Communities of faith have tended to benefit humankind by rewarding and reinforcing virtuous and ethical behavior. Faith sustains many through difficult times. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and atheists alike claim a monopoly on morality, ethics, and virtue, even as each group claims that its way is the truth and the light. Whether ‘believers’ or not, all people recognize the goodness of kindness and compassion.
Our value of human life, and our sense of ethics, have biological origins. Forms of DNA-driven altruism have always existed in the evolution of humankind and all other species. True character has a genetic as well as a cultural basis.
The purpose of religion is to advance revealed truths. The purpose of science is to discover things, rather than proclaim that the truth has already been found. Religion has historically been intolerant of scientists. Most scientists simply ignore religion as they explore and discover empirical truths.
In the twenty-first century, there is increasing distrust of clerical dogma and authority. Religion loses credibility and relevance as secular society evolves. People are discovering their own truths, and losing faith in old mythologies. As religious observance declines, church, mosque, and temple buildings are being sold. We are witnessing the triumph of skepticism and the twilight of faith.
Religion is only as good as the people who prescribe and interpret the religion. These have mainly been men who made judgments which disregarded the equal value of men and women. Paternalism and hubris should not guide governments and religions. The moderating voices of women should be heard and heeded so that all people live not in hostility, but in harmony.
Believe in reason, in the development of your mind, in the accumulation of intellectual wealth, and in freedom from superstitious fear. Affirm your ability and responsibility to lead an ethical life of personal fulfillment that aspires to the greater good of humanity. Let the world be your nation. Let all humankind be your family. Let truth, justice, nonviolence, and doing good be your religion.