Any good debate begins with a provocation, and here’s mine. It is a matter of utmost urgency that we destroy all of the current religions. Break them down, once and for all. Beat them until they are as insignificant as the ancient Norse gods are today.
Now bear with me here, because I’m not about to retread the ground already so well trodden by Hitchens et al. No, I want to consider the issue from a different perspective.
Perhaps, I should pause here to point out that I am not anti-spiritual. I am not an ardent rationalist. My experiences of transcendence (a sheer awe at the unknown and a feeling that I am part of something much larger than myself but can never fully comprehend) and my encounters with the sublime (in nature and art for example), sometimes leave me breathless – unable to fathom how, HOW this is all possible (if indeed it is). But anyway, I digress.
So what about religion? Well, my starting point is this. They have no metaphysical truth. They are clearly attempts by humans to make sense of the world around them, to cope with the dreadful knowledge that we all must die, and to try to establish a social system whereby we act according to some agreed upon norms and codes of behaviour. If you don’t agree with me then you might want to consider stopping here because this is my unshakable premise.
For many years these religions have served a purpose. For some it has been a source of comfort and created a bond that has strengthened community and clarified social obligations. For others it has been a source of brute political force, the life-blood of kings and tyrants. For others still, it has been a vestibule to the numinous and the mystical. But the religions have had their moment. It is now time they were destroyed.
All the major religions were created in a different world. Theirs was an infinite world; a world that bears no resemblance to the finite blue sphere upon which we all etch out our lives today. This is the problem. The gods, the codes of conduct, the moral precepts of the religions represent those times, not ours. We need new codes of conduct, we need new moral precepts and yes, we need a new god.
One of the primary fears expounded by religious apologists is that if we break down the religions what will we be left with? A world of pure rationalism? A world devoid of meaning and morality? I argue no. Spirituality, the power from which all religion draws its strength, is innate in us. We cannot help but feel it (some more than others). Unfortunately the religions have monopolised this feeling. They have captured it and distorted it so that we too often now think through prisms from the ancient world. Now is time to break down the religions so that our spirituality can be released. So it can fly free and attach itself to a new world. What will this bring?
I cannot say, but I can introduce you to my God. Try, if you will, to imagine a world in which this god reigns supreme. My God is a little blue planet, one among an incomprehensible number of other planets. Slowly yet inexorably it makes its journey around a sun – also just one among an incomprehensible number of others. This is a god I can see, I can feel, I can smell, I can touch, I can taste. The numinous radiates from its every surface, from the peaks of its mountains to the depths of its oceans. On it I find all that I need for life. It is the creator, the nurturer and the destroyer. It gives us birth and it WILL give us death. But in the intervening period, we can come to learn that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. We are part of a community of life, a sub-community of humans. But most of all we are part of our God.
What would the world be like if this was our god?
Any thoughts are welcomed.