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On Religion

Posted by on Apr 26, 2015 in Ecology, Featured | 0 comments

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Dead GeckoThe Bankruptcy of Religion

Religion is not the usual topic of, but as I wrote last week about Pope Francis I think it is in order to clarify my stance towards religion. I do not reject the idea of a God or divinity as such. As a young physicist once told me the chances, that God exists is fifty-fifty. It is a Either Or situation, either God exists or God does not exist.

Of course, God does not have to be as we imagine him. Or her. Perhaps it is a Id, something genderless. There is very effective, although nasty, way of shutting up religious people who are trying to preach to you. According to the book God created us in his image. We share the same emotions. God is loving, angry, vengeful etc. To shut the preachers up just ask ask them, what God does when s/he gets sexually aroused.

Nonetheless the cynicism, one has to admit the importance of religion in forming our culture, it is the underlying worldview. It has shaped how we perceive our world and how we treat nature.

For thousands of years religion tries to teach ethics to humankind. It did not succeed. Just watch what  happens in the world right now and cry. Every religion, at least the three monotheistic ones, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, went and are still going through periods of violent fundamentalism.

In medieval times Christianity had the Inquisition. Today Islam is plagued with violent fundamentalism. Judaism is a little better off. Not because it doesn’t have Fundamentalist, but because it is such a small religion, that the extremists among them cannot act globally.  But ask the Palestinians how they feel under the yoke of Judaism and Zionism.

On a more personal level it also failed miserably. Crime is still rampant. People lie and cheat and steal. Murder and rape still occur.

But those are points for others to elaborate upon, for the ecological aspect is the saliant concern. It is commendable, that Pope Francis picked up the gauntlet of Climate Change. But the question is how deep into the dogma he can change without changing the dogma?

Those books of thousands of years ago claim to be the word of God and are therefore valid for eternity.

In the King James bible it is written (!):


1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.


And so we did and still do. Humankind procreates at an alarming rate. Today about seven billion people inhabit the earth. In a mere thirtyfive years the global population will grow to be nine billion. A growth rate of 30%. This in addition to the destruction of nature and the subsequent Climate Change.

Pope Francis is aware of the perils of these two problems, but he seems to be the only religious leader to address the problems. While the Muslim and Jewish communities keep mum about it, they mostly ignore the problems. They still rely on the books written thousand of years ago, when live was very different from today.

Live as such was not very different then, people had to work hard to survive. People mated and procreated, they grew old and finally died. In this respect life has not changed, but with the technological advancement everything else changed and God and his flock don’t how to tackle such severe problems. We, as humanity, have to find the answers to such existential problems. Religion might help and kudos to the Pope. Let’s wait and see what the Climate summit at the Vatican and the Ecological Encyclica will be able to change our perception of the world.

A last, and personal remark, some people might think I am a Atheist. This is not true, the older I get the more fantastic life seems to me and I am ready to believe in a God, or Deity, but I am not ready to believe in any book. And thank God we all have got something that even the most intelligent animal does not have; free will. Free will is part of human intelligence. An animal can decide which way to go. Left or right, but it does not have the ability to decide contrary to its instincts. Human beings do have this ability. Human beings can contemplate actions which are not determined by pure instincts. This is one of the great achievements of religion. Religion did teach us this. If we want to fight Climate Change we could, we just have to decide to do so.

An important point about religion and free will is the question whether we have a free will in a religious-philosophical context. If God is omniscient, all knowing than we don’t have a free will since God already knows how I will decide. Even before I am aware that I will have to decide in the future.

An other interesting news item, although not directly connected to the article. The Heartland Institute (2) is sending a team of climate scientists to the Vatican to inform the Pope that there is no Climate crisis! Good luck with that.


* The picture above does not have any connection to the topic of the article. 


1. King James Bible

2. Heartland Institute


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