I am well aware of the fact that
this forum plays host to the very worst of either philosophical
persuasion, but I have no intention of appealing to either extreme. This
article is purely for the educated amongst us, however few they may be.
is a colossal amount of information that I had to study to be able to
write this article. I try to be as thorough in presenting this
information as I try being terse to keep it readable for the average
person. This series results from the culmination of my lifelong study of
I am fascinated each time I see a gorilla or
chimpanzee in the zoo. Sometimes I am lucky to be the only one at their
encampment (Singapore’s zoo has no cages). When I look into a great
primates eyes, there is a moment where our minds seem to meet. I
recognize the gorilla/chimp as in some small way being human, and the
gorilla/chimp recognizes me as in some small way being one of them.
atheist will turn even on their logic and reason in their attempt to
‘stick it’ to religion. This irrational behaviour means that religion is
never seen for the advanced technology that it was and the crucial role
it played in getting us ‘upright’ so to say. Aristotle’s anger (to be
angry at the right person, for the right reason, and to the right
degree) would be much better for atheist, but is rarely embraced.
whatever anger or hurt I may have carried from my youth spent lost in
the fog of faith has faded to the point where I can look at religion in
the academic sense. I now see it as a relevant, captivating, and
thought-inducing element of our past, which definitely should have
stayed there but which also deserves a little more intellectual respect.
Religion civilized much of Europe, and while it brought on the dark
ages, this was actually progress for our alabaster-skinned,
sunburn-prone ancestors. Back then, our Caucasian ancestors were stuck
with the druidic religions that revolved around the macabre rituals of
butchering humans and animals and sacrificing the remains or making
magical potions from it. Christianity indeed was a revolution to these
people and the dark ages that resulted actually an age of enlightenment
Religion gave us a bigger social identity than ‘the families’ of the
Neanderthals, and tribes of Homo Sapiens. Before religion, Homo Sapiens
would only trust fellow Homo Sapiens who were of the same tribe or with
whom they had prior positive acquaintance. As the religious infected
others with their religion, they made them kin, and it opened up trade
and allowed cultural and even genetic diversification between previously
· Religion did more for literacy during
the dark ages than science did. The religious institutions were, by
comparison, bastions of knowledge and comprehension, with monks,
scribes, and bishops writing and translating massive amounts of text
every day. Back in these days, the average priest was more literate than
much of the population, and had they not passed on their knowledge of
writing and translation to the newer ages, such knowledge(and even
entire languages) may wholly have been lost to us today
Religion helped early humans cope with extreme emotional trauma that
could have caused us to lose our highly developed brain that houses such
strong emotions. All great primate species mourn the loss of a close
fellow, but their mourning is not nearly as intense or prolonged as
mourning in Homo Sapiens is. Something had to help us cope with torrents
of dire emotional distress, and the fantastical claims of leisure and
comfort promised by religion likely provided that coping mechanism
Religion helped along our imagination the perhaps inspire many of the
art that developed alongside religious development. Imagination is a
virtualization and rapid prototyping technology that, perhaps, only
humans have. It is through imagination that Humans saw the axe that
could be made by combining a sharp rock and a short stick. While many
animals use tools—to truly captivating complexity—humans are the only
animals that use tools to make other tools. The next step is already
well in progress: tools making tools with human oversight (industrial
automation). The final step is tools making tools without human input—at
which point Homo Sapiens become irrelevant
just this past weekend visited the Changi Museum in Singapore, detailing
the dire conditions of Singapore under Japanese duress during WW2, I
can appreciate that religion, bringer of many wars and suffering, also
brought relief and hope to those POWs (Prisoners of War) on this very
island I call home. Many of those POWs owe their lives and their sanity
to religion, which offered the only ray of hope in their most hopeless
moment. No amount of science or understanding of the evolutionary
process could even give similar comfort in comparable conditions of
despair. In fact, I think many a rational person would have mentally
quit the struggle, especially if the logically calculated their chances
I don’t wish to appear ambivalent. Despite all I’ve
said in support of our religious history, I still consider religion
something that is as relevant to Homo Sapiens today as the spear is.
That is to say, religion should be on display in a museum and not far
away from the stone tools exhibit to help us reflect on how far we have
come from those dire days before we ruled the planet.
accept that religion once had a critical role to play in human society. I
can accept that religion allowed the spread of like-mindedness and
acceptance beyond the merely tribal circles our friendships and
alliances were once limited to.
I can accept that religion
offered radical new explanations to old problems. At the time, religious
explanation soothed many a weary mind and brought hope to people who
otherwise were truly hopeless.
I can even accept that a large
portion of modern society comprises of the poor and suffering masses
that still live life with a surplice of hardship, fear, and
disillusionment. I can understand that religion offers a much cheaper
form of therapy than the one offered by psychologists, it just pities me
that information, which is finally free, is not being inspected by the
masses so that they can understand more about the world around them.
contend that no matter how many emotional problems you face, those
problems can only be made more intense if you lack proper understanding
and knowledge of how to address them. Thus, the fear of knowledge is
something that I cannot accept from any Homo Sapien. If you don’t want
to know more and insist on being as dumb as your forefathers, then that
is your choice, but don’t think that makes you my equal, for I am every
day committed to going to bed smarter than I rose from it.
can indeed replace religion and serves much of the same function:
Science tries to explain the universe we live in (for our understanding
is no longer limited to this world), and it tries to allay our fears,
cure us of some diseases and afflictions, and assist us in living
happier and more productive lives with ever greater levels of personal
accomplishment. Science even hopes to give us longer and, perhaps, even
indefinite lifespans in what we hope will be a perfect balance between
nature and technology—paradise, in other words.
So even in
science there can be great emotional relief in times of distress. This
relief may not be the baseless, passive, and fantastical guarantees
peddled by religion, but the encouragement to do something rather than
nothing often times separates the successful from the unsuccessful.
Action, after all, is better than prayer.
To embrace science in
place of religion is merely accepting a more updated form of religion in
which there is no invisible man or sin or redemption by vicarious
sacrifice. We atheists too have faith: we hope that science will one day
answer the big and fundamental questions we all have. And science is
utterly useless if it does not accurately explain, amongst other things,
the human condition.
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