The third argument against the reality of religion is provided by history. Anti-religionists maintain that it was the particular historical circumstances in which man found himself which gave birth to religious concepts. In ancient times, before the discoveries of modern science, man had no means of saving himself from natural calamities, such as floods, storms and epidemics. Frequently finding himself in insecure positions, he pictured to himself extraordinary forces which could be invoked in times of need, which could be trusted to come to his rescue in the face of disaster and which would act as a panacea of all ills. In order that society might be well integrated and its members firmly focussed around one central point, a cohesive force was needed. Deities of one sort or the other fulfilled these needs and man then, began, to worship such gods as were considered superior to all human beings and whose favours had to be sought as a matter of religious duty by all individuals. The Encyclopaedia of Social Science has this to say:
Political and civic forces also permanently influence the development of religion. The attributes and the names bestowed upon the gods automatically change in accordance with the form of the State. The God as King is merely a transposition of the human as king, the divine kingdom merely a transposition of the earthly kingdom. Moreover, since the prince or king is supreme judge, the deity is likewise clothed with the judicial function and vested with the final decision as to human guilt or innocence (7, p.233).
Thus the condition of a particular historical period and the interaction of the human mind with prevailing circumstances have given birth to concepts which are collectively known as religion.
Religion is a product of the human mind resulting from ignorance and a sense of helplessness in the face of external forces. Julian Huxley sums it up thus: “Religion is the product of a certain type of interaction between man and his environment.”
Since that particular environment, which was responsible for bringing about this interaction has either disappeared or is disappearing; there is no further justification for the perpetuation of religion.
To this Huxley adds:
The concept of God has reached the limits of its usefulness: it cannot evolve further. Man to carry the burden of religion created supernatural powers. From diffuse magic mana to personal spirits; from spirits to gods; from gods to God—so crudely speaking, the evolution has gone. The particular phase of that evolution which concerns us is that of God. In one period of our Western civilization the gods were necessary fictions, useful hypotheses by which to live.
To be continued, Insha Allah…
AGE OF LOGICAL POSITIVISM
THE WORLD OF PHYSICS