Religions offering wealth

I was thinking about a couple of factors regarding religion that always seemed to me to be particularly idiopathic when one attempted to think of religious behaviour on its own terms and not as an explanadum understood through authoritative power controlling the masses.  I’m talking about religion’s propensity for 1. dividing itself and 2. entreating truly poor behaviours.

The first one is odd considering the supposed immutability of various holy books. Christianity is divided up into an almost uncountable number of sects, and those sects into further divisions. These are based on not just differences of opinion, but different teaching styles, different countries, different levels of orthodoxy, different dogmas. Islam, with is touted one-ness of opinion is also benighted with different sects and in the establishing days was determined by competing ruling families.  Polytheism doesn’t really have to deal with this issue as much, but then you have different groups worshiping particular gods over others so that isn’t really an improvement, rather just accepting differences of opinion.

Poor and bizarre behaviour is similarly rife. From murdering doctors who perform abortion to refusing to eat pork, throwing acid to drinking hemp, religion’s most prominent indicator of its strength as well as the biggest reason for complaint is poor and bizarre behaviour.

These two factors are seemingly both universal and idiosyncratic to all religion. I think that they are related and the way they are related can be seen in the teachings of holy books. Let’s say that you follow scripture, and adhere to the demands of God in a very real way. You have a tent with loops made of seven different kinds of metal, you have burnt offerings and your tribe has a priest cult singularly donated to maintaining good God relations. You are expecting great rewards for your loyalty and adherence. While the catch with religions is usually some sort of rewarding afterlife you’re not currently privy to, holy books also typically promise material wealth, communication with a deity and enhanced understanding of the universe. Even Job, the eponymous figure of suffering for one’s faith, gets rewarded tenfold what he earned prior to his suffering in a very materialistic way.

But alas! That reward does not come. Rain falls equally on the just and unjust. Gods refuse to communicate to the saner people of faith, enhanced understanding is not revealed and material possessions are, at best, not some magic mandate but readily reproducible trade tactics and your profits are dug into through your adherence to expensive rituals. To believe so readily in God I think it would be fair to go back to your holy book and read the chapters again, taking different translations, emphasizing various passages. Those decisions are coloured by personal preference and the cultural zeitgeist and as a result vary from person to person. This could be the buds of divisive religion.

As interpretations confer less or more (but never enough) reward, the acts and translations become increasingly bizarre in some circles as they take that their God is a demanding overlord and so it goes on until cognitive dissonance kicks in and really subverts and divides.

The promise of wealth by religions is therefore obnoxious and inherently detrimental to any sort of sane appraisal of the universe.

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~ by freeze43 on April 24, 2011.

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