A long, observant and experiential life has led me to believe that religions of the world, often unintentionally, exacerbate the conflicts inherent in our competitive, aggressive natures. By definition, membership in the religion of our birth results in our firm belief that other faiths are somehow in error.
For aggressive believers, this can result in intolerance, or even active hostility.
Well intentioned and passionate missionaries are being dispatched around the globe planting the seeds of religious conflict in both established and developing cultures. They have caused confrontations and destabilized societies, resulting in war and death for vulnerable, less sophisticated, impressionable primitives.
These less educated peoples are easily swayed by zealous, articulate proselytizers, often resulting in very deadly conflicts. Since the well intended messengers deeply believe what they are teaching, they consider the potential for havoc, acceptable.
In early cultures, through the genocidal crusades and even into our present time, more death, destruction and grief has been connected to religious frictions than to natural disasters, plagues and famines. We are witness to the ethnic and religious hostilities that currently plague our modern world.
It is also important to note that the natural disasters that are blamed on the caprices of “Mother Nature” supposedly could have been overruled by “God” who is “omnipotent, omniscient and all merciful.” Since God has not reined in Mother Nature or prevented innocents from suffering and death, empirical observation indicates that the practice of prayer is of questionable value, except that it does definitely give some people solace in troubled times.
Our modern awareness of the vastness of space indicates that there are billions of galaxies, with trillions of suns, moons and planets that have been expanding outward for about 14 billion years. We are told by religionists that a few thousand years ago people named Moses, Jesus or Mohammed, were in direct contact with the God that controlled earth, the galaxies, space, the whole shebang. Wow!
This God, we are told, records our every thought and deed and keeps a ledger that determines our place and status in eternity. Since he controls this vast universe as well, he must do the same for all living things on those zillions of planets.
He must have quite a staff or a very powerful computer to evaluate and co-late all this diverse negative and positive data that are being augmented every second of every day on every orb in these multiple universes!
During the eons of human development, I wonder about the many millions of Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, and Humans who were born before these messengers arrived. When and at what stage in our development were our immortal souls installed and what happened to the poor “souls” who died the day before that date?
As a secular humanitarian, I think we should continue our efforts to treat our fellow man with the utmost kindness and compassion. We should try to preserve our planet and maintain ethical standards for our progeny and all living things. We should bend our efforts toward peace altruism and fairness, not because we fear punishment or hope for an eternal reward, but just because it is the right thing to do and the right way to live…
We should most definitely keep and practice the Golden Rule…”Do Unto Others,” etc., Not because some of us may hope to drift around in space for billions of years as joyous, body-less spirits, but because people will like us and we will be justifiably proud of ourselves during our brief sojourn on this wonderful sphere.
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