Meta:Historical/A pome of sorts in narrative style...
Originating author: Bruce Hamilton
Religion and philosophy in the life of Man.
There is little debate that religion and philosophy have been commonly perceived through the ages as a refining influence on the impulses and actions of men. Paradoxically, highly contentious debates and great wars have also been inspired thereby. Why this dichotomy?
It is, perhaps, an issue of value, and of values. That which offers significant structure and stability, paradoxically leads to great turmoil.
For what do men value, if not their own peace of mind? And what brings peace of mind? Answers. And these answers are couched in a consistent and predictable system of values, that men might know what to expect from each other. Value. And values. What do we hold dear?
And what threatens a man more than that we bid to remove his peace of mind? How shall we remove it? Invalidate his answers. Tear down his religions and his philosophies. Make as naught the tools upon which he relies to steer his course in life. To prevent this, he would go to war. And so the religion in which one society rests its foundation, inasmuch as it conflicts with the religion of a society newly met, poses the danger of instability and anarchy. The 'other' religion must be stamped out before it gains a foothold and turns the world upon its head.
If not war, then culture war. Oppression. Censorship. Calumny and libel. At no cost let the infidels make inroads, secure a single convert. Stability must be maintained. For man has had enough, in centuries past, of uncertainty. Uncertainty meant doubt, confusion, danger. It was a sign of impending loss. Loss of food, of hunting territory, of life, limb, family or friend. Let not uncertainty enter in.
And what of the men who provided the answers, the so-precious stability, certainty, predictability? Were they gods, prophets, saviours? Were they men rendered more by a divine hand? Greater in the sight of God? Were they unassailable, without flaw? Almost never. What they were was certain. Those who followed found security, hope of greater survival, a reason to believe, like the warmth in the dinted snow left by the steps of the sainted King Wenceslaus.
And what of SCIENCE? What of knowledge, and wisdom gained by peereing through lenses, combining reagents, accelerating quantum particles? Is this not of greater and more enduring value? Is this not less subject to attack from unlooked-for sources? Cannot the mind find its precious broad and stable road here? Perhaps not. Not entirely. For science, too has its limits. Ask a physicist, "But where did it all come from? Where is it going? What is the meaning, the purpose in it?" Blank stare. Silly questions. You have no call to ask them. Ask me something Scientific. You moron.
But Man must have his answers. His mind, supreme arbiter of all that is true and right, has solved the problems put so far. No problem can be really insoluble can it? We shall apply the inexorable force of our reason, and the universal secrets will open to us. We will know Truth. How will we know it is truth? Our logic will be seamless. Our reason without crook or blemish. The Truth will be self-consistent and consistent with all things. It will not be gainsaid. It will be invulnerable to attack. It will endure.
So what do men need? Answers. Answers they can use, which do not fail them, and which have utility in life. Answers in which they can rest secure that the travails of life will not unseat them, and send them spinning. Answers, in short, which work for them. Answers which work. And you will not disabuse a man of answers thus sought, found and relied upon, answers which give his life shape, texture, color and meaning. Answers which ease the path of his life and of those he loves.
Mount your best assault upon the source, the foundation, the premises, arguments and formulae of his answers. Tell him the revelator of his truth is a swine. Prove it in court. Show pictures. Film at 11. But if his answers have met the test of his life, if they have succored him in his need, if they continue to provide the fulcrums and levers which move his mountains, you will make not a dent. Flattened logical slugs impotent at your feet. Tattered slings and shattered arrows. Your keenest arguments and most telling expositions gone like a passing breeze.
So leave Man his answers. Tamper not with the rudder of his life. If he steers a clean course and collides not with the reefs or other craft, congratulate him on his seamanship. Envy him his calm. And find answers of your own.