Alfred J. Haines
Report on Earth Religion
July 24, 2011
To the Council of Science and Exploration, Department of Cultural anthropology:
The following is my report of the existence of religion on the planet Sol 3. known to many of it's inhabitants as Earth. The many tribes of Earth are separated by bodies of water which limit the movements of populations from inter-connecting. This separation has resulted in many distinct cultures, many with complex and distinct belief systems. Most of these have sub-groups and branches that have diverged out of the main belief system. Some belief systems do not comply to our strict definition of religion yet are beliefs held by groups of humans. I will do my best to answer the Councils main questions following these criteria and wish to explain that humans may hold more then one belief which are in conflict with each other. This defies reasonable examination and farther complicated my research.
Are the people on earth religious or hold sacred beliefs?
I have attempted to study those that comply to the criteria which I have found in the 'The Encyclopedia of Philosophy':
- Belief in supernatural beings (gods).
- A distinction between sacred and profane objects.
- Ritual acts focused on sacred objects.
- A moral code believed to be sanctioned by a supernatural being.
- Characteristically religious feelings (awe, sense of mystery, sense of guilt, adoration), which tend to be aroused in the presence of sacred objects and during the practice of ritual, and which are connected in idea with supernatural beings.
- Prayer and other forms of communication with supernatural beings.( mostly requests for the deity to circumvent the laws of Physics for the followers.)
- A world view, or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. This picture contains some specification of an over-all purpose or point of the world and an indication of how the individual fits into it.
- A more or less total organization of one’s life based on the world view.
- A social group bound together by the above.
This definition encompasses most belief systems across the many diverse cultures. Included are aspects of sociological, psychological, and historical factors are accepted by a majority of experts in these fields. Although this criteria is not without its flaws, it does allow for a broad explanation of the structure of belief systems on Earth. The requirement of a supernatural beings is the most debated point in the current state of human evolution. Certain humans, Jesus; Buddha and Mohammad; have been attributed with supernatural abilities and attributes far beyond those of mortal man but not every religion revolves around the supernatural.
Describe examples of behaviors or beliefs you observe that meet the criteria?
The largest land mass has several beliefs which are held by millions of people. The older ones such as Zoroastrianism or Mazdaism have fallen out of favor with the young members. Zoroastrianism's belief in the creator/deity Ahura Mazda was exalted by Zoroaster as the supreme divine authority. There is only a minor schism based on calendar differences and monasticism is rejected by most all followers. Their worldview concerns a battle of good vs evil with a savior that will lead the righteous in the final battle and all beings will live forever under the rule of their deity. This worldview has been adopted by most younger beliefs such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The Zoroastrian pray in the presence of fire often at a Temple of Fire as described in their sacred texts. They believe their lives are guided by Fravashi, a guardian spirit or angel and their social group is bound by their beliefs.
In the southern deserts another religion, Judaism, arose from this worldview and they appear to have adopted many of the Zoroastrian beliefs. The belief in a creator, the battle between good vs evil, The prayers to communicate with the deity, a savior and an afterlife. The followers of Judaism believe they are God’s chosen people and that they have been granted special rights to a holy land that is protected by their deity. They share rituals that create a strong bond within the group and celebrate events in life as sacred such as birth, the coming of age of adulthood, marriage (the joining of mates), and death. They have been given sacred texts from their deity and have joined into a covenant with that deity to obey these sacred texts and obverse no other deity before him in exchange for a peaceful afterlife.
Judaism has had several schism's, the major two being Christianity and Islam. Christianity has accepted the sacred texts of Judaism as their 'Old Testament' but have accepted Jesus the Christ as their Savior and believe he will be born again at the end of the world to lead their followers, on his white horse along with three other spirits or horsemen. The Rapture will raise the faithful to heaven, a place where their deity GOD resides.
The newly inhabited western continent has adopted a secular personality by welcoming all faiths and has enacted laws to protect religion although religious groups, mostly the ruling class of Christians, use these laws as a protection from punishment for their oppressive violence against members of other faiths. It is a commonly accepted belief that non-believers or Atheists are not covered by these laws because they do not have religious beliefs. This has lead to major acts of violence against Atheists such as the bombing of health-care clinics that offer conception services to Atheists, the exclusion from political office and other rights such as same sex marriage or the right of a death with dignity (often rejected as suicide). The persecution of non-Christians goes unpunished under these laws protecting religious freedom and recently members of the nation of Islam have been the major focus of this hatred due to a few acts of violence by an isolated groups of radicals within their group.
What is the function of religion as it appears on Earth?
Through my research I have observed that the primary function of religion on Earth is to ensure the safety of numbers and bind the generations through a common belief of respect for the values of their elders.
If your research suggests alternate views to its function explain how religion could be understood outside of this function?
Religion is often abused by the ruling class as a weapon of oppression and control over the populous. Several religions have control over the governments of their nations and have laws prohibiting all averse actions including sexual intercourse; the rights of women to show their faces or drive a vehicle and converting to another faith. These actions can result in punishment ranging from public whipping to death and little protection is offered for non-believers.
Fisher, M. P. (2011). Living Religions (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson