December 17th, 2014
in Op Ed, syndication

Written by

After discussing Civilizations and Human Races, let's focus on religions, political correctness notwithstanding.

Note: all my articles under the framework of WMDs, Germs, and Economies are for two main purposes:

1) Predicting the future, 25 years ahead.

2) My next book "China vs. America".

Follow up:

Everything deemed irrelevant to these two purposes is out of scope, such as India as a country or Hindu as a religion.

1. What is a religion?

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

A religion is an organized collection of beliefs,cultural systems, andworld views that relate humanity to an order of existence.[note 1] Many religions have narratives,symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain theorigin of life or theUniverse. From their beliefs about the cosmosand human nature, people derive morality, ethics,religious laws or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.[1]

For more, read: Religion.

2. Overview of four main religions

Let's just focus on the four main religions as follows:

1) Judaism: The world's oldest religion claims a historical continuity spanning more than 3,000 years.

2) Islam: the global religion practiced by Muslims. "With about 1.6 billion followers or 23% of earth's population,[13][14] Islam is the second-largest religion and one of the fastest-growing major religions in the world."

3) Christianity: It is the world's largest religion,[3][4] with nearly 2.4 billion adherents, known as Christians.

4) Buddhism: Originated and practiced in India, it's widely practiced in East Asia (e.g. China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Singapore).

Let me highlight each.

2.1 Judaism

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Judaism (from the Latin: Iudaismus, derived from the Greek Ἰουδαϊσμός, and ultimately from the Hebrew יהודה,Yehudah, "Judah";[1][2] in Hebrew: יהדות,Yahadut, the distinctive characteristics of the Judean ethnos)[3] is the religion,philosophy, and way of life of the Jewish people.[4] Judaism is a monotheistic religion, with the Torah as its foundational text (part of the larger text known as theTanakh or Hebrew Bible), and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship that God established with the Children of Israel.[5]

2.2 Islam

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Islam (/ˈɪslɑːm/;[note 1] Arabic: الإسلام‎, al-ʾIslām IPA: [ælʔɪsˈlæːm] ( listen)[note 2]) is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: الله‎ Allāh,IPA: [ʔalˤˈlˤɑːh] ( listen)), and for some sects, also by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570-8 June 632 CE), considered by them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim.

2.3 Christianity

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Christianity (from the Ancient Greek word Χριστός, Christos, a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ, Māšîăḥ, meaning "the anointed one",[1] together with the Latin suffixes -ian and -itas) is an Abrahamic, monotheistic[2] religion based on the life and oral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. Christianity is the world's largest religion,[3][4] with nearly 2.4 billion adherents, known as Christians.[5][6][7][8] Christians believe that Jesus has a "unique significance" in the world.[9] Most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and the saviour of humanity whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. Consequently, Christians refer to Jesus as Christ or the Messiah.

2.4 Buddhism

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Buddhism is a nontheistic religion[1][2] that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning "the awakened one". According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[1] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of ignorance and craving by way ofunderstanding and the seeing of dependent origination and the Four Noble Truths, with the ultimate goal of attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana, by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path (also known as the Middle Way).[3]

3. Organization of People

The image below shows my theory of the "organization of people". It is a meshed network, with countries and religions interposed, reflecting the two major ways people are organized:

1) By country: For example, both France and America accommodate multiple religions.

2) By religion: For example, there are Christians and Muslims in multiple countries.

3.1 Country vs. religion

Conceptually, country and religion aim for the same thing: organization of people. Hence they often go against each other. Here are two important notes:

1) Most, if not all, religions were born as alternatives to country rulers (e.g. kings). When people lose faith in a country's ruler (e.g. a king or a democratic government), they tend to be more religious. On the other hand, when a country is prosperous, religion tends to lose prominence.

2) Usually, a country has an army, but a religion does not. In the past, there were some exceptions, with a religion commanding a big army. Two examples:

a. Christianity: Many Christian armies were assembled during the Crusades to fight the Saracens. The Borgias (House of Borgia) commanded their own armies to fight for their Papal state.

b. Muslim: Many Muslim armies were assembled during the Muslim conquests.

3.2 Country and religion

Different countries treat religions differently. Five examples:

1) China: Historically, the Chinese Emperor was called the "Son of Heaven" (天子), and the world is "All Under Heaven". Other than that, there has never been a significant religion in China over the past 2,000 years, at least. As a matter of fact, today's Chinese government is the most religiously tolerant in Chinese history!

2) Japan: The Japanese Emperor is also called some kind of the "Son of Heaven", likely a copy from Chinese beliefs several thousand years ago. But a Japanese Emperor wisely engineered his own religion named Shinto, with the Emperor being its head. As a result, the Emperor is not only the head of the state, but also a living God! It is a system that has prevailed in Japan for more than two thousand years! For more, read: Human History: China vs. Japan.

