Religion – The Great Institution, perhaps the most influential facet of humanity, in its entirety. It is often regarded as one of the cornerstones of our species’ development, the catalyst, throughout history, for change, or stagnation, on a grandiose scale. The question we must ask ourselves, however, is simply, “Why?”
The human condition is such that we must continually progress, stagnation is counter-intuitive for a race that has risen from cave-dwelling bottom feeders to the apex of the food chain, in many senses. Why is it, then, that we regard decidedly pagan (and I use the word cautiously) ideals with such high esteem?
Paganism. The world seems to regard the practise of attributing deities to natural phenomena as archaic, as it should be. Why then, is the idea of God, a mysterious, all-encompassing, being, supposedly attributed with our creation, judgement, and destruction, regarded as untouchable – undisputable? Why are people who seek to question this system of belief prevalent in society regarded with disdain?
In a world where science and technology have shaped the way we live, why are those who choose to not believe that unsubstantiated beings, never before truly proven to exist, govern society, effectively persecuted? Before you navigate away from this page, either repulsed by what you read or rolling your eyes at what seems to be some crack-induced rant, stop to consider my point of view.
I was not born into an overtly religious household, and to a great extent, was left to draw my own conclusions regarding existentialism and the Great Unknown. I was, if you will, a sort of social experiment, assessing my world through neutral eyes, untainted by religious doctrine. I regard my way of thinking as pragmatic, and not easily acclimatised to the intangible visions of our race’s prominent religions.
Therefore, when I see wars declared in the name of God, or countries’ presidential candidates judged by their chosen system of belief, I see, innately, a world that, for all its brilliance and ingenuity, is still coming to terms with accountability. In short, I do not believe that the use of God as a scapegoat is beneficial to anybody.
This, however, is not my main issue with God, or religion – it is the apparent narrow-mindedness endowed by many religions. If I were to tell you that I believed that post-death one is greeted by orange leprechauns farting liquorice and rainbows, I would never have a hope in (pardon my language) hell of convincing fellow citizens not in padded cells.
But why? Just as you cannot, beyond the shadow of a doubt, disprove the existence of ginger Irish midgets in the afterlife (as you have never been there), I cannot prove that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, they do exist. Now put this analogy in the context of major religion – how can a Christian scoff at a Rastafarian for the belief that Jesus is black? How is the idea of 108 deities, in different forms and shapes, any less far-fetched than the idea that we are met by cherubs on clouds in the afterlife? I do not pretend to have an in-depth knowledge of these religions, I am just using their most universally recognised facets to Illustrate a point – as there is no definitive way to prove/ disprove any specific religion (short of dying), why bother arguing?
I contend that as Earth is the only realm of existence we can claim to understand, why not focus on being a part of this phenomenon – life – as opposed to spending large chunks of it dreaming of what comes after. It’s human nature to be curious, that is undisputable. It is also human nature, however, to fight, and you may contest that, but the evidence is littered across history with the bodies of those unwilling to conform. Don’t trust my opinion? Fine. Look up the Crusades, The Salem Witch Hunts, The Spanish Inquisition, World War II, The Holocaust. Question why it was that a system of belief was enough to enforce the murder of 6 million human beings. Question why, even today, we regard those 6 million people as Jews, immediately distancing many of us from them.
Society will always have its dictators, madmen, and, as they are sometimes known, politicians. And their weapon will never be nuclear missiles, or atomic bombs, but the minds of the masses. Patriotism, Religion, etc. Call it what you will, but Patriotism is only unifying in one country, while opposing 200 others. Religion may unify a billion people, but it alienates 6 billion others. At a time when we need each other most, in a world, however subtly, constantly at war, peace can only be achieved through unification.
You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.