It is possible to assert that religion has been the first superhuman discipline.
Since our species can remember, religion has always been a plausible explanation to justify the inexplicable. From the raise of the simplest problems to the observation of the most extraordinary phenomena, humankind has felt protected by a mysterious, omniscient and ubiquitous entity. Why are we alive and what are we doing here? Something must want us to be here, we can’t just be a coincidence. The night sky, the amazing universe around us, would they even be worth existing if we weren’t looking at them?
The religious cult allowed early human beings to develop crucial values such as faith, certainty and morality, as well as a certain kind of associative life. In general, the impact of this attitude and its derivatives has been massive throughout history. Let us consider the concepts of good and evil: would they even exist without religion? At the end of the day, why is something genuinely good and why is something bad? The concepts of morally acceptable and unacceptable imply some sort of judgement upon the being, something that lays above everything that’s human and intelligible. It is then reasonable to associate the birth of “good and evil” to the formulation of heaven and hell.
In this sense religion has been the first superhuman discipline, with the power of blinding humans’ eyes and answering their questions immediately, easily and incontestably.
It seems anachronistic to speak about such ideas a Century after Nietzsche, as he predicted the death of all Western values, including religion. The concept of evil has recently experienced a remarkable change. Events such as the Second World War, the Holocaust and the Great Chinese Famine appear to have brought not only countless human losses, but also profound despair in terms of morality. When evil actions are performed by a man’s will, there’s no dialectical escape: it’s our fault. There’s no religious justification, no incomprehensible divine will, no love, no God. However, the belief of an obscure Providence making the right decisions for us is deeply rooted into our nature and essence. A few contemporary theories even compare religion to male nipples(!), and describe it as an evolutionary fault, something that we don’t need anymore but it’s still there.
How to then make sense of our universe? Are we, as a species, literally just destroying each other with no hope for progress? Not necessarily. I would like to propose two solutions to this problem. The first one is purely probabilistic, therefore understandable by a greater variety of public, while the second one concerns our earthly ethicality. So far, I believe them to be unavoidably related.
Firstly, let’s look at the maths. It is important to specify that the birth of humanity has been allowed by an interplay between extremely lucky, almost impossible, events. The number of collisions within the Solar System, the stability of our portion of Space, the curvature of the universe itself… Almost impossible. If we were the only “intelligent” creatures in our universe – the term is highly subjective and raises questions on what is in fact intelligence – then we could assume the existance of a God that looks after our us as a father. However, as far as we know, our universe is infinite, and our capacity of exploring it is still tied to our two main limits: the speed of light and the shortness of our lives. For this reason, we can presume that the amount of intelligent species living in the universe is definitely greater than 1. To sum up, we could accept the existance of a supreme being if we were the only mentally developed creatures in the whole universe.
Secondly, let’s look at us. Evidence suggests that throughout history we have always needed – and sometimes we still need – something trascendental to believe in. A greater Love, a greater Life, a Father, a Carer, an explanation for that obscene, immense and only certainty that is the blurred line between life and death. For this reason it has been a habit of humans to give credit to the Creator for their fascinating perfection and achievements. Some remarkable truth arises from these considerations: that He appears to be not only the justification and ends of humans’ evil behaviour, but also the reason of our brightness and positive accomplishments. In this scenario, our only valuable intuition shall be the realisation of our responsabilities as a species, for both evils and decencies. In particular, it can be theorised that humans’ greatest moral advancement will occur when the ethical concepts of “good” and “bad” will be cancelled from our psychological and cultural spheres.
In conclusion, it shall be respectable to assert that every matter – theological or scientific – characterised by dogmatism represents a boundary for knowledge and philosophical expansion. As species, humans developed a historical identity they must be proud of, and it is impossible to deny the cultural prosperity that the religious cult has stimulated all around the globe. However, in this Century, our minds deserve to collide with something different, something higher. We find ourselves at the gates of an era in which it will be impossible to cover our eyes and justify ourselves, and this will not benefit every single one of us. One day, the sky above us will only be a simple, tragic, slowly explorable and explicable, heartbreaking and sublime wonder.