Friday, May 23, 2008

Pick a Prophet, Follow a Faith

I have come to the conclusion that the success of any given "revealed" religion is merely a popularity contest. It's whatever is in vogue or fashionable for a given period of time in human history. Problem is, we humans have always taken our beliefs so seriously - so fervently - that we often massacre anyone who doesn't follow the fashion.

No question there has been tremendous sincerity in our various religions. Every sect believes their religion is the only true and righteous way, and they want to make sure you and I are a part of it. Their beliefs are the only way to bring good fortune, live a holy life, and be saved in the afterlife.

Our perception of God has dramatically changed throughout history. No longer do we think Emperors and Pharaohs are God. Few if any people still believe a volcano, the sun, or an animal is God. No longer do we make human sacrifices to the Gods as some cultures did. But I'm certain the people who once believed these things knew they were being Holy and doing the right thing. They were simply living in the culture of their time - these things were in vogue. Would we consider them Holy now? Would we think they were (or are) heaven-bound? Well, eventually someone comes along and says, "Hold on folks. You have it all wrong."

Here's a not so little list I unashamedly borrowed from Wikipedia. It shows many of the religions throughout history and who founded them. (Please don't hold it against me if there are issues with the data. It's purpose is only to demonstrate an idea for this post.)

Prophet or FounderReligion or BeliefEra
AkhenatenAtenism~1300 BCE
ZoroasterZoroastrianism~1200 BCE
MosesJudaism~1200 BCE
Numa PompiliusCodified and organized Roman religion717-673BCE
LaoziTaoism~600 BCE
Siddhārtha GautamaBuddhism563-483BCE
PythagorasPythagoreanism520 BCE
MahaviraJainism~500 BCE
LeucippusAtomism440 BCE
PlatoPlatonic Realism427-347BCE
EpicurusEpicureanism307 BCE
Zeno of CitiumStoicism333-264BCE
PatanjaliRaja Yoga~100 BCE
Jesus of NazarethEarly Christianity6BCE-27 CE
Paul of TarsusPauline Christianity~50 CE
Simon PeterPetrine Christianity~50 CE
Judah haNasiTalmudic Judaism~100 CE
NagarjunaMadhyamaka150 - 250
PlotinusNeoplatonism205 - 270
Marcion of SinopeMarcionism110 - 160
ManiManichaeism210 - 276
AriusArianism250 - 336
NestoriusNestorianism386 - 451
EutychesMonophysitism380 - 456
MazdakMazdakism~500 CE
BodhidharmaZen~500 CE
MuhammadIslam570 - 632
Songtsän GampoTibetan Buddhism~600 CE
PadmasambhavaNyingma~700 CE
Adi ShankaraAdvaita Vedanta~800 CE
KūkaiShingon~800 CE
Ad-DaraziDruze~1000 CE
BasavaLingayatism~1100 CE
MadhvacharyaDvaita1238 - 1317
RamanandaSant Mat Vaishnavism~1400 CE
KabirKabir Panth, see Sikhism1440 - 1518
Srimanta SankardevaMahapuruxiya Dharma1449 - 1568
Guru Nanak DevSikhism1469 - 1539
Baba Sri ChandUdasi1494 - 1629
Vallabha AcharyaShuddhadvaita1479 - 1531
Martin LutherLutheranism1483 - 1546
Chaitanya MahaprabhuAchintya Bheda Abheda1486 - 1534
Henry VIII of EnglandAnglicanism1491 - 1547
Conrad GrebelSwiss Brethren, Anabaptism1498 - 1526
John CalvinCalvinism1509 - 1564
Akbar the GreatDin-i-Ilahi1542 - 1605
George FoxReligious Society of Friends1624 - 1691
Raja Ram Mohan RoyBrahmo Samaj1772 - 1833
Ghanshyam PandeSwaminarayan1781 - 1830
Nakayama MikiTenrikyo1798 - 1887
Allan KardecSpiritism1804 - 1869
Joseph Smith, Jr.Latter Day Saints1805 - 1844
Jamgon KongtrulRime movement1813 - 1899
BábBábí Faith1819 - 1850
Bahá'u'lláhBahá'í Faith1817 - 1892
Ellen G. WhiteSeventh-day Adventist Church1827 - 1915
Madame BlavatskyTheosophy1831 - 1891
Mirza Ghulam AhmadAhmadiyya1835 - 1908
Swami VivekanandaRamakrishna Mission1863 - 1902
Aleister CrowleyThelema1875 - 1947
Gerald GardnerWicca1884 - 1964
Mary Baker EddyChristian Science1821 - 1910
Swami Dayananda SaraswatiArya Samaj1824 - 1883
Guido von ListArmanism (Germanic Mysticism)1848 - 1919
Sri AurobindoIntegral Yoga1872 - 1950
Charles Fox ParhamPentecostalism1873 - 1929
Ngô Văn ChiêuCao Dai1878 - 1926
Ernest HolmesReligious Science1887 - 1960
Wallace Fard MuhammadNation of Islam1891
Paramahansa YoganandaSelf-Realization Fellowship1893 - 1952
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami PrabhupadaInternational Society for Krishna Consciousness1896 - 1977
Zélio Fernandino de MoraesUmbanda~1900 CE
L. Ron HubbardChurch of Scientology1911 - 1986
Maharishi Mahesh YogiTranscendental Meditation1917 - 2008
Sun Myung MoonUnification Church1920
Prabhat Ranjan SarkarAnanda Marga1921 - 1990
Mestre GabrielUnião do Vegetal1922 - 1971
Nirmala SrivastavaSahaja Yoga1923
Sveinbjörn BeinteinssonÁsatrú1924 - 1993
Sathya Sai BabaSathya Sai Organization1926
Anton Szandor LaVeyChurch of Satan1930 - 1997
OshoOsho movement1931 - 1990
Sri Sri Ravi ShankarArt of Living Foundation1956
VissarionChurch of the Last Testament1961
Tamara SiudaKemetic Orthodoxy1969

