As you know religion is a sensitive subject no matter what you believe in. Among the conversations people engage in sports, politics, or music, some may have little to no interest in those topics. I guarantee that no matter who you ask a religion question to, the individual will have an opinion on the subject. You may think it is silly or what have you but I bet they will have an answer. While again this may be somewhat taboo, it is interesting that pretty much everyone will have an opinion on the topic, or at the very least they will have something to say. Whereas asking someone what they think about 2016 presidential race may get you some funny looks, depending on who your friends are.
When it comes to sports a true fan will know any number of stats or the win loss record or why so and so team is better. In regard there should also be some sort of fact or evidence to back up the argument, or there is also the blind fan that will follow their team no matter how poorly they are doing. These select few die-hard fans will always think their team is the best despite their record stating otherwise. This same logic can be followed for music and politics, although those topics have a little more opinion thrown in with them. But let’s be honest the Rolling Stones are probably the greatest band of all time along with the Eagles or Led Zeppelin. FACT!
Moving on. As I have said it I think it is fascinating that everyone does seem to have on opinion about religion and or God, and in general I would guess that the consensus is that they are good. That is very interesting for so many reasons. The main one is that at the end of the day no one really knows the truth, by that I mean if a God does exist, or if there is a Heaven or afterlife. Despite the most devout believers, no mere mortal knows those answers, many claim to but at the end of the day it is just a guess or what the individual wants to believe, which is totally fine either way. And again I would say that any level of worshipers would state that religion is good, I don’t think anyone would really argue with that statement.
I have found that it bizarre that everyone would have an opinion about this when there are little to no facts to support either side of the argument. But still they have no problem voicing their opinion, which again is interesting. So why would someone want to voice their opinion about something like this other than for the sake of argument? Yet when asked about politics or sports an uninformed individual usually will bow out of the conversation. That is what I find so fascinating on a psychological level. Are religious beliefs one of the only things where no matter the opinion they are acceptable? As for most topics there are certainly things that do not belong. The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, certainly not, in fact they are terrible and I do not like their music. The Stone Temple Pilots are about 108.9 times better than the Beatles. That last sentence is blasphemous most would agree, and there are any number of stats record sales to state otherwise. Yet when it comes to religious beliefs there are no facts, yet everyone has an opinion. Is this concept so engrained in our being that it is the most basic of opinions, something that we all have no matter what. Not everyone knows about music or sports or cycling but almost everyone has an opinion about God.
Another question is that are religious beliefs a societal invention or are those beliefs something that is programmed in us and is a part of our biology. With the advent of society came religion, I think that can be easily traced through history, although I would argue that even before society mankind’s earliest ancestors have been worshiping something they believed to be bigger than themselves, usually the sun. So again are these ideals biologically programmed in us or is it just the natural occurrence that goes along with the building of a society.
Religion is a very powerful tool for a variety of reasons. Pretty much since the beginning of human civilization there has been some aspect of worshiping a deity throughout history. There have been plenty of religions that have some and gone over the years, and plenty of that has to do with human politics. What the King wanted the people obeyed, or else they had their heads chopped off. Cause and effect, simple enough. My point is that the history of human civilization is tightly intertwined with religion. The real question is if religion has been good for us a species as far as our history is concerned.
Let’s take a look at some ancient cultures. For the most part I think the Romans were fairly tolerant of other religions. I do not think they fought any wars over religion, that I am aware or, nor do I think religion was the reason for the slaughter and wars they fought in three separate continents. So I will give them a pass. Moving forward into the Dark Ages, this is when things get interesting. I think this is a major point and time where religion was used as a tool to keep the masses in check, where the people lived in fear of their God. This is when the Spanish Inquisition came into power and instilled a great deal more fear in people during this time period. Much of their dealing has been somewhat exaggerated, but I found that an estimate of 150,000 people were imprisoned and about 4,000 people were executed. The Inquisition accused hundreds of thousands of being heretics, whatever that means, and used their power and influence to instill fear, pain, and even death. That sure sounds like the Lords work to me! Why wouldn’t God want us to imprison and even kill those that do not worship Him? Duhhh.
