CS Lewis once wrote, “Religion is man’s search for God, but Christianity is God’s search for man.” Whereas Divine Revelation only allows for one true religion, I believe that all of the current religions of the world can be boiled down to only three sustainable philosophies. Or, at least I believe that only three world philosophies could possibly coordinate to the desires of a post-modern man.
Epicureanism is to live for pleasure, but the original Greek promoter of hedonism, Epicurus (4th century BC), was more like an LA pot-smoker than a fast-paced NYC coke addict (something we usually think of when we think of the word “hedonism.”) This is because Epicurus taught that living for hard-core pleasure actually made the desires of the human person go haywire. Indeed, it’s not a very pleasurable life to have your desires turn into addictions, especially if pleasure be not moderated and controlled. Epicurus was way ahead of his time: A University of Colorado study recently proved that rats addicted to heroin actually had baseline pain increase in their life! The goal of Epicurus’ hedonism was for man to enjoy life for the long haul, not short sprints of excessive pleasure to burn out. The relaxed proposal of true Epicureanism was essentially to enjoy a little pleasure every day, all the while avoiding fear and pain.
Of course, hedonism has been the major drive of many tribes and nations through history before Epicurus. Me, myself and I always has come before God and neighbor, at least since Cain and Abel. Today, it is extremely prevalent in our American consumeristic culture, whether it takes the form of extreme pleasure, ranging from lazy sex addicts to hyper-athlete free soloers to the quiet retirement homes of Florida where euthanasia quickly snuffs out any hint of pain in your aging father or mother. Astonishingly, there is a correlation between a country’s suicide rate and their per-capita income: The rich kill themselves at extremely high rates. If you doubt me, just google the suicide rates for Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. It has a zero suicide rate, despite the fact that people eat dirt mixed with corn-meal on a regular basis. In any case, all this is to say that the rich man who seeks pleasure and comfort will usually die a death that is both unfulfilled and lonely. Clearly, this sad lifestyle can’t be indicative of a fulfilling philosophy. Nevertheless, this “American dream” has replaced the religions of many developing countries.
Buddhism is a little better that Epicureanism (notwithstanding preternatural influences on world religions.) In fact, historically, Buddhism was born directly of Hinduism in India, which is why I consider Buddhism here to be the highest encapsulation of all Eastern religions. Like Epicurus, the Buddha discovered that high-intensity pleasure-seeking always left him feeling empty. However, the Buddha’s path to peace and nothingness (Nirvana) was a much higher goal than simply Epicurus’ lack of pain. Buddha proposed it be done via a more scientific program, too: To eliminate suffering, one must eliminate the desire (or expectation) of various human pleasures. This program of detachment was done by the Buddha’s 8-fold Noble Path that has been described more as a philosophy than a religion. Nowadays, the Theravada Buddhists see the Buddha as a great guide to enlightenment, where Mahayana Buddhists actually perceive the Buddha as a Savior.
But for neither of them is there a goal of an eternal Relationship with God.
In fact, in Zen Buddhism, an important point of enlightenment in the life of a monk is the point of Ten-ne, turning over, when you realize (purportedly) that nothing around you is real. Everything is the projection of your mind via the Only-Mind. It’s as if Zen enlightenment starts when you realize that your brain is not so much a camera absorbing objective reality around you, as your brain is a film projector: “When it is completely understood that the external world is nothing but manifestations of one’s own mind, a Turning-Over (Ten–ne) occurs which strikes at the root of the process of discriminating between things. These things are not destroyed, but one has an attitude of freedom toward them.”—The Lankavatara Sutra (Ryo ga–kyo) An American Christian who studied this adds: “At that moment, Only-Mind can exclaim to itself, ‘There is No-thing! Absolutely No-thing! I am everything and everything is No-thing!'” — Zen Way—Jesus Way, p. 43, Dr. Tucker Callaway, 20 year faculty member of world religions at the University of Fukuoka in Japan.
Thus, Buddhism is not based in reality. In true Buddhism, nothing is real. Not love. Not suffering. Not family. Anyone who dabbles in Buddhism must ultimately come to realize that Ten-ne is an acceptance of absolutely no truth. There is no sacrificing love for another permitted. Buddhism can not be fulfilling to a man or a woman looking for a relationship with God because the goal is Nirvana, an extinguishing of one self. Although Buddhism does not promote suicide, you can already see the emptiness of “extinguishing of self.” This is the other side of the same coin as Epicureanism. Even great Zen masters who have reached “enlightenment” will admit that it doesn’t make much sense to pull a dying person out of a gutter if such is his karma. Yes, Buddhism is a self-centered ascetical feat that denies the suffering of my neighbor. Westerners will come up with little more than “my karma ran over my dogma” if they do not study the stark and austere claims of real Zen Buddhism. There is no true relationship with another in the most austere forms of Buddhism.
