If there is one quality of the human race I truly admire, it is our relentless need to know things. We as a species are exponentially increasing our capacity to ask difficult questions, conceptual or otherwise. Coupled with this is our capacity to answer them, to provide evidence, to implement logic and reasoning to what we have discovered so far, in the hope of deducing what knowledge there is yet to come.
Yet, as we pursue our endless scientific and philosophical endeavours we must remember something. We are still very much afraid of the unknown. And this, ladies and gents, is what I believe to be the first ingredient when brewing a religion. Fear.
When human kind was roaming the surface of the planet, between 100,000 – 250,000 years ago in it’s tribal and primitive fashion, we had much to be fearful of. Alongside the everyday struggle of hunger, fighting neighbouring tribes, being killed by other beasts and inclement weather, we had to deal with these powerful but terrifying events that simply could not be explained. The ground shook violently, mountains exploded with fire and rock, the sea lurched forward and consumed the coast. Back at home children would grow weak and die without explanation, some women couldn’t produce children when others could, crops would seem to succeed on some occasions and fail on others, without any apparent difference in environment.
Humanity did not have the means or intelligence to investigate these phenomenon, there was no way that it would have discovered and understood ideas such as tectonic shift, germ theory and the influence the moon has over the tide. Naturally it did not know this at the time. Instead it concluded that these mysterious and (often) terrifying events must be due to a mysterious and powerful force.
But falling back to superstitious ideas isn’t really alien to us now is it?
You can find examples of the same sort of mentality when you visit a casino, sooner or later (should you frequent roulette as I like to do) you will meet someone who has a lucky number, or is wearing lucky socks, or has has a lucky technique…etc. Why are things considered lucky for a particular person? Well, because by chance that particular number, or item of clothing (supposedly) aided in winning some money for them, at some point. We all know deep down that number 9 on the roulette table isn’t going to win any more than 26 just because someone considers it their lucky number, but they will cling onto this superstition regardless. It worked one time, surely there must be something in it?
Now, if you will, take this mentality back 100,000 years. A primitive human male doesn’t want his primitive female companion to go on being weak and sickly (lets say retrospectively she has the flu), in his ignorance he tries to barter with the mysterious forces that are making his companion ill, he offers a goat. He kills said goat and waits. Now let’s say that the woman recovers sometime later, what do you think will go through the mind of the man, “Well, that was a coincidence!” or “It is clear that when people are sick, killing goats makes them well again”.
These superstitions were our first attempt at healthcare. Although we may laugh at the idea of healing ailments with animal sacrifices in the world of today, it is this type of thinking that has allowed us to progress through the ages. A long slow game of trial and error
Is it hard to imagine then, that the culmination of these superstitions over a period of time is what forms a religion? Before long these mysterious forces have names, there are certain people who seem to know more about these forces who become shamans. People are ordered to sacrifice on a regular basis to appease these named forces.
It is here that I assert that we have had many different religions, in many different places, across time, for this reason. This slow, coincidence heavy development has occurred for different groups all over the world. They reached different conclusions in regards to how many forces (or Gods) there were, what the names of these Gods were, and how these Gods were to be appeased. But it came about due to the same primitive version of what is now known as scientific enquiry.
It will come as no surprise to you at this point that I believe that this is the foundation of all religions, even the ones of today. There is nothing to suggest that the origins of Christianity or Islam are in any way divine. There is nothing that can be said by either group that would convince a thinking person that they are the true revelation.
Now, I shall finish with why I think religion is here to stay. Simply put, we will always be ignorant in some way. We will never know what happens after death and whilst we can philosophise on this indefinitely it will never be factually answered. It is because of questions like this that religion will always have room to exist, it needs ignorance and fear in order to survive.
So, if you want to start a religion you need three things. Ignorance, Fear and touch of Coincidence.
If you have read me all the way through, you are extremely kind. This is an open forum, I welcome any comments from non believers, believers and those who have not yet decided, but please…keep it as civil as you are able.
So, I have been inactive here for a number of months. Unfortunately my health took a bit of a knock and my capacity to sit and write suffered as a result. I am hoping to regain my activity here as there is plenty I have to say (and would like to discuss).
Id like to thank those to have taken the time to read and debate with some of the content I have published here. As I have said before, this is an open forum, I will pull no punches in stating what I believe and I expect/appreciate others who do the same, so please, speak up and lets chat…should anything I say strike a chord.
I hope you are all well, look forward to hearing from you soon.
(These commandments were taken from the King James edition of the Bible)
- Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.
I find this to be unusual for a number of reasons. First, the wording may suggest that there could be other Gods that could receive the attention of humanity. Second, this commandment is placed at the very top, signifying that it is the most important. This would suggest an extremely jealous God who really needs to be loved the most.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven or above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
This seems to discourage iconography and representational art. Should this be the case than those wearing crucifixes may be in error to do so. In addition to this I wonder if Christian works such as the paintings within the Sistine chapel should be frowned upon also. I would be happy for an apologist to educate me here.
- Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord thy God in vain.
I would challenge any apologist to explain this in such a way that it is clear and without room for error. If one was to start cursing in conjunction with the word “God” then I accept that a person of faith may claim to be offended. However, what happens when innocent people are murdered in the name of God? Or children are raped in holy buildings? Is this also considered blasphemous?
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
This is a rather long winded command that goes on to state that neither you nor any of your servants/slaves or animals shall perform any tasks of labour, as it is the day that the Lord rested. One query I would have with this is why do omnipotent beings need rest? Also, why would such an occasion demand replication? Can’t we have a day off for its own sake? There is no threat of a punishment here either, which is somewhat refreshing.
- Honour thy Father and thy Mother
…That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
I have no quarrel with the idea that one should honour thy parents (unless given good reason to do otherwise). What troubles me is that there is an incentive to do so; surely there is greater morality to be found in doing this for its own sake? Respect, love and adoration for another person should not be reinforced with a mentality of “what are the materialistic advantages to this?”
- Thou shalt not kill.
A very straight forward and agreeable command, but does it really need to be [forgive me] set in stone? Are we expected to believe that before this command was issued, people thought it was acceptable to kill? (I am referring to the maintenance of a society as a whole). This does not need to be labelled as a commandment as we as a species know that it is not progressive to our mutual interest in survival. Yes, we have accounts of murders in every recorded civilisation that has graced the planet; we also have accounts of the following punishments. Religion cannot take credit for moral stance.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Again, an agreeable command but my point here is similar to the previous commandment. We are a possessive and materialistic species and our capacity to love profoundly is well documented in all aspects of our history, as such we are compelled to make this action a crime. Adultery in many cases causes a huge amount of pain and emotional stress. On a personal note, I refuse to take any command from an organised body regarding marital affairs when that body condemns homosexuality (it is a form of love, not just sex) and is run by a hysterical group of virgins.
- Thou shalt not steal.
This certainly falls into the same “common sense” category as ‘Thou shalt not murder’ and ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’. I would ask anyone to provide an example of a culture that finds stealing ok. Also, is there anyone who can look another person in the eye and make the claim that the church has never broken this, or any of the other commandments?
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
A noticeable jump in complexity. The commandments (or at least the first account of them) were issued at a time where there was a huge need for verbal agreements; the talents to be found in the realms of acumen were nowhere near as prominent as that of the Chinese. The best example of this lies within the context of legal hearings.
If you are able to convince a populace that they are under permanent divine supervision and that their thoughts, actions and desires are being constantly documented by God, then you greatly reduce their compulsion to lie when placed within a ‘formal’ legal environment. Why would people lie if they are afraid of the eternal fire? I would also ask why we swear on the bible in today’s court.
- Thou shalt not covet…
…thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
To covet is to want something that belongs to someone else. You may covet a person’s income, their house or maybe even the love and respect they command from the people around them. However, coveting is not a physical action; it is in fact a feeling or a thought. In essence, you are being told not to even THINK about doing something. You are at risk of committing a thought crime.
There are two ways that coveting can be considered. Naturally, we would disapprove of anyone and their subsequent actions should they use their potential jealousy to steal. But what of the people who observes another’s wealth and thinks “I’m going to work hard so that I can have that too”, are they at fault from deriving inspiration from coveting?
Equality is an idea that has been around for a long time now, and has been the subject of many discussions. But why is it so hard to achieve?
If one was to stop a stranger in the street and ask them “Do you feel women should have the same social rights, salaries and political opportunities as men?” you are almost always going to be met with a “Yes, of course”.
Consider your reaction then if they were to say no, would you take their stance even remotely seriously? There are no reasons one could give to justify a negative response without admitting an opinion that women are inferior. I would challenge anyone to submit an idea to the contrary.
Why is it then that despite this seemingly overwhelming opinion that the above factors should be equal across both genders, we are still ‘fighting’ for equality?
I feel that the core of the issue does not dwell within the realms of finance or politics. It is within a very deeply ingrained ‘understanding’ of gender roles that have been in place for centuries. You do not need to be an expert of history to see what I mean. In fact, you can get everything you need by witnessing likely reactions to the following scenario:
“A man is walking down the street and is struggling with some heavy objects; a woman approaches and offers her assistance in carrying them”.
This is not an unlikely situation, and is certainly simple enough. However, there are some ideas that need to my considered to make my point.
Let us consider the ‘macho’ side things. This is a man who is engaging in an activity that could (or certainly did) go towards determining his worth, the demonstration of strength. No one can deny that even within the society of today, guys can be very touchy when their physical prowess in under any sort of scrutiny.
