Religion of Throwback

No, not Original Mountain Dew.

Religious practices generally began as a response to fear. Early religions were based on behavioral actions to fear: physical offerings to a “volcano god”, or “lightning god”, or “earthquake god”.  Sometimes strong men would take advantage of the ready-made ‘obedient workers’ and make themselves the messenger or object of worship, but the basic motivation remained fear.

Eventually, religions began to evolve towards a less-fearful and more civilized model. Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism all emphasized positive aspects of morality. While Hinduism involves a multitude of creative stories, as Roman and Greek mythology do, Judaism became reliant on a huge body of laws, and behavioral conformity was thought to lead to spiritual enlightenment, especially for the priests of the religion. They, in turn, were charged with teaching all the other adherents the humility before God, and the compassionate responses, that should be the result of the enlightenment.

Buddhism offered the enlightenment without the rules, but still based it on following a certain behavioral path; namely, renouncing all interest in “worldly” (anything relating to the physical world) concerns. This led to adherents becoming less involved in the world, and while they were often an example of moral behavior, their non-involvement led to less positive cultural effect than could be wished.

Christianity came as a refinement of Judaism. It specifically told all adherents they they had the responsibilities of the Jewish priests, in actively seeking enlightenment, and in teaching others. Yet the emphasis was on inner morality, fostered by the understanding that God knows everyone’s every thought. It also gave hope, by creating a greater understanding of God’s compassionate nature. Yes, there’s more, but we’re keeping this short!  : )

Islam came along, and, if the stories are to be taken at face value, was an individual man’s religious creation that, coincidentally, gave free rein to every desire he had. The body of rules that soon became codified was an astonishingly complete behavioral guide to every action a person could take. Islamic jurists still rule on ‘new’ situations in today’s world, creating even more rules for behavior. The practice of Islam in most Islamic-majority countries confirms this rule-driven behavioral ‘worship’.

What is not as clear is that this behavior is driven by fear. While most religions have concentrated most of their philosophy on the positive aspects of spirituality, Islam has many lurid descriptions of Hell.  M A N Y . And not only are Muslims fearful of this eventuality (women, in general, are specifically mentioned as being the majority of Hell’s residents, along with anyone who is not sufficiently Muslim in their behavior…) but, since the descriptor of “sufficiently Muslim” is not a personal judgment, but the opinion of every muslim on the face of the earth, each Muslim can live in fear of every other Muslim on the entire planet.

Far from being an improvement in religious thought or practice, Islam is a throwback in the truest sense of the word, to the most infantile religious practices of humankind: fear, and mindless obedience to rules.

So easy, even a caveman can do it……!

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