Friday, May 29, 2009

Dreaming of a better future ... in heaven

I came across this article discussing the role Bush's religious beliefs might have played in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The prophecy in the Old Testament reads as follows:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle … and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them."
Bush is said to have told France's president Jacques Chirac:
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
It is disturbing to see the president of the world's sole super power exhibit such delusional thinking. Bush is not alone. I was talking with a friend from Iran last week and he mentioned how Ahmadinejad often says that he has the backing of the Imams when justifying his decisions. Most of the Imams are dead, and the last one, Imam Mehdi, is prophesied to come when Christ returns. Its hard for any sane person to take him seriously if he openly goes about making such claims.

Most religious people, save the most die hard literal fanatics, would probably balk if their leaders profess such opinions. Yet, prophecies are part of most religions, and as true Muslims, Christians, Jews or whatever, believing in those prophecies is a required tenet of faith.

The depiction of the end times in the ahadiths has always disturbed me. They paint a picture of such doom, gloom and death and destruction -- and with such assurity and certainty. As disturbing as the details of those prophecies are, even more disturbing is the fact that large swaths of human population believe in such utter crap with unflinching faith. Its scary.

You have to dream before you build. You have to get inspired and see a better future before you go about working for one. Religious belief can mentally handicap and paralyze one's imagination by forcing its ghastly version of the future upon oneself. Not only does religion erect divisive boundaries between humans, but its teachings have the potential to subtly influence human decisions and actions, steering humanity on a path of mutual death and destruction.

I once shared these concerns with my mother. Her reply was innocent, though disturbing. She told me not to worry -- after all, everything will be fine in heaven.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Desiskeptic.

    The *momentum* on this problem of religion has been building for thousands of years. Even you and I's framework of ethics is built around tenets of these faiths. These archetypes and mental frameworks are deeply ingrained and arguably organic to man.

    What exactly can I, just one person, DO to reverse these harsh effects of religion on the world? (And I do worry about NOW because that's where I'm living. Not like your Mom ;) These prophetical expectations have been deeply ingrained so much that they are self-fulfilled and driven by the need to be right and stake ownership to whatever...hmm, the 'promised land'? People created their fate by working towards it unknowingly. The snarl of religion. Maybe a New Age of peace & universality among people will be brought about primarily by people who see these things. I think the problem started in the past & starts when people are violent. Unfortunately violence breeds more violence. And to be safe from that, do you not have to fight back or *die* if it's right there in your face? Sighh. I think the answer is not so surprisingly a parsimonious one. But it isn't one that man can as a whole conform to. Because how do you get Order in society? And how do you plant a seed for a person to strive for intrinsic goodness and loving relationships?

    Thought provoking post.