One of my favorite college courses was “Comparative Religion.” The class was taught at a Catholic university by a Jesuit priest, yet it was very non-judgmental and the lectures did not end with “And here’s why ours is better than that one …” As a result, it stimulated excellent discussions about the many similarities between the world’s current and ancient religions and how evidence of even extinct religions permeates our secular lives … witness the many mythological god names that we encounter on our calendars and at auto dealerships. Unfortunately, it seems today that any comparison of religions, their origins and similarities quickly deteriorates to arguments and worse.
That’s the challenge facing the makers of a new documentary called “Syncretism: The Science of Light.” Syncretism is often defined as the combining of different and sometimes contradictory beliefs, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, to find an underlying unity which can lead to inclusiveness. It is often linked to astrotheology, which is a search for an original or oldest religion which was most likely based on the observation of celestial objects and involving both astrology and astronomy. Although astrotheology can be monotheistic, it presents a difficult hurdle for religions using the Hebrew bible which prohibits the worship of any heavenly bodies or deities associated with them. Having an open mind with an eye towards history and science is the key.
The film will be hosted by Santos Bonacci, a world-renowned researcher of astrotheology as well as a talented guitarist. Bonacci has spent over 30 years researching ancient religious, spiritual, mythological, scientific and historical texts to understand their interrelations. In his lectures and weekly television and radio shows, he strives to make the concepts simpler to understand and compare. “The Science of Light” refers to the ancient study of the solar system, which was a primary source for both early science and early religion for human beings.
An original religion based on the observation of the heavens sounds interesting and plausible to me and I’m looking forward to seeing the evidence Bonacci presents, how he sees it forming new religions, what of it they retain and what each has in common. Not to mention having some non-argumentative discussions.