Religion of your choice

Please note that this page is done to 85% and therefore does not yet offer full details in all points you might be interested in. If you have suggestions on how to expand, please feel free to send me suggestions.1

One of my classmates is Muslim, my room-mate is Hindu, but what should I believe in? Pick the religion that suits you best (p.2).

Naviagtion and display hints: If you see further stuff at the end of the page, e.g. Q1: under this text, you need to shrink the height of your browser window (or your browser does not support CSS). Also if you lose the point of reading after reloading or resizing, just scroll to the beginning of the page and choose again your latest selections. If you want to print this guide, try the printable version. The numbers in parentheses refer to the page of the printed version.

Disclaimer: This page is just a simple guide that provides some information about religions. I have tried not to put too obvious preferences on particular ones. Especially the order of choices does not suggest any ranking in any kind of quality. It is sometimes a result of how to pick an answer (i.e. pick a later one if the first one does not fit). Especially you are asked to study further information about a certain religion before you make up any kind of decision. The author is not responsible for any kind of implications for your life following from decisions based entirely on information on this page. The page itself is under the GNU Free Document License. Note that big parts of information are taken from the Wikipedia the free encyclopedia (also its German version) as well as many external links there within. However this page is not hiding behind the lines of absolute neutrality, but given negative critics is supported by reliable sources (e.g. the Wikipedia links).


1 e-mail address: melchiorG@gMail.com.

Q1: How many gods do you like?

Q2: What is your cultural heritage? If you can't find your heritage here or the claimed religion is not yours, it does not mean it is unimportant. It could just be I categorized it into different group, I don't know enough about it (p.1; or I assumed your religion is polytheistic, p.17).

Christianity

One thing is for sure, you follow The Holy Bible and take your morals from there or its interpretation(s). You should however also have a look into the following comments about it. Last but not least I need to warn of the illusion of "Intelligent Design" (former Creationism) (middle of p.14).

Q4: To distinguish which version of Christianity you follow, pick from the following list:


Islam

The five pillars of Islam are (formulated for Sunnies, 85% of moslems):

The most important law for muslims beside the Qur'an is the Shariah (lit. path to the watering place), a thousand years old book that is supposed to express the Divine will, but needs to be interpreted. A particular problem with Islamic law is that it does not distinguish between church and state and thus gives monarchic-like "guarding power" to the Ayatollah Uzma (Great Sign of God, e.g. in Iran). However some Islamic countries, like Turkey, have already done reformation towards a laicistic state (separation of state and religion).

Apostasy (Arabic: ارتداد, irtidād or ridda‎) - commonly defined as the rejection of Islam in word or deed by a person who has been a Muslim - is prohibited and punishable by death.

Islam and Women

The basic unit of Islamic society is the family, and Islam defines the obligations and legal rights of family members. Muslim-majority countries give women varying degrees of rights with regards to marriage, divorce, civil affairs, legal status, dress code, and education. A man may have up to four wives if he believes he can treat them equally, while a woman may have only one husband. Starting in the 20th century, Muslim social reformers argued against this and other practices, with varying success. A woman's share of inheritance is generally half of that of a man with the same rights of succession.

Scholars agree that a woman should act and dress in a way that does not draw sexual attention to her when she is in the presence of someone of the opposite sex. Some scholars specify which areas of the body must be covered; most of these require that everything besides the face and hands be covered, and some require all but the eyes to be covered, using garments such as chadors or burqas. Most mainstream scholars say that men, in contrast, should cover themselves from the navel to the knees.

According to a Sunni hadith, the punishment for committing rape is death, there is no sin on the victim, nor is there any worldly punishment ascribed to her. However, the stringent requirements for proof of rape under some interpretations of Islamic law, combined with cultural attitudes regarding rape in some parts of the Muslim world, result in few rape cases being reported; even the cases brought forward typically result in minimal punishment for offenders or severe punishment for victims.

