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All that inflates the ego of the human race can be ascribed to subconscious needs

and their desire to assuage pain. All endeavours and all inventions seem logical in their
origins if one can project himself backwards in man’s history and observe his sensations
and yearnings. This, I believe, is the key point in analyzing religious movements and
development. But what feelings and needs can be said to be the undersized textiles in the
exalted tapestry of religion? The answer, it seems, is relative to the religion in question.
By this, I do not mean which branch of religion. That is a perception-oriented question,
whether one kneels before Yahweh or Jehovah. No, I refer to the milieu of religious
cultivation. Generally, one finds himself the bearer of two ascribed statuses: as a
primitive man, or an erudite gentleman. With the former, it is principally fear that elicits
religious notions, be it the fear of hunger or the ramifications of mortality. Many will
argue that fear is the result of a lack of knowledge. But this, I say, is a presumption
against which we must always be on our guard. For the truth is that reason is often
clouded by fear, and that even the most customary of systems can fill a man with awe in
times of great horror. This is, perhaps, man’s last attempt at control. He educes an
illusory being, more or less consonant to his plight, on whose thoughts and actions this
dire episode depends. To secure the favour of this omnipotent deity, he performs
ceremonious acts and offers his praise. Ergo, man subconsciously convinces himself that
he may exert control through ritual, and put an end to the phenomenon he finds so
abysmal.
Ultimately, these survivors congregate in the hopes that there is more potency in
numbers, and the once individual god becomes communal. Needless to say, a religion
which sets so much store by an illusory being is anything but stable. Indeed, what fruit
can be born by an unnourished tree? This is a religion of fear, stabilized by the institution
of a hierarchy, such that a mediator may preside over the affairs of people and deem them
righteous. It is a religion bequeathed to the next coeval who would bear the mantle of
their father to the weeping and gnashing of teeth. This, though I call it a religion, is not.
This is an antiphon intoned by pews of men who invoke an unobservable and improbable
entity, such that some perplexing phenomena in this precarious world may be elucidated
by it. It is an institution founded on assumption and the claims of gluttonous and
hypocritical men. It is archaic. Such ideas arose long ago when the hours of darkness
masked a monster in every shadow. The primitive and anonymous men who paraded the
Earth bore inane skulls, ascribing supernatural origins to purely physical incidents.
Assuredly, the pious ignoramuses who set much store by antiquated beings are no better
than the Palaeolithic men of yore. Like the antiphons they echo, these fearful men are
mindless and restricted.
Nonetheless, this primitive religion is but a rung on a stepladder. Its downfall is
in its self-orientation. Man perceives himself as complex and sophisticated, but given
that his animalian contemporaries display no sign of language or civilization one can
hardly blame him. In truth, however, man is but a confused primate who, given a little
knowledge assumes that he is omniscient. What a laugh his creator must enjoy! Imagine,
a father overseeing his child’s play. See him chuckle as he observes his child rise over
his blocks and fantasize that he is a giant. What makes man complex and sophisticated is
not the self but the relationships between the selves. Though he remains fallible and
mortal, his sapling finds root in these rapports and bears him fruit. They instil in him a
desire for guidance, love, and support, and when he cannot find it in his fellow man he
turns to his god. Thus the social, or more accurately the moral conception of god is
discovered. This is a god of providence, who shares an intimate connection with his
oeuvres. This is a protecting god, a loving god. This is a god seen not so much as a
master, but as a father, a god who loves and cherishes life; the comforter in sorrow and
unsatisfied longing. To him we entrust our souls when we die. This is the religion of the
erudite gentleman.
Generally, it can be said that the religion of fear evolves into the religion of
morality, and that the primitive man becomes interconnected. One can be so bold as to
examine a genealogy of religion and observe that all of its branches are an intermingling
of these two notions, with one demarcation: that on the higher levels of social life the
religion of morality predominates. Common to these boughs, contrawise, is the idea of
the anthropomorphic god, that is to say, a god such as that in Michelangelo, whose
persona is analogous to man’s. This, though an agreeable delineation, is the fountain of
many problems, which, like water, are pliant and adaptable. I am speaking, of course,
about science.
