Beyond Religion: Part 1 – Hope of a brighter future

After having fought a long and liberating battle, which ultimately led to the separation of our states and churches, we are now finding ourselves dragged back into a politico-religious conflict against our will. Much like the mythical Hydra of Lerna, our self-declared enemies regrow multiple heads for every one chopped off. Are we contemplating the swan song of a few nostalgic extremists or, as they would like to have it, the early days of the Armageddon of the Last Judgment? Is there hope for peace or are we stuck on an inevitable trajectory for a conflict of civilization? One thing appears certain; there will be many more gloom days ahead of us unless global consciousness awakens.

Universal experience suggests that uncovering the shadows of the origins of a religion does not kill this religion, but tends to prevent it from falling into fundamentalism and intolerance… – Jean Roche

As too many freethinkers rush to throw the religious baby out with the bathwater, perhaps it would be appropriate to start by stating that there is no doubt in my mind that all religions can contribute positively to living a healthier and happier life by connecting people and by creating a sense of harmony, fraternity and empathy among those sharing similar views of the world. In fact, everyone, including the most die-hard atheist, holds beliefs that help them bond with others, and make sense of their lives, environments and experiences. In a world where injustice, individualism and materialism prevails, religions act as magnetic poles for the many compassionate and mind-liked souls that are seeking a richer, more balanced and more fulfilling life. Empirical studies have long demonstrated that we tend to consider our discernment to be well above average. As a result of this flawed and overrated self-assessment, we think of ourselves as critical individuals, when in reality, we end up believing in what we would like to be true. We should therefore not be surprised to find all religious organizations proclaiming to be holding the utter Truth. In addition to reducing the chances of conflicts, persuading others to adopt the same beliefs brings more souls into the fold and strengthens the group’s confidence, cohesion and influence. This is why legions of well-intentioned Jehovah’s Witness and young Mormons are being dispatched around the globe and why Muslims students associations are striving on most campuses. In many respects, these individuals are genuinely contributing to fostering peace by engaging and preaching; eager for all to embrace the Light as they see it. But if religions always seem to be pulling the strings or getting their fingers stuck into conflicts, it is because they call onto interpretations and traditions that are, by definition, highly subjective. Unfortunately, the nature of subjectivity implies that one’s inalienable Truth is doomed to be someone else’s laughing stock. Given the wide spectrum of beliefs and practices flourishing in our progressive societies, we have had no other choice for maintaining social harmony than cultivating a long tradition of open-mindedness, tolerance and self-derision. As the world is becoming a village, it is met by new challenges. Global communications and multiculturalism are unhinging and confounding the values of billions of individuals like never before. Conservative cultures valuing tradition, authority and conformity are confronted to more liberal ones that, subjected to the Age of Enlightenment, have embraced critical thinking, democracy and human rights instead. These radically different cultural paradigms not only affect the way societies organize themselves, but also how they interpret Scriptures and choose to live their faiths. When taken on its own, the investigation conducted in The Covenant, is nothing more than an argumentation in favor of a revised scientific interpretation of the biblical history that might only raise interest among a very small niche of biblical researchers. Used as part of a collective reflection, however, I believe it can turn into a powerful enabler to help those promoting a literal reading of the bible to question their convictions and increase the level of confidence they need to loosen up or let go of their religious dogma, so they can access to a higher level of consciousness. A better understanding of the secular origin of the Covenant will contribute to appeasing religious tensions. Given the amount of  hatred and suffering engendered in the world today, shouldn’t we crave for more knowledge? Isn’t worth investigating a little deeper the origin of monotheism, for the sake of our children?