If you could invent a religion, what would it look like? You might ask yourself, Why would I want to do that? Well, that would be a good question. We’re in the information age, there’s been a scientific revolution, we’ve sent a space probe beyond the solar system and wonders are heralded daily on TV, newspapers and the internet. Religions are myths and superstitions—haven’t we got too many of such antediluvian systems of prejudice already?
The question arises because a recent Huffington Post article on January 20th described a contest seeking ideas for a new religion. Not being enamored of any of the tens of thousands of religions invented since early man took up bipedalism, especially the latest versions that animate followers of one to wreak havoc on the followers of others, I thought, Hey, maybe I can get a religion after all. All that’s required is that I make one up.
So, I checked out the contest details, followed the links to sponsoring organizations and pondered qualities I’d like to see in a religion, if I could invent one. My interest increased when I read the winner’s prize is $5,000.
Here are key details and rules—maybe you might like to try your hand at inventing a religion. Surely you can do as well as the ancient nincompoops who invented those on offer today. In 300 words or less, contestants should note how their religion could:
- Change the world for the better.
- Act as a powerful force for good.
- Offer hypothetical rituals, holidays and traditions that would make the new religion unique.
Sponsors include the 92nd Street Y (a Jewish non-profit cultural center, not part of the YMCA), the website On Being and the John Templeton Foundation.
The contest ends on February 14.
My Entry in the Contest: Reasonism
Reasonism will be a religion that guides the world toward the better natures of our essence. It will cut across boundaries, strengthen our sense of community and act as a force of good. Reasonism will be a rational guide to well-founded beliefs. The core values of Reasonism will be:
• No one-true-religion claims.
• Allows for unlimited schisms.
• No clergy, no churches and no subsidies from non-members (e.g. taxpayers) required.
• Empowers adherents.
• Promotes science, exploration, learning and kindness.
• Focuses on solutions to challenges in the life we know.
• No holy books, no punishments and no evangelizing.
• A faith in evidence philosophy that improves the world.
Reasonism will be a philosophy that affirms the ethical commitments of existing religious structures and communities that inspire personal fulfillment and the greater good for all humanity.
It will be a religion guided by reason, compassion and experience; Reasonism will celebrate living well and fully.
It will welcome new knowledge and understanding derived by observation, experimentation and rational analysis.
The rituals created by Reasonism’s adherents will celebrate joy, advance justice, demonstrate mercy, respect truth, embrace freedom, cultivate courage, accept reality, love nature and endeavor to make our fellow creatures happy.
As for holidays, with Reasonism every day will be seen and appreciated as a holiday, every dawn a holy night. The traditions of Reasonism will be created through natural selection, as generation after generation of Reasonists embrace and treasure adaptations that become traditions—all based upon customs that best embody the religion’s creed of joy, justice, mercy, truth, freedom, courage, reality, nature and ways that make others happy.