Saturday, May 8, 2010

Is Religion Necessary...?

Over the past few days I have been giving this some considerable thought, and I have decided to ask you your opinion on this subject. If religion were to be invented today, would it be politically correct? Would people accept it, or would it be considered divisive and unnecessary? Historically, religion has been, and continues to be, a source of strife all over the world, and it is the main cause of most wars and bloody conflicts. And that's just for starters. Religion is one of the main contributors to injustice, and political repression. Belief in God does not necessarily contribute to morality, and often has just the opposite effect. "My God is better than your God, therefore I'm going to chop your head off." The Christians during the Crusades in the Middle Ages were about as brutal as anyone can get. They gave new meaning to the term "Holy War". And now the tables have turned and a "Holy War" is being waged against the Christians.

My naïve question is, what is it all for? If a belief in a higher power causes so much strife and misery, why is it so important? Millions and millions of people have suffered and died in the name of God, Allah, Jehovah, the Almighty, Jesus. If this practice did not exist today, and someone invented it, would people welcome it and accept it? I was raised in the Anglican Church, and I still consider myself to be a Christian, and yet I struggle all the time with the concept of religion. The whole precept of religion is that it is human-like, not God-like. There is nothing God-like about religion, or about how folks behave in the name of religion -- whatever their faith may be.

To be honest, I envy people who do have faith in a higher power. I think it is the instinct of all people to want to be looked after by a father-like figure, who is going to make everything okay for us, and give us everlasting life. But would such a father allow us to hate, torture and kill each other in his name? To me, something doesn't add up. There is a disconnect there that I don't understand. People can argue that God gave us free will. Well, okay, but you would think that after centuries of witnessing human beings committing the worst brutalities imagineable on each other, God would step in and say, "That's enough; no more. Play nice, and don't make me come down there...!" But century, after millennium, after century, all we get is silence, while we continue blowing each other up -- all in the name of worship.

The other day I read something interesting on one of the blogs. The woman making the comment professed to be a devout Christian, and yet she said, "The Catholic Church is one of the worst, most hateful, most despicable organizations ever created." Oh, goodness.

I suppose I am just being naïve, but I think religion has outlived it usefulness, if it ever had one. Spirituality is a whole other thing, and I believe most of us are spiritual beings. But organized religion probably would not be permitted if it were invented today. It is not the peaceful institution it professes to be. I may be wrong -- and I usually am -- but I think the world would be a better place without religion. Then perhaps, we might actually get along with each other and achieve some sort of real peace. God would be happy, don't you think?


Cloudia said...

Thou Sayest it, Sister!

You nicely describe the place we are today. The innate human yearning to meaning and connection has outgrown the outmoded forms of the past, and as they "rot" they stink!

Thanks for contributing a reasonable voice as we invent the spirituality and social relations of tomorrow.
(the "New Jerusalem?")

Warm Aloha from Hawaii

Comfort Spiral

Indian Pundit said...

"And now the tables have turned and a "Holy War" is being waged against the Christians."

Dear Jo

I always loved ur blog and i find you to be a very nice human being. But i often feel u have a very simplistic world view. i am very sorry but i have to say this......

The fact is There is NO HOLY WAR against the Christians. Not at all. Its an western right-wing propaganda.

The so called "Holy War" , is against the occupation of Islamic lands( according to them) by westerners.....and also against many western-backed govt. in Islamic countries(according to their interpretations).

Thats what the terrorist means by holy wars. Not against christians.


Indian Pundit said...

Dear Jo

Try exploring the "other" religions of this world.You will find a different flavour.

Try to learn and understand "Dharmic" religions like Hinduism , Buddhism for a change.

You will love it.

Carol E. said...

This question is far too big for me to answer in a way that makes any sense. Suffice it to say, I do believe in “organized” religion, despite all its flaws and enormous mistakes. It is made up of people, full of flaws, but God loves us and guides us anyway. People in “organized” religion are a mix of human frailties, but our common aim is to find the God in others and to serve with grace and compassion. Without that spark or spirit within us, I think the world would be a sad and horrible place. I’m not wise enough to address your questions about war, why they happen, and why people use their religion in such brutal ways. I just know that the God I worship is always there, waiting for us to hear and see a better way, forgiving us our huge transgressions, and loving us through it all. This gives me hope.

Judi said...

