Mankind’s mortality created needs, a need to belong, a need for order, a need for purpose, and a need to understand life, past, present, and future. Individuals were chosen and institutions created to nourish those needs. Whether it be by design or necessity, power centered around the spiritual cultures of the ages. This power of belief had the power to create or destroy, in some instances, both. Great civilizations arose on the backs of their theocracies, their strengths, no doubt, embellished by the unification of beliefs.
Great horrors and atrocities were also inflicted by these same institutions. History is full of groups of people persecuted because of their religious beliefs. Civilizations were relegated into myth and lore in the names of new gods. Dissent was not tolerated, and be it by submission, conversion, or elimination, the opposition was silenced.
Today is no different. The world is rife with religious wars and persecutions. We instinctively fear them because we understand the power of belief and what lengths it will push an individual or group to further its own purpose, which is self-preservation.
So why do we not look objectively upon history? Why do we not witness the slaughters, the wars, the carnage and say enough?
It would appear that abandoning the concept of God is not an easy thing to do. In studies with children of all ages, images of things in nature were shown along with possible explanations of why they were the way they were. Overwhelmingly, the children chose the answer that would give a purpose or reason to the object. As we age and learn more about science, those answers change. However, a similar test, devised for adults (basically, adding the pressure of timed responses,) still showed an subconscious desire to prescribe purpose and reasoning to objects and situations. Note: You may reference these studies from the television series “Through the Wormhole: Is God An Alien Concept?” So, it is possible this need to attribute meaning and purpose, thus, the need for God, is beyond instinctive and hard wired right into our psyches.
The conflicts come, not from the concept of God, but from the religions constructed around God, religions that were designed to fit societal and regional needs. As a species, we tend to be very intolerant of differing views of the afterlife. It is because these views have been “preached” to us so long and dispensed as the absolute truth that we have cannot find room for opposing ideas.
Even faiths from the same cloth cannot agree. Just about every religion you can mention is fractured in some manner. Let’s take Christianity for example: It was started by one Man and twelve disciples. Four hundred years later it was adopted by Rome, structured and changed, yet, it remained for centuries dominate. Then came Martin Luther and the Reformation. Christianity became divided between Catholics and Protestants. Of course, you cannot forget Henry VIII and the formation of the Church of England. Now, look at the Protestants having all sorts of denominations, even different sects within denominations and you wonder why there is so much confusion? One has to ask if Jesus had this in mind when He came to transform the world?
Christianity isn’t the only religion fractured. You have, at least, orthodox and moderate sects of all religions. They have splintered primarily to accommodate a changing society. This could include allowing for new views that were previously considered unacceptable or diluting old values or abandoning antiquated principles.
What is truth? If we have allowed ourselves to alter the spiritual principles and ideas of right and wrong, this is a question we must answer. We see religion failing us on multiple levels everywhere. We witness the world in an endless state of war driven by religious zealotry. Yet, we cling to our beliefs. Why? Why is our religion right and another wrong? What if they’re all wrong?
Next: A New God