Why the “Big 3” will be the last

Symbol of the three Abrahamic religions.

Image via Wikipedia

Right now the world sees only three “major” monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism (though to actually call them monotheistic is a pretty liberal take on the definition of monotheism). Of course each is comprised of hundreds or thousands of its own sects and no two people of any religion actually share the exact same beliefs as one another (possible exaggeration). Catholics and Mormons, both branches of the Christian tree, have very different beliefs from Protestants and Baptists, Puritans and Methodists. Likewise, the Islamic sects of Sunni and Shia are considerably different to the point where members of the two opposing sects seem to constantly be at war with each other. The same is true for certain Christian branches.

The point here is not that the words “Christian” or “Muslim” seem to be more of a generalization than actual religions, but that one could go so far as to say Christianity does not actually exist at all. What exists are Catholicism, Mormonism, Protestantism, et al, with the members of each being part of a vast minority when compared to the rest of the world. In fact, the number of members of each religion is slowly but surely dwindling down while the number of people coming out as atheists is on the rise.

A recent study performed by the American Physical Society even goes so far as to say that in nine countries religion is on the verge of going extinct. The sooner the better, but that’s just my opinion. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

The “Big 3” monotheistic religions are all Abrahamic religions. That is, they are all founded on the belief in one all-powerful god who commanded Abraham to kill his son then, as Abe raised the knife, said “Ha ha, just kidding. See? I’m merciful!” But the Abrahamic system(s) of belief goes much deeper than that. What many people fail to realize is that when juxtaposed next to the ancient religions the Abrahamic religions are so clearly full of ancient symbology and blatant “rip-offs.” Here is an extraordinarily long list of similarities and parallels between the stories of Jesus Christ, Horus, Krishna, Mihras/Mithra, Prometheus, and Buddha. This certainly doesn’t prove the story of Jesus is entirely made up (just as it doesn’t prove any of the other religions mentioned were made up), but it ought to raise an eyebrow for the skeptic.

Christian apologists will tell me it is all merely a coincidence, or that the other ancient religions were simply prophecies. Technically speaking, they could be right. The story of Horus could have been a prophecy speaking of Jesus’ arrival. Then again, it is only the Christians who will say that is the case, just as it is only the Ancient Egyptians who would have said the story of Horus was not a prophecy and that Horus existed and everything in the story was entirely true.

One could wager that in ancient times, world leaders found it more and more difficult to maintain the support of their people. Perhaps, though, if they reintroduced some old stories of gods who demanded obedience without question and modernized the stories a bit, they could regain some control. Whether or not people believed the stories to be true, they would certainly catch on to the “obey or die” message. Science wasn’t nearly as developed then as it is now (even that is an understatement) so nobody really knew how the world around them worked. It would be easy to spin a few tales and get your people to believe. “I am your leader, and because I am your leader I am telling you the truth, and because I am telling you the truth you should obey me and accept me as your leader.” The people, who were gullible, bought into the hype and eventually the tales were published in their holy books.

So that’s what I imagine were the roots of our modern religions. All religions are based off of those before them and tend to spawn new ones based on their own systems of belief, given enough time. But it won’t last. People, though still gullible, are not quite as easy to trick into submission anymore. We have explanations now – perfectly logical and reasonable ones – for those things which “required” religion so long ago. We know the sun does not actually “rise” and “set.” We know the earth rotates and revolves around the sun, and what’s more – we know why and how. We know the earth is not flat. We know where rain comes from, how it forms, and why it is essential. We know it doesn’t take a human or animal sacrifice to bring rain for a successful harvest because we know about seasons and weather patterns. It’s getting to the point where we will not need to rely on the god of the gaps because more and more often the gaps are being filled as knowledge evolves.

Nothing could possibly replace any of the Big 3. People as a whole are not as gullible now as they were then. We don’t require made-up tales of sky-wizards to keep us in line anymore, or to explain the unknown. One day the questions we do not yet have answers for will be answered. Sure, they’ll be replaced with more seemingly impossible-to-answer questions, but at some point we’ll stop relying on the god-crutch. Do I think that will happen in my lifetime? Certainly not! But I believe that by the time I die the world religious population will have dropped significantly from where it is now.

6 thoughts on “Why the “Big 3” will be the last

  1. Interesting post, do you think religion has out served its purpose, or what about it giving humanity a sense of belonging and understanding the events that occur in each of our lives? Being that I’m of a religious affiliation I still found this article very interesting and thought provoking.

  2. My answer for both of your questions is yes. Yes, religion has outlived its purpose. I don’t think we ever needed religion to answer any questions – in fact, I feel it could only impede our quest for proper answers/solutions to problems. With that in mind, I hesitate to say religion never really had much purpose to begin with (other than to control the masses).

    Except (and this ought to answer your second question) to make people feel like they better understood the world and the events which occurred around them. No, I don’t feel they properly understood the world, but religion absolutely played its part and their belief in the supernatural led them to think they understood the world.

    To those people, who think they must have faith in something in order to understand themselves and the world around them, I say they can still have faith in things. Have faith in themselves; their families and children and loved ones; have faith in art, in music. You can have faith in and encourage your loved ones and feel a sense of belonging without needing any faith in the supernatural or the intangible or the abstract and the uncertain.

