In the global struggle for political harmony, economic viability and cultural happiness, religion has become the weapon of choice. But if the pursuit of happiness and prosperity is the goal, then using religion as the means to achieve that ideal will do anything but, says businessman philosopher James W. Peterson.

Nonetheless, that’s exactly the road societies are traveling as our economic and political problems deepen. Noting the fundamentalist tone taken as America moves toward the 2012 election and secular nations continue to clash with religious extremists, Peterson advises that adhering to any religious ideology will only bring more of the problems nations are trying to overcome.

“The more we use religion and its supernatural interpretation of the punitive power of God as an emotional wedge to secure HIS future, the less likely we’ll reach the real world solutions WE are seeking,” says Peterson, author of the book God and the Philosophy of Explanation ( “If we want to return to the Founding Fathers’ original ideals—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—then using religion as the vehicle is entirely the wrong way to go.”

Instead, what’s needed is a focus on intellectual development thus empowering people to see their own happiness—economic, personal and spiritual—on their own terms, Peterson argues. But the current climate of both American religious conservatives, Islamic extremism and a deepening worldwide spiritual morass is providing anything but a greater understanding as to what real world human happiness is and depends upon.

Peterson, a retired engineer, has pursued an examination of religious and spiritual thought that comes from his own personal struggles to make sense of a deep, personal tragedy. The death of his daughter Kristin at the age of 10 -1/2 from heart failure set him on a 20 year long journey to understand the interplay of religious beliefs in the face of loss and tragedy.

Through a dissecting of religious thought, philosophical theories and thus gaining a deeper understanding of what motivates people to embrace religion, Peterson has come to understand that it’s the ability to intellectually cope with downturns and solve real world problems that leads people to feeling empowered, happy and productive.

“Intellectual happiness is the fundamental consequence of personal production,” Peterson says. “It is the understood existence of one’s self that is the standard of one’s happiness.”

“Think of how we gauge our well-being as a people: consumer confidence, social stability and political harmony,” Peterson adds. “It’s all right here in our grasp, yet we continue to dissolve into these religious and cultural beliefs that only exacerbate our dissatisfaction with the world and each other. We need to stop believing long enough to understand we have the tools to return to happiness; we just have to put our rational, intellectual minds to work.”

(From Ginny Grimsley, News and Experts.)

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