Religion or Village?
I write this in response to a spirited (and remarkably civil) discussion I was engaged in late one night on the proposition that organized religion’s primary function is teaching Right from Wrong.
And further, that it is the primary, and arguably single most indispensable, vehicle for that purpose known to the human race.
Felt compelled to try to memorialize some thoughts on the matter.
To me, the role of providing moral and behavioral guidance to each individual should properly--and pragmatically--fall upon parents. Parents, and the village in which each child is raised (no invoking Hillary, please--"village" is not a dirty word).
I's my hope that there were far more compelling reasons behind our species having created entire universal belief systems--complete with what they can expect to be their lot after death--than getting our youngsters to eat their vegetables and remembering that they probably shouldn’t blow up the neighbor's garage.
My own children are being raised Agnostic. They have been exposed to religion and taught to respect other’s beliefs. They are being taught to think outside the box as well ... to process that which they hear, and are presented as Truth, through a respectful yet healthy skepticism.
We talk about life and death, right and wrong and soul and conscience every day, within the context of what life brings before us each and every day, against the context of the lessons of history.
They are headed towards adulthood armed, I hope, with minds open to all possibilities …
1) That there is a phenomenon in our universe which we might all recognize as worthy of the connotations we place on the word "God."
2) That our existence--or our perception of it, anyway--is purely the product of natural processes, that are quite likely to have been repeated or approached countless times around countless other stars throughout the universe.
3) That there are aspects of said universe so far beyond our current capacity to know or comprehend that to speculate--while intellectually stimulating and healthy, at the end of the day is still just speculation and should be recognized as such.
4) That we, as individuals and as a species, may never “know” Answers to the age-old questions about who we are, why we are here and where we might be going.
Despite all the apparent confusion, I am pleased to say my children still generally eat their vegetables (not always happily, mind you, but understanding the "why") and I'm fairly confident our neighbors, and their garages, are not in danger from them in the dead of night.
It did not take scripted religion to achieve this. It took caring.
Understand--I do not presume to criticize any living creature's right to find their own way, pursue their own truth or to seek their own comfort.
I have simply found mine in absolving myself of the need to Know, in the here and now, How It All Works ... and in endeavoring every day to live my life in a manner I could defend with firm voice and a clear conscience before any court; be it a court of Man, or the court of any entity worthy of all the connotations we place behind the word God.