KosherTorah School for Biblical, Judaic & Spiritual Studies
The Evolution of Religion
by Ariel B Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
Note: Forms divide, essence unites. Torah is a psychological archetype. Lessons of Torah speak about the collective psychology of all humanity. And yes, the same can be said about many of the world's faiths.
“Everything has its
moment, and there is a time for everything under the heaven.” (Ecc. 3:1)
It is a known fact of life, everything changes. Nothing ever stays the same. This is true with every physical thing, and it is also true with regards to emotions, thoughts, and ideas. What we feel, and think today will almost inevitably be different tomorrow, and if not literally tomorrow, then some day in the future.
Change is inevitable because change is natural. The flow of change marks the movement of time. Everything in space changes, and time marks these changes. This is the nature of our space/time continuum. Change is fundamental to all things in existence.
Change, a natural phenomenon that affects everything, also dominates every sphere of human existence. Within this context, let me state a natural, and what should be obvious truth, religious ideas, beliefs, and doctrines are also subject to change. They change all the time, just like everything else in human experience, and in the universe.
Religion often has problems with change. Religion proclaims that its beliefs are Divine revelations, and that they come to Earth from God in Heaven, which is conveniently described as being outside the universe. Therefore, because they come from God, and God in Heaven is above creation, then so too are religious beliefs above the universe. Thus, they are not subject to the natural flow of change that affects everything in the universe.
close examination of this belief, one can quickly see that there is no logic in
it. Such belief might properly be considered foolish. Rationally speaking, a
belief of this type is subject to many questions, and contradictions. Of course,
many of the religious faithful cling to ridiculous beliefs, regardless of
however illogical or foolish they may be. That is, after all, how they define
faith in general. The sincerely religious, by contrast, value truth, and logic.
Part of their faith is to believe in, accept, and embrace the gifts of
intelligence, and wisdom that we are endowed with by our Creator.
beliefs exist in the universe, regardless of where they come originate.
Therefore, they are as subject to evolution, and change, as is everything else
in the universe. The sincere religious believer sees this, knows this, embraces
this, and evolves in his/her faith, as discovery leads to change. For the
sincere religious believer, it is an insult to faith to think that God would act
in any way ridiculous, or to expect any intelligent, and thinking human being to
accept that which is illogical, or foolish.
Unfortunately, religious individuals are not equally sincere. Many religious believers seek to live in a fantasy world of their own design. Many proclaim that their religious beliefs transcend time and, therefore, are never subject to change. They cling to a singular vision, pay no attention to anything outside of this narrow viewpoint, and seem not to care that the world passes them by. We thus have two types of religious believers, those sincerely honest, and those who are not.
insincerity can be defined as clinging to worn-out, old forms of religion, and
denying God's natural order of progress for the universe. If those who embrace
this path were to live alone, by themselves, isolated from the world, then they
could maintain their fantasy, and not be bothered by the world, or be a bother
to the world. Unfortunately, no such isolation exists. Those who live in their
own fantasy worlds come into active, daily conflict with the rest of the world.
The mere existence of a world that disagrees with their narrow viewpoint is, for
many, a challenge to faith that cannot be tolerated.
Yet, no such conflicts with reality disturb the faith of the sincerely religious. When the conflict between reality, and faith confront the sincerely religious, they investigate the conflict, and seek to resolve it in the best way possible. This process of resolution is how religious ideas, and beliefs grow, and mature.
when certain segments of the religious community refuse to address the conflict,
and instead deny reality, clinging to their faith even more so, this creates
further conflict with those not of their persuasion. This type of religious
individual is what we refer to as a fundamentalist.
The fundamentalist is incapable of change, evolution, growth, and maturity. The fundamentalist, and his/her faith, are both unnatural in that they defy the natural order of change, and evolution. What the fundamentalist believes is faithfulness to God is, in actuality, the most basic form of rebellion against Him.
Human civilization has evolved. So too has human consciousness. As similar as things are today to four thousand years ago, nevertheless the differences between now and then are far more than the similarities. Society, and the human race has evolved. The way we lived four thousand years ago is not the way that we live today. The way we thought four thousand years ago is not the way that we think today. This is also true of two thousand years ago, one thousand years ago, five hundred years ago, and even one hundred years ago. Whether we like it or not, time marches on, and we march on along with it.
It is no revelation that understandings of religion are in a constant state of movement, and change. Close to two thousand years ago, the Sages held a core belief that the Torah spoke in the language of man. In other words, the Sages knew and understood that the Torah itself, which they firmly believed came down to Earth from Heaven, was still subject to interpretive change in accordance to our constant changes in life, and circumstance. They understood that the original form of the Torah was chosen to be applicable to the individuals of their day, and that this form served as an archetype from which all future interpretations would be based. While the Torah is considered eternal, and unchangeable, this applies only to its essence, not to its multitude of forms (interpretations).
of old had the wisdom to see from the past, through the present, and into the
future. They created a chain of Torah interpretations (Mesorah) that connected
the ancient past, to the far distant future. Any Torah interpretations linked to
this chain is thus considered connected to the original Sinai revelation.
Anything that deviates from this chain of tradition is considered outside, and
How a view of Torah is considered linked to this chain is, of course, a matter of great controversy. Both, the attached, and the unattached, claim authenticity. The sincere, inquiring mind, therefore, demands a solid investigation of the claims, and the facts relating to them. Upon investigation one will discover that the claims of both the far left, and the far right have equally disconnected themselves from the authentic chain of Torah, which, since Biblical times, has always run down the center.
everything changes, but change is not haphazard, chaotic, and without direction.
Change is evolutionary. Change is ever forward moving. We may not see this
progress with our limited human vision. But from the higher perspective of
overall human history, our progress becomes apparent. Progressive, positive
change, and growth was programmed into the Torah from its inceptions. We have
thousands of years of records to verify this flow of change, and growth.
Religion, like everything else on Earth, naturally must progressively change,
grow, and evolve. This is the way of nature, and nature's Creator.
of our individual pasts, we were younger than we are today. In times of our
youth, we acted in youthful ways, thought youthful thoughts, and did youthful
things. When we matured and grew up, we put aside childish ways and began to
think, and act like adults. We may remember with fondness our youthful ways, but
we do not return to them. We remember their limitations. We see today with the
eyes of an adult, and thus can never go backwards to the narrow vision that we
embraced when we were less mature.
As it is in the life of each individual, so too is it in the life of each religion. We have learned much, and moved forward. It is unnatural, and very unhealthy to stay in the past, oblivious to the needs of the present, or worse, to act in defiance against the present, denying its legitimacy.
Time marches forward, as God designed. One will not prosper by embracing a path that is contrary to nature, and nature's Creator. One who wishes to walk with God must move along with the revelations, and progress that God blesses us with. This alone is religious sincerity. Time marches forward, never backwards. God has a plan. Ultimately, God's plan for humanity will be fulfilled. Those who walk towards it will eventually reach it, and embrace it. Those who continue to resist it will inevitably be left behind. If we march forward, together, along with God, then we work together to achieve that wondrous plan for humanity's bright future.
United we must stand. United in the pursuit of truth, and the embrace of sincerity, we must walk hand-in-hand into the blessings of a Divinely guided future.
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