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carpecanem4 karma

Roger Haight's book "Dynamics of Theology" addresses that gap between the unknowable transcendent and cultural level beliefs. In the first chapter, I believe. It's well written and well thought out, and I think you may find it useful. In short, he distinguishes between faith and belief. Faith is that experience of encountering and responding to the divine- a transcendent experience which is by definition unspeakable. Experiencing the divine is not an unknowable thing, it's just not a linguistic experience/knowledge. However, being speaking, pattern-seeking creatures who like to share information, we can't help but try to explain what happened, to put it into words, to tell stories about it, and we necessarily use metaphor. Those stories we tell ourselves about the unspeakable are beliefs. Human nature being what it is, we get attached to those stories, forget they are only metaphors, forget that the signifier is not the signified, the map is not the territory. And different cultures/languages lead to different kinds of metaphors/stories. So while beliefs can't really be held to be FundamentallyTrue, they aren't necessarily arbitrary, either. There is a discernable logic behind them- non-linguistic experiences of Oneness that then get filtered through cultural habits of parsing the world into separate pieces of referential linguistic data. (Of course we're going to fuck that up, lol.) The fact that a lot of mystics from all different kinds of religious traditions seem to say some awfully similar things is consistent with that model. Their writings/teachings are first-level metaphors, before they've been codified into theologies/mental habits.

Anyway, good luck in your pursuit of this question. It's an awfully important one, and more people should ask it.

P.S. I'd like to note that all your questions are good ones, but many of them assume things about "Christianity" that probably aren't helpful in your inquiries. It's such a broad term, and encompasses so many different traditions, many of which espouse very different values. For example, not all Christians 🙄 believe god only exists outside of this realm/dimension, or is a "he". "Transcendent" is a complicated term (how do you refer to something that can't be comprehended? How do you limit the limitless in a word?), and worth exploring more. Also, some believe that original sin means that humans are born inherently sinful, some believe that it means we are born with a capacity to sin. You have valid, critical issues with specific theologies. I'd recommend exploring those particular theologies, and their components, otherwise you're bound to get a lot of noise in response to overly generalized questions.