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Toward a Rational Religion
(A religion for the next 10 million years - Give or take an asteroid.)
The need for a Rational Religion is based upon two premises:
1. Metaphysics (the incorporation of empirically unsupported elements in anyone's system of belief) is unavoidable. I.e., Your universe is imaginary.
2. For a certain percentage of any given population, the available Orthodox Metaphysical dogma are unbelievable. I.e., Most religion is a crock.
If you find this second notion repellent, imagine for a moment that I am not talking about your religion.
There are over 6 billion people in the world, and it's a good bet that at least 4 billion of them hold beliefs that you find funny, shocking, repellent or bloody dangerous.
So, that's "most religion," isn't it?
Okay; I said, "imagine for a moment..." Moment's up!
Of course I'm talking about your religion, at least within a statistical probability. If you are one of six billion people and two-thirds of them believe in religions which set your teeth on edge, what are the chances that any one among the excluded two-thirds feels the same way about yours?
We're not exploring, here, whether you are right and they are wrong. Objectively that can only matter to you and I have no way to address it.
What is crucial is the way you, and they, feel about the differences in viewpoint. And what both, or either one, of you are willing to do about the way you feel.
People are running around the globe these days with Kingdom Come strapped to their bodies and wired to detonators. Most of these people are devout religionists who care very little about their individual lives and not at all about yours.
Your beliefs, and your lifestyle, are so repellent to them that they are eager to vaporize themselves (and hopefully, you) to make that revulsion clear.
How these people arrived at this mental and emotional state is immaterial. There are myriad injustices and inequities in human society, and dramatic terminal gestures will always appeal to a certain percentage of the people who suffer these insults. If there are some imaginative Glorious Leaders around to unite a lot of these (possibly justified) malcontents into a movement, the Mad Bomber graduates from a disaffected loner into a True Believer and becomes a part of the Army of the Lord.
If it's not your lord, you are the Enemy.
When (not if) one of these rapt religionists gets hold of a nuclear device and touches it off in the middle of some prime real estate it will become clear to you (in case you happily weren't all that close to Ground Zero) how much my abstract theorizing matters.
The World Trade Center was a popgun; and its death toll a minor statistic.
Never mind that World Terrorism shakes out to become a political, military, medical and occasionally social problem. Without the unifying and motivating force of religious orthodoxy it would not exist.
The tempering influence of the more rational orthodox religions in the world is not miniscule; it is just very fragile. This is because of the nature of religious orthodoxy.
Any belief which feels itself threatened by the beliefs of others stands in danger of losing its rational component. When it is threatened by the actions of others, rationality is dead.
(Perhaps a billion Muslims, worldwide, consider al Quaida to be a bunch of religious nuts: on the other hand, they also feel that much of Western Civilization is unredeemably heathen, and al Quaida are at least Muslim.)
What we need is a religion in which Rationality, not Orthodoxy, is the Prime Directive. How we might arrive at that I propose to explore.