Religions are ‘spiritual paths’ -constructs meant to provide answers the inquiries our core questions inspire.
Spirituality is about relationship. ‘God/Yahweh/Jesus/Allah loves you’ is a nice sentiment but it says very little about the type of relationship to universe Abrahamic spiritual paths offer. Still, while the specifics of the relationship are not often explicitly shared the nature of the relationship those paths offer is easy to see. First of all, it would be helpful if we established a concept, and for lack of a better starting point the term “divinity” captures the objective sentiments well, provided we strip all deity related connotations from it. What we should be left with is all that’s wondrous, beautiful, and awe inspiring in the universe. Scientists most often describe it as “elegance”. We all sense we are part of something deep and immense, which is likewise an aspect of the divinity of the universe. It’s what touches us. It’s many things. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s utilize this as a rough outline for what ‘divinity’ means. The Abrahamic world view of course expands on that concept of divinity to include their deity and perhaps all it does. Abrahamic concept of divinity can even go so far as to exclude all that is not directly related to their deity, leaving only deity and its antics as sole representation of divinity within our universe. In spite of how far that’s taken, the overarching theme of the Abrahamic path is that followers of it are not directly related to the divinity of the universe; at best, what represents the divinity of the universe might befriend them. This affects human psyche in ways we will soon begin to explore.
Furthermore, fundamentally, the relationship followers of Abrahamic path have to universe is subordinate. That is their place in the universe: subordinate. Their reason for being is apparently to submit to the divinity of the universe [authority]. This too affects human psyche in peculiar ways…perhaps not very ideal ones.
There is more to religious teachings than often meets the eye.
The teachings of Abrahamic religion extend far beyond what’s found within their scripture. After all, no religion would survive for long simply distributing their chosen text accompanied with a friendly, “See you in heaven!”. Rather, [Abrahamic] religions bear a myriad of teachings embedded within their cultures that cater to their longevity and propagation. They are not teachings of scripture, but of culture. The worst of those teachings involve indoctrination and how religion deflects scrutiny of their path. When it comes to indoctrination the interaction is geared toward a quick and poorly reasoned adoption of path, relying heavily on emotionalism. While there are arguments meant to engage and appease our conscious analytical minds, the vast majority of religions’ approach to indoctrination focuses on ploys meant engage us on subconscious levels, deliberately subverting rational scrutiny of the path. The essence of the approach is largely to stimulate polarization and sensationalism, to be reactionary over rational. With a conventional understanding of spirituality we could note the approach seems to be very effective be close to done with understanding the implications of that fact: seems to work, hence the propensity of religious adherents, done. However, with comprehensive awareness of spirituality it is understood the consequences of those teachings extend far beyond religion persuading individuals’ to subvert their own preferred route toward evaluating and adopting spiritual paths. For instance, we see those exact same psychologies and approaches to discourse/considerations at work within Trump supporters, climate change deniers, flat earthers…! We see sensationalism and polarization and emphasis on being reactionary all over the place, it practically categorizes US politics these days. And religion is the only entity on the planet with any clout that teaches these things to humanity. Most institutions meant to inform/educate humanity know the value of our most treasured traits: advanced, abstract, rational, analytical thought, planning, language… They know growing in those areas is how we grow as individuals and as a species. Whereas the first thing religion teaches its adherents is essentially to deny the qualities within us that establish us as sentient. It’s a complete denial of all that makes us great; it’s willful de-evolution. Many of the antics of modern society are representative of a few million years loss of sophistication. We would have never gotten here in the first place operating like that, and we haven’t progressed much further because of it. Our technology has grown up around us but we still struggle with the same social issues the ancients wrote of simply because religion has kept social development in stasis. The good news is we’re inherently innovators. We have natural musicians, programmers, painters, engineers, writers, craftsmen, and scientists running around all over the place. We will readily grow when we’re enabled to.
The properties of our world make it very clear the techniques religion uses to gain acceptance of their path and deflect scrutiny of it are utilized by the indoctrinated for far more than giving their spiritual path a wide berth. We are innately inquisitive beings who aspire to possess genuine knowledge, wisdom, truth. Schools inspire critical thinking, and our propensity for discovery can be affirmed by any parent/guardian addressing their child’s curiosity. Humanity doesn’t have a lot of sources for teachings which have us focus on denying our best traits. However, Abrahamic religion does teach it, we see those dynamics at work in our world, and it is absolutely no coincidence the entities who will have us deny our best qualities are the ones most closely related to religiosity.
Religion is the world’s foremost authority on teaching racism and hate.
The emphasis on group superiorities within scripture is so ubiquitous not even propaganda like “love thy neighbor” eases how those teachings embody themselves in this world. A simple look at how religious groups treat those who are different reveals which of the conflicting teachings actually gets embedded into world view and acted upon. Humans not inherently racist. Young children who have never been taught to hate difference, don’t; sure they see different skin and eye colors, but they don’t apply any meaning to them. Children evaluate others through how they treat them, through merit of their nature, not through color of their skin. Enculturation can give our colors meaning, however…and often does, turning entire group of people racist. It happens every generation.
