this is a sticky post. It will stay up here till August 8th, 2005 if things work like in my favor. Scroll way further down for day-to-day entries
Common Sense has posted a very nice and long article titled “My Religion Can Beat Up Your Religion” that has been making me itchy to do something about it. I am a moslem, and I won’t be neutral on this. I’ll let you know what a moslem should think about this kind of topic.
I’ll be quoting almost all of the article as I give my own take on the topic.
Religion, in its purest form, is an individual quest for the answers to life’s most elusive questions: How did we get here? What happens when we die? What is the purpose of life? Is there a higher being or greater power than ourselves? To what do we owe our existence? What do we owe each other? Man is a thinking creature, and it is in his nature to seek answers to all that he can know. But for those things that he cannot find conclusive proof, man ascribes the answer to a force bigger than himself, often called God.
This is a nice perspective. I’m sure many theologists started with similar premises. But as a moslem, I found so many times that the premise – man seeks answers through God – lacks something important: the presence of prophets. They were the bringers of those answers. Whether in the end the the answers stay in pure forms or got twisted with time, it is a matter of fact that God has given answers.
Something will be lost if men seek answers but not based by those given by God-chosen Prophets. Mostly because men will be totally unguided.
Over the course of humanity, different groups of people have found different answers to these questions, and through their interpretation of their world, have created their own version of God. The result is a smorgasbord of religious thought and theory, passed down through the millennia, ingrained in the culture and societies of our world. And as the cultures of the world began to engage each other, either through trade or through war or through serendipitous encounters, the constructs of religion were put to the test.
So many times, versions of “god” were created to function as basis to justify many things authorities in those different cultures have done or about to do. When the functions meet their contradictions, either through conception of newer, more logical concepts of “god” or through meeting with other culture’s conceptions of “god”, things started to go heated up.
More often because the believer in the conceptions of “God” were stubborn and unable to accept that the new conceptions are better, cause they may lose their status, and perhaps fear that they may be subjected to second-class if they accept the new conceptions. Many times, that what has happened.
And because the gods are assigned with such power and reverence, it is considered unwise to go against the common practices. Still, over time, religious concepts have changed as man himself has changed, and what was once the prevailing religion of the day is now relegated to mythology status or, even lower, superstition.
Sometimes the relegation happened because the believers willinly escaped the overpowered and illogical authorities in the said religions, or the the cultures that supported the religions have collapsed, on its own weight or because of interventions of other cultures.
Sometimes the old religions got assimilated to newer religions. Thus a kind of branching or infidelitiy occurs. Many times these assimilation persists because the preachers of the new religion needs the numbers of followers the old religion already has. Indonesians Islam has been the victim of this kind of assimilation.
It is undeniable that religion has played a major role in the development of our cultures, and that it still does today.
True, but further growth in cults of consumerism and capitalism has somehow diminish the role of religions.
On one hand, religion offers peace and purpose. On the other, it invites only misery and disdain. How this dichotomy is even possible would be a mystery were it not for one thing: the ideals of religion are simple; it is man who screws it all up.
I have answers for the dichotomy: overpowered rigid and illogical religion authorities, believers who block themselves from alternatives, and religion profiteers. Two will be likely to be perished along with the religion, but the third one my become thorn on the side for any religions who has contemporary powers.
The simple fact that there are so many variations of religious thought should lead a rational mind to conclude that either all of them are completely wrong, or all of them are at least partially right.
Or one may be fully right but the others are just clinging to their belief stubbornly.
Indeed, a quick review of varying religions’ basic tenets offers a surprisingly common premise, that the purpose of life is to attain happiness and appreciation of the world and all that it has to offer, and that to live a purposeful life one should treat others well and strive to do more good than harm. If, in fact, all religious teaching focused on these basic ideas, there would be much less strife in the world today. If the end result is the same, at least in terms of the way people relate to each other, does it really matter the manner in which these ends are met? The reality should be that the method of belief is secondary to the desired goal, which is peace with oneself, one’s world, and one’s neighbors. Whether you get there by praying to a single god, through offerings to multiple, minor deities, through meditation and introspection, or by secular means should be irrelevant, provided that you cause no harm to others in the practice of your chosen religion.
Absolutely True. Can’t argue more.
Of the existing major religions in the world today, you could probably divide them into two major sub-groups: the one’s that believe in an actual God, and the one’s that ascribe supernatural traits to the natural world itself.
Monotheisms and Polytheisms. Somehow nowadays, Polytheisms seems so outdated or got relegated as second class status present only at traditional rituals.
Do you know that there is an anecdote saying that Japaneses are “born Shinto, marry as christians, and die as buddhist?”
Those that believe in a single God are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In fact, the “God” of all three is the same God, and all three groups trace their ancestry to a single man, Abraham, and his sons. Judaism is the oldest of the three, going back some 4,000 years. Christianity could be describes as Judaism 2.0 and Islam as Judaism 3.0 (or Christianity 2.0), both chronologically and ideologically.
It interesting that it is viewed as that way. Why don’t Judaism 1.0 followers upgrade to Judaism 2.0 and later be upgraded to Judaism 3.0?
I have my own theory: the past versions of Judaism 1.0 and Judaism 2.0 has been hacked and cracked so many times by their authorities to ensure that their followers can’t upgrade easily and without fatal costs. This have been making their followers reluctant to upgrade. In case of Judaism 1.0 and Judaisme 2.0, the real unhacked versions have ordered them to upgrade as soon as new version comes along, if you can find any pure versions.
I prefer to call what he calls as Judaism 3.0 as Islam Final.
For some of society, no religion is necessary at all.
It can’t be. Some basic form of religion must occur in a society to do a basic funtion: unification of society members.
…eventually, it becomes important for us to learn a little bit about other people’s religions and ideas, if only to reaffirm our own teachings for ourselves. To learn another’s point of view does not have to jeopardize your own beliefs, nor does it need to lead to prejudice or hate. What difference does it make what I believe, so long as I am not harming you or anyone else? How is my choice of religion any more offensive than the color of my hair or the kind of car I drive? Why should someone’s religion cause them to be my enemy when I’ve never even met them?
What about go clear your mind off your current religions, like I have done before, and finding some logics in your own religions and compare it with logics in other religions? I’m happy in with mine cause I found it more logical than other religions.
Of all the things that can divide mankind, religion should be the last. …To use it in any other way is to negate any good it has and to spit on the very gods it worships.
But religion is the strongest tool for manipulation and can be easily wielded and brings out the most results. And yes, to use it that way means spit on the very God it worships.
I often feel that organized religion tends to indulge the worst facets of humanity while only professing to strive for the best. But whether I follow a specific brand of religion, or none at all, is irrelevant to the bigger topic at hand. What’s more important is to understand why religion has become such a divisive force in our world and what we can do to change that.
Let me rephrase: Overpowered Illogical Authorative Powers. They mean nothing without their powers, and they will try whatever they must to keep their powers at hand, even at the expense at the followers.
And that religion profiteers also need to be whipped. I have been thinking that those hypocrites are the maggots of civilizations.
I hope you stay tuned, because this conversation isn’t over yet.
You’re a great thinker, Man! I’ll look forward for another topic I can give my thoughts on.
tags: philosophies, religions, Islam