The Pentateuch, which constitutes the first five books of the Christian Bible’s Old Testament, is attributable to Moses and also forms part of the Jewish holy works. Throughout the Bible there are frequent mentions of the prophets, inspired teachers who claimed to bring the words of the one god to the people.
Islam was the message brought by Muhammad, who recognised much of the Jewish faith and regarded Jesus Christ as an important prophet, but claimed his own teachings should replace those of all the prophets who came before him.
All of these ancient messengers, recorded by the Jews, Christians and Muslims – all of whom, unlike the Hindus, the Greeks and the Romans, believed in just one god – were responsible for trying to establish a unifying set of laws for life. This, in turn, was intended to ensure that a community could live in harmony, recognising a superior being to whom they looked for guidance.
And, of course, mankind being what it is, this enabled the religious leaders to gain power – and we all know what power does!
Moses’ 10 commandments were a refinement of the laws of Hammurabi, an ancient king of Babylon, whose reign preceded the life of Moses, and whose code included the ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ directive which is a foundation stone for Islamic Sharia law.
When you stop to think about the past, relying on rational thought rather than blind faith, you realise that the history of mankind is a search for answers.
At a simplistic level, what is thunder, and why does it follow lightning? When and how did we find the answer?
‘The more we know, the more we know we don’t know!’ is a trite but true statement.
A more modern saying is that ‘the only two certainties in life are death and taxes’ but, in my view, we need to modify it to read ‘there are at least three certainties in life, which are – change, death and taxes’.
Many aspects of change we take for granted, even though, when they first occurred, there might have been strong opposition to accepting them.
We witness this opposition today in the refusal by many religious people to accept knowledge which conflicts with their ancient rules for life.
At a trivial level, residents in the Middle East in ancient days had food laws which modern scientists recognise as sensible for an era when refrigeration had not yet become a possibility. But because these rules for living became part of religious ritual, they are now rigidly followed as being holy directives.
I have drawn attention elsewhere to the refusal of the Christian church hierarchy to accept scientific findings that are contrary to what the bible teaches.
It is only very recently that secular society has accepted that members of the LGBTQI community are not refusing, as a matter of choice, to be designated in a binary context but were born non-binary. Needless to say, the strongest opposition to accepting this as fact comes from the religious communities. They are putting belief in ancient ignorance above acceptance of modern scientific knowledge – even though they happily use refrigerators, fly in airplanes, mostly accept modern medical services (there are stand-out exceptions in some religious communities) and generally have adapted to most of the advances resulting from scientific research.
Much of what I have said above is based on my own educational experience. My specialist studies have been in mathematics and law, but a very broad general education has given me a curious mind and a desire to search for answers.
My reading in the context of history, indicates that, at least in Britain, the first ‘toe in the door’ to separate canon law from secular law came in the 16th century. Henry VIII had an interesting marital history which led to a serious lessening of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church canon law on the law of the land.
While England still regards Christianity as the recognised state religion, there is no coercion about it and the practice of other religions is tolerated.
BUT – and it is a big BUT – the law of the land is always paramount.
Here in Australia, thanks (or no thanks!) to having elected a significant number of politicians who refuse to represent their constituency, rather than their personal religious affinity, we no longer preference secular law over religious belief – however ill-founded.
And because the strongest religious influence appears to preference the ignorance of the biblical story over the rational advice of the scientists, we are refusing to take the action necessary to ensure out children will have a world worth living in!
Forget the arguments that our efforts would be a drop in the ocean – even though we know the ocean is going to rise to unacceptable levels for island nations.
Every time one more nation takes positive efforts, the pressure on other nations to do likewise in increased.
Our Constitution requires us to have a secular government. Is there a case for taking action against the current Coalition government for failing to act in accordance with the Constitution?
There is certainly a case for civil disobedience IMHO!
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