Necessary Dogma?

I’m going to start with a simple question:

Can we exist without religion?

Now, I don’t mean can you personally exist without religious, faith-based beliefs. Obviously, you can. Many of you do. What I mean is: Is it possible for us to be human and have a society in which there is no religion?

You can feel free to disagree with me, but I am going to throw down the gauntlet and say, “No.” Because I don’t believe we can ever remove religion from the human experience no matter how far science goes and how much evidence accumulates that faith in a higher power is silly.

I’ve been thinking about this since seeing Bill Maher on The Daily Show a couple days ago. At one point in his newly released documentary film Religulous, in a clip shown on The Daily Show, Maher stood in a park shouting out some of the tenets of Scientology just to see how crazy people would think he was. And, of course, also to make the point that as crazy as Scientology’s underlying sci-fi mystical underpinnings are, Christianity and other religions should be seen as equally silly because their underlying “mythology” is nonsensical, too.

Later in his interview with Jon Stewart, Maher noted that he wasn’t an atheist himself, despite the hard time he gives religion, because atheism itself is still a belief system based in absolutism, and he abhors that. In other words, there is no way to know, he seems to be arguing, and thus agnosticism is the only way to be if one is going to be intellectually honest. (These aren’t his words, but my interpretation of his meaning.)

OK, I’m not arguing Maher’s logic here. No point or need to anyway, as religious faith is by its very definition something that cannot be explained or proved by science. What I want to talk about is two things that Maher has shown me in this segment with Jon Stewart.

First, since he’s admitted that atheism seems just as stupid to him as belief in God or in multiple gods, he obviously isn’t quite the douchebag I’ve always felt he was. I still find him frequently irritating when he riffs on political, social or religious issues and I think he can be way too smarmy, but this statement alone make me respect him much more than I did before. But a corollary to this is that it also proves my point that religion will always be with us in some organized fashion or another, not matter how much certain people would like it to go away. If we cannot know for sure either way, you can therefore assume that someone will always gravitate toward, or even create, a religion no matter how silly it might seem to most everyone else. In other words, no matter how much science advances, there will always be doubt and thus always niches for both theism and atheism.

Second, the fact that Scientology exists, even though it is so eminently mockable, is proof religion will always be with us. Scientology is based on the lunatic sci-fi egomaniacal ravings of author L. Ron Hubbard. Now, there are people who swear by Scientology’s ability to help people, but they look like a bunch of loons to me, and Tom Cruise’s increasing zaniness, bordering on outright insanity, just cements that idea for me. But back to my point: Scientology uses science fiction-type concepts to create a religion instead of using mystical ones. Given that science will likely never advance enough to explain the whole of existence, this means that even if you wipe out all the old religions, someone will simply create a new one that draws more from science than mysticism/magic.

Nothing I’ve said here proves anything. I still have ample reasons both spiritually and even historically to believe that Christianity is honestly the path to God and the true way, spiritually speaking. And if you have alternate religious beliefs, you will tell me that I am wrong. Fair enough. Just rambling a bit and posing what I hope is an interesting question.

And, as a follow-up to the “Can we exist without religion?” question, I find myself wondering, “Why, then, do we insist on looking to (and for) a higher power now that we no longer need to explain why the sun rises and sets, why the seasons change, why people get sick and die, etc.?”

3 thoughts on “Necessary Dogma?

  1. The First Domino

    I like the questions you posed, and I’m sure you know my twist on things oftentimes diverge from the understanding of others on these sensitive matters.

    At first blush, it appears that organized religion will have both an inevitable and enduring place in our collective lives and consciousness. I’d like to offer another perspective, if I might.

    I believe that religion–initially fashioned as our way to know and understand God–will not be with us so long as will church. Church, as one writer has defined it–“The structure of Truth and Love”–will be with us always, but not religion.

    I believe that religion will become a victim of its own success. It will render itself superfluous. Already, we’re seeing signs of this occurring.

    I refer to myself as “The First Domino”, not because I’m one of a kind, but because I, along with many others, am the “first” of many who are now communing directly with God on their own terms: that is, without the middleman–the clergy of any faith, be they pastors, priests, or rabbis.

    God is speaking directly to many of us around the world–actually to us all–but not all are listening, some because they feel that such a two-way communication is impossible, or inappropriate, and yet others, because they believe themselves unworthy to have such a dialog.

    This direct approach to God is suggested in the following Bible passage:

    Acts 2:17
    “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams….”

    This pouring out of God’s Spirit “upon all flesh” is happening now. Some are more receptive to it than others. In time, I feel, it will consume All of Humankind.

    And it is further suggested in these words of Jesus:

    John 4:21-24: “21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when [[ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.]]
    22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
    23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when [[the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth]]: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
    24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

    Neither a physical, material structure, nor Holy writ, nor the interpretation of scripture, nor the organized dispensation of religious requirements–will be as important as the personal connection we will have developed with God as “true worshippers,” standing not upon “religious dogma,” but worshiping within the “structure of Truth and Love” encompassed by the Spirit of God as the sole (Soul) provider of All That’s Holy, Good, and Perfect, forever listening within the silence of our being for God’s Word’s of Wisdom, and for His benediction upon our earthly endeavors.


  2. Pingback: Necessity of Faith « Holy Shit from Deacon Blue

  3. Deacon Blue

    You pose some intriguing thoughts.

    My general feeling is that the Church as an entity consisting of people of faith, spread across the world, is far more important than the church as a building or the tenents of a particular religion or denomination. Not a particularly novel feeling, of course, since the Bible already teaches that.

    Being a believer that there will be End Times at some point (I doubt in my lifetime or any other near-future generation), I feel that we won’t see a wide acceptance of the outpouring of the spirit until the millennial kingdom comes about, after the Tribulation period and Armgageddon. Humanity is, in my view, heading toward rock bottom, might like an out of control alcoholic. It’s just a matter of “when” in my view.

    I agree with you that an outpouring is occuring; I simply don’t believe it will be widely accepted until affairs are pretty much wrapped up with Satan and with those who decide to reject God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.


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