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May 20, 2009

Religion doesn't work anymore

The problem with religion is its inability override human will. People rarely apply their will deliberately, and when they do, it is often in obstinacy rather than in progress. In the case of religion, much more has been done to prove one's religion absolute than to find the absolute religion. In fact, more has been done to discredit religion altogether than has been done to find its merit.

And religion, folks, isn't a bad thing. It's not a good thing, either; it's just a thing. A codified set of rituals for interacting with the unknown. We're not stupid, and we are hard-wired to persist; therefore, we develop systems for getting along in strange environments.

Religion is pervasive. When crossing a pitch-black room, any of us will:

  • slow down
  • step cautiously
  • place our arms in front of us

Why? There's no rule that tells us to do so; somewhere within there is a need to successfully interact with this vague terrain. It's not so far off from a special celebration to welcome the rain, or a shipmate tossed off a boat to appease the offended seas. At its least intelligent, it becomes fruitless superstition (broken mirrors, seeing the bride before the wedding), but at its most intuitive--most spiritual--it develops protective measures and scientific methods of discovery, albeit often via trial and error.

But as potentially enriching as religion could be, it inevitably falls short without adherence. This is obvious in large quantities--if no one pays attention to the rules, the system is of no value. But I believe it is most dangerous in tiny dosages, where abandonment is less of a factor than indifference, tradition and opportunism.

When one abides but has no desire to understand, they risk losing the competency to demand quality and the qualification to participate in development. Religion in its purest form has never been about acquiescence but has completely and passionately fostered the unearthing of truth.

Truth can be re-examined and tested infinitely. It persists because it cannot be bested--not because it is the best we've got. Yet religion fails to our sense of nostalgia--a huge impediment to progress. You cannot go forward when you relish the past.

Most disconcerting are those who see in the aforementioned flaws an opportunity to profit. Capitalism seems to subsist on this selfish premise; perhaps this is why we see power, wealth and religion often so closely related at the upper levels. As long as there is a process in religion that allows even one to suffer from lack of knowledge, that religion is mortally flawed.

In today's option-laden, multi-perspective stream-of-conciousness lifestyle, it takes tremendous discipline to truly adhere to any religion--theistic or otherwise. It is increasingly portrayed as absurd to devote one's life to pursuing truth. Rabbis, pastors and priests are in disfavor, monks, yogis and holy men are distortedly glamorized, philosophers and dreames are ridiculed. Exertion of will is seen as quaint and inefficient while, simultaneously, coercion of will is a moral affront.

In such an environment, religion, so natural and vital, is ostracized and stripped of value. 

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