We, who find ourselves singularly blessed to be living in so modern of a world, can likewise all too easily feel a schism pulling us in two polar opposite directions – one hard to their left, the other mercilessly to our right – with an almost perverse schizophrenic duality. For this modern world very much also has a landscape that’s been long ago mapped by distinctly ancient systems of belief – if not still finding it defined outright by various matters of faith and religion primarily intended for a humanity yet in its infancy.
For our understanding of the divine has remained utterly unchanged over the eons… despite however countless many centuries and millennia might yet pass after the fact; regardless of how much progress might’ve come in the interim; and no matter how unrecognizable the all of everything for everything may just now be, compared to how it was during their assorted establishments.
But this is also neither to put down or dismiss in their entirety (as somehow irrelevant, outdated, or even, as some faithless sorts may claim, entire falsehoods made only by the hands and minds of man) those teachings understood to be the works of that Higher Power – rather it’s just the opposite of that!
Realities such as the third amendment of the US Constitution seem inconceivable today, where having soldiers take residence in private homes is unthinkable only but two short centuries later – yet even so, still do we find the deepest of meaning and resonance in that very same Constitution throughout time itself. It is in this same way we should look to our existing sacred works, as well – with the realities that ours is a civilization which evolves and matures –changing– over time.
We should indeed very much embrace and worship such timeless scriptures for the sparks of divinity that they can each be found to contain -whether this might mean on a deeply personal, individual level; or else collectively, as societies, cultures and a civilization- yet always doing so with the understanding that they were told to (thusly being intended and presented for) a drastically more primitive mankind, society and world. Even so, we absolutely must continually celebrate, cherish, and turn to their divine offerings for guidance or wisdom.
This not only is due to the fact that they did indeed spring directly from a quite real divinity, but all the more so when we consider how it is almost singlehandedly those traditional religious beliefs and teachings which enabled us and that modern world of ours to get where we’re at just now, in our most fantastical modernity.
Yet just as our species had its infancy much the same as does any individual man or woman, we might also further grow and mature – the rebellious youths becoming responsible adults. For example? Place a gun in the hand of a child… and the results will be catastrophic! Offer a tyke algebraic lessons? They will be resoundingly clueless and disbelieving!
When it comes to our species, certain things can only come or be revealed to us at certain times. This shows the glorious majesty of God, in the way it was all in fact designed and offered to our world: Seeing Him both as like a kind, loving parent and teacher! The way that divinity approached things long ago set us down the road we needed to be on, done in precisely the way it was needed to be carried out. When the time was finally right thousands of years ago, He revealed Himself to us and offered us His Word – in various forms, to various different groups of people (cultures) the whole wide world around! Then, when the time also came, He removed Himself and allowed us to walk on our own two feet independently – developing all the while.
For example, look to Christianity and one sees the incredibly positive influence it has had on our world and civilization in such ways. That is truly part of what set us on the path which resulted in the here and now – all the fantastic technology, science and understanding having been achieved precisely because of all those critical roles our sets of religious beliefs have played over these past several centuries. Even democracy itself! The modern form, birthed by Christians in Christian societies – our own Founding Fathers – primarily through the basic tenets and beliefs found in their faiths cherishing equality, peace and basic freedoms.
So allow me to expand on that in slightly more detail, given it’s a most crucial tenet to this entire argument of mine (that humankind had its infancy, back when we were nomadic cave dwellers and the like). Our forebears were indeed wild and primitive, uncivilized to say the very least. Time passes, we mature. Language develops just the same as does various skills and knowledge.
Flash backward two or three millennia ago: Civilization dawns, but we were like a troubled child badly in need of discipline and guidance. As does any child, we required the loving but firm hand of an all-knowing elder in order to set us aright and ensure we would end up as a happy and successfully thriving adult. Enter our divine teachings (perhaps most notably those in the Abrahamic tradition: Judaism and Christianity).
Thanks to this one single endowment, we are where we now are; the guidance it offered us and the traits, qualities and characteristics it instilled on humanity brings about every aspect of our modern world – our government, societal and cultural qualities yielding not only the sciences and knowledge we’ve acquired for ourselves, but the very political and societal environments -stable, prosperous and recognizing+rewarding inquisitiveness and advancements- which allowed and enabled such things in the first place, our universal emphasis on education and encouragement of learning+knowledge… even the great importance we place on family in the raising and rearing of our heirs.
