We received a message from a site visitor as follows:
There is nothing but war in our world and ALL of it is a result of one religious group being angered and affronted by another religious group who don't see eye to eye with each other. We would all be far better off without these archaic beliefs. They have no place in 21st century society. Technology is the future, not some mythical "deity". Why can't everyone see that?Below follow our answers to the points raised in tabular form:
Religion was just something that people dreamed up hundreds of years ago when they had no other way of explaining our existence on earth and needed to know what came after life. Then science came along and made it clear.
I am sorry if reality does not fit in, but it will prevail despite everything.
A human being
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There is nothing but war in our world and ALL of it is a result of one religious group being angered and affronted by another religious group who don't see eye to eye with each other.
The various "wars" around the world have different causes, and very few of them, if any at all, are because "of one religious group being angered and affronted by another religious group who don't see eye to eye with each other", as you see it.
For example: the so called "Middle East Conflict" which some try to present as a "religious" conflict, because it seen as a conflict between "Jews" and "Arabs", and many people confuse "Arabs" and "Muslims", is in fact a conflict about some areas of land from which some million Arabs had been driven out by the Jews at the time of the creation of the State of Israel.
The Iraq war was started by the Americans for their own political reasons, not religious ones. The same was in the case of the Afghan war.
And even those conflicts which are between groups of people identified by a "religion", like the one in Northern Ireland are in fact about political power by those groups rather than about differences in "religious" doctrines.
Here is an example of a sweeping generalization, which has no basis in real life, but is the result of seeing reality through a distorting prism of preconceived ideas and interpreting this reality in ways which are psychologically convenient.
The person has made no effort to enlighten himself on the causes of the current wars, but explains them in ways convenient to him.
All political ideologies are based on this type of "convenient" subjective reasoning. The political ideologues paint a picture of the world in which the followers of the ideology ("us") are presented as "the good guys", and another group of people ("them") are presented as "the bad guys". So, if "we" kill "them" (or at least subdue "them" to "our" will) then "the world will be a better place". And this is how wars are justified by those who start them.
It is true that there had been wars between religious groups, and that religious slogans have been used to justify wars, but in such cases religions were used as ideologies, and the causes of the wars were not differences in religious theories, but desire of one group to conquer and dominate another group and to impose on it its own "values", not because they are better or right, but because they happen to be theirs.
Religion was just something that people dreamed up hundreds of years ago when they had no other way of explaining our existence on earth and needed to know what came after life.
Historically "religion" was just attempts of people to understand the world in which they lived and to find ways of how to live in it successfully. The early religions were in fact the sum total of all the accumulated human knowledge within a human group passed from generation to generation (that is "science"). But as this knowledge was limited, ignorance was often supplemented with imagination.
Originally there was no distinction between "science" and "religion". The leading British Universities (Oxford and Cambridge) started their life as religious schools, founded by monks. What you call "science" was the branching off of the activities of acquisition, preservation, and transmission of human knowledge into separate areas (sciences), like medicine, physics, etc., while "religion" was left to deal with social morality and (in case of European Christianity) "theology".
This view of religion as a collection of ancient stories that people "dreamed up", is common among many people today.
And, yes, in all religions there can be found stories that are products of human imagination rather than precise statements of known facts. But "dreaming up stories" is not exclusive to religion, it can be found in every sphere of human life.
Nor is religion nothing but a collection of stories, be they imaginary or accurate records of facts and events. The essence of religion is the rules and laws of human behaviour based on understanding of Human Nature. It is these rules and laws that distinguish religion from the various "modern social sciences" which contain some "dreamed up stories" based on, or aimed to justify, the "ideologies" of the various political groups.
Then science came along and made it clear.
If this statement means that "science" made clear "our existence on earth", then it did not. We still do not know how and why the world came into existence. The hypotheses like "The Big Bang", are just as speculative, unproven, and unprovable, as any other theories of the creation of the world, and are in fact "science fiction", rather than "science" (in the sense of "accumulated human knowledge").
And even if it had been proved that there was a Big Bang, the question "What had caused this Bang?", and "Why did it happen?" would still remain unanswered. And the only answer to these questions would be that Something ("The Creator of the Universe"?) had caused this "bang", from which the Universe, as it is known to Man today, came into existence.
There is now a debate among the "western" educators as to whether the children at school should be taught "Darwinism" or "Creationism" (Intelligent Design)? But this is a wrong way of putting the question. The question to be put is: "Which creationism should be taught at school: Darwinism, Intelligent Design, or both of them at the same time?"
And are these theories of the Creation of the World mutually exclusive? Or is the ability of the "creatures" to adapt and evolve, as described by Darwin, just a proof of the intelligence of the Creator?
