The way animals and non-rational humans deal with our surroundings is based upon emotions. There are simple rules: pain, sickness, tiredness, lust, happiness… when we feel these things we act upon them.
In a rational world, however, emotions cause us problems. They don’t make sense. My favorite example is when we owe someone. That person did us a favor, we should be grateful, we should estime that person, treat them well. However, we don’t. We avoid them, we don’t want to pay them back, we want to stop thinking about them.
I consider myself a Baha’i but the administration of my Faith has every right to include or exclude me from their roles based entirely on their own internal reasons. Nothing I can say or do should influence the decision of the Baha’i Faith as who is or is not a member.
On the other hand there needs to be a religion that does not do that. We need a religion that says the best religion is the one that inspires the best behavior, the best works, the most admirable following. There needs to be a religion that does not say it has some magical advantage over any other religion, no fast lane to heaven, no reason it is better than other religion other than it makes more sense than other religions.
If such a religion existed that had no miracle worship, no claim of mystical power in names or prayers… A religion that explains the power of prayer with some of the perfectly reasonable and rational explanations we have all heard. If such a religion existed would it gain a following?
Does a religion need to claim it is better than all the other religions to have a following? Is the claim that the religion makes sense enough to draw anyone into its folds?
Because my claim is that every world religion began as such and the followers perverted the pure and sensible teachings of the Founders. It has happened in every single case, and has been profesied over and over. The Revelation of St. John is often thought to refer to the Jezabel as the temptress which leads the religion astray. Luther’s main complaint against Catholicism is the power of the Bishops in their ability to pardon sins against God. I don’t believe anyone claims religions of old have been without corruption.
But the teachings of the original religions obviously were about reason and bettering oneself and the rewards for oneself and society if those things are accomplished. Then they become subverted into ways for people to enrich themselves for having taught that we should all be better people.
What separates man from the rest of creation is our ability to conceptualize. We see things organized, ordered, parts of a whole. Much of what we conceptualize is erroneous or artificially invented, which only goes to prove that which is our defining factor.
Our very existence, according to religion, philosophy, art and science, is based upon our ability to think and communicate, unlike any other existence in the physical world. Every item we can name or identify exists solely on the basis of the fact that humanity can name or identify it. Humanity itself, on the other hand, exists independently from the rest of creation.
If there is pre-existence of ideas then there is no alternative but to believe in the independent existence of regognition, personality, and virtues. This is the foundation of belief in afterlife.
There is nothing to suggest that the existence of our objects, our tools, our words and names have absolute existence. But the rules of existence, the relationships, aspects and attributes of the physical world pre-exist our knowledge of those rules, relationships etc.
A chair does not pre-exist its existence, but the order exists that makes it possible, even inevitable, that humanity will use chairs and other like constructed object. It is the same as the idea of justice, truth or love. These human ideas do not pre-exist our naming of them, however the universal order exists that made it inevitable that humanity will note and name these principles and find them desireable.