Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Imagine No Religion And What It Would Mean For Society

Imagine if John Lennon Got His Way
in his song 'Imagine'
We have been struck by the number of attacks on religion and religious freedom over the past several years not only from the Obama Administration (Hobby Lobby just to name one) but also from various citizens and non-profit groups at large.

Always remember: The Founders thought freedom of worship was equally as important as our freedom of speech, freedom of the press and right to assemble or else they would not have crammed them all into the First Amendment for all the world to see forever in history.

You can worship dung beetles in America if you so choose. It is entirely your prerogative to do so. (The ancient Egyptians worshipped, and some cultures in Africa still worship, the dung beetle or scarab as a symbol for the god who pushes the sun across the sky every day)

Let's say the anti-theists get their way and everything religious is wiped away from the face of America. Let's assume John Lennon got his way when he wrote his song 'Imagine'* and there was 'no religion too' and all the people were living their lives in peace. (like that is ever going to happen. c'mon...get real)

Let's try to look at what America and the world would look, act and feel like in a totally religion-less, non-spiritual realm.

Would it be far better or far worse than the America and the world we know today?

It would be like Clarence the Guardian Angel telling George Bailey in 'It's A Wonderful Life' that life now would be as if Jesus, Abraham, Moses, Mohammed and Buddha 'had never been born'.

Now that you have re-calibrated your brain to life without all those annoying Christians or pious Jews or peace-loving Muslims telling everyone what to do with themselves every day of their lives, we only have one question:

'What would we fill that ethical and moral vacuum with now?

How would we go about trying to govern ourselves and participate in the world events now that all vestiges of religious belief and 'appealing to a Higher Order' are gone, wiped out from the face of the planet?

Some have suggested that we could operate totally under 'natural law'.  This is the concept that human beings are such rational beings that each of us can observe things that occur in nature and in the natural order of things and deduce that they are universal and therefore universally-held and agreed-to by all people.

The Founders were deeply influenced by the philosophy of such writers dating back to Thomas Aquinas through Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.  Many of them thought 'natural law' was so self-evident to everyone that we could actually fashion a government based on it alone.

Well, we don't know about you, but it sure seems as though the Founders really thought that mostly the 'good side' of human nature would shine forth on a daily basis.

Not the 'bad side' of human nature that we all know lies within us each and every day. We see examples of deleterious behavior both large and small on a regular basis not only in our lives but in the lives of other people around us and around the nation and globe.

Although it is quite the stretch, let's now assume that every single person now living in America has the capacity to observe and learn and think rationally at all times. Apparently, this would also assume that people do not ever make rash decisions born out of anger or emotion and they take their own sweet time to analyze every situation and deduce what is the 'right' decision to make for the optimal outcome each and every time.

Be that as it may, how would our American democratic republic look and operate on a daily basis differently from what we have today?
  • Would we see such 'second-chance' laws such as American bankruptcy statutes that have to be one of the most lenient in the history of the world? Or would people be thrown into debtors prison for failing to pay back loans as people were as recently as the 19th century?
  • Would we see any sort of 'assumed innocent until proven guilty' statutes in the criminal code plus repeated avenues for appeals upon appeals upon appeals as we see in American jurisprudence? Or would we see immediate meting out of justice such as shooting alleged criminals at dawn or death by hanging in the public square?
  • Would we see any massive out-pouring of generous philanthropic financial support for the millions of people who go to charitable and church-based hospitals, schools, colleges, shelters and food banks? Or would rich people just keep it all to themselves and consume billions of dollars somehow themselves?
We all 'hope' that without any religious beliefs, the 'better angels of our nature', if you will pardon the expression, would show up on a second-by-second basis in our daily corporate and community lives, don't we?

But if 'nature' gives us any clues as to how religion-less human beings might act, the chances are pretty high that a religion-less society would produce the following results with terrifying ramifications not only for the United States but for the world at large which has benefited from our exportation of democracy and democratic republican principles since our inception:
  • The strongest and smartest will always prevail...and keep and eat all that they 'kill' or create in a business, for example. No profit-sharing plans for employees; no health benefits; no pensions. Work for the corporation til you drop...and then good luck later in life.
  • Colonies would form to support the Queen Bee at the head of every city, business or entity. Your identity would be solely related to supporting the 'king' or the 'president' of any state or locality, much like the feudal kingdoms used to operate in the Dark Ages of England.
  • When people get sick, much like the weakest in the herd, they would be left behind to fend for themselves. No one would take the risk of treating a patient, particularly if they have a deadly disease such as the Ebola virus which we have already witnessed Christian medical missionaries who were willing to risk their own lives to fly to Africa to treat victims of that dreaded disease there for no other reason than it was 'the right thing to do'.
We could go on forever translating the 'dog-eat-dog' or Darwinian principles we can easily observe in the animal kingdom and apply them to our own daily human experience.

Something about arguing that just allowing our 'basic human nature' to govern us on a daily basis, both privately and corporately, doesn't give us a lot of comfort, truth be told.

Suffice it to say that left to our own devices based solely on human nature and inherent, hard-wired DNA and chromosomes, it is unlikely that human beings would act on much else other than their own self-interest and survival. Especially when it came to competing with others for scarce food or resources.

'Natural law' might work in some areas as the Founders wished. But on the whole, 'nature' is a deadly, dangerous place for most animals in and up the food chain on a daily basis, isn't it?

Is that really the way you want to see the United States of America work on a daily basis, without any religious or Higher Order reference underpinnings at all?

You might want to think seriously about that before you answer it.

*Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You, you may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one

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