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"See entry: Religion" • Chapter 2 • Religion, science, missionaries

The ancients of religion

All human cultures studied, without exception, held a supernatural religious belief. Throughout history, most people believed in one religion or another.

Ancient Worship (Illustration: Yoram Katz)

Secularism and the lack of belief in an external God that affects our lives are new phenomena of the last 500 years. The rise of secularism coincides with the rise of science, and the great strides made by man in understanding his environment with the help of the tools provided by science.

The influence of science on religion

Science provided rational explanations where religion turned to the supernatural. Phenomena that people perceived as supernatural and mystical, and as products of the mysterious activity of gods, began to be explained with the help of scientific tools. When people began to realize that rational explanations can be given to the riddles the world presents to us, the status of supernatural beliefs - religions - was greatly weakened.

A number of distinct examples of places where science pushed religion and provided rational explanations where religion turned to the supernatural:

  • in astronomy, The understanding that the earth is not the center of the world and that it revolves around the sun, hurt the prevailing religious beliefs. These theories created a real panic in the Christian church. This cost a number of astronomers (Galileo Galilei, Giordano Bruno and more) dearly and sometimes even death in agony.
The solar system according to Copernicus (1543) • Public domain
The solar system according to Copernicus (1543) • Public domain
  • Darwin's theory of evolution gave a rational explanation for the development of species. This Torah stood in complete contradiction to the stories of creation, and took from God powers that were attributed to him until then.
Charles Darwin (1854)
Charles Darwin (1854)

The theory of evolution has long since been seen by scientists as a mere "theory". All the findings that have been discovered from the day it was introduced until today only confirm and strengthen it. Despite this, even today, the religions find it difficult to deal with this theory.

  • The development of physics since the days of Newton, limited the ability to argue for the intervention of supernatural factors in our world.
Principia Mathematica - Newton's groundbreaking book (1687) • Newton's private copy • Public domain
Principia Mathematica - Newton's groundbreaking book (1687) • Newton's private copy • Public domain
  • Geology used the tools made available by physics, and discovered the age of the earth and the universe. These discoveries contradict the religious beliefs about the creation of the world.

Religions on the defensive

All these put the religions on the defensive. Some of them flowed with the spirit of the times and found ways to settle some of the contradictions. Some of them continue to fight some of the scientific teachings to this day. The radical branches of the religions even declared war on "modernity" and turned to extreme fundamentalism. In 1925, in Dayton, Tennessee, John Scopes, a school teacher who taught evolution, was on trial. He did this in violation of a state law that forbade teaching anything that contradicted what is written in the Holy Scriptures.

"The Monkey Trial" (1925)
"The Monkey Trial" (1925)

The sentence that earned the name "Monkey Trial" symbolizes to this day the absurdity in the struggle of fundamentalism in science and progress.

Missionaries

Religions can be divided into missionary and non-missionary. A missionary religion (Christianity, Islam,...) considers it important to spread its gospel beyond the existing community of believers. These religions try to increase their community of believers as much as possible.

Missionary religions have a huge potential for harm and danger, especially when they contain elements who do not hesitate to act violently to spread them. Christianity has been this way for over 1,000 years, and Islam is still this way. A non-missionary religion (Judaism, the Druze religion,...) sees itself as a kind of closed club that holds a unique belief, and has no interest in massive acceptance of additional members. By their very definition, the global damage potential of non-missionary religions is small.

Internal missionary work

Internal missionary work is characterized by an effort to increase religious awareness within the public where the religion operates. All religions characterized by "external" missionary work also maintain "internal" missionary work. In this way, Christians came to the fore and were punished in different ways during the violent period of Christianity, and in this way, dress codes are imposed by threat in Muslim countries, and a Muslim who converts his religion is sentenced to death.

Internal missionary also exists in religions that are not "external" missionaries, and what is happening today to the Jewish religion in the State of Israel is an example of this.

people and religions

It is customary to divide the level of religious belief of people into the following categories:

  • Theists (religious) - believe in the existence of a God who created the world and who affects their lives directly (private supervision), and are careful to fulfill a set of laws, which you understand God does not require of them.
Private supervision (AI generation)
Private supervision (AI generation)
  • Deists - believe in the existence of a God who created the world, but do not attribute to him any influence on the world and humans since creation and see his revelation only in the natural world.
God the Creator • Julius Schnorr von Krolsfeld (1860)
God the Creator • Julius Schnorr von Krolsfeld (1860)
  • Agnostics - claim that it is not possible to say about this or that religion that it is valid or not valid without empirical support. Without such support, the agnostics claim, nothing can be known about the existence of God. Karl Popper, perhaps the greatest philosopher of science, defined himself as an agnostic. An agnostic does not deny the existence of God, but he attributes to his existence a probability similar to that which he attributes to the existence of fairies and vampires or to the existence of Zeus (Jupiter), the mythological king of the gods.
For agnostics, God has as much probability of existence as Zeus, vampires and fairies.
For agnostics, God has as much probability of existence as Zeus, vampires and fairies.
  • Atheists - people who do not believe in the existence of God and the principles of religion. In a slightly ironic way it can be said that in fact all theists are atheists in relation to all existing religions, except for their specific one.
  • "Secular" is someone who does not accept the paradigms and code of conduct of any religion. The secular include the atheists, deists and agnostics.

So much for the general introduction and clarification of the concepts we will use later. In the following chapters we will discuss the values ​​that religion brings to our lives and the benefits that man and society derive from it, along with the harms it brings to them.

Contact Chai here: At watsapBy email

Yoram Katz
Yoram Katz
Graduate of the Israeli hi-tech industry, journalist, writer and blogger. Link to my website and to purchase the books Born in Haifa (1954), studied at Geulah School and Harieli School. Graduated in philosophy and psychology (Hebrew University) and computer engineering (Technion). Books: • "Lethal Scripture" (English) – a historical suspense novel • “Days of Redemption” – childhood stories from the neighborhood of "Redemption"

Articles related to this topic

2 תגובות

  1. Harieli abandoned the Jewish religious education that Biram was careful about.
    This is how a monstrous generation was created, cut off from its roots, and against this background you will read this text. Without roots it is impossible to grow anything, except perhaps anti-religious articles that express internal hatred of their religion in the guise of a pseudo-academic text. And all this two days after Holocaust Day!!!!

  2. An interesting article, Yoram, but it is important to distinguish between religious belief (on which innovation and science have a minimal effect) and the "politics of religion", to which one can attribute all the ills such as missionaryism, ultra-Orthodoxism (the fear of innovation) and the like.
    With all due respect to science, the hidden still outweighs the visible, and the human fear of the unknown exists and will exist forever. The religious belief in the Creator of the world, to whom one can turn in times of need, is an essential medicine for the human soul, and prayer to God will always be in the light of... "if it does not benefit, at least it will not harm".

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