Honor killings (murders, nearly exclusively of women, of persons who are perceived as having brought dishonor to their families, e.g. by pre-marriage adultery or liaision outside the family's aknowledgement) are sanctioned in Iran's and Afghanistan's penal codes in which it is legal or lightly punished. Many Muslim scholars and commentators say that honor killings are a cultural practice. No age limits have been fixed by Islam for marriage. Though it is said that women should not be married under the age of nine. Islamic jurists have traditionally held that Muslim women may only enter into marriage with Muslim men, although some contemporary jurists question the basis of this restriction. Husbands are asked to be kind to their wives and wives are asked to be obedient to their husbands. A woman needs her husband's permission to leave home, though general permission is sufficient for routine trips. The rules for talaq (divorce) vary among the major Islamic schools. For both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, the right to demand a divorce is primarily for men.

rem: Female genital cutting has been associated with Islam, but in fact is practiced almost exclusvely in Africa and in certain areas has acquired a religious dimension.


If you don't believe me, read for yourself in the Wikipedia pages or ask organizations like International Council of Women, Amnesty International or Human Right's Watch.
Beside these Islam is a modern and warm religion and there is hope for a further modernization from movements like the Alevi.


Buddhism

Some fundamentals can be stated right away:

Q3: So now let us ask which kind of Buddhism you want to follow.

Well, if after all that meditation you feel a bit empty and ask yourself what you meditate for or why it is you that has to follow this way, you should either continue meditation (and hope for enlightenment) or watch out for the flying spaghetti monster (p.24).


Sikhism

Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the Idian subcontinent in the province Punjab. Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a saint-soldier (Sant-Sipāhī). This includes to love God, meditate on God, keep God in the heart, feel God's nearness and also be strong, courageous and ready to fight to protect weak people from the cruel and unjust. Some of the things forbidden are:

  1. Cutting hair: Cutting hair is strictly forbidden in Sikhism. Sikhs are required to keep unshorn hair.
  2. Intoxication: Consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other intoxicants is not allowed. Intoxicants are strictly forbidden for a Sikh. However the Nihangs of Punjab take an infusion of cannabis to assist meditation.
  3. Blind spirituality: Superstitions and rituals should not be observed or followed, including pilgrimages, fasting and ritual purification; circumcision; idols & grave worship; compulsory wearing of the veil for women; etc.
  4. Material obsession: Obsession with material wealth is not encouraged in Sikhism.
  5. Sacrifice of creatures: The practice of sati (widows throwing themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands), ritual animal sacrifice to celebrate holy occasions, etc. are forbidden.
  6. Non-family-oriented living: A Sikh is encouraged not to live as a recluse, beggar, yogi, monastic (monk/nun) or celibate. Sikhs are to live as saint-soldiers.
  7. Worthless talk: Bragging, lying, slander, "back-stabbing", etc. are not permitted. The Guru Granth Sahib tells the Sikh, "Your mouth has not stopped slandering and gossiping about others. Your service is useless and fruitless."
  8. Priestly class: Sikhism does not have priests; they were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh (the 10th Guru of Sikhism). The only position he left was a Granthi to look after the Guru Granth Sahib, any Sikh is free to become Granthi or read from the Guru Granth Sahib.
  9. Eating meat killed in a ritualistic manner (Kutha meat): Sikhs are strictly prohibited from eating meat from animals slaughtered in a religiously prescribed manner (such as dhabihah or shechita, known as Kutha meat, when the animal is killed by exsanguination via throat-cutting), or any meat where langar is served. The meat eaten by Sikhs is known as Jhatka meat.
  10. Having extramarital sexual relations.