Here's the point: Not a single faith on this list was founded by God. Not a single one. Every religion and sect was formed by - you guessed it - man! Sure, these men may say they are chosen; they may say they are a prophet; they may say God spoke to them; they may even say they are God. Wow, man sure says a lot! Imagine the number of people who have believed these delusions and fantasies throughout history, even to the death.

Well, I'm not God, nor prophet, nor chosen - I'm just a man. Using God's gift of Reason, this I say:
Believe in God. Have faith in yourself.

One Deist Φ


Dan Mesmer said...

I agree. People should have faith in themselves. When it comes to God, it's a level playing field. Anyone purporting to be an "expert" is lying, delusional, or both.

Chris DiDonna said...

Awesome Stats! It was interesting to study.


Valerie said...

Sorry but L. Ron Hubbard never said anything to be revealed or that he was choosen by God or any such. Specifically he made it a point to say that he decided on his own to try an figure out how man ticked. Scientology is founded on his own ideas, and those cultivated by reading others - many of whom he acknowledges as important are Deists. Secondly, we don't worship God or Hubbard or any deity, nor is one required to believe everything he says or as the quote goes "What is true for you is true, and that is all." Other than Taoism, Deism, and to an extent Buddhism all other religions require a certain amount of "faith" - we don't.

Valerie said...

It a good try, and an excellent point overall. However as an anthropology major I have to say that some of the items on your list aren't even religions.

Not all philosophies that comment on spirituality are religions.

I recommend looking at Emile Durkheim's definition of religion and culling the list down from there.

After doing that I would also read a basic primer or each religion or a scientifically sound study of each religion to determine if it is a "revealed religion" or "founder/created religion" Some religions on your list count as Deist faiths as they "founded" and "founded" religions usually don't require faith, but practise.

One Deist said...

Hi Valerie,

I'm truly sorry to hear that you are a Scientologist. I do not mean this in a condescending way, but am profoundly concerned for your wellbeing.

As a Deist I am overtly against man-made religion, and Scientology is THE preeminent man-made belief system. It is dangerous and costly to all involved - even to those who are not Scientologists.

In the most caring and loving way possible I say to you, question those beliefs which Scientology has taught you with a completely open mind. Research Scientology away from "official" computers, and try to acknowledge the facts you find with an open heart.

I know you are taught to rebuff statements such as these, but it is all I can do. I say these things because I care, and at my own peril.

As to your second comment concerning my data: I stated in my original post, "Please don't hold it against me if there are issues with the data. It's purpose is only to demonstrate an idea for this post." And then the point, "Not a single faith on this list was founded by God. Not a single one. Every religion and sect was formed by - you guessed it - man!"

One Deist Φ

Karolina Maria said...

Your point is, well, the point, isn't it? Is the conclusion your tag line or can I use it? ("Believe in God. Have faith in yourself.")

One Deist Φ said...

Hi Karolina,
Anyone may use anything I've stated from my writings. I would only ask that credit is given where possible and appropriate.

One Deist Φ