Here we have another case of Abrahamic religions being the only significant source of such teachings in our world. And even in spite of scripture telling humanity to “love thy neighbor”, what it consistently reinforces is that some groups are inherently better than others…that other groups are inherently less than yours.
Religion demands your single most intimate relationship is to be with their god. Their god first, then everything else.
We can find an entire universe of confirmation bias in that nuance. We can rationalize away responsibility, accountability, decency, and virtually anything else through that. Liberty, justice, and intimacy are often the casualties. The implications of this alone stifles humanity’s progression and quality of life. This is facet of world view is tragic on so many interpersonal and societal levels. Rather than work things out among ourselves religion teaches us to appeal inwardly. Voltaire said if we believe in absurdities we can commit atrocities, and here find an environment where absurdities can exist without challenge.
*good and evil are purely constructs of sentience, they are not intrinsic to the universe; however, they do legitimately exist to the extent of being applicable and rightly applying to sentience.
Many women develop sexual dysfunctionalities thanks to the teachings of religion; this is well documented in psychology.
“Dominion” is a common theme in religion. I.S.I.S. raping women as a prayer to their god is an extreme example, but far from the only one.
The sexual issues mentioned thus far only begin to scratch the surface of the gender related issues Abrahamic religion brings to our world. The degree of patriarchy and suppression of women we find in this world can also be attributed to religion. Human is the synergy of male and female, it is the strengths of both that make us what we are and have enabled our assent to global dominance. We are fundamentally less isolated. This patriarchal world is fundamentally less than it should be thanks male dominated religion determining women are property.
“pleasures of the flesh” and the games religion plays with them to give you an aliment only they have the cure for is also a very interesting topic. -more on that soon.
[I’m an ally, LGBTQ… I’m a physicist! I’m all about spectrum! =)]
Religion mentions a few things about “Heaven”. The nature of those things are predominately about its wealth, it being the domain of the ruler/deity, and how to be worthy of being there.
People who know they don’t have much life left tend to reflect upon what’s really important in life. Those things are human connection, experience, the mark the leave upon the world. Those who afforded even a modest living tend to not be too concerned with not having made enough money life. Gold and power is not what we value most.
Religious institutions and their “Heaven” betray their true motives through the spectacle they make of themselves. Abrahamic places of worship and the “Heaven” they peddle are all far more concerned with gold, hierarchy, and submission than anything truly valuable to humanity. Their “Heaven” above is exactly like the places of worship below: the richer the congregation, the more gold they display, the important the leader is supposed to be, and the more submissive to it you should become. None of these places make efforts to give humanity greater access to what’s really important.
This circumstance is bad enough within conventional understanding of spirituality, and it only gets worse when considering how we process it. With comprehensive understanding of spirituality it becomes clear the imagery of those places would get embedded within us as idealizations. Many are more invested in greed and power than connection and experience because religion taught them to be that way.
We have much so more at stake here than we realize:
“A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.”
-courtesy of Salon
Psychoanalyzing religion in context of a comprehensive understanding of spirituality reveals it to be a detrimental influence on humanity and our world.
The majority of humans are good, decent people who are likely more inclined to empower their fellow human than bring them down for their own gain. Our concept of “paradise” demands healthy ecosystems. We yearn for peace. We yearn for a healthy relationship with everything around us. That is the character of humanity. That is the world we should be living in. The character of this world is very different. An honest assessment of this world reveals it is a reflection of Abrahamic scripture. Scripture is a look into the darkest age of humanity. It is wrought with war, misery, hardship, slavery, subjugation of all forms, famine, economic brutality, brutality outright, racism, destruction… And we live in that world today because scripture has guided humanity throughout history. Our technology has grown up around us but we still struggle with the same social issues the ancients wrote of simply because religion has kept social development in stasis. It is because world view indirectly defines our world; it is a circumstance of world view defining our operating parameters and operating through those parameters either enables or directly manifests the essence of our teachings into our world. Society developed amidst humanity embracing teachings of subjugation and disempowerment.
It was mentioned on the previous page, “with a robust understanding of spirituality we can come to know how our world works fairly well.” This conversation has only begun, yet we can already see how this is coming to be…
Our world is now becoming comprehensible. We now have a rough understanding of how and why religion has managed to be such a pervasive force throughout history. History is full of examples of spirituality/religion being a dominating force in our actions; and now we understand a bit about the psychology behind it. The overview of our psyche as well as the overview of how our world works both independently converge on spirituality being and working as presented here. Together, it’s mutual confirmation. There is no trait of humanity or our world that contests these findings…there is no other way to explain the success or antics of religion. All we find moving ahead is further confirmation, understanding, sincere wisdom.