The underlying religious belief

(or “A brief essay on conscience”.) 
Now, I have to say: ancient civilizations are certainly fascinating. I’m not any expert in those matters (nor in any other, by the way), but whenever I get to learn facts from past eras, they always call my attention. Cultural anthropology is so teaching! And it tells us a lot about our own civilization and present day reality.
Why, for example, there is so much noise about the Mayan calendar finishing in 2012? If we take into account the anthropology and the way people, cultures and civilizations work, we would probably end up here: we’re afraid of uncertainty. And I have an expression for that feeling, that I like to call the underlying religious belief. According to it, in most cases we humans develop, because of the knowledge of our own death, some kind of religious feeling underlying our behaviour, our values, principles and other beliefs. And for that purpose, anything that could give a possible meaning to life and death, to existence itself, can do the service. So, well, among the many possibilities, a foretold “end of the world” would certainly give some sense to humankind, as it would imply a Creator…

Which is very good, by the way. The problem arrives when you cross the border, when you step beyond a — let’s say — line of knowledge depriving you from this belief. Then, what happens? I can only talk for myself. On top of very solid (though also very rigid, I’m afraid) scientifical-tought foundations acquired along University times and professional carry out, there are the irreprochably argumented lectures on evolution and cultural anthropology (my masters have been, for this matter, Jared Diamond and Marvin Harris) and, at the end of this road, one comes to a very difficult, sometimes even distressing, attitude towards God, religion and beliefs: I’m a Catholic “by birth”, as they say; and the strong Catholic background of my childhood, though become much weaker nowadays, has shaped my morals (or let’s rather say “ethics”, which is a better concept) in such a way that they’re now hard-coded into my personality. In Spain, Church is present in much more aspects of our lives than we think (churchs all over the country shaping our rural and urban landscapes; bells tolling; language expressions; marriages; holidays, names, namedays, local feasts, saints, patron saints, law, feuds…) All these elements shape our personality, our ethics, and this ethics work even against the strongest logic.
Let’s go, for instance, to the typical example: “¿would you kill someone?” Well, certainly my conscience would prevent me from gratuitously doing so, even though my logic tells me that there’s nothing so special about a human life… But, is it really a conscience? Science and progress leave small room for religion and, by the way, for morals. If you don’t believe in God nor any other spiritual beings or concepts of that sort; if you’ve gone even beyond this underlying religious belief that I’m talking about, then where does this conscience come from? I don’t know. Maybe it’s only functional: it might just be the self-indulging way of expressing the fear we would feel of being rejected by society. We’re social animals, and, pathological cases aside, we need to be accepted by society; but we won’t be, if we go around killing people…
In any case, one way or other, spiritual or functional, conscience is an essential element in societies.

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