Imagine a world without religion.
This was the question that my girlfriend, Danna, asked me out of nowhere, during one of our afternoon café visits last week. Would a world that religion never existed – without beliefs of the supernatural or of the metaphysical or of the supreme being – be much more better off than our world today? Would technology advance infinitely (or at least a hundredfold) if our religious beliefs had not too much strayed us from the “truth” of science?
I am not saying of course that there is no truth in any religion or that nothing in the world’s scientific knowledge is false, but rather the fact that the outstanding technology we have today was indeed a fruit of whatever scientific understanding we had of the world.
From here, it is can be easy to see that a world without any scientific inhibition, such as religion, or at least the beliefs of the supernatural or maybe even morality, would beget the most advanced technology. I mean, if religion was somehow removed from this point in time, we would have a world culture devout to (hopefully) only science, and it is easy to imagine the massive change this will bring to our world technologically.
What if religion never existed?
Imagine a world that has just spawned man. And he, or they, saw their first tree. They see this lonely tree change through the seasons (not that they have any experience of what seasons are yet). And all of a sudden they also notice sprouts near it that grow up like their offspring. “These trees are alive”, they might say. “They have a soul just like us, and they could probably see and hear and talk and taste and feel just like us.” And why not? The rocks around them have not moved nor noticeably changed, while these trees change color and height and grow bald and bear children and pass away like themselves. In fact, in scientific terms we can say that this can be their hypothesis.
When these men and women begin starving from the lack of wild prey in the vicinity, they finally notice the tree bear fruit and the fruits heal them of their starvation and the sick get healthy again. “These trees answered to our pleas in hunger!” they cheer. And the next times they were hungry they begged the trees for food, even prayed and performed rituals because they have not observed when the tree bears the most abundant fruit. These trees become gods. And by using this knowledge, they have made the clouds and the lightning and storm and the earth gods as well. And then soon, newer, perhaps better, religions were created. And later on, science was too.
Science, in my opinion, is a constant change of the knowledge we know of the universe. We have this knowledge, for example, “trees are, like rocks, are not alive”. And we test it with all our observations. “The trees are sentient.” “The trees heard us when we almost died of hunger and gave us fruit.” This will continue until we are able to reach the probably scientific conclusion that “Trees are alive. But they do not have a consciousness like us”. Religion for me seems to be a hypothesis that has been replaced with Science, and it seems for me that Science will not be possible if we did not build any Religion.
In fact, I believe myself that it is impossible for religion not to exist. Because if we are truly people who can think and build knowledge from their experiences unlike animals, then how can we not think of how the trees and the storms might be gods if anything else. How can we not think of the possibility of the supernatural and the metaphysical before we actually find proof of what we call science today. If it is entirely possible for Religion to never exist in this world, then I doubt that these people can think any more than an animal.