The anatomy of religion

April.29. 2018

Most religions operate along the same lines and are structured with the same component parts.

The first and most obvious component is the organizational structure.

Which consists usually of a clearly defined hierarchy, made out of lower level clergy and higher level clergy.

The organization structure is the means to control. And in this, it’s no different from other human organizations.

You see the same underlings–the peasants–followed by local admin, followed by regional admins, and so on until you reach the top, which is usually the king.

The very fact that religions need an administrative structure establishes its human origin.

Next are the rituals.

Rituals are necessary to keep the flock in awe and to move their emotions.

If you want them to believe that you’re the actual representative of God, you have to heighten the reality quite a bit.

And you do this with elaborate costumes that differentiate you from the regular folks, incense that touch their olfactory senses, and rites and songs that fill their spirits with wonder.

These are all devices to create a special experience for the believers.

These elements too are man-made. You can see the same devices used in other human activities, most notably in sports and in concerts.

Third, we come to the rules and bylaws of the organization.

All organizations need rules and laws to keep the flock in check, to establish boundaries for them.

With rules, you also need appropriate punishments for any infractions.

There’re two kinds of punishments, the physical kind and the psychological kind.

In the physical kind, the rule breaker is usually banished from the organization or separated from part or parts of its operation. For some people who are emotionally attached to the organization, this punishment is almost like death.

But the other kind is even worse. It plays on your psyche by promising an afterlife of eternal punishment.

Think about it, the dread and the fear of this horrific punishment—especially for an eternity!

Whether the afterlife exists or not is irrelevant. What’s important is the mental torture it imposes on the poor believer.

(Judging from the well publicized crimes of some clerics, it appears that even some of them do not believe in this nonsense.)

And then we come to the core (supposedly) of the religion, its doctrines.

There’re two classes of doctrines—mythologies and spiritual teachings.

Mythologies are elaborate scenarios made up usually to establish the religion’s legitimacy.

It would usually include supernatural events and prophecies that would try to establish the religion in question as the one true religion.

Most of these mythologies are shrouded in ancient history. Some are attempts to explain the natural world and man’s existence in prehistoric times.

In themselves, mythologies are harmless, until they become the means by which its adherents begin to differentiate themselves from others.

And worse, to do harm to those who do not believe in their particular mythologies.

Finally, the good stuff.

This is the other part of the doctrines, the teachings.

Most religions (with perhaps one exception) teach its adherents to do good, to respect others, to live a blameless life, etc.

All worthy goals. (Whether its believers actually practice these teachings is another matter.)

You can call the teachings of the religion its true spirit. They are what really distinguish it from other religions.

In fact, if you really want to determine the legitimacy of a religion, (whether it’s really a revelation from God or the other guy), you can find it in the results of the teachings.

And in this, there’re only two criteria.

Do the results uplift the universe or do they downshift it?

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