Jainism

Some important facts are:

  1. Jainism arose as a counter direction against the sacrifices and strict rituals in India around -500. Its main philosophy is ahimsa – non-violence, which includes all beings to a degree depending on their number of senses (from 1 to 5). So being a strict follower, you have to be vegan (not eating animals and not causing pain to them by winning milk or eggs). Also you should kill plants only to the amount that you can eat them.
  2. Satya – truth; you are required to always speak the truth, except in order to avoid violence.
  3. Asteya – don't take any things that are not willingly offered. Attempting to exort material wealth from others or to exploit the weak is considered theft.
  4. Brahmacharya – control over the senses, up to refraining from sexual activity
  5. Aparigraha – non-possessiveness, including non-detachment to people, places and material things. Thus ascetics should completely renounce property and social relations.
  1. syād-asti — in some ways, it is;
  2. syād-nāsti — in some ways, it is not;
  3. syād-asti-nāsti — in some ways, it is, and it is not;
  4. syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ — in some ways, it is, and it is indescribable;
  5. syād-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ — in some ways, it is not, and it is indescribable;
  6. syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ — in some ways, it is, it is not, and it is indescribable;
  7. syād-avaktavyaḥ — in some ways, it is indescribable.

Well, if you understand that, you can go straight to quantum theory and dive into the particle-wave duality.

If after a whole day of ascetic life you are looking forward to a delicious spaghetti a la carbonara, I have to disappoint you. Vegan life forbids meat, also noodles are only allowed without eggs. Maybe you should rather look for the flying spaghetti monster (p.24).


Orthodox Church

Similar to the Western Christian Church (p.4) you also believe in the Holy Bible and analogous to the Catholic church in the true belief being handed down the generations since St. Paul. You should thus also have a look into the following comments about the bible. As a difference you assume that the true church, founded by Christus and his Apostels is your church of true believers (orthodox). Unlike the Catholic church in Germany, however, your church has adapted to the local customs and traditions. And so the bible was taught in the local language already since early times. The schism from the Western Catholic church appeared in the 11th century. Since then the head of your church is no longer the pope, but the patriarch of the country you were born in. In total you are somewhere between the Catholic and Anglican churches. Concerning fasting however, you can plan to spend about half of the year with fasting to different degrees.

Q3: In order to decide to which Orthodox church you belong, you need to ask for your place of birth:


Religions from the New World (USA)

There is a bunch of religions or sects that emerged in the new world, where freedom of religion is so much important, that you can even follow evil spirits and donate them your efforts, money, or afterlife. So learn more about your options and choose wisely.

Q2:

Intelligent Design (former Creationism)

There are people who believe that the complexity of life on earth or even the "Crown of all" (homo sapiens sapiens) cannot develop from simple organic molecules and thus must have been designed by an intelligent designer. In simple words all the world, all species, including mankind have been created. Fortunately a US court ruled that Creationism, as a purely religious belief, must not be taught at schools, which have entirely scientific and cultural, but not religious duties in teaching.

The story could have ended here if all the followers had invested their time in studying Darwin's clever ideas On the Origin of Species instead of writing lengthy pamphlets about the Divine origin of species. In one sentence the moderator for evolution is selection among mutated species, by the mechanism of the survival of the fittest. If you wish more details about this theory on an easy understandable level watch out for material from Richard Dawkins, such as the video "The Genius of Charles Darwin". Not only comes this theory without any kind of intelligent designer - a homunculus argument, because you then need another theory, of much more difficult background, where the designer comes from - moreover it explains why so many species are so similar and have so many mostly useless things (32 teeth, tail bone, mini evolution in uterus, …) in common. Moreover if you follow the history of species and wonder why so many of them are extinct (dinosaur, graptolites, …), you should rather talk of an idiotic design.

Unfortunately the story goes on and the former Creationists regathered under the umbrella of "Intelligent Design". Knowing that religion cannot be taught at US schools, they are trying their theory as a scientific theory and enforce its teaching in biology and lectures about local history. To make it brief, due to the already mentioned problems this ID is not even useful as a scientific theory. Even if it were true, its knowledge would be almost useless, because it does not explain how the designer creates the species, what purpose or goals. The answer to these questions for evolution is simply to live, survive and multiply better.


Scientology

The Church of Scientology teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten about their true nature. The method of spiritual rehabilitation is a kind of counselling known as auditing and the goal is to become an operating thetan where you then can use all the incredible powers people once possessed. This process of cleaning is also supposed to be successful in freeing you from diseases such as drug addiction, criminal intents, homosexuality, or resistance to education.

