In order to help solve problems of the kind noted earlier, our new religion must possess certain features.
The religion has to be suited to our times. Real and relevant issues must be recognized and addressed in a practical manner.
The religion must be rationally based. Modern-day living is founded upon knowledge discovered by rational thinking; to begin irrational speculation when developing a religion would simply not be sensible. In crafting our definition of a universal purpose to guide development of a new religion, the definition must assume as little as possible, be as logical as possible, and be based upon the best of current knowledge.
Our choice of religious purpose must satisfy the same criteria that all religious purposes must fulfill—universality and timelessness. To have ubiquitous appeal it must be universally meaningful and applicable. To survive and guide our way into the future it must be soundly based and have longevity. It must, in effect, apply to and connect not just humanity, but all organisms living at any time and in any galaxy, just as some existing religions intimate their ideologies apply.
Our new religion must embrace and support our emotional needs as well as our rational needs. We are creatures of both worlds, responding to feelings and concepts of spirituality that our body’s emotions generate, as well as to the logic upon which our minds operate and thrive. Our religion’s vision needs aspects of both dimensions—music, art, feelings, emotions, awe and wonder must heighten and colour, and coexist with, rational truth.
The guidelines and teachings of the new religion must be logically derivable from its purpose. If, to guide our moral decision making, a universal purpose is indeed formulated from Life’s “meta-purpose,” then the guidelines we later develop must all emanate from the desire to achieve this purpose. Thus, we cannot, for example, simply proclaim an unfounded “it-is-wrong-to-xxxxx” commandment. An analysis of the links between the consequences of any particular action and the religion’s overall purpose must clearly and logically show why each behaviour is deemed “wrong” or “right.” We are developing an abstract environment which increasingly rational minds in the future will explore to its limits; if not rationally built, then this environment will collapse.
Our new religion cannot be developed by only one individual—there is too much to construct and too much at stake. Its development must be crafted by many, particularly those who possess relevant knowledge: theologians and scientists, managers and workers, people who practice many disciplines, those who tread many lands, and members of many cultures. It must begin as it must continue, involving all who want to contribute to the future welfare of the supersystem Life that supports us.
The religion’s development cannot end. Being knowledge-based and rationally structured, its tenets must continuously be amended as our knowledge base enlarges. Only our assumed meta-purpose, if properly composed, should resist the need for change. It should be a statement that lasts forever.
Ways must be found to separate religious power from legislated power, and legislated power must take precedence. The mental constructs that religions build may overrule logic in the minds of some and create fanatics; it must be made impossible for such individuals to seize control. (And legislated power should be refereed by the electorate, for it is individuals who contribute to Life’s continuation and evolution, not the state.) When disputes arise, such as the economic vs. moral dilemma that patent laws create, the populace must decide how they wish to proceed if democracy is to be preserved.
The new religion, for reasons that apply to all institutions, must incorporate defences against being exploited. Open debate and welcomed questioning, transparency, frequent internal and external audits, auditors that change every few years, leaders that are regularly replaced, and precautionary measures of many other kinds must be developed and maintained. The power commanded by a position within the hierarchy serving the needs of a universal religion will always attract some who would position personal gain over Life’s gain.
The envisaged universal religion would not replace or usurp existing religions. It is proposed as an umbrella doctrine, developed to cover gaps that existing faiths may leave open. (The religion most closely resembles a universal “Hippocratic Oath.” This oath does not prevent any one in the medical profession from being Christian, Muslim, Hindu or otherwise. It says nothing about the afterlife and little about God, but it does say much of what needs to be said about how to conduct oneself in an ethical manner.)
A universal religion would not unite the world to form one nation, just as other religions do not unite individuals to form one entity. There is as great a need for singularity among nations as there is for individuality among individuals. Life’s advancement is fostered by diversity; uniformity merely sustains life in between advances. (For this reason, any universal religion must accept the existence of other “universal religions.” But that is another story—there are no others at the moment, and the future will take care of that need, when the time arises!)
Doubtlessly our new religion could have many other characteristics, but the above list should suffice for our purposes.
- A religion built rationally might more effectively be sold emotionally. Humans respond to both to varying degrees. But beware of loss of integrity, and let rationality be present and dominate at every stage of its presentation.
- Democracy forms one corner of civilization’s foundation. In a democracy, the direction in which civilization heads is a matter for the population to decide. It also determines the apex, the purpose to be used when writing society’s governing laws. The population, in democracies, has always placed religion in this position.