Has our belief disunited us as a species?
From the beginning of civilization, religion or belief has existed. The belief in a God, a Divine Power, who is in control of everything that is created, is something that has provided aid to the development of the human mind and even culture.
Even though I can agree, as a creationist, that the belief in a Divine Power has been helpful towards humanity, there is one question which I have not been able to answer for many years:
“Why has religion as such, divided humanity?”
Religious groups, sects, violence, disagreement are some of the terms used to describe our present religious state of mind.
I have never completely understood why some religions will preach their belief is the true religion, and every other belief is false. And I am probably never going to know, why I am going to hell, and my Christian friend will relax in Heaven.
I ask this question as a Muslim, born into a Muslim family.
I have always been taught Islam is the one true religion, and it is only by believing in the One True God (Allah) that will provide me with a free ticket to Heaven. I remember an evening asking my dad: “ how do we know that Islam is the truth?”. He probably gave me the most arrogant and simple answer to that question: “It just is!”. Imagine a young child given such an incomplete answer, and then is told to go out and preach about Islam.
I do love my religion and everything it teaches, over everything else. Islam gave me guidance and taught me to always seek knowledge and be humble. But even if Islam teaches those beautiful things, does that then make it superior over other religious beliefs? Some might even argue, that Islam can’t be the true religion, if Muslims within disagree on certain elements of belief. Groups and sects such as Sunni’s, Shia’s, Sufi’s, Salafies et cetera, all have different views on Islam and how it should be practiced. How can you know which group is the right one?
The same thing goes for Christianity and Judaism. Every single belief system will tell you that their religion is the true one, and you can only be saved by following them.
It is a bit ironic, but I do believe that all religions fall back to the same God, but individuals have poisoned these religions, with their own agenda and world views.
This, however, was not the case in previous times.
In the book ‘Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari, it is mentioned regarding the monotheistic religions that we mostly have today, and the polytheistic and animistic religions which were the primary belief in previous times.
The author argues that for 2000 years of brainwashing by monotheistic beliefs, human beings view polytheistic religions as “ignorant and childish idolatry”. – (Sapiens p. 238.) He argues that even people who believed in many different gods and deities, still believe that there was One True Power behind these “smaller” gods. For instance, in ancient Greek mythology, you will have gods such as Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, and they were all bound by a common Fate (Moirai, Ananke). In Hindu polytheism you will have Atman, the single element for all other gods and deities. The same for Nordic gods, whom where bound to Fate.
Yuval Noah Harari argues that it is wrong to believe that polytheism is idolatry and even childish. The main point here is to realize that during the time when polytheism was at its peak, there was no such thing as religious conflicts and not even people travelling the world as missionaries and converting other tribes. You will not find individuals from the Aztec Empire travelling and converting others to believe in Huitzilopochtli (the chief Aztec God). People were obliged to respect the gods and rituals since these gods and rituals protected the empire. You will more likely find individuals from the Roman Empire happily accepting the Egyptian goddess Isis to their pantheon without hesitation, but takes longer time too think about accepting the Christian God.
Devotees to polytheistic beliefs never slaughtered each other because of these different gods. You might say it brought people closer together. Sadly, this does not go for monotheistic beliefs. Just take the example of Catholics and Protestants, on 24. August 1572:
“More Christians were killed by fellow Christians in those twenty-four hours than by the polytheistic Roman Empire throughout its entire existence”– (Sapiens p. 241.)
Or for instance, the fightings between the Jews and Muslims in Palestine or Jerusalem. Or even take a look at the conflict in my home country of Bosnia & Herzegovina, where Muslims were witnessing the greatest genocide since the World War II, just because of our belief.
Was it is even worst is that within these major religions, you have individuals who have different opinions on the holy books, which then can disunite us. It is sad to know that we live in such an era, where the tiniest mistake in a belief can cause an entire war.
How did we get to this?
All in all, I know my belief and I do believe that it can teach me beautiful things, and hope it will bring me in to Heaven. This does not mean that I believe every other human is a disbeliever, it only means that I tolerate and respect other beliefs too. And one day, we might meet in Heaven together, without differences.