Posted by Ezekiel 25:17 on April 26, 2001 at 01:34:57:
Humour me a little here. (with apologies to John Lennon)
Imagine a world that existed without religion. There was no belief in any type of deity whatsoever.
What is the main issue with life the world would have?
Would the world be a nicer place? Probably not.
Would the world erupt into chaos? Probably not.
The main concern with all humans would be death. The cessation of life. Taxes, injustice, inhumanity would all pale into insignificance with the issue of death.
Even today death plays such a big issue in regards to euthanasia and abortion.
The world would find itself pondering, what happens after death? People have seen the dead bodies decomposing, they have seen dead animals, they wonder to themselves whether they will end up exactly the same way. They would take into account the entire scope of human existence, the billions upon billions of people which have existed upon this planet, vanished now into dust. The mighty, the powerful, the rich, the poor, all end up in the same place. These great men and women now nothing more than corpses, what hope would anyone else have?
People would now do 2 things.
1. Live life as well as possible, knowing that life is short and they should get as much out of life as they can.
2. Attempt to find a solution, a cure to death.
Now, we are assuming that like us, no cure to death will ever be found. Thus, the next logical step is to preserve ourselves for a time when there may be a cure to escape death. Thus, suspended animation would become a norm in society. The next logical step, is in desperation to believe that a better place exists after death. Now no-one else has ever come back from the dead to tell us about it, so people know this is a futile hope. Yet, they like the Norse and almost every other civilisation would make up stories about the beauty of the afterlife. A beautiful story to tell the children, when they ask after their dead grandmother.
Yet, what if there was a story of a man who supposedly rose from the dead. A man who claimed there was a heaven, and glorious afterlife for all who believed in him. Of course, no one would believe him at first, as many charlatans exist in this day and age, but he would eventually get converts. The hopeless, the sick, the one ones searching for hope would come to him. Why not? For they have nothing to lose. Again this is in relation to humanity's fervent hope to seek miracle cures, such as chi-gong, and miraculous tree bark cures.
Not only, is a good afterlife promised, but the man appears to be so noble and good, and asks everyone to be nice. How can anyone complain about that? Thus, eventually a religion begins. Would the majority of people in the world believe in this religion? Of course not without proof. It would become just another nameless cult.
So what of the rest of humanity?
Perhaps some will realise the fragility of human existence, perhaps wars will become obsolete as we realise how little money and territories actually mean. Perhaps, they would grow to appreciate others, no matter how different, as individuals on this planet, striving for the same goals, happiness and hope.
Perhaps not. Perhaps humans being what they are will still be greedy, vengeful and violent. Knowing the short-life span they will become hedonistic and attempt to gain as much pleasure as quickly as possible.
Perhaps, this is the choice that awaits us all today in society. There are no punishments for being a bad person (barring legislation), we have the freedom of choice to make of the world what we will. We don't need to pray to a nameless deity to make things better, we don't need to spend time every week abasing ourselves, we are free to do what we will. Whether we waste this time sleeping, or cherishing loved ones, is our own choice.
Imagine it now. Humans will not be any different. There will still be good people, there will still be bad people. Society would not fragment, chaos would not ensue without religion.
Cherish life, cherish people, enjoy everything, accept regrets and forget the small things for we will not be here long. With or without religion, we are still the same people, never without hope but always with a vivid imagination.
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