What about Western world religions? From the start, we are going to eradicate Islam as a real possibility, despite the 1 billion adherents. Islam can offer no man a real relationship of love with God because the Qur’an promotes murder and child sex-slavery, as I proved in this podcast here. Thus, Islam will never fulfill a literate man’s desires for peace and union, especially after two world wars and communist gulags. Please listen to the above podcast to learn what a satanic religion Islam really is.
Christianity is our third option. Atheistic world religion professors at Western Universities would say that Christianity was born of Judaism like Buddhism was born of Hinduism. But I would add: Judaism can not be the true world religion remaining since Christ already fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophesies.
Whereas the Buddha said “Be ye lights unto yourselves,” Christ said “I am the light of the world.” What is extraordinary about Christianity is first of all the claim to a divine incarnation. Some world religions have incarnations where one god (of many gods) incarnates on earth to have sex with women or battle men. But Christianity is singular in this claim: The holy God of the Universe incarnated Himself, stepping front-and-center on the human stage—as a human—not to wage war on men, but to die for the very people who wanted to kill Him! Jesus Christ came to redeem the very race that killed Him. And then He would re-capitulate all of human history (and all of human suffering) by raising Himself from the dead three days later! In His Ascension, 40 days after that, He would mystically bring to the Trinity every human who would one day follow him. The cost for each human? Christ promised a cross, but that would be “easy” and “light” (Mt 11) compared to His.
Those who carried their cross would especially have to avoid any selfish lifestyle, like hedonism. Not only does hedonism block the way to heaven. It doesn’t lead to happiness on earth. (Remember what we said above about per-Capita income rates being directly correlative to suicide rates?) Christianity is the only world religion that holds that when you lose your life for God and others, you begin to experience the type of joy as seen in the lives of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Mary Magdalene. They both spent time lost in wonder and love at the God who would die for them on the cross. They began their eternal adoration of God here on earth. Because of Christ, the world of selfishness was turned upside down. There is philanthropy and kindness in many world religions, but in no world religion does the founder prove that beatitude ironically exists in recklessly pouring ourselves out first for God and secondly for others. This is first of all the life of Christ, and secondly the joyful army of saints that followed him. They even went to their deaths singing to God.
Thus, if we sublimate out thousands of world philosophies, the only three that make sense for modern man would be: Hedonism, Buddhism and Christianity. I believe those are the only three philosophies that make any sense (even though I believe and know that only the last is true, due to Divine Revelation and many miracles.) But this is not a blog post of apologetics to prove Divine Revelation, but a simple argument from the experiences of post modern-man: Only Christianity will make you happy on earth, not to mention heaven.
I think it was once Dr. Warren Carroll, founder of Christendon College, who said that Catholicism is the only possible world religion if you simply admit these two syllogisms:
1) God exists.
2) God became man.
God became man once and can not retract His gift or existence. So how can Jesus Christ still be man on earth if He does not change? This can only be fulfilled in one place on earth: The Tabernacle. God became man and remains with us in the Holy Eucharist. Otherwise, His promise to be with us until the end of the age (Mt 28:20) seems quite false. Thus, Protestantism doesn’t fully confess the Incarnation. Another reason Protestantism denies the Incarnation is this: Since God exists, and since He must be entirely holy, then He could only come to earth via an equally pure vessel, namely, the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Thus, the only conclusion of logical Christianity, granting only that God exists and He became man, is: Catholicism.
But what about Orthodoxy? Doesn’t Orthdoxy believe in the Eucharist and Mary as Pan-Hagia (all holy.) Yes. The Orthodox also have Jesus Christ in their Tabernacles and a great love of Our Lady. But I would continue with Dr. Carrol’s two syllogisms even to prove Catholicism over Orthodoxy: Since God became man and raised Himself from the dead, then He would not fail to order and structure a single entity to teach this faith infallibility even if the human element of this teaching Magisterium should fail at times in history. Indeed, if a stoplight can not be run without authority, why would God fail to establish a Church with a teaching authority after taking the pains to rise from the dead for that very Church? Also, if order is found in every cell of every living organism, then why would God fail to give clear order to His mystical body in favor of only mysticism à la Eastern Orthodoxy? Orthodoxy does not even propose to give a unified answer on contraception. Thus, if God became man, the logical conclusion is Catholicism.
Eastern Religions lead to man fading away by Nirvana (nothingness) and Western hedonistic philosophies will lead to man burning out in pleasure and comfort. Both paths are selfish and meaningless. But if you don’t want to live a selfish life anymore, then your only option is Catholicism. I write this despite all the corruption I have seen first hand in the Catholic Church the past two years. It is worse than most Catholics could ever imagine! And yet I write with confidence: Christ and Catholicism will lead you to a sacrificial love and joy on earth, as well as eternal peace with the Triune God in heaven. There are no more philosophical options remaining except selfishness. Everything else has been tried.