The above male could well be feeling very uncomfortable right now. Not only is he struggling with the carrying, he is struggling in front of a woman (the ones who were typically impressed by such things and were considered weaker) and to add to that she offered to help him!
If the male did indeed feel this way about her offer, how long do you think it would have taken to process this? Seconds at the most I would wager, this was an almost immediate reaction. A negative one based on insecurity.
This does not apply to every guy who could be in this situation, I am merely stating a possibility that no one can deny may happen. I for one do not feel threatened in such a way and would be glad of any assistance.
Let us look then at the female mentality that may occur in the following:
“A woman is walking down the street and is struggling with some heavy objects; a man approaches and offers her assistance in carrying them.”
A role reversal, but instead of applying an archaic mentality I shall explore a very modern one. I don’t think anyone can deny that this reaction is possible as well.
I think we have all witnessed at one point or another, an instance where a woman has been ‘offended’ by a guy’s offer of assistance. I can’t imagine being far wrong by guessing this sort of reaction takes place by taking the “I don’t need a man” mentality just a little too far.
But it is a possible response none the less, and will continue to be so. If my point isn’t clear at this point I shall summarise
In both scenarios, a fellow person has offered sincere assistance to another who is thought to be struggling, but due to centuries old conditioning in regard to gender roles they have been refuted. As people, we need to take a moment to really consider a person’s intent when they offer to help. Is it really likely to be gender based?
Likewise, it is important how we approach someone who may be having a tough time; coming across as arrogant or pretentious may aggravate them and lead to a complete backfire.
These are reactions that have been ingrained for many years and as such, will take a while to uproot. It is important we consider this when considering what is likely to be a sincere proposal.
It will not surprise you to know that in order to be a “true” believer you must agree with two fundamental properties of God.
First, he is omnipotent. There are literally no limitations on his capacity in any sense whatsoever. He can (and did, according to scripture) create a universe from nothing, using nothing more than his will. It can be assumed then that he could reverse this decision at any moment of his choosing, with no effort at all.
The second property that one must believe is his omniscience. If a being is omniscient then he/she/it knows everything that can be known, regardless of the tense concerned. It follows then, that if one knows everything then one is unable to learn, as there would be no knowledge left to attain. It could also be said that an omniscient being is unable to forget, as this would end the omniscience entirely.
If God is omnipotent then all things are possible. If God is omniscient however, then he is unable to learn or forget anything, undermining his omnipotence. These two qualities can not exist within the same being at the same time.
In the instance of man, God knows everything any person has said, thought and done. In addition to this he knows everything they are going to say, think and do. I shall explain why this troubles me.
Should God exist and be omniscient then he must know all of the events contained within the life of any given person, before those events take place. He knows not only how everyone has lived their lives (thoughts, actions and speech) so far, but also knows how the remainder of us are going to live our lives.
It is this understanding that leads to a chilling conclusion. Our lives are pre-determined. If our actions can be known before they take place, then what possibility is there of committing an act that God is unaware of? If he knows that these actions are going to take place, then surely it must have been he who decided that in the first place.
This leads to the following. If our actions are pre-determined by God, then we live under the illusion of free will. In truth, we are simply acting out a script that has been written for us.
Illusionary free will also happens to be a quality of a perfect dictatorship.
So, when it comes to our judgement why are we held accountable? Free will is not a luxury we possess so how can we do anything other than Gods will? If we are sent to hell to face the eternal fire, who is really to blame?
Thus we reach the major point of this blog. If one is to believe in a divine creator then he/she must accept that God is all knowing (as well as all powerful), by doing so you resign your free will and agree to live out a script. You must also accept the possibility that you have been “designed”, given a purpose that results in you being damned for eternity.
…and there is nothing you can do about it.
I for one, refute this contemptible prospect.
It is worth pointing out that I am not a journalist or a professional within the writing sphere; nor do I need to be. This blog will serve the purpose of putting forward the questions and ideas that occur in regards to numerous topics of importance, topics such as the existence of God, equality between men and women, equality as a species, the death sentence and what justice may or may not be.
This is not a place for me to try and prove that I am ‘right’ about anything, I want to provoke discussion, heated or not. I want people to question any conclusions I may have about any of the above and to explain any counter points in a controlled and informed manner.
I believe that in order to achieve a real harmony amongst our species, to be able to honestly strive towards fulfilling the potential our intelligence demands, we need to endure a conflict of sorts. We need to butt heads over these topics. We need to reveal the flaws contained within the logic of opposing ideas and iron out any negative social implications our points of view may contain.
Mankind will never achieve a state of equality unless it can first agree on the direction on which in must strive. So long as we bicker without conclusion then we will always suffer the poor to starve, women to seethe at silent injustices and for religious figures to wield imaginary authorities.
Let us begin.