The religion/ enterprise was founded by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard and the top story (part of the Space Opera) is that of the galaxy evil-doer Xenu who used millions of H-bombs (not homosexuals, but hydrogene fusion bombs) to destroy a planet. Many people who left Scientology report of an expensive training program you have to pay for and of different levels of observation/ control and punishment as you either rise in the hirarchy or try to do apostasy. As a follower of Scientology you are forbidden to talk to such Suppressive Persons.

Please note that the difference between Scientology and science is even bigger than the difference between science and (good) science fiction. As a much better science fiction author I recommend Gene Roddenberry.

New Age Spirituality

It started with a group of dropouts in the 1960ies who were frustrated by the more complicated world in the middle of the Cold War, with Hard Core Communism in the one half (like Eastern Europe and Asia except for Japan, South Korea and India) and young Capitalism on the other half (like in Western Europe and Northern America). Quite some countries got grounded up in the surrogate wars, such as in Southern/Middle America, Central Asia and Africa. What seemed progressive on one side (Communism, freer economy, …), was condemned as infernal on the other side (dictatorship, revanchist imperialism, fascism, propaganda, …). Rightfully many people protested against the militarization of the world where they could (mostly in the Western world where free speech was more tolerated, but also secretly in the eastern world where on its borders censorship was never complete). The freedom movement had very concrete and humane goals in the beginning. On the other hand while looking for alternative morals they were also spreading out to discover alternative living styles such as transpersonal psychology, holistic health movement with some of the most commont technics acupuncture (originated in traditional Chinese medicine), biofeedback (a funny game of matching numbers), chiropractic (the right massage can stimulate everything), yoga (Indian origin), kinesiology (not to be mistaken for kinematics as described by Galilei), homeopathy (from an age where germs as the origins of classical diseases were completely unknown), iridology (reading of the spirit in the patterns of the iris) and others. Closely related are also crystal healing (with the aura of stones), chromotherapy (the healthy influence of colors) and reincarnation therapy (this is indirect suicide as the name suggests). While it is easy to produce “wisdoms” such as Ionizing electrons with a simple computer program it may take a handful of scientists a couple of years to completely debunk a 5 minute speech of a “New Age Scientist”. The reason is that these gurus reject rationalism and the scientific method and instead generate medical therapies from fantastic inspirations. As I wrote on the top of the page, better science fiction can be found in good TV series, also better fantasy can be found in recent and contemporary literature, such as Terry Pratchett. The advantage of science is not that it pays scientists, but that the scientific method (together with peer review) eliminates most mistakes in hypotheses over the time. So you better think hard whether you really want to base the cure of a potentially fatal disease on “Alternative Medicines” or on evidence based therapies.


Mormonism

… to be continued. In the mean time you can have a look at Wikipedia's entry about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A few aspects are:

Amish People

… to be continued. In the mean time you can have a look into Wikipedia's article about Amish people. Some facts are

Judaism

You worthvalue intellectuals a lot, philosophical arguments and conclusions have a long tradition in your (people's) culture. Due to a large tolerance of many followers of your religion you don't see an immediate sacrileg in people questioning religion and traditions.

Even though the Europeans often considered you(r people) as odd, because your religion is different from theirs, you had (and have) important contributions to the progress of their culture, society and economy. The really bad things happened when something in Europe went wrong (or looked unfair), because then your hosts decided to turn hostile against everything different from themselves. That costed lives of million of Jews.

One point to think self-critically about. Don't make the same / similar mistakes as the Europeans, when dealing with your neighbors (in South-western Asia).


Polytheism

Compared to European, South-Asian or South-American history these might be the older and more natural versions of religion.

