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Monday, May 31, 2010

a world less spiritual?

When lethal and dangerous things happen because of religious people - suicide bombings, wars, book burnings, hate marches - there is always a group of people, or many groups of people, who call for religions to be banned.

As if that would solve all the major problems of the human race.

In the first place, not all wars and hate marches and other serious issues are caused by religious people. Atheists are pretty good at instigating wars in promoting their own doctrines and agendas, for instance, and so are agnostics. Consider Communist and atheist North Korea. Banning religion might please them. But it would not stop their lethal and aggressive inclinations.

In the second place, suppose you could ban all religions? People would remain with their hunger to know and understand the mystery of human life and the creation of our planet and the universe. Who would satisfy that craving? Well, others would with their own ideas and philosophical systems. They might claim to be atheists. But they would still be taking on the role of priests. It would be religion all over again just in different robes. In their own way they would be seeking to help people find the meaning of life and the universe and their purpose. Some of these new priests might even become god-like in their inclinations and authority.

But in the third place, you can no more ban religion than ban the inhalation of oxygen. Or ban sex. Or ban alcohol. People will find a way. Ask those who lived through the 70 years of the USSR whether Moscow was successful in banning religion. Ask them if the Kremlin succeeded in eliminating the need for faith and the spiritual quest. Ask them if Christianity ceased to exist.

Ask China.

Ask North Korea, come to think of it. Not that we'll get the truth on the matter out of Pyongyang. But I guarantee you they have not eliminated all religious faith though I'm sure they have tried hard.

People have sought religious and spiritual explanations from the beginning of the human race's ability to wonder and imagine. Archaeologists tell us they have found evidence of the quest. So do anthropologists. Religion and the spiritual cannot be banned because hearts and minds and thought cannot be banned. Soul and spirit cannot be banned. The quest to know cannot be banned. It does not matter what you believe or refuse to believe. It does not matter if you do not care about religion. There are many others who believe differently than you, people who are religious, and they cannot all be silenced or eliminated.

Those who cry for the banning of religion because of the damage they see religion can do conveniently forget about the good religion can do. They forget about the Martin Luther Kings, the Mother Teresas, the Francis of Assisis.

Yet most importantly they forget it appears to be endemic to the human race.

It will not go away. There will always be bad religion and good religion just as there will always be bad atheists and good atheists. Atheism is part of the religious equation too.

It is not a world, despite the crime and immorality and intolerance, that is less spiritual that we see in the 21st century.

People are still looking for God.

They look for a Messiah.

They look for a special Word, a Logos.

They are on a quest. Many of them. All of them, really, all of us. Some of us do not call it a quest and some of us do not call it religious.

But we are looking for the meaning of life and life after death and the meaning of creation.

And by whatever name we call it, it is still spiritual.

The world is as spiritual a place as it has ever been. And the people who live here are just as desperate for answers, for hope, for purpose, for light.

Nothing has changed in that regard for thousands of years.

It will never change.

How can it, if it really becomes clear to all one day that spirituality, from beginning to end, is the essence of our existence as human beings?

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