Posted by beinghuman as Commentary
23 Jun 2008
In many sports it is customary to elect the Hall of Fame of all-time great players. The same method can in my mind well be applied to the founders of different religions.
My first selection is self-evidently the Buddha as he is my all-time favourite in this very mixed bag of religious founding fathers.
As an atheist I am naturally inclined to like the fact that he did found a religion that does not need the concept of God at all. In his favour talks also the fact that he told his followers to honour other people’s beliefs instead of converting them forcefully as is customary in many other current world religions.
It is not good old Gautama’s fault that some of his followers have in fact elevated him to the status of a demigod or God; it’s a fact he himself would never had approved.
In my Hall of Fame the second tier consists of Confucius and Laozi. The Chinese religions based on their teachings are basically just collections of wisdom that seek the greatest possible harmony in society. They are not faith-based religions in same sense as most of the modern religions are.
Confucius and Laozi must by credited with the fact that the followers of these ancient Chinese teachings have not generally seen the need to attack the neighbouring nations to spread their beliefs, nor have they found it necessary to burn people that believe in wrong things.
The home-boy Jesus can not be held out of the house any more, even if there is a good reason to argue that Jesus did not in fact found a new religion as he himself just tried to change an old Jewish faith.
His followers then created a new religion that includes also the teachings of Jesus, but a very great deal of things thought up by the later real founding fathers of this new religion.
When this new religion started to aspire for a position of power in the Roman Empire the teachings of this religion were once more altered to a great extent. The humble religion of the underdog was transformed into a tool of government.
The fine and loving teachings of the Jesus are still included as a sugar coating to a system of belief’s that has evolved to a finely tuned tool for controlling the minds of members of a society.
There is the hard edge of the religious founding fathers. But to this roster I must somewhat grudgingly elevate the founders of the Jewish religion; good old Abraham and Moses. They must be honoured as founders of the most stubborn and durable little religion there has ever been.
Jewish faith is now in practice an incurable virus of faith that makes its victims think that they can live only in a small area in the Near East from where their forefathers departed thousands of years ago.
To its credit this little religion has mutated into one that does not in its mainstream form hinder the scientific inquiry or freedom of thought. This is not because of any wisdom by Abraham or Moses, but because the leaders of this religion have much later had the wisdom of being content in letting this religion exist in a form of series of rituals and hierarchy and letting its followers to practically think what they like.
In my House of Fame there is however no place for two surprisingly similar founders of new world religions. These gentlemen are Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh from Arabia and a certain mister Joseph Smith from Pennsylvania.
Both are self-made men who created new religions that have borrowed heavily from earlier world religions.
I think that these fellows form a definite b-class in this categorization of religious leaders. I am not however saying that these founders would not have sincerely themselves believed in that they were carriers of the only and final truth.
The big problem with Islam especially is that it has not evolved when the world around it has changed. It has become a great hindrance to development in certain parts of the world. The basic problem is that this religion has lost its ability to mutate as the world changes.
In the Christian west the development has been quite different. The Renaissance, Age of Enlightenment and Reformation eroded the once so overwhelming secular power of this religion which opened the way for the development of the science. This development is behind the new found wealth and economic power of the west.
In the Islamic world there was however no Reformation and the following big changes in the status of religion. Therefore the Islamic world follows moral codes and mores that re 1500 years old and unchanged. This slows down enormously the economic social and cultural development in the Islamic countries.
The saddest thing is the fact that in many parts of the Islamic world it is considered that a human being has enough education if he can recite the contents of one old book from his hearth. Can people with this level of ignorance compete in the modern world economy?
Mohammed stays firmly outside my little Hall of Fame, notwithstanding the thing that most of the blame lies on his more recent followers. The underlying inability for chance is however inbuilt in the basic teachings of the originator of this religion.
The Mormon faith created by Mr. Smith is even at its best a laughable and preposterous copy of earlier religions and does not really deserve anybody’s attention.
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