by Eric Heubeck
On this site I make an argument that the existing world religions—what are sometimes known as the “traditional religions” or “revealed religions”—are inadequate and even dangerous to humankind because they are all founded on the practice of religious esotericism—which is actually just a type of deceptive and misleading communication. Even though many religious persons will undoubtedly find it disturbing to hear, the simple fact is this: If the Lie is ever to be done away with in this world, it is necessary that the existing, traditional religions be done away with in their current forms.
The practice of honesty is simply not compatible with religions that embrace any of the following in their authoritative writings: deliberate concealment or mystification of meaning, ambiguous or double meanings, cryptic parables and allegories, “dark sayings,” riddling speech, extensive use of inside jokes and puns and word play, overly elaborate and internally inconsistent symbolism, obscurely allusive metaphors (i.e., “private metaphors”), hidden messages, secret codes, double-entendres, lots of deeply embedded “hints” and “clues,” and so on.
But all of the traditional religions do embrace those very things in their sacred and authoritative writings. There is plenty of mystery in natural life as it is—enough that no one is benefited by any unnatural or artificial element of human-generated “mystery” being added to that. Moreover, there is reason to think that when this artificial, human-generated “mystery” does exist, it is the result of psychological disturbance of one sort or another, and so is not something that human beings should inevitably expect to find in their religious cultures, or should feel obligated to tolerate in them.
At the same time, I feel quite strongly that religious institutions are vitally important for society, and all of the good things that the traditional religions do and have done—and there are many—ought to be continued. Needless to say, I certainly don’t advocate any wholesale and indiscriminate spurning of the accumulated wisdom that can be found in each of the traditional religions. Moreover, I wish to emphasize that my work is not motivated by opposition to religious belief in general, or to any particular religious beliefs. I merely expect that a religion will, in its authoritative writings, clearly, honestly, and straightforwardly express what its beliefs are; and, closely related to this, that the members of the religion will take responsibility for those beliefs and the consequences produced by them. If a religion produces bad outcomes for its members, it deserves to get a bad reputation. But currently, religious esotericism works in practice to ensure that there can never be certainty of meaning (and I speak not of perfect certainty, but of reasonable certainty) regarding what the actual beliefs of a religion are; and the absence of that minimally adequate certainty of meaning results in an absence of needed accountability for the religion.
One of the primary objectives of this website and blog is to advance the idea that a wide variety of new, non-esoteric religious communities (i.e., moral belief communities, or practical philosophical communities) ought to be developed that can provide realistic alternatives to the existing, esoteric religions. Members of such communities, and members of society generally, would be able to evaluate the practical usefulness of each religious community’s teachings and beliefs, partly because of the fact that those teachings and beliefs would have been articulated in a clear, truthful, and straightforward manner in its authoritative writings. I envision a world in which all sorts of new religious communities would be developed; but all of them would be joined together in a broad coalition by their members’ common refusal to tolerate the inclusion of any esoteric language in the authoritative writings of those members’ respective religious communities, as well as by their members’ common refusal to lie without very good justification—whether to members of their own community, or to anyone else—ever.