Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Religionism

Here is something you will never see. A young agnostic Irishman drinks a bottle of Bushmills, stumbles deep into the woods and passes out. The next morning, he declares that he was visited by Allah and is now a devout Muslim.

You will never see the above, because religion is truly a geo-social phenomenon. Your beliefs depend upon where you live and how you are raised. This is why we have Muslims in the middle east, Buddhists in the orient and Christians in whatever land they've conquered. Yes, a religion can raise armies and conquer or oppress opposing religions, that is clear - but to sustain that religion, generations of believers must get a foothold and congregate.

Religions tell us something about their members - they are either prone to believe the voice of authority, or they ARE the voice of authority, leveraging that power. In other words, in every religion there are true believers at one end of the spectrum, and non-believers at the other, pretending to believe and using the power of belief to their advantage. There are some ridiculous things which otherwise rational seeming people either believe or want to believe (or pretend to believe). For instance, there is an actual belief that "the devil" planted fossils in the ground to spread doubt about the true story of creation, or that Moses gathered a male and female specimen of every creature on earth and stored them all in a man made arc (and so on).

Many religions have similarities about a loving patriarch who watches over them and promises eternal life after death. This reminds me of an encounter from several weeks ago. I was approached by 2 young women who were Jehovah's Witnesses. We conversed pleasantly and after some discussion about beliefs, I stated that I tolerate all religious beliefs except those that condone violence, human rights violations or harmful practices. The girls seemed to accept this, but then one of them went into a rapturous smiling trance as she expressed her love for the "heavenly father". As she proceeded to describe the wonderment of his love, she departed from a discussion of "what she believes" and crossed over into "the way things are".

It never ceases to amaze me how most people believe so deeply in something which cannot be seen or proven in the real world, and yet are determined to spread that belief to others who are made uncomfortable by that imposition. True believers will even fight to convert you to their system of beliefs, and actually kill you if you refuse. If you think this statement to be an exaggeration, in some parts of the world, think again.

Truly, religion gives the masses a form of group think consensus to believe and act a certain way - the way of the tribe. Most religions demand payment in "faith" - that unquestioning belief that defies logic - in order to "enjoy all benefits of membership". It seems warm and cozy to many people to "know" they are loved by an all powerful personified God who is preparing for them after death. To others, this seems eerily cult-like. In fact, looking at the facts objectively, the only real difference between a cult and a religion is size.

Some readers will no doubt become uncomfortable by this post, finding Roacheforque's lack of faith disturbing. And yet, Roacheforque does not find the reverse position in others disconcerting in the least. Inasmuch as most religious beliefs are tolerated by reasonable people, it is perplexing that the religious cannot seem to tolerate reasonable people with different beliefs. It is well known that people want to be around others who are "like them". But the deeply religious seem most concerned about others who are not like them. They have a burning sense of duty to "set our souls right" so that we can enjoy the benefits of their religion - even if we do not care to join.

The problem with religion is like that of any system of belief - it empowers the believer with a form of intolerance toward others with a different belief system. It feeds the tribal instinct to be adversarial toward others "not like us". When the Jehovah's witness began describing her belief system as "the way things are", she challenged the authenticity of my belief system. In effect, her position (whether she recognizes this or not) is that being tolerant of other belief systems is incorrect. Her belief system is the correct one, the one and only true reality - and all others, including mine, are not only false, but damning. And this of course is the eternal dilemma.

Racism, prejudice, intolerance, misogyny, banishment, xenophobia, sanctions, isolationism, protectionism, populism and tribalism all begin with the heinous crime of being "not like us".

It is an interesting coincidence that while this post has been saved for days, this article now appears within the Hedge. If you read between the lines and correlate to recent posts here in the annals, a new puzzle piece appears which fits the grand construct. The article characterizes the current Pope as "a neo-Marxist in economic thought, a One-World Government advocate, and an enthusiast of open borders and mass migration". If so, it is no wonder why Putin would claim he is "not a man of God". But make your own assessment by reviewing posts further back, where the ulterior motives behind the mass migrations surrounding Russia are more fully discussed.

Religion, like politics and any other organized system of beliefs tends to create the conflicts of tribalism. Any system of beliefs which breeds tribalism and conflict is dangerous, especially when those conflicts are fueled by "divine irrationality". When Religion takes the form of "manifest destiny" opposing tribes are massacred.

Like any form of power, the power of religion can used for good or evil. It is the weakness of human nature that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. I am sorry to say that the days of good hearted Kings who rule benignly over a people they love are but a distant memory here on earth. That memory exists in the soul's deep desire that a heavenly King does exist "above us", and that he loves us and wants nothing more for us than to be happy, peaceful and prosperous all the days of our lives, wanting nothing for himself, and everything for his subjects.

Because we cannot seem to have this on earth, we long for it after death. But it can be had on earth. It begins with tolerance - the understanding that people in other lands with different beliefs have something of value to offer besides being "like us". It doesn't mean that we glorify those differences to the extremes of far left liberalism - only that we view them objectively, and accept the benefits of being welcome "visitors" to each others tribes.

We do not all have to be members of the same belief system to validate our existence, and the existence of others. Tribes can co-exist, trade with one another and enrich each other. Celebrate diversity. Don't force it, or destroy it. An existence without polar extremes is worth consideration.

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