Religion is a weapon that promotes either love or hate. The tree of religion has two branches. One fosters love and peace, the other hatred and violence. Which branch are you on? Are you even in the tree?
Our beliefs are the judgments and values about ourselves, everyone, and everything in the world. It is the filter through which we view reality. Some call this our worldview or our paradigm. Our judgments affect the world. If we base them on bias and prejudice, we are a negative influence.
The Traditions ― And Core Beliefs
We acquire our core programming as we mature. Our families are first to install values of what is right and wrong. We learn to mirror behaviors from family and friends. Other institutions also contribute layer upon layer. They all add to and reinforce our belief system.
When we children we often have no choice. Our families indoctrinate us into their religion. In many cultures, it is hard to reject the dominant religion. Failure to accept the dominant religion results in punishment up to and including death. So religion is a weapon of indoctrination. The question is then, what messages are being programmed?
The traditions of ancient cultures used stories ripe with metaphors and analogies. This is a common strategy for creating an oral tradition. It makes the lessons memorable. But it’s important to remember that the stories are metaphors and not actual things or events. Once you cross that line then you mistake metaphors as facts.
Metaphors and analogies are one of the best ways to communicate core beliefs. These are installed by the programming we already mentioned. They take a variety of forms that make the filter of our worldview. These are value-based parameters that color our thinking and behavior. And, they can be so deep-rooted that we have no conscious awareness of their operation. This makes them powerful motivators.
The Focus of East and West Differ
Western religions are the Abrahamic religions of Semitic origin. These are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These religions are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. And, they control most of the cultural narrative with over 4 billion members combined.
Eastern religions come from two main lines, India and Asia. The Indian line includes Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The Asian line includes Taoism, Shinto, Confucianism, and Eastern Asian Buddhism. Pagan religions are the roots of both Western and Eastern traditions. But, most group them with Eastern thought.
The core beliefs of Eastern and Western thought differ a great deal. The traditions of the East focus on self-development. They pioneered tools for expanding and exploring consciousness.
Western organized religion focuses on creating a cash flow system. It does this by selling mythology. These religions and their tactics for gaining and retaining members are not new. These religions are a rebranding of earlier mystery religions of the Mediterranean region.
These strategies are effective. One religion created the most wealthy state in the world, The Vatican. Christianity absorbed not only the core beliefs of the mystery religions but also the strategies for cash flow. Chief among these is selling the Afterlife.
How Religion is a Weapon
A weapon is an object that is used in an offensive or defensive manner. When it is used to defend or protect, we judge this as and lawful and necessary use of a deadly instrument. But, we can also use weapons to commit crimes. We judge this use as unlawful.
So, the problem arises in determining what is the right and the wrong way to use a weapon. It is permissible to cause harm against another who is committing what the culture judges as the greater evil. For instance, in the traditions of many cultures, it is permissible to kill another human in self-defense. But, what if you could have prevented the attempt against your life, without using deadly force? How do we decide? Who gets to decide?
War brings up another ethical dilemma. A declaration of war is the way a country commits mass murder. Those who act on behalf of the country must set aside their moral standards. Some religions declare war. They do this to justify killing. This is killing in the name of God.
The decision of what is right and wrong is a cultural standard. Religion is a weapon that can distort these standards. The result is a biased and prejudiced society.
Many people are subject to the effects of groupthink manipulation. This is the principal tool of organized religion. These religions program negative bias and prejudice. They program us to judge. And, people will defend these values, even if they are harmful to ourselves or others. They may not make rational sense, but people still defend. That is how powerful core beliefs are. They can override our sense of empathy and fairness.
Is Religion a Weapon of Love or Hate?
Religion is a weapon of the dominant cultural narrative. But does the narrative foster love or hate? The easiest way to tell is to look at the facts, and results, not the propaganda. Here are some characteristics of belief systems.
1) Inconsistency in Words and Deeds
The first thing to look for is consistency or inconsistencies in the messages and behavior. If the message is inconsistent, then this provides cherry-picking of arguments to support any behavior. If the behaviors are inconsistent, this often requires illogical justification.
If in one place it espouses love, but in another promotes hate and violence. This is an inconsistency.
Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s, infinite love. ― Bill Hicks
Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.
― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
2) Denial of Scientific Facts
It is good to be a healthy skeptic. But, it is not beneficial to deny the validity of scientific hypotheses because you don’t understand science. If you don’t understand something then seek to improve your knowledge. Do not form an opinion based on political or celebrity opinion.
By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox. ― Galileo Galilei
Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?
― Carl Sagan
3) Using Religion to Justify Inhuman Behavior
People use religion to justify destructive behavior. They use it to justify gender, race, and ethnic discrimination. And, they often point to their holy texts as authority for these actions. There are religious bias and prejudice which provide people with excuses.
People will admit to the past genocides but say that those are things of the past. But, they are not; they continue to this day. So, they say it’s an extremist sect or denomination, but not their religion.
Religious people claim that it’s just the fundamentalists of each religion that cause problems. But, there’s got to be something wrong the religion itself if those who strictly adhere to its most fundamental principles are violent bigots and sexists.
— David G. Mcafee
From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
Not all religions are contradictory, deny facts, or justify inhuman behavior, but some do. How do your beliefs compare as a weapon of love or hate?
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia