A religion (from the Latin word religio, meaning bond, obligation) is a collective adherence to a general reality model, most often centered on one or more deities, most often governed by elaborate codes of conduct. Since religion is observed everywhere and from very early civilizations, it is generally seen as a natural phenomenon and an integral part of the human essence.
Although some modern religions were engineered for obvious political reasons, most ancient ones apparently stem from another integral human aspect: the rather rare ability to sense a certain order behind seeming chaos and to perceive invisible forces at work in the world. Many of these once worshipped forces have been identified and defined by science and are now generally accepted to exist and to indeed rule our world. Lightning and electricity for instance; wind and the motion of seas; the most intricate but singular biosphere. And so on.
Most mythologies incorporate a creation account, in which one or more deities bring forth reality, often in a way that argues the close intimacy between creator and creation, by care, fabric and organization. Many mythologies conclude in a savior of sorts that, or who, will liberate mankind from its own violent and ignorant nature. Often this savior is law and obedience to it; sometimes a highly insightful person.
1. The Monotheistic Arena
Monotheistic means that the sense of divinity is translated into the quest for or worship of one single God. All various forms of monotheism are generally classified in three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But advances in logic mathematics allow many to conclude that science is the fourth great monotheistic religion; its coveted objective the Grand Unified Theory or the Theory Of Everything; its certainties as much leaning on belief as any other faith. Advances in quantum mechanics and chaos theory have revealed that science, the way it is conducted and the conclusions it derives, is highly similar to the intellectual thrust that once brought forth the three much older monotheisms.
These four religions are generally seen as opposing but are more aptly characterized as adjacent, as all are derived from or are highly identical to an ancient text: the Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses, the sources of which originated sometime around 1500 BC. Though highly spiritual and scientific in nature, the Pentateuch initially served as Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the people of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, the grandson of arch-father Abraham (as the story goes). To this Abraham, who lived five centuries before Moses, the promise was given that his descendants would bless the whole earth, and they would be like the dust of the earth. "When the dust of the earth can be numbered," God said to Abraham, "then your descendants shall also be numbered."
2. Monotheistic Symmetry
The Pentateuch's most significant novelty was the idea that the many Powers That Be are in fact one. The Hebrew word for powers or mighty ones is Elohim, and Moses used this word as taxonomy for one single being: God; the One who is Many Powered; the Powerful One.
In addition to this Moses wrote that this One seeks intimate relations with a chosen people, a One as well. But he also wrote that this unified people chosen by God was chosen not to enjoy some elevated status, but rather to serve others; ambassadors of insight; teachers and guides.
A substantial number of Hebrew writers - prophets, generals, kings - built upon the Pentateuch while Israel established itself as a sovereign political and economical entity. Thus the body of text known to the Western World as the Old Testament was formed, while Israel grew from unorganized band of refugees to centralized but nomadic people to a united kingdom in Canaan during her golden age under kings David and Solomon, around 1000 BC. After Solomon the united kingdom ruptured and spiraled into a lingering civil war. This weakened the social stamina of Israel, made the trade negotiations with neighboring states dissolve and finally lead to the complete decompilation of Israel's national character.
During the reigns of Shalmaneser of Assyria and Nebbuchadnessar of Babylon, the nation of Israel was deported in several waves. The tribe of Judah was taken to Babylon in 586 BC; the other tribes earlier to Assyriah in 722 BC. The latter assimilated into the Assyrian people but Judah managed to maintain somewhat of a segregated identity. After seventy years of captivity the Jews (which means those of Judah) went back to Canaan, in an attempt to restore the wall of its capital Jerusalem, and the temple. A leader named Ezra rediscovered the importance of law, and specifically the astounding profundity of the Mosaic Law in matters of sociology and psychology. The people, however, no longer spoke Hebrew, and Ezra assigned a small group of explainers. The Rabbinical Period commenced.
Rabbi's taught Law; translated it and explained it, and soon publications arose that explained the explainers. The Talmud was written, in which an attempt was made to review the whole stretch and depth of Mosaic Law, including its practical applications. In the mean time Babylon fell to Greece and the world adapted to its language, philosophy and sciences. The Scriptures, which by then were as poorly understood as obscenely excavated, were translated into Greek by seventy men: the Septuagint. When Greece fell to Rome, the world began to speak Latin.