Is Religion Necessary? No.

Single and Sane said...

I can't speak for other religions, but I think much of the problem is that - generally speaking - too many of us who are Christians have done a poor job of showing Christ to the world. We have accepted the label Christian, without truly following Christ as we should. When He walked the earth, there were those who missed Him because they were looking for a political leader. And 2,000 years later, too many of us are still looking to Him for political gain, and in so doing, we not only miss the mark for a Christ-follower, we keep others from seeing Him clearly. How that must grieve God.

To me, the problem isn't with religion, but in how we use religion for worldly gain. We forget that religion is about so much more than this world.

Russell said...

Interesting you should ask.

I actually happen to work with a nut, uh, I mean, man (!!) who claims Jesus is his buddy. Jesus even gives this man advice on what clothes to wear each day and the best color of tie to pick out.

He refers to Jesus as his "bud" and claims to have many intimate, one-on-one conversations with his "bud" every day.

He also happens to be the most bigoted, narrow minded bastard I have ever met.

When I was going through my divorce he told me that I would go to hell because I was getting a divorce. I said to him "even if the divorce is not something I want?" and he said "Oh yes."

You can imagine what I think of him and his type....

TomCat said...

Josie, as you know, I'm a Christian, ableit a most unconventional one.

I don't think religion is the problem. The problem is that people use it as an excuse for aristocentrism (I am better than you are.) There is no difference between the extremist Muslims that destroyed the WTC and the extremist Christians who destroyed the office building in Oklahoma.

In my opinion, for faith to be authentic, regardless of the religion that engenders it, it must respect the faith of others, regardless of the religion that engenders it. Does this mean we don't respect atheists? Not at all. Atheism requires great faith.

Sam Liu said...


I am a humanist - someone who follows the belief system called Humanism. Humanism decrees that we should lead secular lives, free from the poisoning and hypocritical lies of organised religion. We should live in peace, in a world of science, reason and enlightenment. We do not believe in an afterlife, in spirits, in angels, in souls, in God or in any "higher power". However, we feel that each human is a unique individual, but after you die, that's it.

I have no shame or hesitation in saying that I hate organised religion, in all it's forms. Man has created religion through the aged in order to fuel his own vested and often twisted will - to dominate, to enslave, to become rich. The Catholic Church is a shining example of this. As fas as I am concerned, religion is a bad thing and we would be far, far better off without it.

I understand why people have religious beliefs and I do respect their personal faith. After all, religion is a comfort to many people; a reassuring thought that tells us that there is still life after death and there is "someone" watching over us. What's more, religion has often been used to control the masses and prevent rebellion, as Voltaire observed, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him".

However, I do not follow a religion and do not feel the need to. It is man made, it is corruptive, it has desperately tried to inhibit the course of science for fear of reasoned logic disproving its deities, it has caused wars and devastation and killed millions of innocents to gain money and power.

I am so glad that you have had the courage to express your feelings on this highly controversial matter - many would not dare to do so for fear of enraged commenters. They, of course, are entitled to their opinion, I just hope that, as the Blog With Integrity Organisation says, they attack the idea, not the person.

Amy said...

Jo, This is a huge subject! I've described my spiritual journey over the years as "zigging and zagging" - it's not static, and right now I'm not affiliated with any organized religion. I once knew a young woman (in a 12 step program) who described her higher power as "George." George would sit on her shoulder and direct her behaviors, attitudes, etc. Hey, it worked for her!

This may seem naive and simplistic, but I do believe in God and that "my God" created us in the "free will" mode, not because he/she has a sense of humor (which sometimes seems the case), but because God wants us to be intrinsically good and to do good works. It's the poor choices (free will) that gets in the way, hence war. And, no, I don't believe in Satan. Sinning (again, going back to free will) is "missing the mark."

I think in this complicated world where the politically correct thing to say and do is becoming almost ridiculous (and I think the historical Jesus would agree too as he was extremely politically incorrect!), we yearn for spiritual sustenance.

myletterstoemily said...

ha ha! didn't your mama ever say, "whatever
you do, don't bring up religion or politics!":)

however, now that the cat is out of the bag,
i heartily concur with margaret, because
she is my nanablog.

also, because she so eloquently expressed
what i feel. we are shooting all of Christ's
inept messengers, because we are so weak
at walking out His entreaties:

to love

to forgive

to never judge unless we are willing to be
judged by the same measure

and to lay down our own lives

to give

one more thought, the scripture speaks
about a battle in the heavenlies between
forces of darkness and light. hence, all
the battles here on earth.

