As we rapidly approach the new millennium, governments, groups and individuals the world over struggle to come to terms with an array of human rights issues. The technological advances of the past century have, in many respects, advanced civilization the equivalent of light years ahead of the previous millennia. But for all the progress of the physical sciences, we lack an equivalent advance of those civilizing influences which would ensure human rights awareness and responsibility requisite for the power men can now wieldwhether that be the mass communication of ideas, the splitting of atoms or the mixture of chemicals that alter the human mind. In the following article, L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion, examined the role of religion in society. Its message is remarkably pertinent at this time.
n early 20th century philosopher spoke of the impending decline of the West. What he failed to predict was that the West would export its culture to the rest of the world and thus grip the entire world in its death throes.
Today we are witnessing that decline and since we are involved in it, it is of utmost importance to us. At stake are whether the ideals we cherish will survive or some new abhorrent set of values win the day.
These are not idle statements. We are today at a watershed of history and our actions today will decide whether the world goes up from here or continues to slide into some new dark age.
It is important to understand bad conditions dont just happen. The cultural decay we see around us isnt haphazard. It was caused. Unless one understands this he wont be able to defend himself or reach out into the society with effectiveness.
A society is capable of surviving for thousands of years unless it is attacked from within or without by hostile forces. Where such an attack occurs, primary targets are its religious and national gods and heroes, its potential of leadership and the self-respect and integrity of its members.
Material points of attack are finance, communications, technology and a denial of resources.
Look around today and you will find countless examples of these points. They scream at us every day from the newspapers.
A society is capable of surviving for thousands of years unless it is attacked from within or without by hostile forces.
Probably the most critical point of attack on a culture is its religious experience. Where one can destroy or undermine religious institutions then the entire fabric of the society can be quickly subverted or brought to ruin.
As you read on ... you will discover why this is such an important factor and what can be done about it.
Religion is the first sense of community. Your sense of community occurs by reason of mutual experience with others. Where the religious sense of community and with it real trust and integrity can be destroyed then that society is like a sand castle unable to defend itself against the inexorable sea.
For the last hundred years or so religion has been beset with a relentless attack. You have been told its the opiate of the masses, that its unscientific, that it is primitive; in short, that it is a delusion.
But beneath all these attacks on organized religion there was a more fundamental target: the spirituality of man, your own basic spiritual nature, self-respect and peace of mind. This black propaganda may have been so successful that maybe you no longer believe you have a spiritual nature but I assure you you do.
In fact, you dont have a soul, you are your own soul. In other words, you are not this article, your social security card, your body or your mind. You are you. ...
Convince a man that he is an animal, that his own dignity and self-respect are delusions, that there is no beyond to aspire to, no higher potential self to achieve, and you have a slave. Let a man know he is himself, a spiritual being, that he is capable of the power of choice and has the right to aspire to greater wisdom and you have started him up a higher road.
Of course, such attacks on religion run counter to mans traditional aspirations to spiritual fulfillment and an ethical way of life.
For thousands of years on this planet thinking man has upheld his own spirituality and considered the ultimate wisdom to be spiritual enlightenment.
The new radical thought that man is an animal without a spiritual nature has a name: totalitarian materialism. Materialism is the doctrine that only matter matters. The apostles of this new thought are trying to sell everybody on the idea that people really down deep are just a mass and what the person wants to do is cohese with this mass and then be protected by the mass.
This philosophical position was very handy to militaristic and totalitarian governments and their advocates of the last hundred years who wished to justify their atrocities and subjugation of populaces.
One of the tricks of the game has been to attack religion as unscientific. Yet science itself is merely a tool by which the physical universe can be better controlled. The joke is that science itself can become a religion.
Gerhard Lenski on page 331 of his The Religious Factor, a Sociologists Inquiry, defines religion as a system of beliefs about the nature of force(s), ultimately shaping mans destiny, and the practices associated therewith, shared by members of a group.
Scientific activities can be as fanatical as religious ones. Scientific groups can themselves be religious orthodox science monopolies. The Einsteinian concept of space and time can itself become a holy writ, just as Aristotles writings were converted into dogmas by the orthodoxy to squash any new ideas in the Middle Ages. (Einstein himself until late in his life was looked upon as a maverick and denied admittance into learned societies.)
Science in itself can become a new faith, a brave new way of overcoming anxiety by explaining things so there is no fear of God or the hereafter.
Thus science and religion are not a dichotomy (pair of opposites). Science itself was borrowed from ancient religious studies in India and Egypt.
Religion has also been attacked as primitive. Too much study of primitive cultures may lead one to believe religion is primitive as it is so dominant in them and that modern cultures can dispense with it. The truth of the matter is that at no time is religion more necessary as a civilizing force than in the presence of huge forces in the hands of man, who may have become very lacking in social abilities emphasized in religion.