3. The Symmetry breaks
The first major breach in monotheistic symmetry occurred when Jesus of Nazareth conducted his campaign against the legalistic, rabbinical climate. Initially highly successful, his effort landed him the death sentence from the Jewish religious leaders, vicariously executed by the Romans. Jesus had become a political threat to the reigning Talmudic endeavor by stating that the entire Law and all prophets could be explained by their core purpose; the simple rule of loving the people around you as you love yourself. In addition he declared religious authority and all esoteric gnosis folly by stating that the simple rule of loving other people was equal to loving God. And love being the most thorough relationship possible, even capable of making perfect, it overruled all other rules. The only purpose of Law is to formalize transgression. When love makes perfect, transgressions are not made and Jesus thus proclaimed the end of legalism and the fulfillment of Law by love.
Probably the most famous precept of the followers of Jesus is that he was the Son of God. The Old Testament makes mention of many more sons of God (Adam, those mentioned in the enigmatic Nephilim scene, Israel as a whole; read our article on John 3:16), but of Jesus it is said that he was one of a kind; unique. The most important implication of sonhood in Hebrew Scriptures is not a matter of progeniture but a matter of authority.
A son was to obey his father, as well as any government. Since God obviously outranks any earthly authority, divine sonhood frees one from subduction by secular rule and truly liberates. Only those who were free of any overbearing human authority (kings, high priests and prophets) were anointed into office. The eagerly awaited savior, also foretold by Hebrew Scriptures and who would outrank anyone except God Himself ,would be the Anointed. The Hebrew word for anointed is Messiah (from the verb mesah; to anoint). The Greek equivalent is Christus (from the verb creo; to anoint).
Much to the horror of the Jewish religious leaders, the postfix Christus or Messiah became applied to their most adamant opponent: Jesus of Nazareth. His followers became known as Christians; Anointees. As often before and many times after, religion rejected any savior that would liberate at the cost of conviction. Victory was only tolerable if the winning was earned, not given upon defeat. Judaism and Christianity breached.
But Christianity, as all newly emerging reality-models, was void of any deductive substance and suffered an influx of philosophical and superstitious conjectures. Early disciples of Jesus roamed the area but could not cover enough territory and educate sufficient amounts of people to secure a lasting apprehension of the words and ideas of Jesus. The need for publications was met by the efforts of men like Lucas and Markus, but the largest contribution came from a highly educated Messianic Scripture Theorist named Paul, a leading expert in Jewish Law and converted prosecutor of Christians.
Paul wielded his enormous knowledge of Jewish Law and Greek thought to prove and explain the soundness of Jesus' message. His highly intellectual campaign is recorded in literary masterpieces such as the Epistle To The Romans, and the Epistles To The Corinthians. But where Greek thought allowed and even incentivized people to seek for the missing pieces that Greek thought willingly admitted to suffer from, the Hebrew religion stated itself wholly contained and true. Paul' discourses skimmed off the Hebrew world and landed deep in Greece and Rome.
By then, the Roman Empire began to deteriorate and the world was gearing up for its plunge into the dark ages. Frantic attempts by morbid Roman emperors to pummel their realm back into the homogenous Pax Romana of yester-years resulted in the fierce prosecution of Christians. Christians, after all, obeyed secular rule by choice, not by conviction, and certainly would not second the axiom that the emperor was divine or stood closer to the Powers That Be than any common man. But by the fourth century AD the ideas of Christianity had proven to be so attractive to people of any social status, level of education or philosophical perspective that denial of its existence was void and suppression utterly futile.
Emperor Constantine the Great realized that Christianity was not ever going to disappear and decreed it the State Religion in 324 AD. And that required a full-scope formalization of doctrine and a translation of the Septuagint to Latin: the Vulgate. In 325 the great Ecclesiastical Counsel at Nicene was held, with as its two most famous results, the Nicene Creed which is still pronounced today, and the attempt to solve the paradox of a monotheistic religion that worships God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, with the Trinitarian Doctrine.
Propelled by the greed for tactile imagery, set free on an ocean of intuition without the compass of sound knowledge and thrilled by the discovery of religion as a tool for demagogy, Christianity reared a five-headed pantheon of Father, Son, Spirit, Mother and Satan, all tussling for supremacy. Hell became heaven's basement. Purgatory was invented.
