It is the divine in man that gives origin to his unselfish interest in the welfare of other men. But since personality is unique – no two mortals being alike – it inevitably follows that no two human beings can similarly interpret the leadings and urges of this spirit of divinity which lives within their minds. A group of mortals can experience spiritual unity, but they can never attain philosophic uniformity. And this diversity of the interpretation of religious thought and experience is shown by the fact that twentieth-century theologians and philosophers have formulated upward of five hundred different definitions of religion. In reality, every human being defines religion in the terms of their own experiential interpretation of the divine impulses emanating from the God spirit that indwells them, and therefore must such an interpretation be unique and wholly different from the religious philosophy of all other human beings.
When one mortal is in full agreement with the religious philosophy of a fellow mortal, that phenomenon indicates that these two beings have had a similar religious experience touching the matters concerned in their similarity of philosophic religious interpretation.
While religion is a matter of personal experience, it is most important that you should be exposed to the knowledge of a vast number of other religious experiences (the diverse interpretations of other and diverse mortals) to the end that you may prevent your religious life from becoming egocentric — circumscribed, selfish, and unsocial.
Rationalism is wrong when it assumes that religion is at first a primitive belief in something which is then followed by the pursuit of values. Religion is primarily a pursuit of values, and then there formulates a system of interpretative beliefs. It is much easier for humans to agree on religious values –- goals, than on beliefs — interpretations. And this explains how religion can agree on values and goals while exhibiting the confusing phenomenon of maintaining a belief in hundreds of conflicting beliefs. Religion persists in spite of revolutionary changes in religious beliefs. Theology does not produce religion; it is religion that produces theologic philosophy.
That religionists have believed so much that was false does not invalidate religion because religion is founded on the recognition of values and is validated by the faith of personal religious experience. Religion, then, is based on experience and religious thought; theology, the philosophy of religion, is an honest attempt to interpret that experience. Such interpretative beliefs may be right or wrong, or a mixture of truth and error.
The realization of the recognition of spiritual values is an experience which is superideational. There is no word in any human language which can be employed to designate this “sense,” “feeling,” “intuition,” or “experience” which we have elected to call God-consciousness. The spirit of God that dwells in man is not personal — it is prepersonal — but it presents a value, exudes a flavor of divinity, which is personal in the highest and infinite sense. If God were not at least personal, He could not be conscious, and if not conscious, then would He be infrahuman.
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