Q2: Depending on your cultural heritage you might look for one of the following:


Hinduism

Some of the fundamentals under the rule of Shiva are:

reincarnation
to be reborn (samsara) in a new body after death. A person desires to be born, because [s]he wants to enjoy worldly pleasures. Worldly pleasures are not sinful, but can never bring deep, ever-lasting happiness or peace. After many rebirths every person eventually becomes dissatisfied with this limited happiness that worldly pleasures can bring.
Karma
means "deed" or "act" and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction that governs all life. It is also considered to be a spiritually originated law. Karma is not punishment or retribution but simply an extended expression or consequence of natural acts.
Moksha
is the salvation from samsara, the cycle of rebirth and death. It can be attained only through spiritual experience.
Yoga
means method to reach moksha. There are several:
  • Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion)
  • Karma Yoga (the path of right action)
  • Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation)
  • Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom)
Pilgrimage
is not mandatory in Hinduism, though many adherents undertake them. Hindus recognise several Indian holy cities.
Cows
are holy. This means you can buy, feed and milk a cow. But you may not slaughter it. As a result most old cows that do not give milk any longer are driven away/ outcast and wander through the countryside seeking for food.
Jati
the caste system. Under the Jati system, a person is born into a Jati with ascribed social roles and endogamy, i.e. marriages take place only within that Jati. There are seven Jatis:
  1. collective body of the Philosophers, which in point of number is inferior to the other classes, but in point of dignity preeminent over all.
  2. Farmers are the most numerous class of Indians; they have no use for warlike arms or warlike deeds, but they till the land; and they pay the taxes to the kings and to the cities, such as are self-governing; and if there is internal war among the Indians, they may not touch these workers, and not even devastate the land itself; but some are making war and slaying all comers, and others close by are peacefully ploughing or gathering the fruits or shaking down apples or harvesting.
  3. Herdsmen, pasturers of sheep and cattle, dwell neither by cities nor in the villages. They are nomads and get their living on the hillsides, and they pay taxes from their animals; they hunt also birds and wild game in the country.
  4. Artisans and shopkeepers; these are workers, and pay tribute from their works, save such as make weapons of war; these are paid by the community. In this class are the shipwrights and sailors, who navigate the rivers.
  5. Soldiers' class, next after the farmers in number, have the greatest freedom and the most spirit. They practise military pursuits only. Their weapons others forge for them, and again others provide horses; others too serve in the camps, those who groom their horses and polish their weapons, guide the elephants, and keep in order and drive the chariots. They themselves, when there is need of war, go to war, but in time of peace they make merry; and they receive so much pay from the community that they can easily support others from their pay.
  6. Overlookers oversee everything that goes on in the country or in the cities; and this they report to the King, where the Indians are governed by kings, or to the authorities, where they are independent. To these it is illegal to make any false report; nor was any Indian ever accused of such falsification.
  7. deliberate abbut the community together with the King, or, in such cities as are self-governing, with the authorities. In number this class is small, but in wisdom and uprightness it bears the palm from all others; from this class are selected their governors, district governors, and deputies, custodians of the treasures, officers of army and navy, financial officers, and overseers of agricultural works.
People of different Jatis across the spectrum, from the upper castes to the lowest of castes, tended to avoid intermarriage, sharing of food and drinks, or even close social interaction with other Jatis. Moreover it is almost impossible to change the caste, it is determined by birth.

Shamanism

Shamanism emerged with the increased imagination and parental instinct of homo sapiens. While people searched for simple explanations behind everything that happend around them, most things were not apparently that simple. What a great situation for those with more imagination or special knowledge of herbs, human body, or other nature. If you know how to tell stories, you can make the people in your tribe believe almost everything and follow you against any enemy. Your only true enemy is another Shaman or someone from the modern world. You can communicate with the Spirits of deities as well as of dead people. This way you are known for divination and magic healing. But the path to become a Shaman is a hard one. You have to encounter your gravest fears and overcome your own broken soul in the initiation rituals.


Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas

Q3:

Pharaohs

Your gods are called Pharaohs and were king of the country at the same time.

… to be continued.