The way the site visitor sees "science" is also noteworthy. Science is "accumulated human knowledge with the means of discovery, preservations and dissemination of this knowledge". It is not a person who can "come and make it clear". But the site visitor personifies "science" turning it into an object of idolatry.
We would all be far better off without these archaic beliefs.
Religion in general, rather than a particular instance of it, does not need to have "archaic beliefs", any more than chemistry needs "alchemy", which once was a branch of chemistry.
Religion, as science of correct human behaviour and government, does not need archaic beliefs for its existence - it can be just as "scientific" as any other branch of human knowledge. For example early Biblical Judaism and Islam have practically no "theology" (that is speculations about what the Creator of the Universe consists of, how it looks, and where it can be found), but deal with subjects like hygiene, laws of contract, marriage, and human social interactions based on the generalised objective view of Human Nature, as it was known at the time.
And the current wars and the general state of the world show that replacement of such objective generalized laws by laws enacted by politicians to suit their political agendas, and in response to various political pressures, leads to global anarchy, not to some "scientific utopia".
So, while it is true that "We would all be far better off without these archaic beliefs", today's "moral vacuum" is not the answer, and Mankind does need religion (as science of correct human behaviour and government, but without the archaic beliefs).
Human society cannot function correctly without objective and impartial laws. Political ideologies (like the various Socialisms, or "Britishness") cannot provide the needed guidance for Mankind, because they cannot be impartial and objective.
This is a big subject for other related articles see: http://www.truth-and-justice.info/issues.html
The site visitor does not say what "these archaic beliefs" are. So, we make an assumption that he refers to beliefs which are contrary to the modern state of Human Knowledge like the belief that God (the Creator of the Universe) is a Man in the Sky (as depicted on some walls and ceilings of ancient churches).
But Accumulated Human Knowledge is never complete and always contains some gaps which people tend to fill with imagination and then to believe these figments of their imagination and accept them as if they were "knowledge" (that is "science"). But, as the Accumulated Human Knowledge is increased and becomes more precise, some of the "scientific" beliefs are found to be wrong and become "archaic" or "obsolete". And, yes, it is wrong to continue to hold on to such beliefs. And this is just as true of "material" sciences like physics or geography, as it is true of "the science of the correct human behaviour and government" (that is "religion"). If to look at the development of religious knowledge through the human history and in the various parts of the world, we shall see that this knowledge had evolved and expanded, that some beliefs had become obsolete and were replaced with beliefs more correctly describing the reality of the world in which Man finds himself.
Thus, paganism and witchcraft gave way to the belief in the Creator of the Universe, a concept logically derived from the facts of (1) the existence of the Universe and (2) of its logical order.
But such development of knowledge is not smooth, uninterrupted and equally distributed to all human beings. But some people "discover" what was previously not known, or develop better understanding of what was previous misunderstood.
But, because religion is closely associated with government and politics, the religious knowledge is often misused or corrupted and distorted for political purposes. Examples of such abuses of religion are attempts to "nationalize" religious knowledge by claiming that it belongs to a particular group (themselves), or proclaiming some religious groups as "evil". Wars are often justified using such political "religious nationalism".
The word "archaic" also implies "old". But "old" does not mean "wrong". Some beliefs that people have held for thousands of years (the "ancient wisdom") are just as true today as they have ever been. Nor is "new" or "modern" is always right or beneficial to Man. And what some believe today to be "modern" (like "same-sex partnerships") is older than the Old Testament.
They have no place in 21st century society.
This is an example of idolization of the "21st Century" which is often used by politicians in their arguments, suggesting that their "values" or "ideologies" should be accepted, because they are "21st Century".
There is nothing "magical" about the "Year 2000", that would give grounds to believe that, once the Gregorian Calendar count reaches the date of 2000-01-01, the "Society" changes and becomes different from what it was on 1999-12-31.
Yes, things do change, but these changes are not determined by a Human Calendar.
Nor is every "change" for the better, some "changes" are for the worse. And, if anybody advocates a change, it is up to him to show that the change is necessary and is an improvement compared to the previous state. And the argument needs to be on its own merits, not by invoking "21st Century".
But people have been indulging in false arguments, idle speculations and superstitious beliefs throughout all the history of Mankind.
Technology is the future, not some mythical "deity".
This short sentence contains the basic false assumptions which underlie the ideology of "modern secularism".
The site visitor sees "technology" as an alternative to "some mythical deity". But beliefs in "mythical deities" is idolatry and so is the site visitor's belief in "technology". And the very essence of the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad is rejection of beliefs in mythical deities, that is rejection of idolatry.