Paul C said...

It is easy to dismiss faith and religion particularly with all the misguided actions that have occurred. I, however, cannot close that door.

Jo said...

Cloudia, yes, I think spirituality grows and changes. We need to update our spirituality to the 21st Century, and align it with what we have learned scientifically. We are living in a different world now.

IP, but you know, things are more "simplistic" than people make them out to be. Much more! We often clutter and complicate things that don't need to be complicated. And make no mistake, a jihad is a holy war, and it's not right-wing propaganda. And it's not just taking place in North America. The term "infidel" was once used by the Christian faith to describe anyone who was non-Christians. Now it is a term being used against them, by other faiths. It's all nonsense! Also, I have read about Dharmic religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, and it's just all more religion -- same song, different melody. It's not that I don't respect other religions, I just don't see any use for any of them.

Carol, I envy your faith -- I really do. I wish I had it. And for you, the way you describe it, it is a beautiful thing to have. I wish more people thought the way you do. But unfortunately, they don't. It's more an attitude of "my way of the highway..." I God exists, there should be only one God, and only one religion.

Judi, I'm afraid I have to agree with you.

Single and Sane, I think when Christ lived and walked the earth, he was a political leader as well as a religious leader. In his country, in those days, the two were inseparable. He hated the Romans, because of their cruelty and oppression. I think the problem is there are too many religions, and each one thinks it's the only one. That's where the problem lies, as far as I can see it.

Russell, you colleague is looking to Jesus for the simplistic things in his life, and he has lost sight of the bigger picture. Those types of religious people are the most dangerous of all, because they are judgmental and as you say, bigoted. They don't understand how really un-Christian they are...!

Tom, "In my opinion, for faith to be authentic, regardless of the religion that engenders it, it must respect the faith of others, regardless of the religion that engenders it." That's the problem. Most religions don't respect each other -- in fact it is usually just the opposite. It becomes counter-productive.

Sam, I have never read anything so eloquently written as your comment...! And I agree with every word of it. Humanism decrees that we should lead secular lives, free from the poisoning and hypocritical lies of organised religion. We should live in peace, in a world of science, reason and enlightenment. We do not believe in an afterlife, in spirits, in angels, in souls, in God or in any "higher power". However, we feel that each human is a unique individual, but after you die, that's it." I think I am a Humanist. It's very simple, and very beautiful, and very human.

Amy, yes, we are definitely spiritual. I think all human beings share that, and all races and cultures. The problem lies in the fact that we become "possessive" about our spiritualities, and we tell everyone ours is the best, and we force it onto others. That's why I find organized religion so unnecessary.

Jo said...

Lea, *heh* I guess I like to break the rules. Politics and religion are so interesting, don't you think? :-) I know this sounds simplistic (as IP would say...:-) but if everyone on earth followed the same faith and the same religion, there would be no problems -- at least as far as religion is concerned. But unfortunately, there are so many religions, and sects and sub-sects, and so forth... that people are never going to be on the same page, whether it's Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Daoism -- gosh there are so many. And each one believes it's the right one.

Paul, I would like to keep that door open too, but every day there is more evidence that religion is man-made, not made by God. I think it's important for us to believe in a higher power, but the question is, does he/she believe in us? Do any of the religions really, actually honor the higher power? I'm not so sure.

Maha said...

I am a Muslim and I strictly believe in God. If there's no God, then who created us? Who manages to get the sun rise from the East and set in the WEst? Who created everything in perfect order?
Wars are only created by man, not fighting for Religion, but for greed. I believe no one can fully answer you. you must read various opinions and decide what you believe in the most, because this is a really, really big subject to talk about.
One last thing, i'd like you to know that not all Muslims are not terrorists like some claim. we are ordinary people, just like you, and we live very ordinary lives. One of my close friends is Christian.

Jo said...

Maha, thank you for your very wise comment. And goodness, I am not singling any one religion out. I think I have been very careful not to do that. My concern is with all religions. Why are they all so opposed to each other? If there is one God, then why can't there be one religion? Why is it so difficult for the religions to stop fighting with each other?

Eddie Bluelights said...

