Going back through history, there must be an ultimate source of all the religious scriptures. Whatever and whereever this source is, and how old it is, is a matter of belief.
But what happened to it during the centuries, this should be a matter of critical analysis. And this analysis leads us to the conclusion, people have been making up stories based on this source; a fact even confirmed by those scriptures themselves. People have been corrupting religion for ages, to fit their (political) agendas; that goes for all religions. It is not only all kind of rituals and rules for worship that can’t be brought back to the oldest authentic teachings, not even to the main scripture of a particular religion. Most important in this context are stories with prophecies. It is very easy to see how they are being used: Some government in trouble or some powerful elite can use the prophecies to create exactly the circumstances, the signs, or even the man, as was predicted in the prophecies, to pacify the people and make them obey their laws or serve their purpose…and the prophecy becomes true.
The result is, it makes people into marionets, stage players, playing a role in a script written for us by whom? It can’t be from God, because there is one important principle: We have freedom of choice and are responsible for our actions; that is what life itself teaches us; and is it at least what all religions teach too. So, given free choice, it is impossible there would be only one scenario in any circumstance. Let alone for the end of times; yet all major religions describe the same scenario of war and destruction, while their own ‘religion’ – that would mean members of some worldly institution ! – will win. This simply can’t be true.
So to give up this freedom of choice, to become marionets in human power games, is what we shouldn’t do. Just imagine, if every religion is going to try to make their own scenario for the end of times come true, either by deliberately making wars – as a sign -, or by being passive in the midst of urgent problems while praying for the saviour to come down from the clouds, then of course the world ends in destruction. And again it would be us, humans ourselves, who brought it upon ourselves, by acting like marionets instead of being the free people as we are supposed to be (or in religious terms, obeying God only).
Of course, when in a desperate situation, we hope for a miracle to save us. But reality is, we have to do the hard work ourselves together with those who care for us. And logic must simply tell us, even if a messiah would appear, it would not be to take our own responsibility away from us. And most certainly not to appoint one of the political religions as the ‘winner’. It would be a matter of free choice, to follow his or her ways to our benefit, regardless of any beliefsystem.
Many people blame governments; or systems; or for that matter anything. But in the end it comes down to the simple fact that to change the world, we have to start with ourselves. A society, and its rules and laws, are an expression of how the people feel and what their way of life is. How an individual is, shows in how we treat others. In the end, we can see the result in characteristics of a society. Like a healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, social support, freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, generosity. It shows in just social systems, in a small gap between rich and poor; in low statistics on crime and violence; in a common policy to strive for a healthy society and environment; in ethical science; in solving conflicts through dialogue; in cooperation by true democratic decisions, instead of polarization and competition. So compassionate societies with caring people, tolerance, forgiveness and peace.
Now isn’t this exactly what the core of all religion teaches us, if we strip away, erase, all the man-made stories?
Objectively speaking, it doesn’t really matter if valuable religious teachings ultimately come from God or not; it is up to each individuals faith. Fact is, they contain accumulated wisdom from our anchestors through the centuries, and are therefore worthy to be purified from corruption and studied for their value as a way of life, to derive from them that which builds common ethics and that which gives life meaning and purpose.
Some people obey the laws because they are afraid of the consequences if they don’t; and others obey the law because it is unthinkable for them to ever do such a thing as forbidden by law, out of compassion. This is a simple fact. Then, people in difficult situations, or under influence of a group with harmful intentions, can come to do things they’ll regret later; so we’ll always need some protection against harm, and laws. That doesn’t mean, we cannot start to educate our children to fall in the category that obeys the laws using their mind and heart. If we do this with common values, religion can no longer be used as an instrument to manipulate people. We will truly have the freedom of choice to obey our conscience; or God.
Then faith becomes a personal way of life; whether this faith is religious or not, it is what gives life meaning and purpose. Faith we can share with others, but it wouldn’t be something we want to force upon anyone, as without the political element there is no longer need for competition. On the level of common responsibility, we need to organize a compassionate society. This is a matter of basic values and common understanding on the level of day to day reality about what is wholesome and what is harmful for such a society. It is up to every country in their specific circumstances to have their own organization, rules and laws. The fact we found out, globally we agree upon such things as human rights, proves there exist basic moral values shared by all humans. It is this fact, that is the hope for humankind we can educate each other and our children to coexist in peace and religious harmony.