The reaction to the perceived over indulgence of western society by extreme religious groups in many ways reflects the frustration and anger felt by so many at the altered values of world society. Reacting against the consumerism and materialism of the developed world, many are turning to religion to provide the answers they need and to give them a defined purpose, however extreme and uncompromising that might be in practice.
Fundamentalism feeds on the fears of social groups that have a much less advanced awareness of the secular and scientific world and the realities of life. Religious leaders use the ignorance of their followers to spread the doctrines of superstition which lie at the very heart of religion and the stranglehold it has on people.
Fundamentalism is just an extreme manifestation of the superstition of religion, within which people can justify anything they do by the creative distortion of the vast collection of written and spoken word from generations of religious leaders who have throughout the centuries used this superstition to give them the power they use to further their own interests.
Hundreds of years ago religion played a huge part in providing leaders with power and control over populations, but in more recent years and with the more enlightened people educated in science and forging a future with engineering, exploration and enquiry, religion has become much more of a purely spiritual support to those who need it. The developed world makes few political, scientific or commercial judgements using religious principles and the life of those who do not accept the superstitions of religion are largely unaffected by it at all.
Fundamentalism can only be confronted using education. Giving people the outlook and understanding of the wider world and removing them from their very restricted and focused social groups where religion is an enforced way of life, will enable a much more enlightened attitude and in particular, will enable people to realise that so much more can be achieved without resorting to violence.
Attempting to break fundamentalism by further violence is a folly which only results in many innocents being slaughtered for religious principles that in reality mean nothing. Providing a way forward for people in whatever society they live, which provides answers through secular principles will help to avert their need to resort to superstition and to relive the centuries old tribal conflicts which have only divided society.
Let us accept that those who have faith can believe in whatever they like, however superstitious it may be in reality, but let us not create systems, organisations, rituals, laws or social rules that bind us to any specific superstitions. Each to his or her own, but without the need for reinforcement through tribal rituals, costume, ceremony, written texts, ways of life etc that have no real meaning other than to label one as a member of a specific tribe.
Let us face it, if there is a god he (or she) is going to be a really nice person with a sense of humour and an ability to understand and believe in us vulnerable and ignorant people. This god would not be vengeful, violent and unforgiving and they would probably even have the ability to understand the likes of me.
In practice of course, our images of god are created by man to present the kind of uncompromising leader that gives the church such power. Reinforced by ritual and playing on everyone's fear of death, religious leaders use the image of god they portray to hold us all accountable. The time has come in the developed world to move on from these archaic traditions and to seek enlightenment through science and the wonders of our universe, not through childlike superstitions.
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