Having grown up from two halves of a single cell into a complex ecosystem I feel entirely proficient to answer any question about anything. Of course I have no idea how correct my answers will be.
It amazes me (and angers me) that anyone believes that they have an ultimate answer to anything, and yet every day I’m bombarded with a mix of competing absolutes from politicians and religious nuts, and people who have been influenced by politicians and religious nuts.
Life can be hard, and for the multiple millennia that pre-date us is was clearly harder than it is today. Making people act in unison was (and is) a fundamental of civilization. Today we persuade people to act for the good of society (by working hard and not killing, stealing or having sex with their siblings) by threats of punishment (prison, fines etc) for bad behavior, and houses, clothes, food, entertainment, good health etc. for good behavior. It works pretty well if people are educated in the ways of society.
In the past it was much easier to coalesce people by creating a framework of things that would happen to you if you didn’t follow the rules, and nice things that you could look forward to if you did. Living in the past was tough, and a good deal of it was not that much fun, so creating a dream of better times after you died just made so much sense.
There never was any evidence for this dream future, but if you questioned it, limbs could easily be removed (as could innards), so questioning was curtailed pretty easily.
But here’s the thing; just because people under duress were made to believe ridiculous things for hundreds of years, does not means that you need to believe them when the threat of being burnt alive while tied to a stake is removed.
Evolution is a proven explanation for how complex viable environments are created from a large number of simplistic components. It makes sense and can be seen clearly by experiment. In fact using the principles of the evolutionary process allows a very clear understanding of how things work at a chemical, physical and biological level. The word “theory” is placed in sentences because the scientific process understands the nature of truth, and that it is not absolute.
Religious nuts and politicians know how to manipulate language to avoid having their powerbase undermined by inconvenient facts. Clearly it’s much better to have people give you things and do what you say, than to have them not give you things and not do what you say.
So rather than spend time helping humanity continue to improve scientifically, religious nuts and politicians will always prefer to limit change to those areas that personally benefit them.
No one person or group has a truth that is more viable than any other person or group. And as soon as any person or group tries to force their way on anyone else they are instantly wrong.
Having said this, there are some wonderful life lessons to be learned from all the major and minor religions. I love the sikh ideas of helping others, and the Judea-christian-islamic ideas of learning and ethics, along with the Buddhist concepts of mind and the really cool alien overlord ideas of scientology. But I’m not a fan of any of the restrictive ideals of all of these cults, or of the destructive and absolute nature of some of their most fervent followers and leaders.
There is clearly documented and examinable archaeological evidence that all of the major concepts in all of the major religions were part of peoples teaching well before the current religions were in place. This shows to me that the concepts were used as part of ancient peoples education systems to teach a code of ethics and behavior to allow for groups to work together for the ongoing benefit of society.
It is well documented (at least on the history channel) that the bible (basis of so many religions today) was crafted over many hundreds of years by scholars and it truly is an incredible piece of human work.
Just because something was created a long time ago and still exists does not give it extraordinary powers over people. Studying the stories that have been used for millennia to teach ethics, philosophy, morality and how to deal with complex situations is a good thing. Treating any single view as the only possible view, and allowing for no discussion is plain nuts.
I have some very dear friends who are deeply religious and incredibly intelligent. I respect their beliefs and have had the honor of celebrating many times with them, and honoring the memories of loved ones that that are no longer with them. And I have been proud to have them share in my life events in the same way. They have never tried to convince me of the perfection of their religion and I’ve never tried to convince them of mine. Quite honestly it’s never even been a conversation.
There are nut cases on street corners that I have passed, and the odd person with a shaved head and a pony tail, or well dressed youngsters with name badges that have tried to convince me of their unique truth, and I treat them all with the respect they deserve (not a lot).
Anyone crazy enough to believe that any old book is entirely true, is crazy enough to kill innocent people. There have been many examples of this through history. What I don’t understand is how anyone who purports to believe there is a god(s), can accept that their particular version of god(s) is better than every other version, and that their god(s) expects everyone who isn’t buying into their particular set of edicts is inferior and must therefore die or be damned.
At this point it all just fails. And the only possible answer is that it’s all total bullshit.
Sitting around and bullshitting with your mates has always been a good thing to do, and sometimes out of the bullshit you can have a good or even great idea (and it passes the time), just remember it’s bullshit and stop yourself if you feel you’re taking it too seriously.