Is Religion Still Relevant?

by :ray

Why do we NEED religion? Or has it ran its course and served its purpose. This question was posed to me a week ago following a long tedious debate with a good friend of mine. My response, No I don’t feel religion is necessary any more but may have served a purpose at a time when no other explanation was available or was needed for survival. I’d like you to imagine something. Imagine a world without science, without the study of psychology, biology or astronomy, just to name a few. A world without the study of disease, germs, medicine, medical procedure, a world where the common cold could very well kill you; a world where natural occurrences are both terrifying and unexplainable to a species that demand explanation. A world without the study of plate tectonics, weather patterns, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods, etc. A world of ignorance. Imagine the fear you would feel witnessing the earth tearing apart at your feet, or a large body of water ripping thru your city with no remorse. Maybe you don’t witness these things first hand but the tale is told and re-told with added flair and the warning that this to could happen to you. Imagine your family, more specific, imagine a son or daughter with whom you love very much and would stop at nothing to protect. Now imagine the fear in their eyes and the grip of their hands clinging on to you, terrified no doubt, looking to you for guidance and you having none to give. How would we explain these occurrences with no means of investigation? How would we decipher the meaning of it all?

People seem to think the founders of religion where well educated, highly enlightened individuals that happened to have a close encounter of a strange kind with a supernatural being and absolutely no agenda of their own. If this were reported today we would say either that person is a lunatic, liar, or just mistaken. Consider the cults of today and the impressionable people that fall into these traps. They buy in whole heartedly and will give their lives to defend it and all their money to promote it. These aren’t ancient tribes or uneducated societies; these are 20th century thinkers well aware or at least partially aware of their surroundings and the cause of natural occurrences. Consider everything we know now and yet still people fold and bend to the will of any man that proclaims divine authority now image the world described in my previous paragraph. It’s far too easy and has gone much too far to create the answer with absolutely no proof at all…God…This must be the act of a being and he must not be too happy with us, right?

Throughout history every civilization has proclaimed God(s) are real. The Sumerians are our first recorded civilization and are no doubt where the 3 Abrahamic religions got most of their stories. Up until Judaism, Polytheism was popular, that is, more than 1 god usually assigned to have dominion over 1 natural occurrence or the other. For example An was a god of the sky, Uta was a god of the sun, Nanna was a god of the moon. They truly believed we were at the mercy of these gods and depending on what natural catastrophe takes place, that’s the god you angered. That’s how we began to explain nature and that’s where religions now got its origins, but then came the new kid on the block. The Old Testament was the promotion of monotheism, that is, 1 God. Think of it as a power struggle, you already have all these gods people pray to and worship right along with the a line of mammals claiming to have direct connections-priests, shamans, etc. Remember at this point the ideas of Gods are as real as anything else, with no science there’s no alternative explanations. How do you get people to praise you and only you? Here’s a thought, instead of 1 god per mystery let’s say there’s only 1 god to explain everything. Here’s the trick, take all the stories that have been passed down, change the players, throw in a couple tales of your god smiting down anyone who opposes, put the fear of your god into the hearts of the ignorant and poof you have Moses whole campaign. He used his new found God to inspire his armies to destroy the Midianites (Numbers 31:7-18) and waged war against any none believer of HIS god, a very brutal story that I encourage anyone read. One should consider why God just didn’t reveal himself to all and eliminate the bloodshed altogether but that’s another blog entirely. Today we would call this a cult much like Jonestown much like the Manson family but back then, when the world was terrifying and unexplained, it was completely acceptable as the god of promotion was so very real and terrifying.

Religion thrives on fear, the fact that no one can accurately describe heaven, however, has no problem at all describing hell to a certainty, shows that fear is necessary for the progression of religious faith and reason is faiths mortal enemy. We have let go of most religious beliefs as we no longer kill non-believers and no longer sacrifice animals; both now would be considered a criminal offenses to any civilized person. We know now what causes natural disaster and in some cases can predict and prepare for these events. Alchemy has been replaced with chemistry and astrology with cosmology, we’ve learned a lot since our ancestors. The fact that you’ll never hear an astrology class presented in any school curriculum and intelligent design taught as a legitimate theory separate from evolution shows there is no room for mystical magical non-sense in the rational mind to be taught as actual fact to unsuspecting children.

Where did we get that knowledge? Where did we learn murder of non-believers and animal sacrifice is not ok. It certainly was not religion and that CAN be proven. Our final fear is death. The one thing we cannot explain to a certainty is what happens after you die? I will not venture to say; neither I, nor any non-believer knows the results of the unavoidable moment, aside from the obvious burial. But I can to a certainty stake the claim that no believer, no rabbi, no priest, no pope, bishop, mullah, or otherwise have any idea either. They make the claim they know and just like ancient times can control a mass amount of people with fear. No one has ever died and come back ladies an gentleman, and if you claim the bible historically depicts a resurrection of not only Jesus but of all the dead in the greater Jerusalem area (Gospel of Matthew), then my question is, why has no one attempted to explain in detail what they saw while deceased? Seems like a pretty important detail to me and one that I think any human being, no matter the religion, no matter what era, would demand the answer to.

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* DEAR SUBSCRIBERS: The short simpsons clip at 27:34 that is used as fair use (teaching) has been flagged for copyright infringement by Fox. I now cannot upload long videos and I don’t feel like disputing because it could result in the closure of this channel. I might create a new channel in the future because I have plenty more lectures to post. Please feel free to tell Fox what you think of them in the comments below.
Max Tegmark
June 25, 2013

First of three lectures on Cosmology given by Max Tegmark at the Theoretical Advanced Study Institute in Elementary Particle Physics.

Video can also be found here:

Cosmology, Max Tegmark | Lecture 1 of 3 Cosmology, Max Tegmark | Lecture 1 of 3

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