The Jewish theologian Martin Buber built a philosophy of encounter. The goal of human beings is to have a full encounter with one another, and eventually with God. Buber differentiated between such moments of encounter with God and the ritual practices of religion. He felt that religion actually distracted from being in God’s presence. Many people today believe that Buber was right – that religion detracts from God. They say that religious people are more interested in keeping the rules than in encountering God.

Briefly explain what view of religion Buber is responding to. Do you think Buber’s criticism is valid? Why or why not?


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