RELIGION, OR RATHER, THE LACK OF RELIGION, IN OUR GLOBAL SOCIETY
Religion, or religiosity, is an institution or manner of living that is out of fashion amongst the majority of the people in the world, and considered ‘unconstitutional’ among many governments in the world, even governments whose populations are regarded as having a culture whose source is their religion. Many of such governments class themselves as secular, and actively defend the ideology of secularism, which includes freedom from religion. To such an extent is this the case that people are forbidden to wear religious symbols , or even dress by their religious norms, in public, and investigated if they are assiduous in public worship.
Among individuals, atheism or agnosticism is considered the ‘intelligent’ philosophy of life, and many atheist figureheads publically teach that a single Universal Creator God does not exist. Other, less confrontational people, argue that the Creator, even if such existed, would not require men to worship Him (it – they would say), and may only be an ‘unconscious principle’, ‘non-personified natural force’. Their argument is that if life and the beginning of life/matter can be discovered and explained in scientific terms, then evolutionary development is the key to the existance of the universe and life in it. For the athiest, the one who denies the existence of God, this life is the only one we have. We possess no ‘soul’ that lingers on after bodily death, and we will eventually return to the dust from which our ancestors evolved – our legacy mere fossilized traces, if any, for future generations to perhaps discover.
Agnosticism falls short of denying the existence of God, but proposes that His existence is impossible to prove. Agnostics argue that unless He can be proved to exist objectively, it is pointless to worship Him – as one would be wasting their time and energy on something that is of no benefit to them in this world. For both the atheist and agnostic, this world is the only world, and that investment in a world that is unproven merely wastes what fleeting life you have while actually living in our earthly environment.
Although atheists and agnostics disclaim religiosity, they often follow specific philosophies of life. I have mentioned secularism, one of the philosophies followed, which places human beings and their vagaries at the centre of their ways of life. The secularist speaks of freedom to do as he pleases, held in check only by the principle that one should not do unto others what one would dislike being done unto yourself. That is, you are free to do as you please as long as this does not encroach on the freedom of others to do as they please. Naturally, such a system provides for compromise. One is free to negotiate, with anyone in society, rules of conduct and ties of economic and social relationship that may produce personal concessions in ones’ individual freedoms – and this leaves room for the exploiters to ‘negotiate’ the exploitation of those that they exploit.
This same basic rule: one should not do unto others what one would dislike being done unto youself; also allows atheists to belong culturally to a Judaism and Christianity because humanistic atheism follows a principle that both the religions claim as the foundation of their moral conduct: “Do unto your neighbours as you would have them do unto you,” a principle based on the commandment to “love your neighbour as you love yourself.” For both Judaism and Christianity, following this principle sincerely is enough to obtain the Approval and Mercy of God, and even the one who ‘does not believe in God’s existence’ will be included in that Love and Approval if they sincerely embrace the principle because of the moral conduct it will inevitably produce. This is why both Christianity and Judaism can sincerely coexist with agnosticism and atheism in a secular society.
Yet another quasi-religious philosophy existing in in the secular ambience is Naturalism; Naturalism postulates that moral codes of conduct arise from and can be analysed in terms of natural phenomenon, rather than supernatural phenomenon. The system of human morality is therefore of necessity based upon natural instinctual behaviour, and life is the result of natural laws and forces. Again both religious, particularly Christian, and non-religious, such as atheists, factions comfortably adhere to one form or another of (scientific or religious) Naturalism. Arising from, or associated with, this philosophy is adherence to nature to the extent of indifference to convention. Getting close to nature by taking trekking holidays to experience the natural environment, or basking on beaches in the nude, are lifestyles that have a natural affinity to naturalism. This also fits in with the concept of secular freedom and sexual equality which allow men and, especially, women, to display larger and larger expanses of their personal body in public society without being pestered by the opposite sex. That is, the invitation to ‘look’ (and admire), but not to ‘touch’ except by express permission. Unfortunately, though women have been encouraged to fully engage in being equally free with their sexuality as men have customarily been down the ages, this has not resulted in other equalities, except in principle, such as not having to live with the consequences of not being careful enough contraceptively, or equal pay for equal work.
Although agnosticism and naturalism consider only tangible worldly phenomenon as the basis for morality and the existence of facts, many formally non-religious people do believe in “the unseen”, or supernatural, world. They consider part of the ‘natural forces’ things such as the astronomical pattern of the sky they were born under and its progress where their lives coincide with place and time as indicative of charachter and fate. They believe that the patterns on their bodies, especially their hands, equally indicative, and that their fate can be psychically analysed from the fall of cards in the hands of a Tarot Card reader. Others insist that their names hold significant meanings according to numbers assigned to each letter of the names, in which the names they were given at birth add down to single digits; furthermore, any change in name they undergo (such as acquired nicknames or changes of name by marriage, deed poll or adopting a cult or religion) are also held to have significance the same way. Moreover, many such believers also subscribe to the notion that they have lived previous lives spiritually and will live other lives in the future through their soul’s transmigration. This latter belief cause believers in it to also be open to the belief that the dead exist as ghosts that can ‘haunt’ the living, and that the souls of the dead can be consulted by living psychics.
Other people do not believe supernatural phenomena arise from supernatural beings. Rather, they postulate that some human beings possess paranormal powers described as tele (affinity between two or more people or objects seperated by time and space)-something. The field of study for such powers is called parapsychology, which often seeks to disprove, rather than prove, the existence of paranormal powers. These powers are given many names according to the nature of the events that cannot be explained naturally: telelocution (speaking to a distant person without visible technological means), telepathy (being able to feel what another person feels or wants), telekenesis (being able to move an object without visible physical means), telepyrosis (being able to cause a fire at a distance without conventional means), teleportatation (to be able to transport an object from one place to another without transititional stages) etc.
To such people MANKIND is centre stage, the rightful owner of the focal point of any philosophy of life. Mankind has rights pertaining from within, not bestowed. Mankind manipulates the world because “he” is the only being with the natural intelligence to do so. Mankind is the origin of any moralistic system because only “he” is capable of conceiving and applying them consciously. Therefore the only “being” possessing the right to be worshipped by Mankind is “himself”.
Islam also has principles similar to some of the arguments above. For instance, you cannot truly be a Muslim unless you wish for your brother or sister (in religion) what you would like for yourself; Mankind is born on the natural [instinctual] path of worship (to worship his Creator), but his religion becomes distorted by his environment, his parents and peers socializing him into their religious (or non-religious) outlook. However, to the one who submits himself to God, there is no question about whether He exists. An individual has freedom of choice in their religion, and cannot be forced along a path they don’t believe in. Yet the plethora of natural phenomena and the manner in which they balance and support each other is not proof of evolution, but the proof that God exists, and is the Creator and therefore has the natural right to receive the worship of mankind.