Anyways lets now take a look at the Conquistadors. At the end of the Dark Ages the age of exploration soon to be followed by the Age of Enlightenment where some of the greatest advancements of the time were set into motion. Still even during this time there was a fear of persecution from religious authorities. But let’s focus on the Conquistadors first. In the search for gold, wealth, land, and power this time period, in my opinion, was responsible for the most inexcusable and asinine destruction in recorded history. While I am sure there will never be exact numbers but let’s just estimate that about 50 million people were killed during this period of about 130 years. I will say that the majority of this was caused by disease, which the Natives had no resistance too, and I will give the Conquistadors a very small pass as they did not know about disease and such. I will also say that the reason for the journey was mainly to look for gold, but there were religious aspects as well.
It has been well documented that priests aggressively converted the natives to Catholicism and imprisoned, tortured, cut limbs, or killed anyone who did not convert. It is also well documented that these priests destroyed ancient texts and other religious items precious to the native for no other reason that just because, mainly to show them that they were no longer in control. These bunch of morons robbed later generations of the knowledge of entire ancient cultures of the Americas. Because they were once again “doing God’s work” they destroyed multiple civilizations’ ways of life and their culture. Again this is probably what God wanted, there is some sarcasm in that last sentence.
So after the complete destruction and genocide of multiple ancient cultures, the persecution was not finished. During the Age of Enlightenment many of the greatest minds the planet has ever seen had to be very careful when talking about their new ideas. They were dangerous and could land them in jail. The idea that the Earth was not the center of the solar system along with so many new philosophies were heretical and dangerous ideas. Which again because of religion these great thinkers had to be extremely careful. Many of the most radical new ideas were whispered among the learned in secret. It was also around this time that it seemed that religion was losing much of its power politically.
Then during the colonization of the new world the Salem Witch trials sprang up. About 20 or so people were killed because they were believed to be witches and that was obviously the work of the Devil. They certainly could not let the Devil win, so they had to immediately kill the individuals, mostly women, after a trail of course. Law an order every time. Again these executions came from religious fanatics.
Let’s move forward again, now to WWII. While I know the war itself was not religiously motivated, with Hitler and his craziness it ended up being. The Jewish population was targeted as basically being the reason for all of Germany’s problems and they were slaughtered. I think this example is somewhat different because I think he just personally did not like the Jews and wanted to destroy them. Still it is interesting that religion played very a large part in WWII.
In the modern world I would say that for the most part we are mostly tolerant of any and all religions. What is interesting is that modern day terrorist use this centuries old tactic to recruit new members and carry out what they thing is “justice.” That in a nutshell is the power of organized religion. Someone with an AK47 and a very twisted view of the world can convince others to join their cause because it is what God wants.
So the real question after all the stuff listed above, is organized religion a good thing? I think it would be very easy to argue that it is not. I guess to me how can something that is supposed to be so good and pure ruin so many lives, millions of lives. That is what I cannot in no any wrap my head around. I am sure it looks and sounds like I am bashing religion, I am trying not to. But to me it is hard, near impossible, to jump on board with something that is responsible for so much pain and suffering. Now I will say that I would imagine that for every bad thing mentioned above there is an equally good deed that when unrecorded. So I would argue that religion is evil/good neutral through its history.
Again I wonder if organized religion is a good thing for us as humans and for society. I don’t think it takes a genius to see that religion in general is somewhat fading, yet we still have the fanatics all over the world. Could there be a time in the future where these beliefs have all but disappeared and would this be better for us as a species?
As I often say believe what you want to believe, don’t let someone else convince you of their view of the universe. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to this, just make sure you have a well thought out opinion and make it your own. It’s your universe…