We had the pleasure of seeing The Book of Mormon last week which is a wonderful satire of religion in the form of a Broadway musical. The evolution of the relations between the Mormons and the Ugandans gives some nice insights into “human development” and what can be thought of as “white privilege”. The Mormons will go back to a safe place while the Ugandans remain in a country terrorised by religious and tribal warlords. The stakes are much higher for the Ugandans in relation to any affiliations they choose, while the Mormons have a return ticket to Salt Lake City.
There are some good insights into the foundations of religion, at least at the sociological and historical level. How best to meet human beings spiritual needs is a very different question to enquiring into the motivations of the founders and the spiritual / ideological foundations of organised religions. The foundational periods of the world religions are so far back in time and so shrouded in myth it is difficult to clearly see them at the moment of their formation. An additional question is what documents survived to tell us about the foundation moment – were critical documents destroyed, were “fake news” propaganda documents written down much later, etc.?
This is why I love Mormonism and Scientology – the foundation moment is so recent that there are plenty of observers out there who were and are able to provide real time commentary on the character and beliefs of the founders and on the subsequent institutional evolution of the “church” founded in their name. It is all very well to say of religion that it provides community and welfare for its adherents but if these positive features are built on a gimcrack fantasy set of beliefs is this a fair trade off – modest psychological security in exchange for blind obedience to potentially dangerous and anti-scientific beliefs? Perhaps we can look back at Galileo and Darwin and think – that was a long time ago, – but the conservative religious are those most easily duped into believing global warming does not exist. Jesus F. Christ you people.