Developing A Universal Religion/A Universal Religion/Developing A Universal Religion
Some individuals are likely more ready than others to help found a new religion. Possibly those who have already drifted away from their god, but feel the loss. Or, perhaps, those who may think that a God exists or existed, but one that intends Life to fend for itself. Or people who think that no such Being exists, yet are distressed by life’s apparent meaninglessness. Or even those who think that their religion lacks the criteria they need to make some of today’s moral choices and seek something supplemental or an alternative. This section suggests how such individuals might work together to fill some of these gaps.
Again, please keep in mind that I am not trying to overthrow any existing religion. This discussion that follows is simply to explore whether people of the world see any need for the kind of religion this book is proposing. One day, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, some kind of rational religion might become appealing, but I suspect that the time may not yet be ripe. Fertilizing humanity’s mental soil in the hope that something might eventually grow is all that might occur if some of what follows were to be attempted. This alone, I think, is worth the effort.
Before continuing, let’s recall why I think a new religion may one day be needed. Significant problems periodically threaten world affairs, and current institutions seem inadequate to address them. Some likely solutions will eventually require expropriating national autonomy, subordinating it to world-wide authority, but there is currently no substantial authority of this kind. A massive blow, such as that dealt to the United States by the terrorist actions on September 11th, 2001, is needed before nations feel they have the moral authority to unite to counter further threats. This feeling soon evaporates, however, for only the recipients of the blow carry the loss constantly in their minds. And, as Possible Applications noted, many other threats, current and potential, practical but often moral, need some degree of global consensus to be effectively countered. An international court might be given the legal authority to enforce international laws, but there are likely to be many situations (population control, embryonic stem cell use, or euthanasia, perhaps) where some degree of additional moral authority would be needed. If developed, a universal religion of the kind discussed in this book might make such moral authority permanently available, thus legitimizing the early examination of such problems and perhaps preventing them from becoming pandemic.
Keep in mind that, while the premise of this universal religion is simple, the process of developing it is certainly not. Indeed, the endeavour will be fraught with challenges, distractions and setbacks (not the least of which will come from those who oppose such a new tenet). Every stage of its development will therefore require tremendous dedication, perseverance, patience and altruism.
The remainder of this section assumes, based upon the reasoning given in earlier chapters, that acting to “support Life’s continued evolution toward becoming a god-like entity or oB” is the most appropriate meta-purpose for rational people to adopt and transform into a universal purpose. Given this, perhaps something like the following “hierarchy of action” might feasibly lead to the eventually realization of a universal religion.
Individuals: May have read this book or may already be thinking along similar lines. Want to correct problems that impact upon our future, and will probably already be in contact and working with others of like mind. May already be working in organizations to achieve related ends. Probably know other individuals active in parallel endeavours who will unite in support if one common purpose can be found. Already using websites and the internet to share ideas and to influence others.
Realize that the magnitude and number of significant world problems necessitates a proportionally large and long-term effort towards change. May be discussing the need to unite with other groups and individuals. May be drafting meta- or universal purpose statements and seeking consensus using Delphi survey methods or equivalents. May act as website masters, developing, linking and maintaining relevant sites, chat groups, bulletin boards, etc.
Working groups: Would want to educate one another. Would need to formulate sub-purposes to guide joint efforts. Would want to unite like-minded regional, national and international groups and efforts. Would need the support of people with vision, passion and ideas, as well as energy, money and influence. Would seek the co-operation of any and all organizations, particularly religions and those currently involved in formulating or promoting universally applicable moral standards or ethical principles.
Would constantly strive to educate the public and new members. Would finalize the definition of the universal purpose and draft statements of moral codes and ethical principles derived from this purpose. Would refine these statements as groups in different nations (particularly those of different cultures and faiths) seek to meld.
Would utilize the best analytic and strategic techniques. Would outline desired scenarios for years ahead as guides to develop strategies, plans and tactics; such descriptions would also convey to all a vision of the kind of future being anticipated, so inviting discussion, feedback and revision. (See Multi-year Targets,” a postscript to this chapter, for speculations about possible long-term goals.) Would attempt to foresee possible setbacks and develop contingency plans, etc. Would provide intelligent guidance to the whole movement, yet remain particularly close to the grassroots level by ensuring a steady exchange of personnel, and by limiting how long any one person may serve in any role.
Action groups: Would use their influence to educate the populace, and formulate approaches that would gain the support of organizations and governments in all of the world’s nations. Would find ways to respect and work within existing laws; would reject and help to prosecute those who harm others or damage property under the guise of participating in the larger cause. Would counter establishments’ efforts to derail this work using the meta-purpose-conjured vision to obtain popular support. Would enlist the support of like-minded organizations, and exploit the media’s need for news to gain national and international exposure, understanding, credibility, respect and active support. Would attempt to work with organizations that oppose the universal purpose’s ideals, to minimize harm done by such organizations. Would eventually have enough support to influence multinational organizations of every kind.
World directorate: Would be structured to be accountable to the world’s population, by ensuring free and unrestricted media access, and by setting up and maintaining all manner of web and internet interactions, including mechanisms that facilitate active debate of the pros and cons of the universal religion’s various statements and activities. Would have secure referendum and web-voting facilities to involve the world populace. Must have many built-in safeguards and a variety of audit mechanisms to prevent subversion by those desiring to exploit the world using this kind of organization.
Would eventually direct mechanisms able to ensure the compliance of individuals, organizations and nations, in the one area of their mandate—that is, to ensure the continued development of life (or as otherwise more comprehensively and precisely defined). Would have no power to restrict non-related human activities, such as benign global commerce or freedom of religious expression. May resemble the United Nations.
This endeavour is not intended to produce a totalitarian world. It is not intended to usurp any nation’s authority or power to govern as that nation sees fit, except in its one, world-mandated, area of responsibility. It is not intended to replace or deny any religion, nor is it intended to remove any individual’s right to freedom of thought, word or deed.
But it is intended to curb these behaviours whenever the activities of one or some threaten to jeopardize the future of life on this planet (and, later, wherever else life is found). Managing life’s exploitive nature necessitates also developing the means to control its destructive excesses when they occur. Most nations have already developed ways to lawfully control individuals and organizations within their boundaries; we must develop lawful ways to do the same at an international level. A carefully designed universal religion would provide the rationale, moral authority and foundation for such laws to exist.
Above all, the universal religion should construct and maintain the environment that contains a new code of behaviour, a new morality, a new wisdom; one which will guide our decision making as we explore the many marvellous medical, technological, cosmological and other pathways opening up before us—routes to a life that the developers of our traditional religions never dreamed could exist.
- Opposition is likely to come mostly from those in the middle—organizational and institutional heads and managers who fear disruption of their niches. Leaders of many religious organizations are extremely likely to oppose the development of an alternative universal purpose. Heads of non-religious organizations and academia are less likely to oppose such an endeavour, because people in these positions must already realize that one globalized or universal religion is likely to create a more orderly world. This end is particularly desirable, from their point of view, because the value they have built during their time in the organization is best passed on in an orderly world. (Since Life advances through the efforts of those who exploit, this last benefit should not be decried.)
- For example, the WFA (the World Federalist Association) “promotes the universal rule of law at the international level,” and is just one of many activist-organizing associations. (See http://www.wfa.org.)
- Such survey methods involve summarizing the results of a survey or poll and returning this summary to the respondents, who are asked to read it then respond to another survey. Repetition can clarify ideas, and may develop consensus.
- There is currently no organization constituted or able to perform the functions we are discussing; something entirely new needs to be developed.