(Typed between 3 and 7 AM in between lucid states of insomnia, arguably this helped the flow of information but it also caused a bit of cluttering. I’ll probably reorganize things at a different time but otherwise this should be a decent entry. I will refrain from going into too-specific of detail, mainly because I’m having trouble focusing on such things right now; if you want a specific issue addressed please ask in comments.)
As the title suggests this post will be centered around my personal views in regards to the overall concept of religion. This post is actually the product of a returned topic request from Nina Crowlace, she requested a topic so I suggested she explain and defend her religious views (check her page here http://myonlyreality.wordpress.com/ for the full article); as usual I game my two cents on her post and was requested to elaborate my view point, I won’t lie because I truly desire everyone to adopt my way of thinking in some form or another but I completely respect everyone’s right to different beliefs and, while I will probably do a slight bit of bashing, I’ll make an effort not to end up sparking a hatedom. Before continuing I suggest you open your mind to my views, but be warned as they have been known to plant seeds of doubt about ones original beliefs and for many the questioning of ones own beliefs can be an intolerable madness.
I suppose I should start my explanation like any sensible architect would begin constructing a house, from the base. It is my unwavering belief that the entirety of religion, no matter which religion you choose as an example, is a way to ease the burden on the mind when it comes to explaining what has yet to be explained; this burden could be basic inability to comprehend the forces of nature, such as the case of many early religions like those of early civilizations, or the whole of the universe and the fact we are but one tiny speck to the grand scheme of things and there is a vast expanse of existence full of the unknown that we are only recently capable of exploring, such as the (relatively speaking) “modern” religions like Christianity, Judaism, etc. For short, religion is a way to explain what we have yet to explain via science. I believe it was Karl Marx who once said, “Religion is the opium of the people,” I believe this to be the case for modern religions even more so than ancient religions; ancient religions centered around calling anything they could not rationally explain Gods, then they would create myths to back up the personifications of natural forces to ease the burden on their minds about not actually knowing what causes the forces to begin with, things like the solar cycle, lunar cycle, etc., that modern technology has since explained with science; in modern religions the same effect is applied to concepts that border the impossible to explain, concepts such as possibility of an afterlife, the origin of mankind, the possibility of life outside our own planet, etc., and by extension this includes the possible deity that rules over those particular forces. The opium analogy is actually quite good if you think about it, opium is a highly addictive sedative and people have strong withdraws without it; people really do not like to be forced out of their comfort zone created by their beliefs, this is a strong factor involved with religion based wars because, without a handy replacement via subtle conversion or a brutal extermination of believers, the backlash is strong; not to mention the wide use of religion as a way to control large portions of society with little question.
As pointed out above only a select choice of concepts a deity is used to explain still exist; every other religion prior has been eliminated either by the discovery of what it was created to explain, conquering and/or conversion by a different religion, or was simply fazed out of society because of the small number of followers. As a side note, religion is simply a very large group of people who share a similar belief system and act based on that belief system, the same concept as a cult or sect but in a large enough group it projects a particularly strong effect on society. The fact so many different religions exist with highly similar features is not surprising, in fact it highlights a flaw of humanity in that people are not that observant when it comes to noticing similarities compared to noticing differences; many social issues come from this fact. My main problem with religion as a whole is that people tend to blindly follow without thought; alongside the explanation myths religion offers are a collection of guidelines for how to behave in society, the problem is these values are highly dated and cause confliction with progressing humanity as a whole. Take the most recent debates in regards to marriage rights in America (others parts of the world may be applicable but I’ll admit I have trouble picturing the religion demographic outside the continental US at this time), based on entries in a relic version of the Christian belief manual, aka the Bible, people have suppressed the legal rights of same sex partners to get married yet from the same text choice entries are entirely ignored such as deviant sexual acts and adultery being punishable by death; granted that was the “Old Testament” that most Christians do not follow but the fact a “New Testament” exists on the basis that the political leader in charge wanted to do something previously forbidden (divorce) should be a clear sign that not everything in the Bible is applicable to modern society and furthermore may need reconsideration as a text to follow without question.
The aforementioned problems become laughable when one considerers how the many different religions were mainly “pissing contests”, the struggle to become the dominant religion meant that conversions of entire settlements were fairly common; this means people would forsake their previous religion if persuaded to a new religion, presumably with promises intended to be fulfilled in the afterlife that may or may not even exist! Quite laughable in my opinion, for example take the Romans who spread the Catholic beliefs through their widespread conquest of Europe, Catholics are generally considered to be of the more hardy strain of the Christian belief set, a set which almost completely parallels the last major religion (the Greek myths, which themselves were a parallel of the Nordic based religions such as Paganism variations); each of these examples was made possible by the adaptation, rework, and reintegration of various significant characters and events from the last major religion of the region into the story of the spreading religion, this essentially means each religion has copied the last but, as with any large number of copying, the results start to become disjointed from the original. The purpose of this section is to give a brief example of how religion spreads through change, with each change comes influences from society at the time because without changing with the times the religion becomes a drag on society as a whole; we have not had a major religion evolution in quite some time (which is odd considering how technology has sped social interaction to all time highs), Christianity remains a prime example of an aging religion, being that most of the events center around a small portion of the Middle East and reflect the society of that time, and thus is becoming a drain on society due to it’s conservative ways.
In short, I believe religion has become a long unnecessary relic of a society that is unable to handle the sheer number of “unknowns” that are in reality easily explainable forces of nature. The social control aspect is a handy but harmful tool depending on how frequently the religion is updated to apply to the modern world, stagnation inhibits progression. In all honesty I believe it a silly notion to base ones entire beliefs on clearly outdated, most likely untrue, texts that have been rewritten throughout history to fit the needs of those in control; to use said material to deny basic social liberties is unacceptable. To put complete faith in a theory, a theory that is shaky at best because precedent in the basis shows very little actual supporting material and quite a lot of doubt, is a foolish trait humanity has adopted to retain the opium effect; people don’t have to give up the entire effect cold turkey, but they should wean off the opium a little to gain new clarity on reality, perhaps change the focus of their thoughts on creating benefits for the now not worry as much about the unforeseeable later?
(As always please notify me of any outstanding failures, feel free to post your thoughts and questions.)