Atheists and religions and have been locked in a bitter struggle in the West for several centuries in the battle projected to be between faith and reason. Even serious scientists seem to have been embroiled in debates whether life evolved on our planet or was created divinely by an inspired act of creation. There are other scientific debates on whether molecular motors within cells were designed by a creator or self assembled in our primordial oceans.
To some extent it seems that today’s religions are stuck at the point over a supernatural being ( Creator or not), having reached a real impasse. Yet if we look at history, we are soberly reminded that religions, like science theories rise and fall, without any sort of permanence. Today’s beliefs are often tomorrow’s superstitions, and if they don’t evolve, extinction is the only logical outcome.
World views and explanations of the origins of life and the universe are perhaps not the concerns of today’s religions anymore; they are universal concerns that can be addressed meaningfully through science, a systematic study of the evidence and framing rational hypotheses based on a progressively updated understanding. Many even feel that all questions might not even be possible to answer ! To believe in an Ultimate unknowable reality is one thing, and to believe in a supernatural creator endowed with humanoid characteristics is entirely a different proposition.
If two saints disagree, one is not a saint.
But at the fundamental level, our religions were perhaps born with an entirely different aim in mind. To impose moral and ethical constraints, and create a morality-based social structure was perhaps what was the real intention, if we read the biographies of the religious teachers, saints and prophets carefully. They did believe their work was ‘divinely’ inspired in most cases, but so was the work of Newton, Kepler, Planck and Descartes, the architects of modern science. The fact that today’s religious leaders in most cases hold on to outdated, irrational interpretations of matters that can best be explored by science does nothing more than turn more and more people away from the deeply moral and spiritual aspects of our existence that religions developed in the first place to address.
Service, compassion for fellow beings, ecological awareness, humanism, peace, tranquility of our minds are themes that have traditionally bound communities through religion, and are the expression of true spirituality : a realisation that through structuring our minds through a moral, disciplined approach everybody’s life can get enriched and better.
The only aspects of our religions which could achieve ‘immortality’ so to speak, moving forwards, are those that address these issues of morality and connectedness, today’s religious leaders who stray from these ideals must realize. The rest must be considered noises, whereas the true moral purpose of the religious teachings are the signals.
67-68 Hatton Garden
London EC1N 8JY