Religion, basically, is man’s conceptual curiosity or ideological urge to justify the existence of God or a super power and to express man’s allegiance to that power via religion or other forms of faith. The existence of our material world and beyond that the universe with blue sky, stars, moon, sun, clouds, celestial bodies and our planet earth with trees, days and nights, rivers, valleys, mountains, light, darkness, seasons, flowers, animals, man himself and other manifestations of nature were always at the root of man’s zeal and amazement to find about the creator and founder of this spectacularly grand show. Man is bound by the cause and effect doctrine and also by the notion of a creator and the creation.
Naturally there is someone who must have created the universe as it cannot, on its own, come into being. Unless the theory of random mutation is conclusively proven the creation of entire existence and creation must be attributed to a force, a creator, a system or someone who conceived and originated it. No matter whatever the explanations the scientists may offer, the fact remains that there was perfect wisdom and absolute intelligence behind all the creations visible or hidden. Man has thus far scratched the surface and the more he investigates and researches, the more he finds this universe complex, vast and the embodiment of immutable principles.
The existence of God is determined by the creation which means the nature, the universe and all the existence. It has been man’s passion to understand the mysteries of the creation and the universe. Naturally the question arises what is this all about? How it came into being and who created all this awesome system or systems? We exist and that is a fact, but why and how we exist is a very intriguing yet pertinent question. Man, himself has tried to furnish the answers to these questions.
The human logic suggests that since there must be a creator of a creation, so there must be a maker of what we see around and what exists. The universe is there for billions of years and it is perfectly functioning. The sun alone is shining and transmitting light and energy for about 5 billion years or more. How can this system continue for so long and who is sustaining this mind-boggling panorama where the time and space are limitless? The space is limitless and is constantly expanding. The time has no beginning and no end. Neither space nor time can be seen nor measured yet they exist.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that except deriving conclusions and inferences from the creation as well as through the faith, the existence of God remains a perennial mystery and an unresolved puzzle. As the legend goes, Prophet Abraham the father of the three main religions viz Judaism, Islam and Christianity first marveled at the magnificence of sun, moon and stars and thought that these were the powers that created everything.
After viewing that they appear, disappear and reappear on a set course, he thought that there must be someone else who must have created these celestial bodies and fixed them on their courses. Thus, he came to the conclusion that an eternal and omnipotent yet invisible power was there that was responsible for creating everything.
In pagan beliefs every inexplicable phenomenon was attributed to a God and thus love, hatred, food, famine, rain and draught, life and death, victory and defeat, pain and pleasure and similar other traits and phenomena were all attributed to different gods. So, man needed to be thankful to these powers and express obedience and gratitude to them by seeing them before him.
Thus, the idols, images or statues came into being. But such people who thought God was invisible and cannot be divided and personified in an idol stressed and preached that God was beyond human comprehension and senses; that he was alone and possessed all the powers that one can conceive of.
The concept or belief in a supreme power is prevalent in all the religions. Even in Buddhism that apparently negates the existence of God, somehow the belief in a human soul that departs at the time of death exists. Buddha taught mankind to find peace from within, which means man himself was the redeemer of his own sufferings and that no external force or individual could help him in addressing or getting rid of his woes and torment. Yet practically Buddha himself became a God for his followers who have been worshipping his images to this day. Buddhist concept of supreme power starts from the man and ends unto man, albeit with a soul that remains active till it attains Nirvana or the peaceful end and salvation.
Animism or the belief that every living being has a soul that departs at the time of death but still remains around although the physical body perishes has been practiced by man from the time immemorial. According to this belief the soul lives in secluded places and can cast good or bad influences on the living humans. Therefore, the primitive people who met their dead kith in dream or illusions attributed supernatural powers to them and started worshipping them.
But then there was a step forward. Instead of individual souls the people started believing that an all-encompassing soul prevailed and was present in every existing thing. This served as a source of great awe and fear and was another reason or vehicle for the mankind to believe in a super power in the form of a soul that would go back to its origin at the time of death.
In Taoism, mostly practiced in the Far East especially in China and Japan, the followers believe in a self-propelling system in that humans have very little to do. They believe in a state of permanent flux between the two extremes and a spirit or Tao that never dies. It means a spirit and divinity that is eternal. Taoism in subsequent times degenerated into extreme superstition and complex rituals.
The followers of Shintoism mostly practiced in Japan, believe in spirits consisting of nature and of died ancestors floating in the space and inhabiting mountains, valleys and elsewhere in the universe. Shintoism is truly a religion of rites that the Japanese people observe daily as part of their culture and social milieu.
Confucianism basically exhorts self-discipline, right behavior, peace and harmony that come by practicing the concepts of Li and Jen. But Li essentially connotes and symbolizes a supreme deity or power.
Notwithstanding what prophets said about the nature of God, the undeniable fact remains that God has never been understood. We can infer that a supreme being is there who created and controls this universe or whatever he created. The absolute order and scientific principles that govern this whole system of existence speak for the fact that it cannot come into being on its own.
God may not be bothered by the negation or denial of his existence by the people because unlike what the human beings believe God is not swayed or motivated by emotions. As such God is not governing the universe on the basis of sentiments or likes or dislikes or reward or revenge. The entire philosophy or doctrines of the religions are mostly based on God’s pleasure or displeasure.
But what happens is that when man cannot see or sensually perceive God, he tries to personify him in different models and shapes. Starting from the idols to deities all are manifestations of God in physical form. But while personifying God, man is in the habit of attributing absolute powers and abilities to him. In the ancient times, man would worship and kneel before idols to ensure a physical presence of a super power before him.
