Since the 1960s, people have been leaving Christianity in droves. In his 2005 book, Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums, Pope John Paul II himself underscored the problem by complaining about the godless Europe and godless democracies (Bruce Johnston, Pope labels democracy 'godless', February 23, 2005). The routing from religions that we are seeing is predominantly happening in Christianity today, but it will eventually affect all religions (Bonnie Allen, From sacred to secular: Canada set to lose 9,000 churches, March 10, 2019). What is really happening?
The 1960s sexual revolution may be where it all started. That moment in time probably best symbolizes when religions really lost their grip on secular society, having been able to successfully control what is one of the most powerful human drive up until that point. Has the Western world collapsed since then as predicted by fearmongers? No! In fact, what is screaming at us today from the media is the paedophilia scandals in Christianity and their cover up by the church hierarchy, the decades physical and sexual abuse of children in residential schools, and more recently the sex slavery of nuns by priests.
Why is this? In fact, while people were abandoning their religion, most were actually calling it quits on the buildings, the rituals, and clerical authorities.
Most of those that left are still calling themselves Christians and still broadly holding on to the values that they had, which are also embodied in western secularism. They did not abandon faith. Many of them are also actively exploring various spiritual alternatives.
Others completely closed the door on Christianity but did not abandon faith either. They shifted their beliefs from organized Western moral religions to Eastern mysticism (yoga, Buddhism, reiki...).
Remember the Beatles who spent several weeks studying transcendental meditation in India in 1967. That was just the beginning of a trend.
2. Morality vs. Spirituality
Religions today generally fall into two categories, moral and spiritual. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are moral faiths (also called ethical theism). Morality is a dual system, a carrot and stick approach in which you can be rewarded by God for good behaviour or punished to hell.
Hinduism and Buddhism, on the other hand, are spiritual religions. There is no punishment, or at least not as it is in a moral religion. It is up to you to learn and better yourself if you want to. There is no God to punish you if you don't.
The purpose of spiritual religions is self-improvement with the aim of freeing oneself from suffering. Essentially, you learn meditation, yoga, reiki, etc. to increase your wellbeing. If you do not, you are not worse off than you were before. It is an open system not based on fear.
More importantly, spirituality also seeks to discover the truth: what exists, how the universe is organized, what is matter made of, the laws of the invisible world. It is flexible and evolves because much is yet to be discovered.
For example, while a British scientist, John Dalton (1766 – 1844), is generally credited with the invention of the atomic model, Hindus sacred texts dating back to about 600 years BCE already talked about the parmanu (sanskrit for atom), which they described as the smallest possible unit of matter that could not be divided (April Holloway, The Indian Sage who developed Atomic Theory 2,600 years ago, March 02, 2014) and as "matter [that] could not be sensed through any human organ or seen by the naked eye" and that "different combinations of Parmanu... produced different types of substances." (April Holloway, The Indian Sage who developed Atomic Theory 2,600 years ago, March 02, 2014). That is essentially modern day chemistry.
Eastern spirituality is based on science and fully compatible with it. It searches for the truth. Despite being older than Christianity, it had a conception of the universe that was more true and accurate and, in some respects, was itself even ahead of science.
In contrast, in moral religions knowledge is established by scriptures; end of story. The Bible is the Word of God; it is the truth, the absolute truth, and nothing but the truth. Knowledge is frozen in time and often flawed, for example, the false biblical story of creation. To seek to discover more about the nature of reality or to question the scriptures is condemned and considered blasphemy. This is a form of disempowerment which can be carried to the extreme, for example, when blasphemy is punishable by death or imprisonment, which is still the case in many countries today.
While very close, morality and spirituality are very dissimilar and have different implications for your mental make up and wellbeing.
Morality is a guilt-and-fear prison based on disempowering and dated moral codes. Spirituality continuously seeks the truth to foster freedom of the mind, self-improvement, and empowerment.
Moral faiths are religions of the past and are dying because they are based on frozen-in-time knowledge which is often fraught with falsehood.