Hi Jo. A very interesting and deep question. In my mind there is religion and reality, the true church and the denominational churches.
Reality is the truth - that Jesus made it possible for us to look God straight in the face and have eternal fellowship with him. Religion is man's attempt to clutter up a very simple matter of Reality.
The true church is the invisible church within the heart of each and every believer of Jesus. It has been spoilt by man's insistence that one church is better or worse than another. The true church is within our souls because a true Christian is "The Temple of The Holy Spirit" and therefore can worship anywhere. There is nowhere near enough room here to give my full opinion but to my mind to be a true Christian it is necessary to ask Jesus into our hearts and boy if we do that he will come in. Therefore I say this is more important than attending any particular church meeting, although a true Christian would want to. But the churches we know in buildings are not perfect churches because they have to do with man, not totally with God, hence all the bickering within these denominations. The true church is perfect.
You might say, "What about the other religions? Islam, Buddists etc?" Well they are to do with man also. Mahammed was a man, Budda was a man!
You might say, "Jesus was a man, too!" Well in part you are right but he was also God, the second person of the Trinity.
Therefore one day evety knee will bow to Jesus, believers willingly, unbelievers grudgingly, and all the Angels (both elect and fallen including Satan himself). Also bowing will be Mohammed and Budda.
There Jo, that's my pennyworth.
Best wishes

Anonymous said...

I think the values put forward by all religions originally may have some merit, but as an organisation, every religion is a bane to human kind. I think we'd be better off just living our lives by certain values (kindness, tolerance, virtue etc) and I'm sure even the atheists do that. Why does there have to be a name for the higher power? Why do we need organisations that are more commercialised and hypocritical? Religion is one of my soapbox issues...I personally am agnostic and prefer living by values than by a particular god I might be praying to. Loved the post...very interesting and thought-provoking.

Shelly Rayedeane said...

To answer your question. Yes.

Religion is necessary.

However, it should come in the form of spirituality because far too many people try to use the word of God to manipulate and control others which they have no right to do.

Religion isn't evil. People who play God with the lives of others while standing behind the name of religion are though because to deceive has nothing to do with God.

God didn't take religion out of religion, but people do every single day, and it's sad really.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have always believed that religions are competitive and divisive and that true godliness would be open and accepting of others, no matter what their beliefs. Even a cursory examination of history shows that most persecutions and wars have been committed in the name of religion, so I, too, question how this could possibly be good.

If we are to be truly ethical people, we must treat each other well because it is right to do so, not because we fear punishment or crave a shiny halo after we die.

I cannot claim to be an atheist but merely an agnostic, because atheism requires a deeper certainty than I presently have about a single all-powerful deity. The Quakers have a lovely saying, "There is a little bit of God in every man." I think that we humans have the capacity to be godly, that we may even have extraordinary powers that have not yet been developed in most cases, that perhaps we are all gods. I would like to see us step into our own power and stop depending on a great daddy to solve all our problems. It is, as you stated, the 21st century. Surely it is time for us to throw away our crutches and be as great as we can be, even fearless enough to be truly kind to one another.

DJan said...

Long ago, I studied Carl Jung's theories and wondered about his faith. I will never forget reading something he said in an interview in his later years. He was asked if he believed in life after death. He said, "No, I don't *believe. I KNOW." He believed with every fiber of his being that this life is not all there is. I cannot help but think he was on to something.

Kimberly said...

Yes it is.

Raevyn said...

Organized religion? no, I don't think it's necessary for everyone. There are those who just can't do without it, whether it's the sense of community that they feel within the organization, a habit that they are uncomfortable breaking, or an inability to grasp the idea that FAITH and RELIGION are NOT the same thing.

I was raised in the Christian faith, a combination of Lutheran and United Methodist (admittedly more UM than Lutheran). From my youth I have been of the opinion that the entity that I have always called God may be(and in all likelihood is) the very same entity that Native American peoples call Great Spirit, Muslims call Allah, Pagans call Goddess, and Buddhists call Buddha.
My faith is no better/worse, more/less valid, or right/wrong than anyone else's faith.
What I believe, which has, much of my adult life, included aspects of Protestant Christianity, Native American thoughts/beliefs, and a sprinkling of ancient Celtic and other Pagan traditions, works well for me. In my world, they are not mutually exclusive. I have friends and acquaintances who honor and actively practice a variety of belief systems. Some are exclusive, others more open minded.
I don't have to be in church, or anywhere specific to talk to God, nor do I have to ask any human for forgiveness or absolution to be "right" with Him. A person's relationship with the deity of their choosing is an intensely personal decision, and frankly, not anyone else's business.
My (UM) minister has said to more than one non-Christian "it doesn't matter what your faith is, if you have faith that works for you, that is what matters the most. Now, if you decide you want to know more about mine, I will be glad to tell you about it, but I am not going to try to convert you unless that is what YOU wish."

