By Saurav Kumar:
It always is of greatest difficulty to answer when asked of the definition of the God. More importantly why are there so many religions when we confidently say with so much faith that there is just one God. However one might propose an answer to the latter question saying that different religions are just analogous to numerous pathsÂ starting from somewhere in the history of mankind, taking too many turns, although converging at a single point of concept or object – God. To most of the religious philosophers, the former addressing to God as a concept will easily be digestible, as concept can be real or abstract, physical or metaphysical. Irrefutably these philosophers will certainly cry from indigestion at my latter addressing to God as an object, complaining of this definition as being materialistic. Still with so many religions, the formal basic definition and explanation of God varies and so does the way people have been submitting to them for decades and centuries.
The matter of religion is a matter of philosophy. It is the philosophical doctrines that have settled ground for all the religions. Philosophy is the outcome of man’s fetish to seek true knowledge and its understanding. It is man’s ability to go for reasons and logic behind knowledge in order to pave the way for mankind such that nothing remains skeptical. Philosophy can be dated back to the times when man first came to the earth. It was philosophy that made man explore each and every new thing that came his way in the prehistoric times and which inevitably made him learn the art of living and surviving which ultimately led to him ruling this planet.
But that was the crudest form of philosophy which over years started getting more rational and pure owing to the biological developments of man. During the course of development, man tried to understand natural laws within the boundaries of his logical framework. The thunderbolts, forest-fire, rain, earthquakes etc..those were matters of mystery during some point of time, later perfectly fitted into logic and reasoning.
The greatest reproachment that a religion can suffer is that Man makes religion, and religion does not makes man. Religions are founded by people who feel a need for religion themselves. This is perfectly true in the context of every religion whether it be Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. I will shortly try to justify the above statement in each of them.
Initially there was nothing but Paganism which incorporated worship of Gods in multiple forms (mainly restricted to the elements and forces of nature, natural creatures etc). Paganism is usually misinterpreted as religion although paganism was no religion but a blend of ideas, faiths and dogmas which got sedimented over the years right from the time of early mankind. There were so many theological dogmas practiced under the common name of Paganism. During those times when a state conquered another, owing to variant practices and beliefs of people in both states there arose conflicts when beliefs were imposed. There could be another reason behind letting people choose their set of beliefs – fusion of beliefs. Despite changing one’s belief, attempts were made to continue with them to create a fusion of dogmas, ideas and philosophical doctrines. Besides them, however, there arose a fusion of art and literature whose effects became conspicuous in the daily lives of people. Over centuries, this continuation led to the widespread expansive form of Paganism, especially in the times of the ancient Roman empire and Greek Hellenistic society.
Another religion that brought the Roman world empire into subjection and dominated the largest part of humanity for around 2 millenniums was Christianity. Christianity arose as a movement and outlook of utterly despairing people after the numerous revolts of slaves and poor people deprived of all rights against the yoke of the RomanÂ Empire. Political prisoners, gladiators, people accused of blasphemy etc shared the curse of being slaves. Christianity promised salvation from slavery, bondage and misery if proper measures were taken to overthrow the existing religion of the State (which was Pagan).
Now I would like to turn my attention to Islam. Islam was started as a religion of Orientals (Orientals were those belonging to an Eastern ethnicity), especially Arabs and Africa. It had townsmen engaged in trade and industry on one hand and Nomadic Bedouins on the other. The townsmen grew rich, luxurious and lax, while the Bedouins were poor and hence of strict morals, contemplating with envy these riches and pleasures. They finally united under a prophet, a Mahdi, to chastise the apostates and to restore true faith.
Now the question that arises is – what made them unite. What kind of turmoil took place for yet another religion to form shape? What fosters a new religion? To answer this question, one might choose to think religiously or as a free thinker. Still philosophy plays an eminent role in making this distinction. Every new religion comes up owing to changes in the way philosophical ideas are presented in order to address the problems of people of a time, so that a better modified solution can be presented. However the core philosophical ideas like virtues and vices, general human attitude towards his surroundings, rights and duties of humans as a part of society etc remain almost the same. Still the difference continues to exist because every religion was established in some particular region at some particular point of time.
Philosophy is the product of man, and man is the product of time and its surroundings. Therefore irrefutably philosophy is the product of time and the conditions. Every philosophical idea was once proposed when there was an urgent need to do that, when our mind asked questions which were unanswerable owing to our situation of limited knowledge. Our entire wealth of knowledge is the accumulation of those clusters of ideas which were the product of time. When man did not understand those mysterious happenings around him in the form of rain, thunders, earthquakes, varieties of creatures he was watching around and tried to peel off their reason of existence, origin and behaviour he first found himself in deep helplessness. The reason could be obvious – they were new to them and as far as logic was concerned, man had not gained much. Man and animals showed much resemblance in their behavior and reaction to new and strange things. When he experienced them in the beginning, he had no option than to fear (owing to his less adapted condition and fragile mindset as a result of slow evolutionary progress). His incapability to overcome them turned man to induce a kind of fear and respect which made him worship them for the sake of his desires and ambitions. When things got mundane for him over time, rather than getting frightened he started contemplating. All the reasons he sorted out were the result of this contemplation over layers of time.
Because every philosophy is the spiritual quintessence of its time, the time must come when philosophy not only internally by its content but externally by its appearance comes into contact and mutual reaction with the real contemporary world. The planets and sun that were once considered to be godly things are now conceived as just the byproducts of the Big Bang. Copernicus’s great discovery for which he was accused of blasphemy and was executed, turned out to be the greatestÂ discoveries of all the time. Despite of being a Christian, Copernicus held a great disagreement with Christian dogmas of the time. This was not the fault of the early philosophers and people who conceived and passed on such faiths generation after generation. Rather, such faiths were the result of analysis and logic of people of those times. A concept or idea of one time is not hard bound to be taken as correct in another phase of time. Even Einstein’s theories on relativity were not takenÂ seriously correct when he first proposed them! But we cannot blame physicists of his time for the connivance they turned on his theories.
In time when we developed such logic and evidence to understand him, we began admiring Einstein. When man, who looked for a superman in the fantastic realities of heaven and afterlife, found nothing there but a reflection of himself and his individual views, his experiences, his joys and pains, he simply poured his findings over some supernatural element (God), as there was no other option for him to offer his reasons to. Originally man created God and later God created man i.e, the concept of God was created by man and later this concept was transformed into divinity.
If the concept of God did not exist, somehow man would have created one because it is vital for his psyche. Today our philosophical wealth might be maintaining silence over the definition of God and it might be logically crippled to prove and ascertain its existence. Hopefully it might be possible in the near or far future to break this silence over such a critical subject that has been the matter of great interest and chaos among the pool of believers and non-believers.