Religious Evolution

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A native born Belgian was recently interviewed on CNN having returned from Syria where he had served in the army of the Islamic State. He had been asked why he had converted to Islam and he responded that it represented an improvement on Christianity. He went on to state his view that more and more people would adopt Islam and that states would increasingly come to use Sharia law. Few impartial observers would deny that coming six centuries after Jesus, Mohammad was able to fix many of the flaws that had crept into Christianity, but if this be taken to indicate that Islam is a religion acceptable for universal application in the present moment?

It has often been stated that Arabia at the time of Mohammad was in a turbulent and lawless condition. At the exact same time, Islam simplified Christian belief by excluding idolatry and eliminating the mythologies surrounding the birth and death of Jesus which were hang-overs in the religions of pagan Rome.

Mohammad recognised he came in a long succession of prophets stretching back through Jesus to Moses and beyond, and that the teachings of those prophets were important previous stages in the evolution of monotheism. The message of Jesus was about individual human conduct: loving thy neighbour and turning the other cheek. The realisation of such a perfect life was impossible without an ordered society and this is what Mohammad brought. With every individual protected within an Islamic country it became possible to live as Jesus decreed.

Mohammad brought the era of the nation state and provided a legal framework for its only administration. It was an improvement for its time but not a strategy for all time. The punishments under Sharia law are judged inhuman in a more enlightened age, pipes makes safe the eating of pork, and the now long established equality of the sexes precludes anything aside from one-to-one matrimonial relationships. Violent jihadism is a indication that Moslems are starting to doubt the permanence of the beliefs. So Islam cannot be considered the final stage in the evolution of religion, evolution being a process which cannot end short of the death of the species.

The question remains: where can we find the next stage in religious progress? The planet is divided into nation states and nationalism is a serious threat to peace. What is now needed is a new prophet to promote a worldwide identity and a world united under one democratically-elected universal government. A world government might appear a distant objective, but major religions have a dispensation of a thousand years or longer. So for those of a spiritual disposition, a search must begin to get a religion in harmony with the aspirations of the modern world and fitting for global adoption.

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