Religion is good.

Religion is good. The word "religion" comes from the latin root -lig- which mean to tie, as in ligament for example, re-lig- is the reflexive form of this verb, meaning to tie oneself back, I.E self restraint. The primary insight here is that people of an observably moral nature are often the ones who have discipline and avoid excess in action or thought. A life of pure indulgence without regard to cost, is one of the most common definitions of evil there is.

Please contrast this with people who are restrained by others, there is nothing moral about doing something that is perceived as good unless it comes from one's own character, and not to the dictates of some parental or outside authority based on fear or greed. This contrast is vital to a better understanding of the religious mind.

Most religions have some sort of ethical code, and or guiding principles that define a moral way of live, eg Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism etc... Often times these codes limit the persons actions to a degree that is unknown outside of the religious context, the idea is to turn the myopic, ameoba like existence of a person whose motives are purely based on self interest, and give it shape, structure, and strength by removing a large number of contradictory impulses and habits. The result is that characteristic certainty that religious people enjoy when observing and interacting with life, and that so irritates the rest of humanity. This certainty is based on the definite feeling of empowerment that comes from a life that now seems to have a focus, direction, and the answers to many of the questions that plague us ordinary folk.

"Dont ask the question if you weren't looking for an answer", is a mantra that is repeated by almost all cultures and religions in the world.

In fact if one views a person's lifestyle (religious or cultural) as an answer to the questions that each of us are asked by our inner selves, then we see that religion is inevitable, as these questions ask us to change our lives and remove those things that are not bringing us happiness.

Let's clarify this:

Religion WAS good.

There was a time when religion served the exact purposes Jaez describes above. The laws created by early man, and shoved into a religious framework to get the common people to wrap their brains around was all well and good. The dietary restriction of the jewish prevented folks from keeling over due toparasitic or bacterial infections. The bans on birth control of the christians ensured plenty of workers for the fields of feudal Europe. The problems started when religions became organizations.

An organization, like a religion or a corporation, is expected to outlive any of its participants. Therefore it's bound to have many leaders, spokespersons, CEOs, pontiffs, etc... some of these will be good people who have the best interests of the organization and the people it serves in mind. However some will want only for themselves and use the to serve their own interests.

With religion the influence of these individuals can be much more damaging. One of these less than honorable leaders can say "The Great God Om tells me that all women must be branded on the forehead".It's not "Bob Says", it's "God Says", they have become "god's words", it gets worse when a religion views its god or gods as infallible.

"Ok, we're not doing that branding thing any more"

But the Great God Om Said we had to!

"Yeah well umm.."

Was the Great God wrong?

"Well, umm, no it's not that...."

Faction Spilt, Holy War!

Occasionally you can catch it..

"Oh yeah, that was just Bob, he was an asshole"

But usually that's only if you're able to replace all the cardinals, assistant vizirs, high priests etc... that Bob had appointed during his time in office otherwise they'll probably get you to shut up right quick. Laws grow out of date, or some slip through the cracks and get in where they have no business, some were possibly enacted as a favor from the religious leader to a powerful political leader (king, emir, sultan, emperor, shogun, duke, take your pick), those little factors are lost through the annals of time.

Now we take all of this, and add to it a text. Oh boy! The written word, probably one of the worst tools we have for giving someone a literal picture of what we're talking about, and yet, billions of people base their lives on it (or make their living off of it... see: lawyer). The written word is open to massive interpretation. Before mass printing these books were written and re-written, by hand! Each rewrite could contain any number of minor changes to put whatever spin that particular writer wanted to on the events. Look at the Holy Bible. Not the most concise piece of literature ever created. Add to this the morphic nature of language, terms in any written text are bound to change over time, changing what a passage means in a religious text can have huge implications on dogmatic (dogmatic... sounds like a new pet-related product from Ronco) law.

Well in conclusion, religion was a good thing at one time, it ushered the time of nations, helped ensure the survival of the human race. However it's become outmoded and corrupt. Functionally they have been replaced by governments and corporations (which also have the same problems inherent in all organizations).

I offer no solutions, just observations.

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