The monotheist nature of God is practiced and postulated in Judaism and Islam alone. Jesus Christ himself preached monotheism but it was under the Greek influence, pedaled by St Paul that in subsequent times Jesus himself and the Holy Spirit were made part of a divine force.
It means that God was split into three parts. Still no one knows whether God was one undivided being or there were several gods ruling the universe as there has never been a direct link between God or gods on one hand and the human beings on the other.
All the images or the idols that man makes to personify God in the physical forms are from this world because man has no knowledge of any other form. These forms are either human figures or animals. The ancient Egyptians used to worship jackals, the owls, the serpents and several other animals and birds. In Hinduism several animals including ape and cow are treated holy and revered and worshipped as deities.
All these physical manifestations of a super beings are man’s anxiety and psychological urge to see God in some visible from. To limit God with limitless powers into a human shaped or animal designed statue or idol is in fact degrading or demonizing God. It was therefore felt by some founders of the religions primarily Abrahamic to shun idolatry and profess and view God as one and an invisible force that cannot be seen by the human eye as seeing God would confine him to a space and God is not confined to or conditioned by time or space.
Man being an intelligent and conscientious being can have the perception of God and therefore believes in him in one form or another. But it cannot be verified if other creatures that have mind and are living also perceive God. Or else God alone wants only the human beings to have faith in him and then accept other dogmas relating to life after death or paradise and hell and existence of angels and spirits. It means that if faith alone is related and confined to the human beings then God wants humans only to belief in the creator and the creation.
The rest of all existence is above and immune from the cycle of births and rebirths. One can only speculate that human race has devised some system for his own distinctive recognition from the animals and from all those animated existences that have biological mechanism of being born from the male and females. If we accept that these are only the human beings who are supposed to have the awareness of God and the creation of universe then all other manifestations or forms of existence are merely meant for display or some of them meant only to serve and then disappear.
For animals and other creatures, life is simple and limited because they have no perception, urge, lust or craving for living in houses and eating delicious foods and enjoy other comforts of life. They cannot be religious and pray and live and have social life like humans. For them life in the hereafter has no meaning because it is only the human beings who will be resurrected and not the animals.
But keeping in view the development and the corresponding changes in the biological and material constitutions of living creation including the humans one can speculate that a stage might arrive when man becomes an animal or is reduced in size and intelligence and vice versa the animals take the place of humans as for as living and possessing intelligence was concerned. In that case then those developed species would be expected to have messengers, social systems and beliefs in social codes and religions.
By that time the present generation of humans should be living either in paradise or in hell. Or else till all the animals turn into humans or intelligent beings and live and die like humans and the process of resurrection might be deferred. It can be guessed that man is the latest phase of a development process that continued for millenniums.
There is no conclusive evidence that before this generation of mankind there were other generations in a time span of 15 billion years. But it is evident from the study and research focused on anthropology that animals of various sizes and dimensions stalked the earth for millions of years and then disappeared.
The monkey or the ape are closed to humans in the body constitution, habits and instincts barring a consciousness to live sophisticated lives like human beings. But the shape of their skull and construction of hands and gesticulations suggest that man could be like them in the distant past and ultimately was refined to develop into the present from and level of intelligence.
Similarly, it can be speculated that the present generation of apes could be the future humans and once they attain a modicum of human intelligence, they would start living a social life entirely different from the wild life they were having now. Or else since their growth and population is not multiplying they could vanish finally. Or the present generation of human may complete their span of life and finally they all die and resurrected again.
If the dogma of resurrection is taken into account then either the present generation of humans would be enlivened on the doom’s day or they would wait for the apes also to be grown into full-fledged humans, exhaust their given span of life, live a social life with religious or some kinds of beliefs and then join the earlier extinct generations to face the final judgment on the final day of this universe’s existence.
According to scriptures on the “Resurrection Day”, the world would be blown into pieces with thundering sounds and finally everything living or non-living would vanish. But one question that stirs the mind is that when the earth will be torn into pieces where the dead would remain and how in the absence of a space they would rise again. When there would be no earth or space to live even if the dead come to life where they would be gathered to receive their verdict of hell and heaven.
If with the earth, the universe also disappears then again where would this show of reward and punishment be held. There is no explicit explanation as to what space or place would be available for the great assemblage of all the humans whose number should run into trillions. The placement of hell and heavens is also not identified.
Actually, for the faithful of any religion it is sacrilegious or undesirable to go into the details or modalities of all the happenings that start from the birth to the death and the projected events after the death. In Islam it is a sin to question the elements of faith and one is ordained to accept the gospels and teaching as true and beyond questioning. This stops the believers at a level where they would leave everything to the will of God. They seldom rationalize the precepts and dogmas and interpretations of the religion about all these issues that otherwise are also beyond the comprehension of human mind.
Otherwise the fundamental question is that why a powerful God would put to trial the feeble humans with unbridled desires and keep the Satan unleashed to prey upon them. If Adam the father of humans couldn’t withstand the allurement and cunning of Satan, how come that ordinary humans can offset him.
The Satan is believed to be a physical being but no one has seen him ever since this dogma became part of the religions. But it is also believed that Satan is a personification of man’s own unbridled evil desires and ambitions that impel him to commit crimes which may be named as sins in the religious terms. At times, it so happens that sins and crimes converge but primarily crimes are the names given by the society to the harmful and illegal acts that one commits but the sins envisage also the infringement of temporal as well as divine or religious beliefs enshrined in the religious statutes of do’s and don’ts.