Shintoism (神道)

According to legend (recorded in the 712CE Kojiki) Japan was founded by the two gods Izanagi no mokoto (male) and Izanami no Mikoto (female) when they were called by all the gods and given a spear to found a new island. They dipped it into the waters and removed the drops, and the Islands of Japan arose. They lived on this island and built a palace within which was a large pole. When they wanted to bear offsprings, they performed a ritual which contained surrounding the pole in opposite directions, the male leftwards and the female rightwards, but then the female greeted the male first. They thus had two children which turned out to be bad and they cast them out. They thus decided that the ritual was performed incorrectly the first time. They repeated the ritual, but this time the male spoke first. They gave birth to eight perfect islands which are now the archipelago of Japan. Later they gave birth to the other Kami (=spirits/ gods) of Japan. At some point Izanami no Mikoto dies and Izanagi no Mikoto tries to revive her. But his attempts to deny the laws of life and death have bad consequences.

Shinto teaches that there are some deeds that cause ritual impurity and one should get cleaned of that for one's own peace of mind and good fortune. Those who are killed without being shown gratitude for their sacrifice will hold a grudge and become powerful and evil kami who seek revenge (荒神).

Shinto is honored on various levels of Japanese culture, especially the purification, e.g. when building on new ground or even during the car production. Shinto became state religion together with the revival of ancient legends in the time 1868–1945CE. Here it was also used to justify a growing nationalism including the conquering of neighbor regions for exploitation of resources and domination over the people.

There are almost no don'ts in Shinto, but you should be aware that Buddhism exists in parallel in Japan and thus, e.g. sticking your chop sticks into the bowl of rice is seen as rude (because you only do that to sacrifice the food to your ancestors).


Ancient Roman [Greek] gods

Your gods live in the Panthenon [at the Olymp]1. The father of all gods is Jovi [Zeus] the god of Thunder and heaven. He is known for its rage and fertility. His first wife was Juno [Hera], but beside this one he had many more, sometimes occured in human or animal shape to seduce beautiful women (such as …). But beside the father of all gods there were plenty more, such as Mars [Ares], Minerva [Athena], Neptune [Poseidon], or my personal favourite Bacchus [Dionysos] - god of the vine and intoxication. Unfortunately this polytheistic religion became almost forgotten after king Constantine converted to Christianity. Nevertheless when you start learning dead languages such as Latin or ancient Greek (not modern, which could actually be useful), you will certainly read about their stories. Also the rules of Greek drama are that only gods or kings are tragic enough to make a drama about them (as opposed to ordinary people). Nevetheless the gods have most of the human characteristics.

If you look for a modern religion (p.2) you will most likely have to go for a monotheistic one, because that's what happened after Constantin. But you may of course also go for Atheism (p.26) or even Communism/Socialism (p.29).


1Annotation in brackets refer to the Greek mytholgy.

Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Sure, you like fun, even when it comes to religion. That's one point of humor on your side. You should know that as a pastafari you should worship his holyness by eating pasta in numerous variations, spaghetti, tortellini, fusili, lasagne, …. You may wear your religious insignia (e.g. a pasta sieve) in public and even on official photos (as by court ruling in Austria) as other religious people do. And of course, once the true Christians have installed “Intelligent Design” in lectures of biology (or local history), you may also teach How he touches all things with his noodly appendage and influences scientific experiments the way they are predicted by theory. And don't forget that your god has the bigger balls!


Atheism

OK, so you claim to be an atheist, but what do you deny. A-theus literally means against god, but historically only related to the Christian god. On the other hand modern atheists deny the supernatural existence of any kind of god.

Q2: Moreover you need to ask yourself if you want to


Evolutionary Humanism (Brights)

"We are living in an asynchronous era: While our technology is the technology of 21st century, our world view is still dominated by thousand years old legends and mystics. This combination of highest technological know-how on the one side but naive childish creed on the other side may cause fatal consequences. We are like five-year-old children having the responsibility over a jumbo-jet." (M. Schmidt-Salomon, Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism)

If you wish to change that, you should use the knowledge won over more than 2000 years not only to build air-planes or nuclear bombs, but also to develop modern ethics and world view. "If you have Science, Art and Philosophy what do you need religion for?" (M. Schmidt-Salomon)

10 Proposals of Evolutionary Humanism

To give you an example of what can follow from modern philosophy consider these 10 proposals (Taken from "Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism" M. Schmidt-Salomon).

