One of the ironies of Religion is that so much of IT has been started by individuals and maintained by people with no Belief in any god.
Abraham, the OT/Tanahk tells us, arose out of Ur "with his gods". He did not start Monotheism, he was polytheistic, like most people trying to explain things they did not understand.
Buddha initiated the 2d great "Religion". 2500 years ago, Buddha denounced the concept of divinity--from Hindu hordes of spirits to the idea of a single omnipotent god. As for the idea of Heaven or Hell, or having a "relationship with God" he taught spirituality without referencing such absurd concepts.
Jesus, whose name is suspiciously Latin, was never worshiped as a god by any of the people who actually "witnessed" him, the Jews and a few Samaritans. After his death, Christianity spread peacefully throughout the collapsing Roman Empire.
Mohammed repeatedly gainsays his own divinity. Yet his followers idolize him and boldly disobey the words of the Allah conveyed in the Quran. Terrorists clearly reject "Islam", which is submission. Virtually all suicide and roadside bombers today purport to act in the name of Islam, but all have failed to show ANY directive from Allah to do what they do. The Quran promises no "virgins" for an assassin's pleasure in Heaven. Allah is described as a creator, including Jews and Gentiles, and that investment is contradicted by the act of murder.
Buddhism grew from a tiny religious community in northern India into a movement that spans the globe. This happened peacefully. When Arabs came into contact with Buddhism, they stopped their initial expansion by the sword. Islam immediately enjoyed a much bigger expansion peacefully--through India and all the way to Indonesia--than it had previously taken by force across the thinly populated desert of northern Africa.
Mormonism, remarkably similar to Islam in its formation and growth pattern, has also grown considerably. From a divinely-inspired but violent origin, its practitioners took up the practical arts and crafts and spread across the globe.
It is as if we come full circle. Abraham unites us all as "lost tribes" with no common language and makes us all one tribe moving to new places. Buddha points us toward serenity and a satisfying life. Other thinkers add the idea of Love (Jesus), peaceful submission (Mohammed), and community building (LDS).
And now we are back to trying to understand each other, from different tribes and different tongues, to find our common tribe. And no one has claimed to have heard from any god, of any ilk, for a hundred years. There are still individuals who invoke Religion and then commit un-saintly acts, none of which are justified by any Scripture. While several Religions have experienced paroxysms of violence, not one of the four great Religions has expanded significantly as a result of violence.
And not one of the deistic cults claims to have any evidence of any recent communication. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all invoke the SAME deity (arguably or intermittently Yahweh/Jehovah/God/Allah/Ishtar). All of their "Scriptures" are presaged by stories written on clay tablets by those people in Ur who worshiped a female trinity symbolized by the thin crescent moon on a green field. This round gently-curved breast symbol is now ironically and alternatively usurped as a symbol of Allah, and the Virgin Mary.
We are all Buddhists. We are all Unitarian Universalists, even if many of us do not know it. We are all the Lost Tribes of Israel, found our way home together even IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY PILLAR OF FIRE! We are the devoted Saints in the presence of each other. We sanctify what we do not destroy.
I urge all Religious Believers to attend: Almost all Belief is contrary to almost all Religious Tradition.
- Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable. I am filled with joy. It can't be helped.
Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired. Filled, just filled, with Joy.