When times are good people look toward new things and welcome change with open arms. Old customs are abandoned, old rituals are transformed or forgotten and old religions are eagerly persecuted.
The professor stopped his lecture for a moment. He took a deep breath and slowly scanned the room from left to right. Students were looking at him expectantly, watching his every move and accepting his words without question. Their hungry eyes yearned for more. More of the old age wisdom that he had cultivated so long ago. He turned to the board and wrote Christianity on it in bold letters.
Christianity, he continued.
Whatever the form or incarnation of this movement, it has always taught us the same values. Love thy neighbour like you love thy self. Do not steal, do not kill, do not take your fellow man's wife for your own. And we accepted those commandments. These rules were needed for our survival.
He looked again around the room, checking to make sure all understood the message he was trying to deliver.
He had discovered the true purpose of religion long after he'd graduated from the university. In those days he was easily enticed to support atheism and dismiss all talk of god as primitive psycho babble. Old priests bent on preserving their power, cardinals and popes covering up horrendous crimes committed in the name of the Lord, that's what religion and god was to him when he was young. But the real message escaped him in those days. The real purpose of god and church was still unknown.
The first commandment, which asked all believers to honour one God and abandon other false idols, was needed to ensure survival of the religion. It provided a focal point for all believers. Have faith in one god and he will deliver you into a better life. It's an appealing message, don't you think?
The crowd of students nodded their agreement, some chuckling at the remark.
Any religion, Christianity included, is developed by the collective of learned men in order to help preserve the social functions of a community. Each community of people requires a set of rules, customs or laws that each member must follow for the community to survive and prosper in the present and the future. Religion provides that framework.
He was getting into the gist of his topic and this part always excited him. He'd figured it out long ago that religion as needed for a society to function and grow and if it were abandoned without a proper replacement any society would eventually collapse.
It took hundreds and thousands of years for any of the major religions today to develop their dogma. The laws created by these religions covered almost all aspects of a person's life. Moral codes were almost always built into the teachings of each religion, civil rules and customs were developed as communities began interacting with one another, even the rules for combat were part of early religions.
As societies grew bigger and people developed more complex relationships, certain parts of the religious code passed on from the control of the priests into control of the legislative branches of the government. Civil law because a particular purview of the government and thus started the separation of Church and State phenomenon in Western Europe at first and other countries later.
Someone sneezed in the audience. The whole hall turned to the person, looking at him in an accusative manner. The professor thought it kind of hilarious that a simple sneeze could divert focus of some many people. He continued.
The separation of civil codes and theological codes was probably a long over due and a much needed outcome of human development. There was one little problem, however. The civil law could be enforced by the government and carried with it a very visible form of punishment, prison, torture or execution. Theological or canon law did not have such a permanent and corporeal form of enforcement behind it. How can one force someone to act morally? What punishment could you deliver to someone who verbally abuses the elderly or doesn't respect his parents?
the stick, professor!. He smiled at that. There were no more switching of students in schools. No one was allowed to even touch the student for fear of a law suite and loss of employment.
Yes, that was the old way, but as we got more humane, he put the last word inside the air quotes,
we began to abhor physical punishment, so even that threat was taken away. The only way one can be forced to follow a moral code was under the threat of god's punishment in the afterlife.
Everyone nodded their understanding and agreement. Their eyes were so focused on him, for a second it made the professor self conscious. They wanted more.
But that threat was losing its power. As we took to the skies, discovered the secrets to the universe, we failed to find god. God wasn't in sky as the priests told us, he wasn't on the Moon, or Mars or Venus. He was no where to be found.
The professor walked back to his desk. He picked up his water bottle, unscrewed the cap and took as swig of water. Silence followed his every move, he felt a god among mere mortals. They wanted him to go on. They wanted more.
Without god and with superior understanding of science and nature we chose to abandon religion. It did not suit us anymore and as far as we were concerned, it was not needed.
So we abandoned it. He threw now empty bottle of water into the garbage can.
Like this empty bottle, once we've drained the liquid, the knowledge from the inside, we didn't need the empty shell any longer.
The bottle metaphor had just occurred to him and he wanted to exploit it a little bit further. He went over to the garbage can and picked the bottle up. He raised it to the class and paused.
Is it not better to refill the bottle and use it again and again, or does it make more sense to just abandon it get a new bottle every time?
Refill, refill it, it's better, cried out a few students in the audience. Most were nodding in agreement, understanding the message being delivered.
So should religions be reused, refilled with new ideas and understanding. For the benefit of future generations and the survival of our own culture, we must refill this religious bottle with new ideas and knowledge.
Still, some of you may ask what for?, a few people nodded their agreement.
Because religion helps us create and government communities and people by providing a moral code and framework for human relations. And just like the water in the bottle that must be refilled, this code and framework must be refreshed and renewed every once in a while, but never abandoned. Never discarded.
He finished the last sentence out of breath. He breathed in deeply, the much craved air filling his lungs. He delivered his point with aplomb, he knew that.
The a bell rang the end of lecture.