Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Religion Part 1

This is the first in a series of think pieces regarding religion.  There is no doubt that in its purest form religion is, or can be a force for good.  Most people think that the origins of religion are shrouded in mystery; this is only true for those who essentially deny their humanity.  The origin of religion is quite simple, it was developed and used as a means to explain natural phenomena, console those affected by the vagaries of life, and to control the population.  Those early human beings whose brains evolved more quickly were able to recognize the need for and the method for accomplishing the aforementioned rationale.

Today we have only the remnants of religion.  The closest thing to medieval religion is Islam.  This is not to say that some of the Christian fundamentalists are modern in their thinking they are not, but they only give lip service to their beliefs.  Modern Christian religions or sects are about raising money and buildings as evidence of the believer’s salvation.

Since the dawn of memory religion has been used to control the populace.  Some of mankind’s earliest records from Egyptian history illustrate this.  The pharaoh was god and his word was law; the power of life or death resided in him.  Religious leaders have attempted to emulate this control and position ever since.  The sole exception appears to be Christ Himself, whose self-effacing demeanor and apparent disregard for the material world make his philosophy remarkable among religions, something akin to true Buddhism.

The experience of mankind, as far as can be learned, has been a gradual awareness of himself and the world around him.  If you believe that theory of evolution explains man’s presence and development then it follows that there was a period that is not within the collective memory. The residual fears experienced during the early evolutionary process would be locked in the subconscious, as they are today, and would need rationalization.  This is where the priests and other thinks come in.  Could this group of individuals have been developing more quickly?  Could their manipulative techniques have been learned and used to their advantage?  Were they less frightened of the dark than their fellows?

The answer to each question above is obviously yes, given the assumption that evolution is the only explanation of our present condition.  The fact that a cosmos was created for the gullible makes it obvious that all men are not created or do not evolve equally.  The gods of ancient times were used in various cultures to control the behavior of the masses, even to the point of human sacrifice to enforce rules, and to justify the position of the priests.  As different groups of humans came in contact with each other they adopted and modified the social laws that worked.  In western culture religion is a relic, in Asian cultures it was never a real state force, with the possible exception of Confucianism in early China, the once powerful religions of Central and South America are mere shadows of their former glories.  Only Islam is fixed in the past.  This is where the danger lies, not just because of the number of believers, in the fear based control system where any conflicting opinion can be designated as apostasy or heresy and be eliminated by the death penalty.  This was a hallmark of all early religions including Christianity.

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