is poetry
or a lack of it. Both are given, and intermittent,
as the action of those birds - crested pigeon, rosella parrot -
who fly with wings shut, then beating, and again shut.
PS: I am not elevating poetry into some special status over science or religion or anything like that. I just think it is helpful to take pause to reflect on words and see what they mirror back at us.