The Genesis of Religion

As we are humans, our world around us seems to be human. As if everything was meant to be dominated, ruled or governed by us. Hence quite evidently it is a huge bone of contention with the people who classify themselves as Environmentalists, or Animal Lovers and other classifications, which do take care of biodiversity around us, and hope to preserve it by any means.

We are so much in love with ourselves that, without doubt, Ego or the “I” is a central tenet that runs underneath all the philosophies of the world in an attempt to understand ourselves, our purpose in this world and so on and so forth. Man’s introspection over the millennia has given rise to certain systems or codes, which became essential to deal with the chaos and entropy that would have otherwise happened. We classify some of these codes under religion. What about the other codes, are they not religion? you may ask. Well, let’s say even the Laws that govern us, approved by our constitutions, already are or could be a form of religion in due time. Hold on for now, and I will explain this in detail later.

I have previously elaborated in my post on the genesis of Cities how people with different skills and capabilities come together to perform specific duties in an efficient manner, conserving time and energy for all the fellow beings, and live in a cohesive environment to give rise to a community of living beings.

In due time stratification of roles and responsibilities took place across communities of different flavors and sizes – You could find inklings of capitalist economies in the merchant civilizations of Phoenicia, or a democratic society in Greece, autocratic/despotic in the Mayan, monarchy in Indian kingdoms, and various forms of oligarchy such as – Meritocracy in China; Plutocracy in Greece and Rome; and Feudal societies of England and Germany based on Vassal hierarchy – and as and when these communities peaked towards their zenith, satisfying their materialistic – needs and hunger – at once, there came moments of introspection. After all a hungry stomach prods you to go and search for food and not for God or the metaphysical. And as always, the few members of the communities who had done and seen it all, were deigned upon the role to think, introspect and find out the meanings of the higher callings – the meaning of our existence, our roles and responsibilities (as would best suit the community, and not a verdict or edict of a supernatural power), that is, spirituality in essence.

Though these enlightened ones were known by various names – Rishis in India, Fakirs and maulvis in Middle East, Druids in Celts, and Oracles in Greece – they all performed similar functions for the communities they belonged to – they searched for metaphysics that in turn could be used for the betterment of the society. It was never meant to be a revelatory final verdict in the form of a religious book. For there is but only one truth, and it is that Man stands above everything else – above  the Religion, above the God, and above the Science; because all of these are products of human endeavor and not vice-versa. Their modern avatars would be the Scientists of today.

To see it in the present context, take NASA for example. The extra-terrestrial search that they do with the Billions of dollars that is the hard earned money of millions of peoples, how can it possibly help the humans, and hence why to waste that critical resource on searching for water on moon, or life on another planet. Wouldn’t it be a better use of it, if that fund was routed to the recession hit, hurricane struck poor millions? Yes, in the present scenario the prudent thing would be to do so. But as I mentioned earlier, the study for higher callings – science, spirituality – all are endeavors to be taken once the society is fulfilled of its basic needs and not otherwise. No science is above the dying man. But before we scuttle the ship for space program, we should do so with acute foresight and planning of future needs and ramifications, as closing these might save thousands of people today but it can also save millions from dying tomorrow. We know of hurricanes in time today which in turn saves human lives, only because some funds were devoted to develop tools to find them out quickly earlier. Here comes the role of judgement.

The American society did not institutionalize NASA when it was fighting against the British for its independence or in times of its acute civil distress. It had been growing tremendously, fulfilled of its basic needs, when it formed NASA; and once it did so, look what the tiny organization has done for the betterment of human society in a short period of a century – all while it was hunting for that extra-terrestrial being in the other planet. Most importantly we got satellites that veritably cavalcades a series of technological revolutions every decade. We now have a better understanding of the earth via its geography, mineralogy; there is a leap of advancement in communication and hence education and defense; and then there are services such as GPS and a horde of other things.

The thing of note here is that these NASA “scientists” in search of “higher truth/understanding the universe” by years of “research, study” and “validating the results” perform a duty in service of the whole of humanity that benefits our society or community of which they are a part too. And how do we make sure that they continue to do this service for us, and not worry about feeding themselves or their family, or fulfilling other needs? We do so by paying them salaries through our hard earned money in the form of taxes.

The system of taxation and paper money and its eventual use is a grand distribution system of payments for our labor  an advanced barter system, so you may say. There is like this tacit understanding among us all – the farmer says “Okay, I’ll produce the food for all of you guys, by working hard in the field, while you guys do not need to worry about your food, and instead do other things which I will be missing out on – like you “Art folks” learn music or dancing so that I can relax by listening to them or watching them in my leisure time, or the “Artisan guys” learn pottery so that I do not have to make vessels to hold my water and waste time for tilling….”. Similarly, someone would produce clothes for all, and someone would take care of the tools of the trade, and then there would be some tradesmen or the “service” people sitting in the marketplace, where everyone could come and trade their services. But for trading services you needed some system – earlier it was the Barter system the one-on-one method, whereas today the de-facto system is of exchanging money – cash/plastic under the trust that government will pay you a similar value for the paper money you hold in your hand, if you submit it to them (this is what is written on every paper money that you have in your purse). Now this becomes like a coupon system. You can trade it anywhere you like – for watching movies, purchasing toys, or paying the panditji for his services at the temple. And so, in this fashion thus, we pay our scientists by providing him some money for his services that advance our society – while we are busy in the day to day mundane jobs dealing with everyday worlds, he looks into the darkness of outer worlds for all of us. He makes sure we all advance as a community, while we make sure he and his family is taken care of.

… continued at The Genesis of Religion – Part 2


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