In recent years the arguments for religion seem to have left the faith based arena of ‘belief’ for new pastures – the world of science and historical interpretation. Admittedly, religion has always looked to historical evidence for confirmation, but as science itself has developed tools that are currently being utilised to unearth the past, so religion has attached itself to this new bandwagon with increased vigour.
But there is often an aspect that is not sufficiently explored by either science nor religious bodies. The human aspect. For science, humans are often a little irrelevant to the task in hand. Not so for religion, but they seem to avoid the concept of human involvement in religion with great diligence. That is, perhaps, not terribly surprising – a human origin, or latter adaptation, to their belief system would put everything they stand for under a large question mark.
I don’t intend to provide any answers in this short passage, but rather provoke thought as to why you believe in your god, if of course you do at all, and to what degree you would accept your god as being a human creation as opposed to being a genuine deity. Into the religious belief system, I would like to insert a few facts.
Fact 1 – Humans invent religion.
Since the beginning of mankind, whether you belive that to be a few thousand years ago, or a few million years ago, humans have been creating belief systems and gods. This can involve all manner of rituals, and gods who are attributed to be the moon, sea, rocks in the middle of a jungle, spirits, clay pots, UFO’s. You name it, it’s been worshipped as a deity, or representative of a deity, by someone.
Even today there are numerous belief systems, some accepted as genuine, some clearly a little crazy. Differing religions often overlap in certain areas of belief, but they are not all the same. You can only conclude, even if you believe one of them to be the ‘truth’, that humans do indeed have great input into the creation and development of a religion.
There are many reasons as to why humans do this, but two stand out in particular. Many people feel the need to have the big question answered – death. Mankind needs an answer, and will happily make one up. But there is a second explanation, more relevant to this issue, which is Fact 2.
Fact 2 – Religion, society, law and control.
Today in what is referred to as the West, we live in largely secular societies. But you’ll notice we still live in socities with laws and systems of control and organisation. Many of these are directly attributable to historical laws and systems operated by religious leaders of centuries ago. You’ll also notice that these laws and systems evolve with the times, as society meets new challenges, encounters new advances and peoples. They do now, they did then. They are necessary for our societies to function. Today’s belief system is capitalism, with it’s god being the dollar. The USA has swapped the church for the White House, for example. Looking back through the ages, you will notice that when man introduces a new ideology that is not based on a god (Communism or National Socialism for example) it’s goals of power, domination and eradication of it’s enemies remain exactly the same as the religion it replaced.
Throughout time, you will see that society has been forced to create, adjust, adapt and evolve regardless of the system they utilised. In the past, religion took this challenge unto itself, to be the lead in a changing world. And there you will see, incontrovertible evidence, of religion being altered by man, for man.
Fact 3 – Sharing of information
This is a very human input into religious beliefs, with many different strands. Whether we are referring to the translation of documents, the interpretation of ancient languages, the telling of fireside stories or the introduction of a new belief into an existing system, we can clearly see adaptation of a very human nature. Humans are biased beings, with incredibly different experiences and expectations, which will greatly affect how we each interpret and behave when confronted with something different.
This can clearly be seen when examining Christianity in particular. It is such a fractured religion, with so many groups believing so many different things. In Latin America, Roman Catholicism is a very different entity to the version practised in Europe.
You can also see from today’s society how a story can be altered and twisted far beyond it’s original content into something of mythical and fantastical proportions. Look at conspiracy theories for example. Conspiracy theories are not new, per se. It is simply that they were previously of a different nature, as they came from a different culture, and were referred to as miracles. Passing on information through humans is a terribly unreliably means of communication.
Fact 4 – Numbers don’t add up.
This is a fairly short and simple point. There are 6 billion people on Planet Earth. Most of them possess a religious belief of one sort or another. They are not all the same religion. Therefore there are at least, as an absolute minimum, 4 billion people currently following a false religion.
It is not a plausible argument to make – “my religion is clearly right, look how many followers we have.” It is a fact that billions of people does not equal ‘the truth’. It simply demonstrates that humans are capable of sharing and passing on, through education, propoganda, brainwashing, information that they themselves believe in.
None of the above points mean that any single religion is false. It is simply pointing out the obvious and undeniable input humans have into religion, both historically and today. The conclusion you will come to is yours to make, but it will undoubtably be influenced by the life you have thus far led, the experiences you have had, and the beliefs you currently hold. And that’s the thing – this very article will be interpreted in many ways by different people. Because you are human.