The church grew corrupt, obese and blasphemous. At least, in the eyes of a young Arabian prophet named Mohammed.
4. Monotheism breaches again
Early in the 7th century AD Mohammed became enraged by the ease with which Christians and Jews sold their heritage and their fathers' beliefs to the highest bidders. The world suffered from lack of sacredness and had grown leprous with pride and debauchery. Mohammed protested the five headed Pantheon by stating over and over again that God, a single God, a God who is God alone, can not have a godly mother and can also not have a godly son. He wrote the Koran in which he repeatedly begged for the people to return to God, to read their Scriptures and to not let themselves in with flawed reasoning and contradictive conclusions. He wrote that Jesus, when asked, would never admit that he was God's son. But he also wrote that Jesus was especially endowed with the truthful Spirit of God. Even that God Himself had taught him the gospel, and that he had been able to make a living bird from mere clay.
Mohammed had a deep respect for Moses and the other Bible writers, and felt an intense kinship with Jesus of Nazareth. His protest against the divine sonhood of Jesus was a protest against the divine duo this precept had caused Christianity to conclude, but not at all against the essence of Jesus as depicted in the Bible. Mohammed was not anti-bible, just anti-corruption. And as Christianity had turned away from Monotheism it is safe to say that Jesus himself would not have been a Christian in Mohammed's days.
While Christian Europe spiraled deeper and deeper into social decay, the Middle East flourished on Islam. The followers of Mohammed had imported the Greek sense of science and social organization and built an empire that stretched from India to Spain. Without in the least wondering why God seemed to curse Christianity and bless Islam, various Popes arranged mad crusades to deliver the Holy Land from the Muslims. These endeavors drew the last wealth and human resources away from the Christian territory and Europe flat-out bankrupted.
In quest of material and cultural import the age of exploration commenced. Marco Polo leapt out of the plague-ridden gutters and headed east. In the year 1295 he came back with stories of unfathomable riches and highly successful civilizations, and soon a rush erupted. Caravans full of riches, spices, books, stories and philosophies poured into Europe and infused its withered peoples with a new life: the Renaissance; the Re-Birth.
Wealth and knowledge began to increase, and with it grew intellectual stamina and scientific rigor. It was a young monk named Marten Luther who finally challenged the church from within. From reading Paul's Epistle to the Romans he discovered that works could not be salvific, and that salvation could not be bought. His attempt to enter into a respectful dialogue with the leaders of the church-industry failed and in his desperation and indignation he nailed his famous ninety-five theses to the Witttenberg church door in 1517.
Luther was given the death sentence for this little stunt but the word was out. Reformation burst forth through the spiritual vacuum of Europe, and the Roman church instigated a fierce prosecution. Luther himself escaped but many Protestants died in the most horrible ways. It took many years for Protestantism to become legal, but the rise of the scientific age demanded free speech and free expression of ideas. Still, even though the knowledge of the Hebrew language of the Pentateuch increased, and Protestantism dragged the Catholic Church into reconsideration of many of her dogmas and ways, there was not enough verifiable Scripture Theory to prevent the final great breach in Monotheism.
5. Monotheism's final breach
Quite possibly the most effective purifier of collective thought came with the establishment of the investigative convention known as the Scientific Method. During the 17th and 18th century science became so important that any form of irrational belief was considered as dangerous to the collective as a virus was to a person. Newton engaged alchemy and disrobed it. It fell from grace within one generation and today it is almost impossible to believe that the academic world before Newton believed and taught that one substance could be turned into another by convoluted procedures and invocations. Newton tested them all and none worked.
The Scientific Method demanded that a reality model could only be believed to be accurate when observations were verifiable. These observations had to be sorted and subscribed to an invisible governing system; a theory. That theory was to be able to predict the outcome of a future experiment; predictivity. That outcome was again an observation, and had to be verifiable. That, it was believed, would lead to a truthful and singular reality model.
Many centuries before the establishment of the Scientific Method the brilliant Paul had written "Since the creation of the world [God's] invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made," and "Investigate all things and keep what is right."