Jeannette StG said...

Oh my, we could talk months about this question:)
But for me personally, God is necessary, because He is my creator. I wouldn't be here (alive), if God didn't exist.
It's not clear to me what the difference is (in your article) between religion and spirituality...for me religion is a set of beliefs about God, afterlife, etc. Spirituality is for me in how far I practice those beliefs.


Way too many people have died in the name of some kind of god, while science proves there isn't one.

Once I fell for it and met more hypocrites in church, than outside.

It's a crutch to say, 'Jesus died for our sins' - God didn't create man, but man has created many gods.

I am happy to know that the miracle of life; the universe and all that exists, is brought about by science which means I have no quarrel with anyone's religion, or the lack thereof. It's a peaceful way go live. Think 'good', not god.

Kathryn said...

I think religion falls far short of what God desires for us.

Religions tend to be made up of humans, & humans love power & to tell others what to do.

I believe Jesus came to be our bridge to God & wants us to walk in that freedom & to share it with others - in LOVE not in violence & the other atrocities which have occurred in the "name of Jesus."

What the Church has become has fallen far short of this. But it doesn't negate God who has reached out to us.

Jo said...

Eddie, thank you for your pennyworth. :-) It's very interesting. I do envy people who have a deep faith. I come from a family who believe very much as you do, and that is how I was raised. And yet I see so much argument between religions, that I wonder why. "The true church is within our souls because a true Christian is "The Temple of The Holy Spirit" and therefore can worship anywhere." I definitely agree that spirituality is very important, and does not require a church.

Psych Babbler, I tend to agree with you. There may -- or may not -- be a higher power. It may be something we cannot conceive of. But humans, in their worship of this higher power, have behaved violently towards each other. I see a very strange dichotomy in that, and it puzzles me.

Shelly, you have made the most compelling argument yet in favor of religion. I agree, if people could learn to get along with each other, rather than using God to manipulate and control others, we would indeed have a peaceful world.

Susan, "If we are to be truly ethical people, we must treat each other well because it is right to do so, not because we fear punishment or crave a shiny halo after we die." Yes! As long as we can continue being cruel to each other -- in the name of God -- human beings will always be divided. Your post on 9/11 sparked my thoughts about the relevance of religion in today's world. Your post is brilliant.

DJan, I wish I could believe in an afterlife. I guess it would be a comfort to know my loved ones were there, and that eventually everyone will be there. But in all practicality, I am unable to do that. I think it is out of our fear of eventual oblivion that we created the myth of the afterlife. But as my Dad used to say, "We'll have to wait and see."

Kimberly, I believe spirituality is necessary, but I'm not sure if religion is. I think they are really two different things.

Raevyn, brilliant...! "FAITH and RELIGION are NOT the same thing." Precisely! You have managed to understand your spirituality, which has nothing to do with religion. I believe if everyone thought the same way you do, people would stop flying planes into buildings, and blowing up car bombs outside market places.

Jeanette, I think all of us are spiritual beings, yes. To my understanding, religion is a set of rules, and each religion's set of rules is different -- in many cases vastly different. And that is where the divisiveness comes in. I believe it is possible to be spiritual without having to follow the rules of a particular religion. But I'm still contemplating the whole process myself.

Diane, "Think 'good', not god." I agree. How much evil has been perpetrated in the name of religion, or a God that perhaps does or does not exist. Wouldn't it be horribe to think of the millions and millions of people who have suffered and died for a myth?

Kathryn, the problem is, there are so many religions who do not have that same belief, and that's where the problems come in. I'm not sure if I believe in a higher power. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. But if I did, I believe all religions pray to the same higher power. So then why can't they get along with each other. Maybe as Indian Pundit says, I am trying to make this too simplistic.

@eloh said...