Technology is but tools which enable Man to achieve certain objectives, it does not, in itself, tell Man whether these objectives are beneficial or harmful to Man. And without the ability to distinguish between what is morally right and what is morally wrong technology can be used for "evil" purposes and lead Man to his own destruction.
Why can't everyone see that?
Having made sweeping assumptions based on nothing but his own preconceived ideas, the site visitor wonders, why there are people in this world who do not agree with what he believes to be "obviously" true.
We have stated above the reasons why we do not accept his beliefs.
But we shall also consider a more general issue, "Why do people not see what is obviously true?"
Because to understand any issue one needs some natural abilities, knowledge of the subject, and ability to make objective impartial judgements, and not all people have the required natural abilities, not all people are prepared to do the necessary work to familiarize themselves with the subject, and many people's judgement is perverted by their prejudices, sympathies, antipathies, and desire to reach conclusions which will make them feel better about themselves, or will yield to them some benefit or advantage. Thus, instead of investigating an issue impartially and objectively and using logical reasoning, many people take sides, and then use false arguments to "win" their case regardless of whether they are right or wrong. And this is why so many issues are "controversial", and controversies lead to wars and "conflicts".
Individuals who could rise above the myths and prejudices of their time and had the ability to be objective and impartial were so few and so different from the the rest of mankind, that people ascribed to them supernatural powers and worshipped them in the same way as they worshiped idols in the past. Instead of benefiting by the knowledge of those prophetic personalities to see what is true and what is false, they perverted it to make use of it in their false "political" arguments to achieve their "political" objectives.
I am sorry if reality does not fit in, but it will prevail despite everything.
On its own this statement is vague and to understand its meaning one has to refer to the previous statements: (1) and (6) above.
What the site visitor calls "reality" is his belief that today's wars are the result of religious rivalries. This view of his "does not fit in" with the real "reality" which the site visitor did not make enough effort to investigate and understand.
The word "it" in "it will prevail" is not the "reality" of presumed "religious wars", but "technology" which the site visitor sees as the alternative to "religion" (as he understands this word).
But his views of "technology" and "religion" are not different from the the "evil gods" and "good gods" of the pagans. He has made no effort to investigate and understand the real reality behind either "religion" or "technology", but assigns to them superstitious beliefs, based on his own imagination. And like all idolaters he believes that his beliefs are "The Truth" which will ultimately "prevail". And this is why he condescendingly "apologizes" (says "sorry") to those who do not share his beliefs, but, according to him, hold on to their "archaic beliefs".
There did exist a belief that "The Truth" is some "substance" that can be "discovered" in "distant lands". And we were asked by a Christian church official, "Whose Truth?", to which we answered by publishing "Definitions of Truth and Falsehood" to clarify that issue.
But to see "religion" as the "root of evil", because some ideas held by some religious officials or scientists (scholars) were wrong is like saying that geography (as a science) is wrong, because some 12th century maps are wrong, compared to today's maps.
And, yes, technology can be a help and a stimulus for advances in every field of human knowledge, be it geography or religion, but without the knowledge of right and wrong it can be a tool for harm, destruction and decay.
A human being
Yes, the site visitor is indeed a Human Being. But what is a Human Being?
When a human being is born its behaviour and understanding of the world around it is not substantially different from those of any mammal, that is an animal depending on its mother's milk in the early stages of its life. All it can do is to make sounds which will prompt its mother to offer her breast to its mouth when it needs to be fed - not different from a dog's puppy.
Then begins the period of growth and development to attain physical and "spiritual" maturity of the mammal. The mammal learns to live in the world around it developing physical skills, mental abilities and a view of the world in which it lives. And the difference between a human and the rest of the mammals is the potential degree of control over the world into which it is born.
And this ability to change the world around him puts on Man the burden of responsibility for his actions: he can use his abilities to improve the world, or to make it worse, or even to destroy it and himself together with it. Knowledge of the material world gives Man the ability to change it, but whether this ability is used for his harm or benefit is determined by his view of the World and of Man's place in it, and this is the subject of Religion.
The Prophets of the Bible and the Qur'an called on the People to grow out of their primitive childish Selfishness, Arrogance, Ignorance and Dishonesty, and to learn to govern their behaviour by Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding, rising above their primitive instincts and emotions and seeing the long term benefits of the Human Race as a whole, rather than seeking to subjugate the rest of the world to their selfish tribal, national or party-political "interests". They sought to establish government by Honesty and Justice. And it is the rediscovery of this science of Government by Honesty and Justice that is the recipe for a peaceful, healthy and secure world. Not the lawlessness of politicians armed with the latest weapons based on the latest Technology.