Religion – What Is It? What Is It Good For?

 

There are at least three components required in order to have a religion.  First, there must be an object of the religion.  The object may be invisible, or visible, ideological or real, animate, or inanimate.  Secondly, there must be collective action around the object with certain common agreements.  Thirdly, there must be a belief that this object has power that exceeds that of an individual person, although all or some of that power may possibly be transferred to the individual person under certain circumstances or criteria.

Beyond this, one must examine the veracity of the claims and beliefs.  There are religions that promote sex with children.  Western civilization along with most of the world would at least publicly, if not in reality, reject this as being “wrong” and out of hand.  From a democratic perspective, that would make sex with children unacceptable, or in some people’s minds – “wrong”.  There are religions that believe it’s o.k. to steal, and in fact it is a mark of success how much you can steal.  Again, the majority would reject this.

The problem with these two examples, and many more are available, is what authority determines what is “right” (acceptable), or “wrong” (what is unacceptable)?  If a majority can determine what is right or wrong, then was the majority of Germans who voted Hitler into power “right” or “wrong”?  It had to be one or the other, as it could not be both.  Germany was well on its way, at the time of Hitler, to becoming a secular (non organized religion) society.  Of course, if the government becomes the religion, then it is not unorganized, and it does fulfill the three criteria above.  Then you must ask who gets control of the government, and the religion it controls and purveys?

This now brings us to the question of what validates a religion?  Here we come into much controversy among the nations and cultures of the world.  Are all religions equally valid?  Of course not!  We already have two examples above of unacceptable behavior (according to the vast majority) which are the fruit of religion.  Should religion be dictated by majorities?  In Germany where the state became the religion, we can see that the majority can make very dangerous decisions and take scary actions.  Again, the majority around the world would say that genocide, state murder or whatever term is preferable, is not acceptable, and is “wrong”.  But, why is it “wrong”.  Is something “wrong” because one person or a million, or even a billion people say it’s so?

What about the saying; ” ‘Right’ is ‘right’ even if everyone is ‘wrong’!”?  Does that have any validity?  This now brings us to a critical crossroad.  Does the determination of “right” and “wrong” have to be adjudicated from a subjective or objective perspective?  If subjective, then one individual, a million, or a billion determining something as “right” or “wrong” is perfectly fine.  The conundrum is whether or not a majority can make a mistake, and as we saw in the German example, it is possible – if you think they were “wrong”, but as a majority, they thought they were “right”.

The alternative of the objective approach is where many snares and dissension take place.  Objective requires a dispassionate perspective coming from a disinterested party with no ax to grind.  Is this even possible?  We see Christians, Muslims, Secular Humanists, and other religions fighting each other in sometimes very bloody battles. There was the Protestant Reformation fighting the Roman Catholics.  Wahhabi’s, Sunni’s and Shiites have fought for many centuries.  There is no one church of Secular Humanism, as it is an outcropping of national governments, and therefore we have wars around the world that have been happening for millennia.

So, is it at all possible to be “objective”?  With people, it is impossible!  It is only possible when people look to an authoritative, outside of people’s control, source which or who cannot be controlled by people.  So, how do you do that?  Here’s where the rub comes, and it will be next to impossible with fallible people to ever come to 100% agreement. Even so, we should not become discouraged with this conundrum.  There are many canards out there that would be used to discredit the attempt to achieve the goal of objective authority.

That is all part of the historical battle that will never end apart from divine intervention. There is one “objective” source that claims authority in the world.  Its claim is made based upon many evidences that have been closely scrutinized by critic and supporter alike.  It has been proven to be true, and never proven to be a lie.  It has been proven to be “right”, and never proven to be “wrong”.  It is not subject to majority rule, and it is not subject to a change of heart, emotions, bribery, coercion or dilution.  What could it be?  If you haven’t figured it out by now, it is the Bible – Old and New Testaments combined to form a path for man (includes women) to follow.

When the path is followed genuinely, and NOT ACCORDING TO MAN’S TWISTING OF IT , then it works very well, and there is evidential history of it doing so.  Of course, man is not perfect, and therefore, he will err (sin) frequently.  As long as the objective authority of the Bible is the touchstone for society and government, then we always have something with which to correct ourselves when we stray  from it. Without it, we devolve into chaos, violence and immorality.  For the secularists, there is the Constitution (heavily influenced by the Bible), and yet, we see where the Constitution is being ignored today.  The Bible is an even higher authority, and when America began to ignore it, the Constitutions’ failure was soon to follow.  The result now is rioting in the streets – violent protestations, factionalism, government corruption on a massive scale etc.

As an example, consider that prior to WW II, America was deeply rooted in the Bible as a standard for morality (interpretation of  “right’ and “wrong”) even though there was a growing majority of unbelievers in America.  So then, it was not “cool” to have children out of wedlock, homosexuality was considered abnormal and perverted, lying politicians were rebuked, if not removed from office, drug use (other than prescription) was illegal, alcoholism was severely frowned upon, divorce was almost unheard of, sex outside of marriage was frowned upon, there were “blue laws” which honored the Christian Sabbath by having businesses stay closed on Sundays, and many many more things too numerous to mention that reflected Biblical laws and precepts of morals and conduct that were codified in our legal system.

You can see from the above list that a lot has changed.  Now, you must decide for yourself if the changes are “right” or “wrong”? Have they been good for America, or bad for America?  Have they extended or restricted our liberties?  Have they increased or decreased the cost of living?  Have they made us a better nation overall? Have they made us more just?  Have they made us more righteous?  Or, have they made us more selfish, self indulgent, wicked, dishonest with ourselves and fellow citizens?  Choose now whom you will serve – God or mammon (money)!

Pen

Pensamiento Peligroso writes the truth as he sees it, and if it upsets you, then it makes you think!

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