Tough subject. I can only go on what my own life has brought and what I have witnessed in my travels around the world.

Sometimes, you have to completely lose something before you can have the understanding of what it was you so lightly held.

Raised Anglican then you are familiar with The Book Of Prayer... "evil will head the Church but it is not the Church".

If you were capable of forcing your children to love you and do no wrong... what would it prove about them? If you give them free will and they love you and do no wrong... then what does it say?

Jo said...

Eloh, very interesting point, yes. I think I am in the process of trying to understand the difference between spirituality and religion. I don't discount the idea of a higher power. I question the various ways in which man chooses to worship him, and in so doing becomes -- inhumane? I wish I could agree that God's children do no wrong. Unfortunately a lot of wrong has been done -- in God's name.

Unknown said...

As a Christian, I have a hard time imagining there not being religion. But being a follower of Christ is more about relationship than religion.

Even more conflicting, is the mix of denomination within religion. That's where our humanity shows it's ugly self to the world, disguised under the tag of "christian, muslim, etc.."

But faith and religion are not the same. I have faith in my Creator, my Savior, and my God. My faith and hope and comfort come from my Savior. I have never been disappointed. People are another matter.

We are all a work in progress.

Keanda said...

I too, want to live in the world before someone gave religion to mankind and left them to figure out what it was. But the thing is, Man can't help but wonder where he came from because maybe we're afraid of thinking about where we're at, or where we're going. The trouble is that we become so convicted in these religions we follow that when we hear about a group of other people whose beliefs oppose, even partially, our own, we just want to believe that we ourselves are right. Not everyone can be right but who's to say? We could all be wrong and this fighting might, at the end of the day, turn out to be nothing but speculation.
To me the beautiful thing in the fact that people are willing to kill others or strap bombs to their own bodies, for their religion, is that they at least believe strongly in it. Some part of that belief may come about from a longing to understand this life we're living, may come from a longing for a feeling of security in a reassuring knowledge. But I choose to believe in this moment that people believe because they can, and should.

~ Keanda

Katy said...

Jo you are so good at making us think! What an interesting topic. I'm not sure if there is an answer to your quetion or not. People on all sides of the equation have writen liberaries of books on this subject and to me it all comes down to personal opinion and point of view.

No, I don't think we NEED orginized religion. I think religions came out of people's need to quantify things.People were faced with this idea that there is something out there, beyound them and they needed to put a face on it, so to speak, so they could begin to wrap their minds around it.

The further I travel on my spiritual journey the less I feel the need to capture anyone idea of God. I think there is a spiritual realm outside of what we can see and touch. I'm not sure how involved in our daily lives this God is though.

To your point about religious wars though, I would say that war is about power more than it ever has been about ideas. If we aren't killing each over whose god is best, it would be whose country is best, whose king is best, whose clothes are best, whose hair color is best. It is a lazy way of thinking, but it also requires less thought than getting along. That is why 3 year olds hit their friends instead of trying to ask for a toy.

I think it is possible for humans to evolve past this simplistic dualistic way of thinking. I think it will happen, but when you consider that war has been a staple of civilizations since the idea of civilization began, its not going to disappear over night.

Paula Slade said...

I couldn't agree more Jo!

Jo said...

Jo, yes, we are a work in progress. That's a very good point, I agree. I am a spiritual person, and I would like to think there is a Creator, although, I think he probably created us in a much different manner than we understand. My problem is with the various religions and denominations all warring with each other, all in the name of God.

Keanda, "We could all be wrong and this fighting might, at the end of the day, turn out to be nothing but speculation." Wouldn't that be the most horrible thing of all? All that conviction and belief for nothing. But you know, I think we may be missing a much more beautiful truth, somewhere. I'm just not sure what it is.

Katy, "I think it is possible for humans to evolve past this simplistic dualistic way of thinking. I think it will happen, but when you consider that war has been a staple of civilizations since the idea of civilization began, its not going to disappear over night." You're so right. Humans are a warring animal. It would be about one thing or another. And I agree that there is a life force. I just think we may be missing the boat by concentrating on the wrong thing, and missing what the truth is. It may be something we are entirely unaware of.

Jo said...

Paula, thank you. It just seems logical to me. I may be wrong, though -- I often am. :-)

June said...

If religion were to be invented today, would it be politically correct?

