This phrase is as true today as it was on the day religion began. Naming that date and who did it is one of the first arguments. And that’s the great conundrum: every monotheistic faith, group, sect, system of belief wants to say that “Our god is the only god” and with polytheists, “Our gods are the only gods.” That verbal argument becomes physical when one group tries to convert or eliminate those that do not believe alike.
All positively focused faiths and religions are wonderful concepts in theory and principle. It’s the human interface where things break down: interpretation and application. Physics and art sprung to mind as similar parallels. Both are open to subjective interpretation while physics has the sturdy bulwark of mathematics (another system of belief, strangely) to eliminate some of its subjectivity.
It’s improbable to believe, at best, that Einstein knew the end result of his formula for Special Relativity in 1905, E = mc2, would result in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Nor did da Vinci think his choice of medium was wrong in painting The Last Supper. Much of Renaissance art was mathematically based on the Holy Trinity in Catholicism.
Aside from thinking, learning, creating, and procreating, one of the tasks we do much better than any species (including Chimpanzees) is kill each other. Despite our self-appointed status as the smartest animal on Earth: we’ve even given ourselves a special spot as a sub-species of Homo sapiens, (Latin: wise man) to Homo sapiens sapiens (Latin: wise, wise man). We truly aren’t all that wise. Wisdom comes with age. At a certain point, one would think we would have learned killing each other is wrong.
But, it’s not that easy. Each generation passes on its wisdom and its ignorance. We are also still animals – just another species. Primal urges still exist, little changed from our predecessors: food, survival, procreation, protection. Protection ensures the former.
Defensive protection is self-contained within. Offensive protection is self-imposed on others. Humans have fought each other forever. First, over mating rights and territory/range/food. Later, as we evolved the idea of “self” became “us”. And there were some of “us” who sought identity in not being “them”. By now, Louis Leakey should have beaten me to death with a femur for the over simplification.
The reasons, usually excuses, to go to war and even to total war are varied. To rally people to war two things are essential a common, uniting belief and a common, binding foe. The most pernicious strategy is fighting war under the guise of religion.
As an ever-learning theologian, myself (I left the Anglican Church at 10 with my parents approval, so I could play Catholic Youth Organization hockey on Sunday – so I went from the choir at St. Matthew’s to the team at St. Brigid’s), I’ve read just two of the “Great” Holy Books: The Bible and The Qur’an. Ironically, because of the infamous 9/11, I’ve learned more about Islam than I had ever learned before. For me, it wasn’t a knee-jerk “Know thy enemy” moment in any way, simply, “What’s that?”
As with both, it took three tries to get all the way through. To go with the translations and transliterations from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English for one, and Arabic to Persian to Latin to English, they are excellent works of writing. The Bible, mostly prose. The Qur’an, mostly poetry. In both, lots of details, cool stories, some sad moments, some happy, real page turners!
The message, greatly simplified is, “Don’t behave like a jerk. Play well with others.”
Yes, in The Bible it does appear that God brought in a “ghost writer” to write the New Testament. He’s much less vengeful. It’s a joke; it’s only religion. There’s the idiocy. A religious joke could get you killed in the past and still today.
Most religions have a flood allegory and similar creation stories. That Islam, Judaism, and Christianity recognize the same people (albeit in different roles), should be a unifying factor. But, with every group of “we”, there’s a small group within that can only define themselves, more accurately satiate their wants, by killing “they”.
The legislative body, judiciary, and hopefully the people, make the laws. Many are adopted from pre-existing traditions, conventions, customs, and beliefs: religion. Within physics, there are theories and “laws”, but such laws are repeatable with the same results each time, unlike civil law. Within the art world, there are various schools of thought or philosophies and styles, all testable, yet very rarely producing the same result.
Of the three, only religion has been used to kill on a massive scale. Used in the sense of being mistreated, only trotted out for show on special needs occasions. Used in the sense of standing for one thing, but being corrupted and violated by others for their own personal desires.
Despite that my friends, Peace!