    • You know i agree with you on having “faith” in yourself, family and etc. I understand and respect many atheist opinions cause from the ones i know and met your taking the practical approach and not believing a “mystery”. Now religion has been used by MAN to control the masses and the message of the religions have been manipulated by man for evil purposes. In a sense you can say that those who knowingly manipulated the masses by using a source that they knew they can get over people with didn’t believe in that message in the beginning. Its the pure at heart who live the messages of the religions are the best examples, cause an Atheist can manipulate the masses by using the skills and set of Atheism to control people, if that person could articulate effectively the message to appease the people. See from a religious perspective “Faith” (My last blog was on Faith and its powers) is believing in the unseen, its the substance of the things hoped for, and combined with a strong will, you can bring whatever you desire into existence. However many people feel that we have limited powers but if you have a source that presents unlimited powers that can grant you an extra boast then you can see how religion provides that emptiness. Now I am not trying to convert you to religion or anything of that nature (for I agree with many things you said, so we have a common base to have a friendly discussion without me trying to force something on you). Just browsing through and engaging in the blog community and reading other people blogs

  3. Sidenote before I reply: I completely respect your views, and can appreciate sarcasm in any context. It seems that you’re a big thinker, and I find that relatable too. As a student that has studied religion (particularly Christianity) at both a prestigious Christian college as well as a smaller secular college and regardless of my views I thought I’d throw in a few tidbits. Alas, collaboration is one of my favourite aspects of blogging! Any bits of the Bible I address will be from a strictly literary prospective.

    I’ve recently been focusing on – what’s commonly referred to as – The Test of Abraham. It’s a HUGE sticking point for any reader, and takes some serious scrutinizing. The writer of this story uses techniques of dramatic irony and language using what’s called pathos or emotion either described or evoked from the reader. In this case, the reader knows something Isaac does not – that HE is the intended sacrifice! This bit is called the Test of Abraham mostly because Isaac is to be the progenitor of the “future nations” God promised, so it goes against logic to sacrifice the only son he has to fulfill this promise. Secondly, it can be strongly deduced that this story is included in the bible to accentuate how human sacrifice is not acceptable by the Judaic God, which at the time it WAS by such deities as Baal and Asherah.
    Any student that has studied the Bible knows that it is SATURATED in symbolism! That’s not up for discussion in many circles of scholars (of course, unless you are a literalist). In fact, what you refer to as “rip-offs” from other religions/religious books is actually just different culture’s interpretation of the same events and stories passed down orally through the generations. In fact, though I must admit I am far less familiar with the Quran, there are accounts of Jacob, Joseph, Ishmael, Isaac, and others that have some name switches but are otherwise very similar. Not at all coincidence, very real, and they each say a lot about the different cultures at the time.

    Regarding the religious books as a political ploy, without a doubt it’s been used as such. We see it mostly today when opinions are justified by single sets of verses from the Bible (western cultures do this more than others), but canonized books were sifted through and some were excluded simply because they clearly contained Cesarian opinions – or often simply because they were written in greek. Sometime if you get the time I encourage you to read some of the books that were left out of the canon, though still acknowledged as interesting opinions. The Apocalypse of Abraham can be found online in many places (perfect example of many different things, depending on your focus) or The Apocrypha which is still apart of the Catholic bible, but not a part of the Hebrew (I’m fairly sure) or Protestant Bible. If you’re in the mood, read the Epic of Gilgamesh! That’s a parallel to the Biblical Noah and the Flood story, which was written by a non-Islamic culture and has some interesting comparisons as well.

    Regarding gullibility, at least with the examples given, it must be remembered that these religious books were written specifically for the illiterate people of the time. There are analogies, terms, and comparisons we would not understand in our modern languages without first understanding the languages at the time. The Genesis creation stories are easy examples of this (again, unless you are a literalist), which if you didn’t know, there are two accounts written by two different authors. One is very sequential, and fairly scientific for the time period, describing the separation of the light from the dark, creation of the waters, etc. The second portrays God as more of a character who see’s each of His creations as “good,” and “speaks” each of the creations into being, “stretching out the heavens,” so on and so on. Point being, these stories are written for the most illiterate to understand the complex concepts on an elementary level. It’s not written as an easy read for Dr. Carmichael with a PhD in chemical engineering, it’s written for farmer Joe who only attended school through the third grade (to put it quite crudely).

    Anyways, food for thought. Any skeptic that can consider themselves such must first have the ability to question their own skepticism!

  4. Although I share your hopes, I have little doubt that religion will not go quietly into the night. Despite the innumerable evils visited upon humanity in the name of this god or that, there are certain vital functions or services that religion provides to the human psyche that make us willing to believe in it, with all its inaccuracies and contradictions.. I have gone into this in some detail and tried to piece together why religion has such a hold on us in my blog (not canvassing for it).

  5. fuck those catholics!!
    a cross is not a sign of christianity.
    what if jesus died in an electric chair?!, will it be that an electric chair is a sign of christianity? worshipping an electric chair?

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