It behooves me, as an Agnostic, to leap to the defence of beleaguered Religion which has been needed, has served a purpose, but has always been misused by those seeking self aggrandizement, cheap workers, and cannon fodder.We humans, even the smartest of us, are a bewildered lot. Our evolution has been truly astounding and we have come a very long way, but it has been dominated by Reproduction and Survival with both Empathy and Greed by-products. No human has yet evolved the wherewithal to understand what Life is. Many still do not understand Nature’s awesome forces. So myths have been, and are, a solace in explaining a fearsome world..
Awareness, seized by Buddhist as a leading necessity, has been a common component of human nature, yet none of us has evolved to use its full potential, so until we do let us support Science while recruiting Religion.
I cherish my years among the Inuit, finding them quite intelligent. Basically Animists they have been plagued by us occupiers of their land. Meaning well, we had imposed a totally inadequate educational system with Catholic and Protestant missionaries competing for converts. Yet Animism and Skepticism lingered among my Inuit friends. I also worked and sympathized with the missionaries who firmly believed their sacrifices enhanced the work of God. One, with whom I spent much time, was Father Leon DeHurtevant who loved and longed for his native France with its lush vegetation. He had been in the beautiful but bleak and daunting Canadian Arctic for 25 years and was allowed only a brief leave home every five years. At great personal sacrifice he did bring material help such as obtaining snowmobiles, boats and motors from wealthy Catholics down south. Inuit men and boys amazed me at how quickly they learned to service engines. But our military and commercial interests continue to employ then discard them, resulting in a high suicide rate. Abandoned mines and military bases permeate the Arctic.
Now, temples, churches, mosques, and the likes have provided needed meeting and learning places, but there was none for the Inuit we employed at the Cape Parry DEW Line site, so, in 1962, I scrounged a surplus building from Federal Electric, enticing them to move it to the local village and organized my willing military staff to convert it to a meeting hall. It was a temporary blessing as the site is now abandoned.
Today, there are those well dressed and very friendly people, often husband-wife teams, who knock on my door to enlighten me with Mormon or Jehovah Witness literature which I accept while enjoying brief conversations. When I get to know them better I invite them in for longer talks, asking more about their beliefs and why they hold them. Too often they answer me by pointing to paragraphs in the bibles they carry. Hoping for discussion I give them a page of summaries I had prepared of religions from Animism to Zoroastrianism, asking for their assessments. Sadly they soon find an excuse to leave and never return. A nearby pastor of a Protestant church in town tells me I waste my time talking to such ignorant people but then I find his views also quite limited.
Currently the main culprit is Islam whose name is misused by the likes of IS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaida, Because of this my computer screen is frequently abused with highly-unfair denunciations of anything Islamic. I have received no condemnations of the dozens of Jewish, Christian, Hindu,, etc, terrorist groups. The fact that 20% of the world’s top philanthropists are Muslims gets no acceptance.
Science is making enormous strides in awareness, not only in the very small and the very large but in man-made problems such as over population and climate change. Nevertheless, Science alone cannot solve our problems. It has to have the help of those enlightened religious leaders such as Pope Francis, the Aga Khan, and the Dalai Lama.
Is it not time for us, who think we are in the Science tribe, to reach out to them to help us eliminate the factors that have resulted in more killings and hardships induced upon Muslims by other Muslims and upon Christians by other Christians than by external forces?
Philanthropy, like Dana in Hinduism, exists in most religions. How do we co-ordinate it to further world-wide Awareness?
Science, while essential, must never adopt a “Holier than thou” attitude. It, too, can fall to the human failures that have crippled religions.
Will Human Nature ever allow us to overcome our failures? We must never allow the doubt to discourage us. We are doomed to Carry ON! Borrowing from Kipling: “Ye dare not stoop to less, nor call too loud on Freedom to cloak your weariness.”
Ye Olde Scribe