Saturday, July 26, 2014

Uh oh, religion again. Sort of.

What is the purpose of religion?  I mean really, why are there faith based religions?  And conversely, does a belief in the inerrancy of science constitute a religion in the standard sense?  And of course the big one, why are we here?

Wow, tough questions for a weak mind such as mine here on a Friday morning after the hottest day of the year, and well, any year for this date.  But my mind is a natural collector of wisdom, fantasy and mirth, as well as diviner of the odd and mysterious.  So here goes.  The Baha'i tell us that the purpose of religion is the same, all religions are in fact multiple incurrences of the teachings of god's messengers.  And that by following any such message helps each of us as individuals, and as a collective growth of humanity as a whole to achieve oneness with god.  Also that in reality there is only one religion, that each of the divine messengers of god have given mortal humans pretty much the SAME message.  Which is pretty true if you think about it, don't all the major religions tell us the same thing, live a good life free of acts of sin against humanity itself?  Yeah, they do, it's just the other hokum that has gotten mixed in with the basic message that makes humans crazy.  Some readers might be thinking, "What is the Baha'i?"  Well, that's something that a lot of people have never heard of.  The newest of the major religions of the world, the Baha'i, involves The Bab, another messenger from god in the early Nineteenth century.  He was persecuted for having divine revelations about the Qoran and interpretations of god's divine message that differed from the rest of the muslim world.  And for that he was executed along with three thousand of his followers.  Bah'u'allah then came around a few years later and using a whole lot more tact, created the Baha'i faith.  The faith, pretty simply, is that we as humans are all part of the greatest of god's creations, humanity.  That god has created us to live good lives and to grow in our spirituality and become one with god, Oneness.  And that god has in fact sent many messengers to earth to tell us this bit of wisdom, only to have humans corrupt that message into what exists today.  These concepts are some of what I have written about in some of my previous essays about religion here in this blog.  I have great respect for the Baha'i because the message is so incredibly simplistic, and is loaded with actual common sense, and is believable.  Well, parts of it are.  I have related this particular story in order to remind you about the wondrous time in our history known as the Inquisition.  Oh shoot, let's also throw in the Crusades, the Romans vs. everyone, Emperor Wuzong of Tang, the Diocletianic Persecution, the persecution of the Serbs, the Shi'ites, the Suni, the American Indians, Jews, and wow, it does seem religious persecution has been popular in human history.  The point here is that one of the purposes of religion, is power. 

That might not be the stated purpose of religion, which those in the power positions within all the religions tell us is actually to provide a reason and purpose for life.  Noble indeed, however smarter men than I,
specifically Voltaire once said, "If god didn't exist, then man would have to create one."  Personally that better describes religion than the explanations from the church elders. However I am not one to tell anyone that they cannot partake in religion.  And of their choice as well.  This little essay is about what the purpose is for religion itself.  And the greater question, why are we here.  They do sort of go hand in hand.  First, there is the belief that religion exists to define the roles each member of mankind is to play within society.  To give guidance, structure and meaning to our earthly existence.  Morality. To that end religious leaders have historically built a base of monetary gratification exceeding that of their followers.  I'm sure that most everyone actually believes that their specific religion and their particular religious experiences have been for achieving enlightenment, progressing toward the prophesied heaven or paradise as promised.  The seeking of help and guidance in their current existence from their God through prayer or whatever, is a paradigm their religion utilizes and is also of tantamount importance.  I suppose you could say that religion, organized religion, is a way for those that worship to organize their lives.  From day to day morality, guidance as to what decisions need to be made to
achieve goals, and to insure a spectacular afterlife, as promised. Some people absolutely need religion in their lives.  There is more than one way to look at it. 

Reality can be so complex that equally valid observations from differing perspectives can appear to be contradictory.

I think that I will be safe in saying that the purpose of religion is to establish a base for human creation and to try to understand why human beings are here and to quell the never ending desire to understand the origins of humanity.  And lets throw in there that religion is a specific attempt to establish morality within a population.  I say attempt because let's be realistic, it doesn't always work.  Most of the tyrants in history have been very devout men of religious upbringing. And most of the persecutions of other humans have been done based almost exclusively on religious beliefs.  Nevertheless, through religion, people feel more comfortable with the fact that one day we will all die, and their faith gives them hope that they will be going to a better place. 

So, does a firm belief in science constitute a "Religion"?  That is something that will probably vary with the individual.  Hmmm, sort of like the faithful though, the devout pretty much all view their status within the hierarchy of their particular religion a little differently from everyone else.  And I know for a fact that various sects within any specific religion interpret their given religious documents differently at different times for different occasions.  So, to that end, science can definitely be called a religion.  It soothes and gives focus to the lives of those that believe.  Science is interpreted differently by, pretty much all the practitioners of all the various branches of science.  And the big one, those that are the leaders, the devout scientists, do so to garner more and greater fame and the big one, wealth, than those that suckle from the teat of knowledge.  Well if all that isn't a bona fide religion, I don't know what is.  

Finally, there is the one question that neither science nor religion have ever answered.  Why are we here?  That one is a tough.  Science tells us that we are a random grouping of organic compounds that spontaneously combined to create simple life which evolved into a broken down old fat guy sitting at his computer typing a lot of drivel about religion.  It's random.  Religions tell us we were created by god, to worship him (or her) and I'm sorry, that's a pretty lame explanation.  Why would a supreme being do such a thing if you he she or it had a whole universe to deal with.  Maybe I'm just projecting my concepts into what i would think that god would think.  Either way, that god made man to worship him does in fact go back to that bit about how religion is all about power.  And the whole thing is about god's power over mortal man.  Me, I have a different philosophy though, and I have written about it here before as well.  My beliefs explain the universe, what has transpired for us to get to this level of the communal consciousness, it explains what happens after this plane of existence, and it explains what we need to do here at this time and on this planet to further ourselves and our fellow travelers in this universe.  It does not tell us though why we are here.  Me, I personally believe this, we're here now, deal with it. 

1 comment:

  1. Baha'is and food: It's kinda funny. Their leader Abdu'l-Baha believes the canine teeth in humans are DESIGNED to break nuts with and I find this very absurd:

    "Thou hast written regarding the four canine teeth in man, saying that these teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, are for the purpose of eating meat. Know thou that these four teeth are not created for meat-eating, although one can eat meat with them. All the teeth of man are made for eating fruit, cereals and vegetables. These four teeth, however, are designed for breaking hard shells, such as those of almonds." (Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahā’ī Reference File, chap. XXIV, no. 1007.)

    Try breaking hard nuts with the canine teeth and you'll be off to the dentist very soon.

    You'll find a bunch of other illogical unscientific statements from Baha'i leaders here: