On Religion and Other Subjects Considered TabooSubmitted by dwalters on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 14:53
Talk about religious principles has become taboo to many people in today’s society. Often, individuals will become uncomfortable when the subject comes up. In my humble opinion, lack of communication about difficult issues is what leads to the ultimate consequences that intolerance among different groups can bring. Traditionally and quite rationally, the rate of positive human progress comes in direct proportion to the level of free communication among the people. That’s why censorship and propaganda are such an effective team – increase one stream of communication while limiting others. By communicating and attempting to create a mutual understanding about difficult topics, divide and conquer strategies by outside influences can be made much less effective. Religion happens to be one of the most prominent examples of such a topic that is often used by demagogues to divide the public. So… let’s have a discussion about religion.
First of all, let me point out that I question everything. To forbid certain questions is a recipe for disaster. If a person can be convinced that there exists some entity that is beyond question, that person can likely also be convinced that there is another human that somehow knows the will of the supposed supreme being. Then, the messenger of a god – the shepherd – guides the flock. For instance, it is no secret that religious demagoguery against Muslims has allowed the long-term occupation of the Middle East. The same demagoguery is being used to target Iran. No person can answer the question as to whether a god truly exists. For the same reason, no person can be trusted when they claim to be in communication with a potential deity. It is always a good idea to determine the motives of individuals that try to influence your opinion using religious arguments. Recall a few years back when so many Catholic priests were implicated in the molestation of male churchgoing youth. Recall pastor Jim Jones that founded the People’s Temple in the 1970’s and subsequently convinced over 900 people of various social and ethnic backgrounds to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. Beware of those people that use religion in attempts to guide other people.
Long standing religions have been adulterated by the ruling classes over the course of history. None exist in their original form. For example, Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Upon his conversion, the “Universal Church” was created. We refer to this church today as a name derived from the Greek word for universal – catholicus. During those times, Christianity had emerged from cult status and was in competition with other religious dogmas such as Zoroastrianism and Paganism among others. Accordingly, the Romans adapted the celebrations of the Catholic Church to bring these others into the flock. December 21st marks the winter solstice which was celebrated by Zoroastrians and Pagans alike. The Pagan influence brought on the existence of the Christmas tree. December 26th coincides with the death of Zoroaster and was a major celebration for Zoroastrians. Easter was named after Ishtar – the Babylonian god of sex, love, and war – and the day of celebration marks the resurrection of her lover Tammuz. Further, there are reasons why there are such texts as The King James Version of the Christian bible. Why do you suppose a particular king has a bible version dedicated to him? Why do you suppose the Romans tried like hell to create a universal church for all of mankind to follow? Why do you suppose religion is taboo in private circles while politicians and pundits invoke it at will? If a person puts themselves in a subservient position to organized religion, that person puts themselves in a subservient position to the will of other men.
As stated previously, no person can answer the question as to whether a god exists and provide any proof to support their argument. Currently, no experiment can be performed to give evidence one way or the other. Belief in a god can only come from faith. For this reason, the existence of a god or lack thereof is of no concern to science. Science only deals with testable phenomena. The apparent clash between religion and science spawned from idealists who refused to believe scientific findings such as the sun being at the center of our galaxy. To profess these types of ideas publicly was considered to be blasphemy. Printing of Copernicus’ findings was prohibited by the Roman Universal Church. In such circumstances, it has often been the case that religious leaders have found themselves in a position where they have stated through supposed divine knowledge that things must be a certain way only to later find a foot stuck in their mouths. Rather than swallow their pride, religious leaders in the past have manufactured conflict in attempts to preserve their reputation and influence with followers. To be quite honest, nature behaves a certain way, and no belief system contrived by man can change the laws of physics. It is the way it is. I promise you the belief system will change before the nature of the physical universe changes. How many of you would regularly attend a church that still believed that the sun revolved around the earth?
Nowadays, evolution is said to divide scientists from the religious. To this manufactured conflict I say, just as no human can rearrange the planets by religious edict, no human will be able to put a stop to evolution. Just as religious people will argue that a god put the planets in their current locations with the sun at the center, one day religious people will argue that evolution is the tool used by a god to create life and forever improve upon it. Through this argument, evolution will be accepted just as was the heliocentric universe. Man will continue to probe the workings of nature, and human guided belief systems will continue to find themselves adapting to new discoveries. Nature (A god) doesn’t give a damn how humans think the universe should work. It works a certain way, and we are at the mercy of its laws whether we choose to believe them or even know they exist.
Religion is a powerful tool. It seems that most people that have been considered major religious prophets have professed philosophies of peace. Only later have these philosophies been manipulated into tools of oppression. Radical Christian leaders will say that the Muslims are coming to get the Christians, and radical Muslim leaders will say the Christians are coming to get the Muslims. If the truth were to be told, it is that these religious leaders are to blame for the demagoguery that fuels the fire of religious intolerance. Once these fires are well stoked, politicians often use the momentum created to play religious pawns against each other. Don’t allow your religious beliefs to be co-opted in the name of violence. Certainly, Jesus and Mohammed wouldn’t approve of the millions killed in their names – many which have been innocent civilians. It is time for people to give up their hate of others just because they happen to be different in some way such as ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or social class. Allow religion to be a medium to propagate peace – not hatred and violence.
Having open discussions about difficult topics such as religion is necessary for the progress of mankind. Subjects like religion that are often avoided during everyday conversation leads to intolerance among people with different opinions. For instance, some people who read this may even feel a bit of anger about what has been stated. Because they refuse to communicate without limitations, those people will likely choose to maintain their religious intolerance against others that don’t subscribe to the same belief system they do. Complete silence about issues has never been credited for solving problems of diversity. Furthermore, only talking and associating with people that agree with each other has never been credited for solving problems of diversity. On the contrary, rational communication provides the only avenue for solving these problems. It is no coincidence that the word “ignore” roots the word “ignorance.”