I am an engineer by training and deep interest, though not by profession. One affect of that training is that I look for a scientific explanation for everything. That outlook largely makes it extremely hard for me to believe in God or any supernatural power, because supernatural would, by definition, defy the laws of physics. Most mythological tales defy the law of conservation of mass, even if you try superimpose relativity. For many years I labeled myself an atheist and actively debated the existence of God and more so any religious ceremonies.
I still feel the same about ceremonies, but I think I am more confused about the supernatural power. I would still debate against a heaven or hell or afterlife for that matter. In my mind, these are just tools that motivate people, and they are very effective ones at that. So to all those who want to blow themselves up in the hope for 72 virgins, not going to happen! I wonder if a martyr woman would get 72 virgin guys in heaven.
I have this extremely practical theory about religion. It was the only tool to keep people honest and humble in the early ages of society when you had no police, all fights would be equal and there was no motivation for ‘good behavior’. Religion offered a completely intangible reward for being good, where nothing was hidden. Being intangible meant that it required certain ceremonies and customs to establish loyalty and camaraderie among its members. Many would have tried to form cults, acquire loyal followers and grow. It came down to survival of the fittest and kind of got us to where we are today.
One significant development impacted things on the way, religious leaders realized that the intangible nature of religion gave them absolute power to invent things for more personal benefit. While absolute power corrupted absolutely, it triggered a race for every religion to grow. Beg, borrow or steal! This process has evolved over thousands of years.
Its just me on a very boring Sunday evening, day dreaming, thinking of the financial crisis and I figure… isn’t that same crisis happening on the religious front too. Aren’t there some very fundamental similarities between how religion evolved over thousands over years and what has happened to the US financial system. It is the same fundamental cycle all systems go through. Conception – development – growth – competition – crisis – re-conception! The governing rule remains survival of the fittest.
Just like this cycle repeats in the financial sector every decade or so, is it also possible we are seeing a religious cycle? Is the clash of religious identities a need for a re-conceptualization of the whole system? Just like subprime debt, the religious leaders have been issuing a lot of extremist views, is it time to see a high rate of religious default? What if a religion went bankrupt? God – we need a bailout!