Paul's famous definition of faith is in exact concord with the Scientific Method; conviction of unseen things (theory) and assurance of the anticipated (predictivity). The only thing new about the scientific age was that God, against all Scriptures, was suddenly deemed unverifiable and not scientific. Entirely due to the eternal misconception of religious leaders, science was forced to deny the existence of God as defined by the church.
Newton's discovery of the gravity laws not only opened a whole new realm of cosmology but also of philosophy. Determinism taught that a necessary chain of causation determined everything that happened. The Enlightenment rose. Reason was everything. Voltaire pronounced the Bible ridiculous. Darwin launched Linear Evolution Theory. Freud begot cause-and-effect psychology.
But there was something wrong. Newton's laws left certain discrepancies between observation and calculation of Mercury's orbit around the sun; a lethal transgression of the Scientific Method. Einstein, the most famous scientist of the modern age, mended Newton's broken model in 1915 with his general relativity theory. He had become and instant legend with his 1905 publication on special relativity theory, Brownian motion and the photoelectric effect. The latter was a continuation of a revolutionary idea postulated by Max Planck in 1900, the notion that everything, including forces and light, was made up of little bits that could not be divided; little bits that were One. These bits were called quanta and the field of quantum mechanics saw the light. Suddenly, after 3,500 years of monotheistic worship, the secular world too began to study the world of the Ones.
Astonished by their own discoveries, the early quantum mechanics researches unearthed the wonderful and anti-intuitive world of the very small. Rutherford split the atom. Bohr caught it in his famous and still standing atomic model. Heisenberg proved that the most essential fabric of the universe is freedom with his Uncertainty Principle. And Schrödinger, without even realizing it, solved the age-old Trinitarian paradox by discovering that something that is one and cannot be divided (like a quantum, like the Monotheistic God) is very much able to behave like it was two. In nature something that is indivisible can exercise influence simultaneously in different places, and have the effects interfere with themselves.
The one was many; the many were one.
They discovered that all the obvious forces of nature are in fact the many faces of only four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force. Soon exhaustive theorizing revealed that electromagnetism and the weak force are intimately kindred and that they would unite at very high energies. During the nineteen-eighties machines were built that could generate and harness energies that would allow mankind a glimpse at conditions of just a few moments after the beginning, and indeed the weak force combined with electromagnetism to spawn the electroweak unified force. Inspired by this success theorists frantically calculated conditions of even higher energy density and concluded that the electroweak force would certainly unite with the strong force to form the strong-electro-weak unified force. As far back as Einstein there have been physicists that deeply believe that at very high energies all forces unite into the Grand Unified Force. Today pretty much all publishing physicists from every university in the world express this expectation. There's no scientific proof. Not yet and perhaps not ever. But they believe it. Today science is a monotheistic reality-model based on faith.
Up to the 1930's science nurtured the unshakable belief in her own superiority in regards to drafting a fully truthful reality-model. Models based on ancient literature or art or dreams were looked down upon. Only mathematics was rigid enough to one fine day describe all truth.
That belief was shattered in 1931 when the genius logician and mathematician Kurt Gödel published his Incompleteness Theorem. Using mathematics he proved mathematics' severe limitation and eternal condition of being incomplete. He showed that any formalized logical system must inevitably contain true formulas that are neither provable nor disprovable. That meant that any logical system must remain incomplete forever, and that no system will ever be able to prove its own consistency within that system, let alone deliver a fully complete description of all truth.
The function of math and logic can only be to identify un-truth. Paul knew this, long before Kurt Gödel. His discourses on the function and mechanisms of law are identical to what secular science proved nineteen centuries years later.
The whole truth can never be logically proven or described. Math will never tell us. Philosophy will never tell us. Formalized Judaism failed. Formalized Christianity failed. Formalized Islam failed. And science knows that no matter how striking evidences are, uncertainty must remain, and truth can only be believed. Ages ago Jesus of Nazareth said: "I am the truth." And that may have been the last logical statement made about truth until the Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Gödel.
The rise of National Socialism induced a lull in quantum mechanics research. Up to today a disproportionally large number of successful academics and Nobel Prize laureates are Jews, and specifically quantum mechanics was deemed 'Jewish' by the Nazi's. For once they were right.
