On a thread at DA, I remarked that,
..improving the condition of the human species and doing things for the
benefit of our fellow living beings is what true religion is all
to which the Chaplain from An Apostate's Chapel replied,
What is the basis of this proposition?
The following post intends to perfunctorily answer her question. Let's refer to the idea that true religion entails improving the
condition of the human species and doing things for the benefit of our
fellow living beings as the Good Will Hypothesis (GWH).
The GWH could essentially be considered as religion's theory of evolution. Though one could probably find some religions and even tenets within individual religions that arguably endorse behavior at odds with the GWH, the hypothesis itself is accepted in nearly all religions throughout history.
The basis for my proposition is most certainly empirical, historical and ecumenical. James in verse 1:27 defines "pure and faultless" religion as "looking after orphans and widows." Buddhism offers us the Holy Eightfold Path, specifically Right Behavior and Right Speech, and reminds us that,
Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love.
–Guatama the Buddha
A Brahmanic Hindu will go to great lengths to avoid bringing harm to even the smallest ant. I could go on but why? I should also add that the proclamations of religion should be judged separately from the actions of the religious, so counters to the GWH on behalf of religious atrocity won't work. I add this because I can envision people thinking, "Well, if religion is so lovey-dovey, why all the fussing, killing and fighting?" That's because people can't read for one, and because there's such a thing as wolves in sheep's clothing, for two.
In the final analysis, it was religion that first reminded us of our fundamental human interconnectedness. Science came long after the fact and proved what we all remarkably seemed to intuitively agree on: That love is mandatory if our species is to flourish or even survive — and that's well — you know… right.
Whether we look at morality through an atheist's filter or a believer's, we end up with good grounding for the GWH.
What sayest thou about the basis of my proposition?