I saved this text from some website I read January 26, 2001
Was religion the
creation of priests and rulers? What
about the sages and prophets?
There were generally five main creators of any religion:
First came the sages and prophets (Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, etc.)
who, through a vision, revelation or enlightenment, gained a new insight into
harmony or truth. They lived simple lives and wanted no idols, temples or
places of worship. They were simple people who loved all humanity.
Second came the apostles who spread the word of their sages or
prophets. They wrote down the words and philosophies of their sages that later
became religious scriptures, and provided their religious orders with
distinctive costumes, symbols and disciplines. They were the marketing
of their new creeds. Had there been no Ashoka, Peter, Paul or the first four
Khalifs, the messages of Buddha, Christ or Mohammed would not spread far from
their places of birth.
Third came the priests who were the dedicated salesmen of their brands of
god. They knew that hatred was a more powerful uniting factor than love.
When people loved together, there was always rivalry; but that there was always
unity when they hated together. Hatred was the core of religious fervour
uniting believers against the perceived enemies of every faith. Throughout the
world, it was the priests’ greed for power and wealth that caused more people
to die for religion than from almost any other cause.
They knew that magnificent temples, magical rites, majestic costumes and ceremonies could awe the masses into becoming hard-working, peaceful and obedient servants of their rulers. The priests of all religions asked their followers to suffer in this life for a future reward in heaven, reincarnation, or a promised land.
Fourth came the patrons. The rulers and rich merchants appreciated the
role of priests in taming and disciplining the masses. In reward, they
generously gave the priests of every faith rich lands, magnificent places of
worship, glorious or fearsome idols, and lavish land grants with which they
could support their followers. They also protected the priests from protests by
the enslaved masses.
5. Last came the ordinary believers who accepted their duties to priests and kings, and made the offerings, sacrifices, pilgrimages and penances prescribed by the priests, which made the places of worship so rich and powerful. They regarded these acts as spiritual insurance policies against the uncertainties of the future … both for this life and for the life hereafter.
Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Chowk.com. All rights reserved
"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own--a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human fraility. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.
"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."
The New York Times
Nov. 9, 1930