These ten proposals have neither been dictated by any god nor are they written in stone. No "dark cloud" should frighten us when searching for reasonable guiding lines for our life, because fear is seldomly a good guidance. It is upon everyone for themself to check those proposals free of fear and with reason, to accept, modify or generally reject them.

  1. Worship neither foreign nor domesitc "gods" (who when regarding them more carefully are nothing else than naive constructions of an ape brain), but the great ideal of the ethics, to reduce the dolor of the world! Those who claim to be very close to their "god" have mostly been those who turned far away from weal and woe of the real humankind. Do not contribute to this tragedy! Those who have science, philosophy and art do not need any religion!
  2. Be fair to your neighbors and the ones far away from you! You will not be able to love all humans, but you should respect that every human - even the one you disgust - has the right to [realize] their individual ideas of a "good life (and death) in this life", as long as they do not harm the equal valued interests of others.
  3. Do not be afraid of authorities, but have the courage to use your own brain! Remember that the power of an argument does not depend on who said it. The criterion for the truth of a statement is only by its non-contradictory and correspondence with the world of our experience. If today there are still people who argue with "god on their side", this should not make you awestruc, but laughing.
  4. You shall not lie, betray, steal, kill - except in the case of emergency when there is no other mean, to enforce the ideal of humanity! Those who did not lie under Nazi dictatorship, but told the Gestapo faithfully the hides of Jewish families, were highly unethical - as opposite to those who wanted to attempt assassination of Hitler, to save millions of human lives. To act ethically does not at all mean to follow blindly commandments or prohibitions, but to ponder the possible positive and negative consequences of a decision.
  5. Get rid of the bad habit of moralization! There is no "absolute good" or "absolute evil" on this world, only people with different interests, needs and experiences. Contribute actively to abolish the catastrophic conditions under which humans have to suffer today, and you will be surprised what friendly, creative and lovely side of the "beast" homo sapiens shows off.
  6. Do not immunize against criticism! Honest citicism is a gift you should not refuse. By this criticism you cannot lose more than your errands to which you should say farewell better today than tomorrow. Have pity with those who cannot worthvalue criticism, who call themselves "unfailable" and represent their dogms as "holy" (untouchable) due to a deep anxiety. A modern society should no longer take them serious.
  7. Do not take your ideas too serious! Things that seem correct today can be obsolete already tomorrow! But doubt also the doubt! Even though our knowledge is always limited and preliminary, you should decidedly argue for what you think is right. Nevertheless be always open for better arguments, for only in this manner you will master the small line between dogmatism and arbitrariness.
  8. Overcome the tendency to follow blindly traditions by informing thoroughly from all sides before making a decision. As human being you have an exceptionally learning brain, do not let it shrivel! Pay attention to use the same rational priciples for questions of ethics and world view as you use for your cell-phone or a computer. If mankind splits the atom and communicates via satelites, it needs the maturity for that.
  9. Carpe vitam - enjoy life, for you are most likely given only this single one! Acknowledge your and everyone's finiteness, do not supersede it, but "seize the day"! In particular the finiteness of life makes it extremely costy! Do not let anybody tell you it were a sin to be happy! Oppositely: By enjoying the freedom you have today, you honor those who died for it in the past!
  10. Put your life in service of a "more important matter", become part of the tradition of those who want(ed) to change the world to a better place for life. Such an act is not only ethically reasonable, but also the best recipies for a meaningful life. It seems that altruists are the more clever egoists, because the best fulfillment of our self-purpose is in extending it to others. If you can recognise yourself as a momentum in the "warm stream of human history" you will become happier than any possesion could make you. Intuitively you will recognise that you do not live in vain and will not have lived in vain!

The Manifoesto of Evolutionary Humanism was originally written for the Giordano Bruno Foundation in Germany. But if you are looking for a similar organization in the US look out for The Brights.