Moral religions are generally structured hierarchically, with an all-powerful and absolute God at the top of the pyramid. This is followed by progressively decreasing levels of power from the top earthly authority all the way down to the masses, which have little or no power.
Paralleling the power structure is an immunity from justice. God can get away with murder. There are many stories in the Old Testament where God committed massacres or sent plagues that harmed or killed men, women, and children indiscriminately, the innocent and the guilty without distinction. On the other hand, those at the bottom of the power pyramid have a hard time getting justice, as seen regularly in media stories. Think also about the victims of the Church's sex abuse and paedophilia scandals.
Spiritual religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) tend to be more decentralized. Essentially, acolytes study under a master. After years of apprenticeship, those who want to teach get out there and make a name for themselves. The better ones eventually gather large numbers of followers. The uninspired ones are weeded out through the inverse process.
As such, spiritual teachers or gurus are essentially democratically selected.
Comparatively, the clerics of moral religions are trained and get a job at the end of their apprenticeship. The competency, or absence of it, is determined higher up in the power structure.
Power is corruptible. As decisions are made by few people, it is unsafe.
Think about the paedophiles that made their way into priesthood in Christianity. Did God not warn the pope about that? Were those making the decisions about promotions totally blind, not being able to tell the difference between someone on a highly moral path and a paedophile?
Spirituality is not immune to bad apples. However, the fact that gurus are essentially selected by tens of thousands of people, makes the system much safer. Even a hundred corrupted votes have no influence on the final result. In a hierarchy, even just one corrupted vote can determine the outcome, as we saw in the Church's sexual abuse cover ups.
Hierarchism is highly corruptible by the simple fact that it concentrates power in the hands of the few. As we see today, religions are not immune to its effects and the consequences can be pure evil, as evidenced in the recent sexual abuse and paedophilia scandals in the Church.
2. The Link Between Corruption and Hierarchy
The difference between moral religions and spirituality expressed above brought me to February 04, 2017, more specifically to where it all started to make sense. I had been on a long journey in search for the truth. While I had gathered most if not all of the major pieces of the puzzle, I had not been able to start fitting them together until that day.
I had been an equalist all of my life, and I abhorred chauvinists and chauvinism. I had left Christianity and strongly rejected the Old Testament. Yet, there was no denial for me that the values expressed in the parables and sayings of the New Testament were inspired and that the life of Jesus of Nazareth was also inspirational.
However, these values, in which I believed and that have fashioned much of the modern world, were linked through Christianity to the Old Testament, which places women in a subservient and subordinate position relative to men.
I was very conflicted inside and frustrated over the issue. I could not live with a religion that supported gender inequality. I could not let go of some of the New Testament values either. By letting the latter in, I forcibly let the former in also. That was corrupting my soul.
On February 04, 2017, I was pondering about the issues of corruption in hierarchies, for example, communist dictatorships and monarchism. The same problem existed with moral religions.
While hierarchies are not meant to be evil, they are easily and invariable corruptible because they lack an immunity function.
Wipe out the human immune system and our entire species has got only months to go. We stay alive not because our bodies are well designed but because we have strong protective systems.
Democracies have an immune system. Through regular elections, you can give the boot with immense pleasure to unscrupulous politicians and avoid the worst part of corruption.
Democracies are far from being perfect, but they are much better than hierarchies. Everybody is equal, one person one vote, which brought me to the concept of gender equality.
Democracies are based on equalism. Dictatorships are based on inequality and hierarchism.
So are all of today's major moral religions. Perhaps, it is not by chance that Jean Paul II railed against godless democracy (Bruce Johnston, Pope labels democracy 'godless', February 23, 2005) in his 2005 book, Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums.
With this understanding of hierarchism, things started to make sense for me, and pieces of the puzzle began to quickly fall into place.
However, it is only months later that I realized the true significance of February 04, 2017. The connections made on that day not only became the cornerstone of what I was to write, but also turned out to be far more fundamental than I anticipated and a true epiphany that may just redefine the world of the future.
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