As a child I was obsessed with life’s great questions. Why are we here? What is our purpose? There are no concrete answers. Mankind looks to the heavens to fill a void that knowledge cannot traverse. Herein lays the basis of all religion.
I was eight years old when I asked my devoutly catholic grandmother what became of the souls who did not know of Jesus. After all, Christianity had only been around for two thousand years. Surely there were pious men and women who lived before Christ. Should they all be sent to hell for not worshipping a God they’d never met?
She struggled with an answer, but assured me that good people always go to heaven regardless of their beliefs. I should note that my preciousness did not make me her favorite grandchild. Faith requires absolute certainty. Believers do not like to be confronted with issues that require flexibility.
When I grew older I learned as much as I could about the different religions of the world. I am not an expert on any of them. I have a passing knowledge not a scholarly degree. What I have been able to gather is that at some very basic points they all preach the same thing and hold the same purpose.
Since the dawn of time religion has been mythology, nationalism, and codified law. We use the stories to explain away our fears and weave elaborate fables about our origins. We identify ourselves by our beliefs as separate from other people. We use it as the basis for how we treat each other and behave in an organized society.
Religion is a concept created by humans, derived to fulfill human need. As such it cannot help but be corrupted by human pettiness. For the same reasons my grandmother would not attend my uncle’s wedding to a Baptist, wars have been fought, people have been subjugated, and tyranny has been allowed to fester.
This is why am convinced that all religion is baseless and all Gods are false as we know them. This is not to say that I do not have a moral compass and cannot differentiate between right and wrong. I take these things very seriously. The difference is that I do not honor justice because I fear for my soul. I do so because the concept of justice is the most noble of all human inventions. If I have a religion then it is based in the value of humanity.
If there is a God and there is a heaven, I do not know what they are. If my soul is in danger of being put on trial I cannot conceive of a judge. What I do know is that in this world of living people my actions carry weight and provide consequences. I am beholden to my fellow people to behave in a righteous manner. In a world where we are so close as to one another that even geography is not an obstacle the idea that all lives our intertwined and we live for the benefit of each other is not fantasy.
There is however great merit in these fables, even if in practice their spirituality is waning. Judaism is a chronicle of perseverance. Christianity provides us with the golden rule. Islam teaches structure. Hinduism is a quest for moral certainty. Buddhism seeks personal enlightenment. Each of these concepts is valid and none should be in contrast with another. They stand as a testament to the greatness of the human species.
I believe that for us to survive on this planet we must embrace the fact that none of us know what is the true religion. We cannot afford to be resolute about that for which we are all of us unsure. There is no man or woman alive who knows with any certitude what lies beyond the veil of life. Therefore, we should worship the life we know is real and find merit within it.