It took until the late 1990's to complete the so-called Standard Model of elementary particles, a model that displays all quantum families and their interactions. Making the Standard Model took ten decades, billions of dollars worldwide, many thousands of scientists and an unusual level of cooperation between nations. Some say it was the greatest intellectual achievement of mankind to date. No project ever undertaken attracted so much attention, worked its way into the general culture to such a degree, or reaped so many Nobel Prizes as constructing the Standard Model. And when it was finished it appeared to be identical to the family of Abraham and the development of Israel as written down by Moses and the other Bible writers, 3,500 to 2,000 years ago. The ancient promise 'your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth,' which was given to Abraham and penned down by Moses had come true. Perhaps by the most incredible coincidence ever recorded. Perhaps because there could never have been another way. If this astonishing outcome has proven anything, it is that today it takes a great deal more blind faith to believe that the Bible is not true than to believe the opposite. Imagine what you will believe tomorrow.
6. The reunification of Monotheism.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Science as they are today will never unite because in their core lies the conviction that all others are wrong. Still, each system predicts a global unification upon the revelation of complete truth.
Judaism remembers the promise given to Abraham that he and his descendants would be a blessing for all the earth and all alive. It predicts the coming of an Anointed One, who will liberate Israel from any enemy and cause the rest of the world to join with Israel. Judaism expects that God and those chosen will enter into a 'marriage'; the most intimate relationship possible between two individuals. It is then expected that this divine couple will form a 'house' to whom all others are invited. The prophet Zechariah wrote, "In those days a group representing all nations will grasp the garment of a Jew and say, 'Let us go with you, for we understand that God is with you'".
Christianity demands that the Messiah has already come (Jesus of Nazareth), and that the great unification happens with his second coming. Christians too expect a 'marriage'. Christian Bible writers have additionally remarked that when God is present and openly addressable, Law no longer needs to be expounded and temples are obsolete. This, if not anything else, must cause a complete symmetry between Judaic and Christian believers.
Islam predicts to overtake the world as well. Mohammed was so deeply offended by the corruption of religion in his day, that he insisted to go even as far as to take up the sword against the infidels. The image of a sword in Biblical times meant besides the actual arm, anything sharp, most often in reason, speech and writing. Mohammed's ardent defense of the validity of Mosaic Law, which includes the clause You Shall Not Murder, cancels out the implement of physical violence in the meaning of the word sword, and certainly does not allow reading crashing airplanes or explosive devices into it. Many Moslems today bemoan the actions of certain radicals and hope for a peaceful existence for all.
Since divinity is apart from creation, it can not be measured or scientifically scrutinized. The only way that Science will allow herself to conclude God is through trends. If a certain trend can be proven to exist, one must submit proof to break it, not to continue it. Since God's nature, according to most mythologies and theologies, is intimately reflected in creation, a trend that is obvious from an atomic level onward may be expected to continue after the realm of creation stops. The continuation of this trend is logical. The assumption that it stops must be accompanied by a reason why it should. If a reason for the trend to stop can not be submitted, Science must conclude that it is infinitely more likely that God exists than that He doesn't, and begin to believe.
Stephen Hawking's famous conclusion of A Brief History Of Time contains the hope that one day we might find out how the universe works, and that when all people are in some form or other instructed about this, they all can partake in the discussion of why we exist. Then, Hawking says, we will see the Face of God.
Or in the words of John Archibald Wheeler, the discoverer of quantum foam, "To my mind there must be at the bottom of it all, an utterly, not equation, not an utterly simple equation, but an utterly simple idea. And to me, that idea, when we finally discover it, will be so compelling, so inevitable, so beautiful, that we all say to each other: Oh, how could it ever been otherwise."
Today many workers from all four great monotheisms investigate the possibilities of grand unification. Christianity is building bridges towards science through the field of apologetics. Science in her turn is seriously reconsidering the God-hypothesis. Since they were the last to breach perhaps they will be the first to unite. Perhaps Judaism and Islam will soon follow. Perhaps not.
Many economical, biological and Scriptural models predict a great clash of armies in the final days before the unification. But nowhere is presented how horrible this final war must be. Perhaps if all of us prepare for what is inevitable, we may get away with just a few scrapes and some dents in our most precious beliefs. If Truth is gained and peace ensues, what little price that would be.