I love me some infographics!
I think the whole idea of an infographic is really keen, and I enjoy learning in a visual way. I makes it quite easy for me to draw relations for the information and fit the data into context.
I came across one the other day that is right up my alley.
This infographic shows (to the best accuracy of available information) the distribution of religions in the world population. I found several things in it that ran contrary to my assumptions. Some religions I thought were smaller. Some were larger. For one, I thought Buddhism was a much bigger fraction of the world’s religions.
As I studied the graphic I realized something was missing.
Where was my own personal (most of the time) religion, Discordia? (Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!)
Where are the Pastafarians, the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Bless his noodly appendage!)
Where were the Jedi? In 2001, in the England and Wales census, 390,127 respondents declared their faith as Jediism. That’s over three times the number of Zoroastrians in the world, according to the chart. And, 523 times more than the listed number of Samaritans!
Where was the Church of the SubGenuis!!!
I scanned back & forth across the information searching for some mention. I realized that they were not including “made up religions.” I could not figure out why they would do that. Then it hit me. Square in the pineal gland. (Sorry. Inside joke. Very, very inside…) They weren’t including the so-called “made up” religions because that would give up the game too easily.
What’s the game, you say? Well, here it is: They are all made up. Some more obviously than others, and some with tons of poetry wrapped up around their inspiration, but when you come down to it they are all made up. In all cases, women and men sat down and created these things. Even if you buy the idea of divine inspiration (which I sometimes do) it still comes down to humans taking the notes & practices and then propagating them.
However, with the march of years and the persistence of generations, these particular religions became engraved in our contextual and cultural souls. We have come to accept them as given parts of life, if not facts. We have taken them as “real.”
To a degree they are real. They are as much of a part of our world as taxes and cleaning. What is making them real though, in this case, is our acceptance.
So, what makes the “made up” religions not real is just a lack of acceptance. If we took that on board then we would have to face that all the religions of the world, big & small, venerated & ridiculed, are viewed the way they are only on our say so.
We would have to face up to them all being made up.
Personally I find such a notion liberating.