PRAYERS: Shock and Amazement BLOG
You need to know I have always wondered about religion. Keep in mind, the number of “nones” is increasing making up about 20% of the population. They are the people who, on surveys, answer “none” to the religion question. Some take such as evidence of atheism or agnosticism, but that is not a necessary conclusion. Obviously, one can be religious and not believe in God or, conversely, believe in God but not be religious. But, certainly, the large percentage of “nones” confirms the finding that institutional religion is slowly contracting.
The issue is on my mind because of Rosh Hashannah, a grand holiday which traces back to 5 thousand and something. Not too shabby for a people battered by other religionists and sometimes close to extinction. The Jewish people, as do Christianity and Islam religion, pray to a king. The king is a male divinity with a multitude of names, IE, Lord, Master, Creator of the universe, but they all are manifestations of a being in charge of everything. The prayers are effusive, worshiping, adoring all reminding the king of how much his people love him.
Children are born into a den of giants; the child had better learn that from the git-go or there will be disaster. They learn that good things emanate from the giants and have little comprehension about why that's so. For the most part they gradually learn that the giants are benign, but living with giants is chancy. Every now and then the giants seem mean and uncaring so watch out. There is a psychological adage: Identify with the aggressor.” Simply put, it means if you can't beat them, join them. Thus, kids become more or less civilized. Still, what does this to have with God?
Keep in mind that we live in a universe that until very recently was quite misunderstood. Why did the sun rise? A God, on his chariot, arranged that. Why did the seas become unruly? Yup, a God. How does love arise? A God shoots you with an arrow. You get the picture, until recently the explanations made no sense except, and this is important, except that they provided an aura sanity to an otherwise chaotic universe. As long as the universe has meaning, its vicissitudes are okay. As a last resort, we are told that “God works in mysterious ways.” Why do the good die young? “It's part of God's plan.” Get it? As long as there is order in the universe, all is well.
Well, we humans are doing better than that. We gradually make sense of the universe and find explanations in reality. Love, for example, depends on the presence of some chemical in our body. I forget its name, but much research is aimed at understanding the details; we don't need Eros to explain the phenomenon. Religion is based on free-will, but neuroscience cannot find it in the brain. We do know that the brain makes decisions which take time to become translated into action. The old line, “Man proposes, God disposes,” no longer fits: we are part of a deterministic universe.
Alas, the ancient tradition of worshiping the king no longer has legs. As a people, when we get the message, some of the old forms will disappear. Humanistic Judaism ignores the whole issue. Human beings need to solve problems and to do so they must find real explanations.
The king is dying, long live mankind.