The first job I had when I left graduate school was research associate at a medical school's Family Practice Department. I used to sit in on some training sessions for the residents who were on their way to becoming family doctors.
One of the faculty members had a favorite saying: "Say it so your grandmother could understand it." Meaning, talk to your patients simply and directly. Don't use big words. No jargon.
That was good advice -- leaving aside the mildly sexist grandmother reference. (Hey, it was 1973; we weren't so culturally correct back then.)
I wish religious believers, including those who leave comments on this blog, would speak as plainly as that experienced physician was urging the doctors-to-be to do. Though I've been fond of indirect spiritual references in the past, now I find metaphysical similes to be more annoying than poetic.
"God is like..." "The guru is like..." "Soul is like..." "Heaven is like..." Stop! Shut up! Lose the "like"! Follow Jack Webb of Dragnet (I'm showing my age): "All we want are the facts, ma'am." (or sir)
The past few days I've been engaged in a comment conversation on this post. I keep saying, there's no evidence that a guru is able to put copies of himself (his "radiant form") into the psyches of millions of disciples.
In response, a defender of the faith speaks of how the sun can be reflected in many buckets of water. Well, that's nice. But am I supposed to believe in the radiant form just because it's possible to say "the guru is like the sun" and "his radiant form is like a reflection"?
Where's the facts? No similes, just the facts. I'm not typing this post on a simile. I'm not sitting on a simile. I'm not drinking a cup of simile. A laptop, chair, and coffee are directly evident to me.
Thus in ethical and religious language we seem constantly to be using similes. But a simile must be the simile for something. And if I can describe a fact by means of a simile I must also be able to drop the simile and to describe the facts without it. Now in our case as soon as we try to drop the simile and simply to state the facts which stand behind it, we find that there are no such facts. And so, what at first appeared to be simile now seems to be mere nonsense.
Absolutely. That's what religiosity is without similes: nonsense.
Well, actually religion is non-sensical with or without similes, but the emptiness of blind faith talk becomes a lot more obvious when the similes and metaphors are removed.
Everything in life isn't factual. In fact, it can be argued that the most important aspects of living aren't capable of being captured by facts.
Love. Beauty. Happiness. Awareness. Meaning. Joy. Excitement.
But religions aren't founded on such subjectivities. They're based on purported facts. However, since there never is any demonstrable evidence for the most crucial metaphysical facts, true believers have to resort to similes to defend their faith.
We defenders of truth have to respond with: Just the facts. Drop the similes.