Chiedza asked:

I have a question on religion. It seems these days with the rise of the prosperity Gospel the idea of religion being a social construction is very visible. I’m a Christian, but I’ve never viewed it as a religion, in fact I find the idea of organized religion deplorable. My question is is it possible to envision a pure world free from human pollution? Before I used to think the world was determined purely by human nature now I realize that our existence also weighs heavily on us.

Do you think the world would be a better place without religion? By that I don’t mean atheism but rather if people pursued truth maybe in the we would realize that what drives us to look up is the innate emptiness we all feel inside. And if humans realize that we’re all knowingly or unknowingly searching for our origin maybe we’d all come to one conclusion. Or maybe That’s undermining the complexity of our experience as a race.

Answer by Henk Tuten

It is very well possible that your parents did raise you with Christian morals, without bothering you with the Christian religious rituals. Nevertheless those Christian morals around ‘good and evil’ are very cultural. Because Western Culture was Christian (read Catholic and variants like Protestant) people don’t see Christian morals as religious anymore. Humans apart from DNA driven behavior, are driven by their culture. I don’t grasp what you mean by human nature, but if it is DNA driven behavior then all humans on earth are practically ‘equal’. If by ‘our existence’ you mean ‘our cultural upbringing’ then you’re right that culture heavily influences our behavior.

Would the world be a better place without religion? Religious ethics means rules, or in other words ‘law and order’. Replace the word ‘religion’ with ‘culture’ than you might realize that a world without ‘culture’ is a paradox. Our behavior is always adapting to environment, to get the best survival chances.

But a world where people can accept and live with different sets of rules, certainly is possible. To give an example: Western medicine in many fields is powerful, but Eastern medicine offers a different approach. An approach that is effective in many fields too. Already both approaches are merging, though their basics (the rules) are very different, a dual approach dominated by medicines and a holistic approach.

Merging rules it a more effective approach than fighting for ‘truth’ or ‘good’. Than you end with practices like torturing, holy wars, wars on terrorism etcetera.

That we humans ‘are searching for our origins’ is too ‘spiritual’ for me. It supposes that there are ‘origins’ and that you can ‘translate’ these origins in clearly defined goals, that you can reach by following ‘rules’. That’s moralistic, believing in one set of morals. Be sure the only ‘moral’ in evolution is survival. If killing all competitors would lead to a stable environment for billions of ages, than evolution would have no problem in selecting the kill-behavior. But until now kill-behavior (seeking conflict) never worked, and resulted in unstable environments. There are effective ways that always involve some kind of cooperation.

You might call cooperation ‘christian’, no problem. Just like others will call it ‘muslim’, or ‘buddhist’. Its our behavior that adapts, whatever the name.

Chiedza, I think we both agree in general. I hope I made you wonder.