So I received my latest issue of Newsweek–June 8th–today in the mail. The Take, a regular editorial by Lisa Miller Newsweek’s religion editor, featured a book with an interesting title, “The Evolution of God” by Robert Wright.
Miller’s article was well-written, and I’m dying to read Wright’s book when it’s released next week. Wright’s book has a premise–that the idea of God has evolved through history–that resonates strongly with me and correlates closely with a Baha’i perspective.
However, reading the user comments was an eye opener. A lot of really angry people. Of course, I had to put in my $.02:
“Posted By: alyosha19 @ 06/04/2009 12:00:29 AM
It’s interesting how many of the themes discussed on the comments seem to cover similar refrains: that traditional, organized religion has caused many problems in the world and that atheists seem flabbergasted at why people believe in religion at all.
To the first point, I agree. Religious leaders can be very intolerant and have caused many unspeakable, horrible and criminal things to happen. If a religion’s efforts is not uniting people and bringing them together, then it’s not doing it’s job. A wise Persian man, Abdu’l-Baha, put it more eloquently: “Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act.”
To the second point, I would like to offer some advice to those people who don’t believe in God and are proud of it: you kind of come across as insulting and unlikeable. I totally understand your grievances and I’m with you most of the way, but if you want to enlighten people with your reason–and you make great points–then can you at least try to win us over with some honey? Say something nice occasionally. That’s smart marketing.
Lastly, I noticed on the comments a lot of misunderstandings about religion, namely that religion is frozen in the past, observing literal interpretations of the Old Testament, etc. Yes, some practitioners do this–and they are wrong. Actually most people’s understanding about the psychology of relgion is wrong. Closer scrutiny of newer religious traditions–namely, the Baha’i Faith–may bring you a different insight:
–That science and religion are in harmony. Scientific discoveries expand our consciousness and propel humanity forward; (true) religion–aiming to promote the betterment of all humanity (e.g. medical breakthroughs)–keeps science grounded so that it doesn’t veer off into materialism or other bad things (e.g. eugenics).
–That the most important action you can do is to independently investigate the truth yourself. So don’t be a Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, etc. just because your parents, teachers, favorite bloggers tell you to. Do your homework–and no copying!
–That there is only ONE religion in the world, with many different chapters that you have heard of: Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. Religion is not static–it evolves, just as humanity’s collective consciousness does, and this is what Robert Wright alludes to in his book, The Evolution of God.
Yes, I’m a Baha’i. I try not to push people–that’s not cool. But since hardly anyone knows about my beliefs–and since it is relevant to the discourse of society–I want to share some basics it so that people have a wider array of choices before coming to any conclusions about religion.”
This blog cannot stop reading the mainstream press–when will it ever learn?