Another aspect informing my belief in the literal divinity of most all of our existing, traditionals systems of belief comes with the exponential increase in religions that endure for relative eternities, even in our modernity, which each arose from around only one period of time.
Now then, just stop and try to imagine the world without those tenets – envision a place where those very worst qualities of ours ran rampant, like some toddler who’s never given any rules or firm foundation; the sort of civilization beset by the madness and chaos unfolding with pure violence, war, death disease, poverty… yes, even sex – especially sex!
It was only through religion, strictly thanks to it, that the notion of “settling down” and betrothal came into widespread practice. Without religious practices enforcing owing up to obligations, promoting the notions and values of family and marriage… even going so far as to almost do so at gunpoint for the men? What possible benefit was it to those wild and crazy B.C. era, hunting and gathering nomadic peasants to settle down, marry and shoulder their obligations? Perhaps amongst royalty and the “elite” society? Sure, marriage probably would’ve remained a common practice. But would it have still been widespread, amongst the teeming masses? Absolutely not.
Just imagine the world of Game of Thrones, those many vagabonds who lived short lives and often spent their days fighting some war or another. Without religion here, today the world would be an unrecognizable place – we’d find cultures where the women still reared the children, without a doubt, but I suspect that, if only by and large, the men simply would’ve proved likely to do as they so pleased.
Or maybe you’d have had the exact opposite of that: Polygamy. Perhaps we’d find a world where those men most successful owed up to their obligations, recognizing and raising their own offspring. But why would the most successful men *not* have a thousand wives? Indeed, do we not see precisely that happen throughout history with various sorts? Was that not itself exceptionally common millennia ago? Men who take as many women as they can get -and handle-, who, when growing bored of one woman, rather than simply moving on and away, instead take up a new and younger “model” of a spouse?
Now stop and try to imagine *that* type of a world: Where does that leave the other 99% of the men? Perhaps we’d see the polar opposite of China’s relatively recent “One Son” policies, where it was instead the sons who were slaughtered as the unwanteds and undesirables; the “first born son”, elevated as the heir presumptive and celebrated – every male offspring afterwards simply (and coldly) murdered immediately upon their birth, with societies realizing the realities of their culture and that, for their practices to endure or even merely to work at all -for their society/culture to be stable- there must be only so many males. Incomprehensible and unimaginable to us here today, undoubtedly – but just that could’ve all too easily come to be had it only managed to take root in earlier times as even the most core, fundamental tenets of our cultures and lives remained quite malleable, during days back when death, loss and violence were not such taboos, and where the loss of a child was in fact only to be expected, what with rampant, seemingly endless disease and death.
So indeed, one can look only to the most central, defining aspects of our civilization, even species itself, and see plain and clear the impact religion played – a most positive one, at that. So too, this idea I’d propose of humanity as an aging and maturing specimen, wherein certain things can come -are “right”- only at certain points. Now, today? Sex being more open and free with “looser” morals is perfectly acceptable… hardly some apocalyptic game changer. Back hundreds and hundreds of years ago, on the other hand? It was very much a different matter.
My point with all of this, then? Those parables, and indeed, much of the more controversial or commonly questioned contents of the Bible (such as a literal eye for an eye, teeth for teeth), exist as they do for a reason: It was all done by our higher power Creator in order to offer the world what it needed, in the way it needed… and precisely when it was so needed. Nothing more than that, and certainly nothing less!
But such divine guidance as was found with traditional religious texts and their associated teachings are also only but signs of the times they sprung out of – representing most clearly the cultures, societies and level of advancement of the people they were primarily intended for. With the Bible alone we receive an incredible glimpse into human civilization and daily life for humanity two millennia before the here and now – lands where electricity of any kind would’ve meant a death sentence for heretical witchcraft or magicks.
Today we can look to these teachings and continue finding literal divine truths, seeing as how they were in fact received from that divine Creator of us all. Even in modern times, there are countless lessons and basic understandings to be gleaned from each of them. I would thusly urge us to never entirely abandon or forget what they have to offer each one of us as we form our personal understandings and views about our existence, despite whatever perspective it is that we might be coming from when we do so – whether that means in modernity or the distant future, alike. Much as these sacred works are the very foundation upon which our contemporary societies and world were built, so too will there always be immense value and worth in those earlier forms of divine guidance.