Tail Wags Dog

I was recently reading a piece by Edwin Kagin in which he intimated that religion began when the first con man met the first fool. Respectfully, I must disagree.

It appears to me that the dynamic of leader/follower is, in some respects, an agreement by both parties and perhaps a fault for both of them.

But I picture the event of religion’s beginnings a bit differently – a crowd begging to be fooled. I think that people want someone to tell them that everything will be all right. And I think that if no one rose up to take the mantle, the crowd would appoint somebody. (If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.)

There’s a reason that they’re referred to as sheep. They feel lost and want a shepherd to take them by the hands and lead them somewhere, anywhere, better than where they are. When the night winds howl and the lightning lights up the treetops, people want reassurance that it won’t hurt them. They want to know that the storm will end. They want a leader who shows them that the dark is nothing to fear.

One might say that their religious leaders are taking advantage of people – that they magnify and play on the fears of their followers, and certainly such exist and they are legion. To a beggar, charity is a marvellous thing.  Authority over others is a temptation that some cannot resist. Simple trust in the invisible overlord is certainly more attractive than the drudgery of problem-solving and the hard work of learning how the universe actually works, especially at a time in history, or before history, when there simply was no knowledge to draw conclusions from.

And therein we see the downfall of religions: we now live in a time where knowledge is available in plenty and when compared with the all form no substance nature of religion, knowledge reigns supreme. Religion cannot compete with an ever-growing body of understanding about the physical universe. The sheep will learn to follow the shepherds who can give them  results.

Or the best days of the human race are behind us.

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About herkblog

I'm an atheist. Although that's just a part of my life, I consider it to be important enough to me to be the main theme of this personal screed. I am self-employed in a service business and I live in Idaho, a place not known for its liberal qualities.
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3 Responses to Tail Wags Dog

  1. Pingback: Cryptoquote Spoiler – 01/19/12 « Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

  2. Hey Herk; Continuing my habit of recommending books that I haven’t read, you might like this http://books.google.ca/books?id=UySGOjdd-XkC&pg=PA284&dq=Gerhard+Lenski+complexity+interrelations+A+Theory+of+Social+Stratification&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dRsFT4T3M-nx0gG33-iDBQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
    It was used heavily as a reference in a book I did read, “Parables as Subversive Speech”. In there, it was used to describe the power structures in first century Rome. If the graphic comes up, you’ll see an onion shape with a small power elite at the top and handlers like merchants and religious leaders spreading out below that. At the bottom are us peasants.

    My theory is that the power elite comes first; by brute force first, then inherited by the chubby cheeked sons, then by force, etc. The only improvement in 10,000 years is that we do it electronically now too, not just with swords. I agree with your internalized oppression analysis, but I don’t think it is that hard to cause it and the blame should not go to the oppressed. Maybe you aren’t thinking it, but it seems you are presenting it as if people make clear choices and end up oppressed. To make those choices, you have see them, and when your born a peasant, you don’t get to see them.

    Hopefully you’re right about knowledge. A lot of intelligent people have recently entered the lower class. More people than ever have a grasp of what the bankers and lawyers are up to. The next 20 years will be very interesting.

  3. herkblog says:

    Hi, Lausten –

    The graphic didn’t come up. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be included in the preview. I did see a few other graphics as I scrolled through the document.

    What you seem to be describing is kings – a figurehead supported by the power elite, and for a long time also supported by divine right.

    And I’m not sure people are making clear choices. I’m not sure that they very often have a choice at all, free will being greatly overrated.

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