Sunday, January 29, 2012

Antiquated Religions

Think about this:  All the choices we have in life were already in existence before you were born.  For example, at the time of your birth, all the nations of the world were mapped out, all the definitions of ethnicities were already decided, the different genres of music styles were created, political party lines were drawn, and careers paths, all the world languages, and your choices of religious practice had all been established.  You did not have a say in how you would have liked the world to be at the time you arrived on this planet.  Moreover, as creative as you might think you are, all the ingenious ideas you had were based on the choices you were presented with from the time of your birth.  Here is the worst part; we all still act as if we have infinite free will, yet still perpetuate the choices and superstitions of thousands of years ago.

Soon after your birth, your parents taught you to communicate with sounds we call speech and they chose the language and dialect you would use initially, if not for the rest of your life.  As a child, you were not in a position to refuse and then pick the method of communication you felt might suit you better.  After a certain amount of time, you could make a conscious choice to learn another language or method of communication, but you still started with that first language and had to use it as the basis for learning the next one.

What if you grew up with no influence on how you learned to communicate?  No one taught you to use voice, hand signals, or body language.  How would you communicate?  How would you express yourself?  Would it be more natural? Would your perceptions, concepts, and ideas about life and the world be different? 

Now, think about this.  If there were no people around to influence you, what would your perception of the ‘divine’ be?  You would know nothing about the concept of ‘religion’ and would have never heard the word ‘god.’  What then?  Would you be missing anything?  Would you ‘feel or sense’ the divine presence?  Or would you just be you in this world?  Would you feel compelled to create your own religion?  What would that be like with no point of reference?  You wouldn’t know anything about angels, demons, spirits, Heaven, Hell, purgatory, god, goddess, polytheism, churches, temples, or the afterlife.  Nor would you have ever heard of these words and concepts.

 When did we learn these superstitious ideas?  Am I to understand that primitive humans witnessed natural events and imagined an unknowable entity as the cause?  And not one primitive ever actually witnessed one of these gods, angels, devils, spirits, to verify this overly creative idea?  They all just went with it because they were too stupid to understand or see the cause and effect.  Let’s say the primitives rationalized certain events.  Why did the loud light from the sky touch my friend and now he no longer lives?  Why not me?  Was he struck down as I choose an animal to strike down for food?  If so, what decided he was to be struck and not me?  Predators choose the young and the weak.  He was not young so he must have been weak and lacking in some way.  Was he not worthy in some way?  One could continue this line of thought to the determination of aspects and perceptions of why certain individuals met an unfortunate end.  This may lead to ‘sins’ and then rules to avoid these sins.  Stories and anecdotes would be told about all the terrible things that happened to people and tribes and some morality lesson would be extrapolated from each event.  Eventually, we might understand that individuals would have to be selected as rule keepers and the ‘law’ would be written.  The personality and character of this divine entity would soon be developed and the primitives would endow this unknowable entity with very human nature; anger, vengeance, jealousy, judgment, etc.  

Let’s fast forward to today.  Although we cannot predict where and when it will discharge, we know what creates lightning.  We know what causes earthquakes, tornados, floods, hurricanes and all other natural geological events.  We even understand the plagues of illnesses, diseases, and pandemics.  We can go beyond the clouds to see into space.  We have detected solar systems neighboring ours in this vast galaxy.  We may not know how or why we all came into being, but we do know that every time we ask a question, we find the answer – eventually. 

So why do we still cling to superstitious religions?  Aren’t we smarter that our primitive ancestors?  I am not saying that there is no divine presence or greater source.  I don’t know either way.  I am just wondering why we haunt our world and cultures with primitive ‘gods.’  Is it not time to embrace our knowledge and stop being afraid of what primitives feared.  I have come to accept that religion may be a necessary step for some people to understand their place in this universe.  However, I don’t understand why our religions have not evolved with the rest of the planet.  These dark shadows of fear lurk in the corner of our collective minds.  We feel we are constantly being judged by a being who is unknowable, unfathomable, unappeasable.  I don’t knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, or avoid black cats.  I don’t cringe at the sight of the number 13, don’t worry about ‘speaking too soon,’ nor do I circumnavigate step ladders.  Nevertheless, I am expected to go to a special building, participate in rituals, listen to spells, and sit at the feast of cannibals.  We even select our world leaders on how superstitious they are and with what superstition they delude themselves. 

Maybe I am too optimistic.  Maybe we are not as evolved of a culture as I thought.  But I do think there are an elite portion of this world population that has grown past those primitives.  It may be up to them to set the example and lead the primitives out of the dark ages and into the enlightened world of the present. 

I don’t know what the answer is, but I am willing to learn and move forward.  Who is with me?

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