3) Roman Empire: It was a dramatic fusion of imperial power and religion (e.g. Christianity). For more, read: Human History: the West vs. the East.

4) England: Historically, different kings (or queens) treated religions differently, but Henry VIII carried it to the extreme. After the Pope refused to sanction his first divorce, he separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, and declared himself its supreme head, with its own rules more to his liking. Moreover, "the English 'Call for Toleration' was the turning point in the Christian debate on persecution and toleration." For more, read: Religious persecution.

5) America: The U.S. Constitution ensures religious freedoms. Additionally, in America, state and religion are supposed to be separated, although there have been some worrisome trends in recent years to mix them up.

Different religions treat countries differently. Three examples:

1) In Iran, for example, the head of the government is actually the head of the largest religion, with little tolerance for other religions.

2) Historically, religions have been used by many to subvert their government.

3) While some religions have been beneficial for mankind, others have often been used to deny logic and science, resulting in a country falling behind in evolution.

Finally, just like there are wars between countries, there are wars between religions.

4. Communism as a religion

Communism may be good in theory but it's fatal in practice! It was practiced in China (1949-1976) almost as a religion, with Mao's Red Book as the bible.

Communism requires a strong conviction. No doubt is allowed under any circumstances!

5. Democracy as a religion

Democracy (one person, one vote) has been religiously worshiped in America, to the point some even raised the possibility that democracy is the End of History.

As a matter of fact, democracy is failing in America today in the same way it failed in Ancient Greece more than 2,000 years ago: debts. For more, read:

1) Towards an Ideal Form of Government.

2) We, the Intelligent People of the United States ...

3) Civil Rights Act: 50 Years Later.

Even more problematic is the way America has been "colonizing" the world over the past two decades, at least, under the ruse of spreading democracy. It is similar to the way Europeans colonized the world from 1492 to 1940 under the ruse of spreading civilization and religion. The similarity becomes almost identical when done by force, as in the case of the Iraq War.

Like communism, democracy, too, requires a strong conviction. Few doubt about it under any circumstances!

6. Discussion

Throughout human history, there have been more atrocities, from the Crusades to the Iraq War, committed under the name of religion than under any other name, given the fact that both communism and democracy have been religiously practiced. Remember, it was to escape religious persecutions that many Europeans came to America a few hundred years ago. Also, it was largely for that reason that our founding fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution that guarantees religious freedoms in America!

Internationally, it is important that we do not try to impose our values, religious or otherwise, on other people. Emphasize self-determination, instead! Take China as another example. Here is an excerpt from an early post of mine (America: What is China, Anyway?):

What is the secret behind China's success? Aside from embracing capitalism, China did two extraordinary things:

1) Focused on the economy, without blindly embracing democracy like Russia did. Yes, that included the put-down of the pro-democracy demonstration in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Any doubt about the benefits of not rushing to democracy blindly? Compare Russia with China today - They are decades apart in the standards of living!

2) Adopted a one-child policy. Otherwise, China's population today would likely be double her present 1.4B. Any doubt about the benefits of population control? Compare India with China today - They are decades apart in the standards of living!

Both were highly controversial, not only at home, but also in the West. However, they proved to be the right things to do for China at the time for one simple reason: survival! Any doubt? Recall this: All 33 Chilean miners rescued after 69 days. The surviving miners were ready to eat the dead for their own survival right before the rescue team reached them! It's human nature to survive by any means, idealistic human rights notwithstanding!

Very importantly, America must avoid a religious war, neither intentional nor perceived, in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world!

Finally, let me say a few words about the Philippines ...

According to Google (by searching "Religion in the Philippines"), "The Philippines proudly boasts to be the only Christian nation in Asia. More than 86 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 6 percent belong to various nationalized Christian cults, and another 2 percent belong to well over 100 Protestant denominations."

Be aware: there are more than 100 million people in the Philippines now (vs. Household Population In the Philippines Reaches 92.1 Million in 2012), with many families having some six to eight children, thanks to Catholic teachings: neither contraception nor abortion is allowed! No wonder there are so many poor people in the Philippines! Most of them will never see the light of the sun (Poverty, Vulnerability and Family Size: Evidence from the Philippines)!

How did the Philippines become a Catholic nation? Thank the Europeans for colonization to spread their influence and religion!

7. Closing

Religion is important to mankind. Religious freedom is essential, just as the separation of church and state.

Unfortunately, too many atrocities have been committed under the name of religion throughout human history. It is therefore important that we, as a species, be unreligious about religion as a whole.

Worse yet, even as it falters, democracy is almost religiously worshiped in America. That must change, or America is doomed!

Worst of all, most Americans are blithely unaware of it or simply in denial!

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