I find it fascinating that people are not just debating the truth or
validity of religion, but actually debating its worth. Does our
multiplicity of religions help humans on their ascent to illumination, or
is it pulling us down the slope? The answer is: both are right.
What Patrick brought to Ireland was an improvement to the people's world
view. Instead of malicious and capricious spirits bent on one's misery if
not placated with sacrifical offerings of humans… that evilness became
smaller and less threatening under the justice and love of an all-powerful
God who will send you to Hell if not placated with morality.
But with all the wars, inquisitions and crusades of this new religion, if
all it did was end human sacrifice, it was a big improvement. Granted, the
conquered Mayans missed the point that Jesus was supposed to be the
last human sacrifice, and thought the priests with their bloody symbol of a
human on a cross, would be impressed with them if they increased their
However, the Celtic and Mayan religions were improvements to the religions
they supplanted. The best explanation I've heard for this sort of
evolutionary improvement is from Robert Pirisig, in his book Lila, where
he compares the static good and the dynamic good. You see, an
improvement comes along in the capacity of being a dynamic force for good,
and overthrows the oppressive establishment. However, if this "good"
doesn't become the new establishment, and becomes a static force, the
improvement is lost.
But now this static structure, while originally good, and probably working
goodness for a while, now becomes the oppressive establishment and needs to
be overthrown by a new, dynamic good. To come full circle, religion isn't
good, if it doesn't continually knock down the previous superstitious
religion for a more enlightened version.
However, while politics don't have to even give lip service to the previous
regime, religions have a hard time claiming authority without paying a
certain tithe to the previous religion. I suppose this is the real reason
why there is a clear evolution tree of religion. Christianity comes out of
Judaism, Protestantism comes out of Catholicism, Mormonism comes out of
So with that in mind, what are we to do with our current crop of religions?
They seem to be killing more people than they are saving, so perhaps we
should come up with some new ones? I'm sure every one has one they'd like
to nominate, eh?
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