Communism and Socialism

A modern European philosopher said: "If you are 20 and no socialist, you have no heart. If you are 40 and still socialist, you have no brain." So what is that thing about Communism (or what is even Socialism)?

Karl Marx In three paragraphs, most was initiated after the publications of Karl Marx who analyzed the situation of laborers in Southern English cities at the end of the 19th century, summarized in a book called "Capital". In Western Europe it lead to the founding of Communist Parties whose idea was to put the ideal world – where everybody takes as (s)he needs and works as (s)he can for the general benefit – into political reality (see, e.g. "Communist Manifest"). This was paralleled by important improvements in the rights of laborers, regulations against child labor, further social welfare, and since mid 50ies also practically more equality for women (such as support in rising children). In some parts of Asia (Russia, China, Vietnam, …) as well as Southern America this was taken as the basis of a fundamental change in society. Most of these countries were in developing state or far away from being industrialized countries. During eras of chaos and reshaping of the society (often referred to as Communist Revolution) the Communist Party quickly rose to the dominant political power and with economic skills, expropriation of over-rich monarchic minorities, and change to more recent production technologies had these countries advance economically considerably within short time.

However, already Marx pointed out that the new political system also required new education of people. Instead of the common attitude to think about one's own benefit first, everybody needs to put the society first. But here lies the crucial problem. While every five year old child knows that it wants to have every toy it can think of, even eight year old children have difficulties in sharing their sweets with friends, not to mention strangers. Beside punishing political opponents also the education of the masses was the official intention in such big campaings as the Cultural Revolution which sent millions of city-people to the most rural areas to give them Communist "Education" (in China). But all Communist governments figured out quickly that beside education of the majority of people it also requires the special support of the most intelligent people of the country, where support includes the political education of them to follow the Communist government. Most Communist countries however discovered that explaining the advantage of a Communist society is not enough when modern capitalist neighbor countries have a much better developed economy and obviously better possibilities for the personal development. That led in most Communist countries to the erection of an Iron Curtain, in Berlin and Germany (but also Czechoslovakia, Hungary, …) even to construction of big walls, barbed wire fences and death zones to prevent people from following their egioistic instincts and joining the enemy – capitalism.

The economic end of most of the Communist countries followed after 30 to 60 years when depending on the skills in designing 5 and 10year plans most parts of industry had been mismanaged, people turned from working for the benefit of their own factories to stealing from them for their private benefit and political elite turned to most personal fights for their private benefit, influence and power. Most Communist countries were declared bankrupt in the 80ies and 90ies and more or less peacefully returned to modern capitalism. China however was at the border of ruin already in the 60ies (after the Great Leap Forward) and 70ies (after Mao's dead and the end of the Cultural revolution). Clever followers like Deng Xiaoping discovered that the only way to save the country and state is to return to a capitalistic economy and thus return to private property and special economic zones in China. Since then China is called a modern Socialistic country, as Socialism is the way to Communism, but is gradually opening more and more to modern capitalism.

Some historians say: "The worst experiment of the 20th century was Communism, because there was not the slightest (theoretical) prediction of how much wrong this Utopia could go."

Agnosticism

Granted, the important questions about life are not about religion. Moreover you have the advantage that the monotheists fear you the most, because they cannot just turn you over to their god, they even have to indoctrinate you why the existence of their god should be relevant. If you extend this attitude to most aspects of your life, you could call yourself a Nihilist.


Poly religious

Interesting, why pick just one religion, you can learn from all of them. Nevertheless there are some religions, especially monotheistic ones, that do not tolerate their faithful followers to belief in other gods. So after you made sure, you have a good excuse for such questions, you can return to the choice and pick several religions one after the other (p.2).

A final word

Asked questions about belief my father used to say: "I believe that three pound stringy beef make a good stew, but not for eight dozen people."
OK, if you wish, you can go back to the choice of your religion (p.2).


This page is maintained by Melchior Grützmann. Use under the GNU Free Document License.