Words By S.

Friday, 31 March 2006

On Religion.

Filed under: Atheism,Ramblings,Religion — S @ 10:21 am

Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again” –Marx, 1844

Sometimes it takes someone else to put into words what you’re thinking. Such is the case with the above quote from Karl Marx. The complexity of the simple statement that, “man makes religion,” creates the entire point of this post, as it relates very much to an aspect of a previous post that I made.

As I pointed out before, what has turned into religion started off as simple mythology to explain why things are as they exist in the way that they do. For example, as you have in Christianity: the book of Genesis which states, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Every culture, every society has a creation story of its own. Children have stories (some in the form of Aesop’s Fables) for why things are the way they are. Although the language may be different and the names may differ, the idea is exactly the same – some divine being (or perhaps even entity) that is larger than Man created everything around us.

Everything starts off innocently, but as everyone knows, innocence can be corrupted. Therein lies the problem with religion. What is essentially a classic tale of how the earth came to be, why women experience pain during childbirth, why rainbows exist, why a zebra has stripes but a horse doesn’t – has become so grand that it has infiltrated the lives of billions of people around the world.

But, I am moving slightly ahead of myself here. So to back up, I will re-post the original idea: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. In that statement, you have a couple things going on here. The first thing is that Man comes up with this idea, this explanation if you will. “Why is this this way? Well, let’s see…” The second is a sort of commentary on what happens when man becomes consumed by his own creation. That is – religion evolves and becomes so big that later man convinces himself that he exists only because of what is said in this document that early man made. The second expresses why religion is problematic.

I am not completely anti-religion. I acknowledge that good things do come out of religion. One thing that I admire most about religious people is that because they believe in this thing that is greater than they are, they feel that they have a purpose. It gives them hope. I feel that anything that is able to do that can’t be all bad. However, the problem arises when the very thing that gives people hope greatly restricts their lives.

The restrictions are what I interpret Marx to mean when he says, “religion does not make man.” When certain aspects of your life that you once enjoyed suddenly become forbidden, that should be the point at which you say, “enough is enough.” When your religion is broken into tiny pieces that become twisted in such a way that the purpose is to justify the unjust, it is time to stop the validation of it. Religion itself isn’t bad, but what modern man has turned it into is.

When you have wars based on a belief that is unable to even be proven as fact, when a belief system produces extremists, when it becomes a dogma, is it not time to end it?

There are religions out there that have not yet been corrupted, and that are still pure and innocent. There are belief systems based on tangible ideas that can be proven. With a simple equation, the Pythagoreans were able to explain the rhythm of life. Why are these beliefs not validated, but others are?

People die because of religion. People are able to persecute and alienate others because of religion. A country can determine a moral code for an entire society based on religion. The bigger it gets, the more blinded the devout become. This is where the problem lies. This is what is meant by “religion does not make man.”

How is it possible to not see that building your self-esteem, your self-worth by diminishing the value of others based on this untangible idea is wrong?

That is where my problem with religion lies.

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