Science is the study of the natural world and the phenomena that are often
concealed from the naked eye. Science orates that through systematic observation and
experiment one may perceive, or in the very least ascertain these phenomena. In essence,
it is a quest for knowledge, with many brave knights to its name. But as blue-blooded as
it is, science appears to maintain an irreconcilable antagonism towards religion. Potent as
this enmity may seem, it is truly nothing more than a sibling rivalry. Religion and
Science are the brainchildren of subconscious desires, though while Religion was raised
as a prince his younger, jealous brother was conceived little over three-hundred years
ago, with the rebirth of Greco-Roman ideology. It was then that man began to turn away
from the mediating bodies of religion and pursue more humanist endeavours, specifically,
the teaching of classical concepts to further man’s development. Texts and manuscripts,
once hidden one the top shelf of civilisation, were taken down and translated. The
invention of printing with movable type provided an additional impetus to humanism
through the dissemination of classical thought. Thus, the apparent disparity between the
two siblings is the conception of man. While the elder brother preaches of man’s
fallibility, the more youthful preaches of his grandeur. What man wants to be humbled,
even before his god? Thus science began to take shape: from the recesses of speculation
the experimental method emerged. From the primordial waters of the supernatural arose
the mathematization of nature. No longer would scientific papers be left to collect dust,
but put to practical uses. But above all other deviations would be the establishment of an
institution, a scientific institution where great minds could convene and exchange their
trials and successes. This would be the future of mankind-this, the forbear of the age of
enlightenment, and the industrial revolution.
It seems, therefore, that religion and science are analogous to lichens, in that the
two siblings swathe the mind, coercing it to regard the world within the precincts of the
colour and thickness of the lichen. Science's dispassionate stare is a centrifugal
viewpoint that cogitates issues in a public manner, constructing a network of
interdependent ideas and theories that progressively expose the complex as an outcome of
the simple. Religion, contrawise, is inward-oriented stance that is more undisclosed, and
builds up a network of conflicting ideas that conceal ignorance under a cloak of high-
flown yet empty prose. Thus, only individuals of exceptional endowments, and
exceptionally high-minded communities, provide any testimony to a higher reality.
In this sense, Science reveals where religion conceals. Where religion purports to
explain, it actually resorts to tautology. As sound as any intellectual can make an
argument, the most palpable statement is that all things are attributed to God. This,
Science feels, is an admission of ignorance dressed deceitfully as an explanation.
Science, with its publicly accessible corpus of information and its open, scrutable
arguments, can lead the wondering to an understanding of the entire physical world.
In this, we perceive the greatest difference between Religion and Science.
Science testifies that the physical world wholly constructs the universe. What cannot be
measured cannot be proven. A soul? What is a soul but a reflection of the human
condition? Needless to say, any notion of a divine being is rejected.
But here is where we see that Science and Religion are not polar opposites. It is
because they are considered modes of thought that they conflict. But religion and science
are not modes of thought, merely modes of exploration. Science deals with careful
scrutiny and measurement in a controlled environment, Religion deals with deliberation
and the morals of being. Modes of thought concern themselves with perception, and it is
because Religion perceives an anthropomorphic god and science perceives that
everything is measurable that they argue, just as brothers do when one perceives the other
wrong and vice versa. Science fits well in the genealogy of Religion. For is there not a
period between discoveries when laws are held ultimate?
But where does God fit in this family tree? Is He in the leaves, that is, the people?
Is He in the branches, the culture? Is He in the trunk, the Church? Or is He in the roots,
our subconscious? The answer is no, because He is not in only one but all. God is
omnipresent, and for this reason he cannot be pictured in an anthropomorphic manner. A
more accurate conception of God is the cosmic conception. Like the cosmos, God
extends throughout the entire universe. Whether there is more to the universe than the
physical world cannot be said, but whether God presides wholly over the known is
unquestionable. But that is not to say that one cannot question it. In questioning, we
evolve. By observing and classifying the where, when, and what of the world, one hopes
to ascertain the how. But one never seems to take it beyond the how to the why and to
the Who. Perhaps, if one would contemplate the Who further, one might discover the
answers to these questions and others.
-Giuseppe Castiglione