Monday, September 17, 2012


A short look at a few million years of history and why “religion” per se isn’t the problem.

I have lost count of the number of times recently when I have heard liberals, progressives, atheists and a myriad of “freedom from religion” activists quote these poetic and empathetic lyrics from the John Lennon song, “Imagine”.  

“Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too”

The context in which it is USUALLY quoted is within an argument being made to abolish religion, erase national borders, do away with governments and outlaw capitalism, as if by doing so all the peoples of the world will immediately live in peace, harmony and security with love and concern for each other regardless of race, language or values. 

It is a wonderful thought and when Lennon wrote those lyrics in 1971 and released the song as a single in 1975 his thoughts were considered “revolutionary”. Indeed, in the turmoil of the 70s his words were hailed as the kind of “new thinking” the world needed. However, as great a musician and songwriter as Lennon might have been he was an absolutely lousy historian. What John Lennon forgot when he laid out his dream in song is that . . . we’ve been there already in the course of human history. Yes, we have. It’s called “The Pleistocene Epoch” and it began just shortly after the Ice Age when early humans first showed up on earth- -an earth with no countries and no religion- - and started to gather themselves into clans and tribes in order to provide security, work more effectively, lessen their chances of being prey and assure their continuity. 

Fast forward a million or so years from the Pleistocene Epoch to about 200,000 years ago when man had pretty much populated most of earth’s habitable continents and began to organize themselves into “cultures” and “cities”. Still no countries and still no religion, too but- -you guessed it- -there were plenty of wars. Tribes routinely invaded each other, stole possessions, raped, maimed and murdered with a great degree of regularity. 

Now let’s move up another 150,000 years to a time that was a “mere” 50,000 years ago. Still no countries as we know them but war and hatred existed because, as human nature dictates, one tribe will always covet what another tribe has and will try to take it forcefully if they cannot provide it on their own. It was about this time, in an effort to find a way to mitigate the bellicose nature of man that the early elements of what was to become Hinduism emerged as a means of giving humans some clear values by which to live. Yet, in spite of the attempt to promulgate values, early Hinduism was rife with images of war and vengeful gods and didn’t become the more pacific religion we know today until the appearance of the Vedic Scriptures about 5,000 years ago.  An amazing 12 centuries after the Vedic Scriptures, Abraham laid down the foundations of Judaism. 18 centuries later Jesus preached the gospels that became the basis of Christianity. 14 centuries after the death of Jesus Mohammed, in 610 AD, received the first revelations of the Quran.  

So, in the history of humans on this earth- -spanning some 200,000 years- -“countries” as we know them have been a segregating issue for less than 10% of that time and “religion” as we know it has been an isolating influence for less than 3% of that time. Yet, progressives, atheists and a large number of believers will tell you that “more wars have been started in the name of God than for any other reason”. While that simply cannot  be mathematically possible it has become an oft repeated “truism” and is used to rationalize a growing vendetta against all religions. It shouldn’t be. And, here’s why. 

Atheists and other anti-religion types just love to point to passages in the Torah and the Bible that call for stoning and other harsh punishments for what we consider today as ridiculous “offenses”. Several passages in Deuteronomy regarding adultery and blasphemy come to mind. (You can look them up for yourself.) But to do so is completely disingenuous and they know it. Why? Because it is a matter historical fact that Judaism has transformed itself over the past 3,800 years by adopting values and reason from other cultures and recognizing that all things- -including religious beliefs- -eventually must be modernized to fit and meet the needs of humanity. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century was the beginning of a long period of re-thinking what Christianity should be and how it should serve the needs of not just believers but of all of humanity. As a result of that transformation and reformation Christianity and Judaism have modernized . . . clearly not perfectly so . . . but certainly light years beyond the times of Moses and Jesus.  But not Islam. Islam has not yet had its reformation. It has not undergone any sort of transformation nor modernization. It is exactly the same religion it was 1,400 years ago with the same outdated values and priorities  

I’m certain that at this point any of the PC crowd who may have been reading this are in an absolute spasm of anger and ready to lynch me from the nearest light post. But before you get the rope ready consider these few challenges. I challenge you to:

·       Find any Jewish congregation anywhere in the world that still believes it’s OK for wives to be beaten for disobeying their husbands

·       Find any recognized Christian sect anywhere in the world that still believes that men and women should be stoned for the “crime” of adultery.

·       Find a film clip anywhere on the Internet showing Hindus, Jews or Christians caught in the act  of burning down mosques. (Yes, many clips of charred Qurans with narrative blaming Christians and Jews for it in the aftermath but no clips of angry mobs—just accusations)

·       Show me the crowds of Jews, Hindus or Christians storming and burning the embassy of any nation because of some perceived “blasphemy” against a figure in their religion much less murdering the people inside. 

My heart goes out to those brave Muslims who, after the murder of the US Ambassador in Libya on 09.11.12, held up for the world to see, signs proclaiming their sorrow for such an act and stating that it is not ‘the Islam we know’. But until those who appear to be moderate outnumber those who are militant and force an “Islamic Reformation” this will continue. And as long as atheists, progressives and others in the West simply classify this militant behavior as typical of religious believers of ALL kinds as a ruse to further their own liberal agenda, this violence will not stop.
Yes, John Lennon, you were a lousy historian. But you were a wonderful musician and a great poet and will always be one of my heroes.