Would people accept it, or would it be considered divisive...?
Yes, people would accept it, embrace it, not least for its divisiveness. Everybody always wants to be better than somebody else, and religion is just one more way to prove one's extraordinariness.

Speaking strictly for myself, Religion is unnecessary. I have a Higher Power but I'm not sure what it is. It might be Nature. It probably is. Where did Nature come from? Don't know. Could be an old man in a white gown. Don't know.

I do know that when somebody introduces him- or herself as a Christian I know I'm in for a close-minded rant. When Jesus' name is invoked in conversation, my hackles rise.
When I was twelve years old I had a wonderful teacher in public school (different back then) who taught our class about major world religions. Our conclusion was that the "rules" are pretty much the same for all of the major religions...and they're the same as the rules of kind and polite society.

Just this morning Husband was watching that Jack van Whoosie with his skeletal wife as they "oooohhhhed" at each other over this and that. What a buncha hooey.
If that's Religion, leave me out of it!

TomCat said...

Josie, perhaps that's why my 'religion' is so disorganized. ;-)

KrippledWarrior said...

SORRY IT TOOK SO LONG FOR ME TO COMMENT. But I had to ponder it a bit. I wonder about those words "Religion invented." You left out the Religions of the Assyrians, Aztecs, Mayans, Greeks, And Norsemen. Where the politics mandated you observe the religion and submit to their gods on pain of death. Or to ensure prosperity or the rising of the Sun, You would have to sacrifice your children on the altar!
Jesus preached against religion, and you are blaming God for the actions of those humans who invented religion. A day is coming when those who acted as you have described will be called into account. But if you believe that this life is all there is. It is no wonder you are concerned about timing. Be well. Be blessed and continue to ponder deep things.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Hi Jo,
I'm late to the party but I would like to add my thoughts.

I like to examine organised religion by examining the alternatives.

First, there are the "pagan" or more accurately, the tribal or animalistic faiths; the pre-Christian faiths. Many of us romanticise today, how many of these faiths teach an appreciation of the balance of nature which is absent from how the colonial powers treated natural resources. But in fact, Christianity (and many religions) teach about being stewards of the world. The charge cannot be laid against these religions but against a greedy capitalistic and selfish culture. Also, these animalistic faiths that promote harmony with nature still had their own wars, slavery, cannibalism, head-hunting, head shrinking, generational vendettas and other ills.

Next let's look at the replacement for religion, starting with Karl Marx who said that "religion is the opiate of the people". He believed in the abolishment of religion is a necessary first step towards the truth and the real solution to the problems that have enslaved the people. So how has communism fared? It too has led to wars of ideology, to gulags, to mass starvation(the great leap forward) and executions, to the cultural revolution, to the Berlin Wall etc.

Perhaps then a more humanist view like the United Nations. I like the Unite Nations and I know they do try hard but it is often also mired in scandals, of funds not reaching the needy but filling officers' pockets. Even here, there are war atrocities even when they are acting as peace keepers and there is racialism and bias when they rescue Caucasians and not Africans (Rwanda) and there is hypocrisy (when they intervene in an oil rich country and not in a poor one).

My point is in religion and in its alternatives, the same ugly problems emerge. The common factor is man. The bible calls it sin; the condition of man.

Religion like everything else is tainted by man and his/her sin. But I believe in a God that has sent Jesus to give us away back to Him. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. If we could truly do that, how could there be war, sexual abuse, intolerance etc.

roxanne s. sukhan said...

Religion ~ a subject as vast as the universe in which we live. Is is neccessary? Well, the fact that so many cleave to it answers your question, doesn't it? I think: 1. Belief in a higher power gives meaning to the lives of those who believe; 2. The system of religion is and always has been a means to manage the populations of society; 3. Religion is merely another form of politics, and it becomes problematic when church and state get intertwined; 4. The Catholic Church is self-perpetual, it now exists to worship itself; 5. I believe there is definitely "more than 1 road to Rome," so to speak.

In case you're interested, I did write about religion, pondering it's point/purpose, about 3 years ago after seeing Christopher Hitchens on The Hour. Read it here.

Wishing you a wonderful week. Happy mother's day and enjoy the sunshine.

Owen said...

Amen Jo, Amen...

I think religion is an idea that had its time, and that was some time ago. Today the current manifestations of it are anachronisms, throwbacks to the middle ages or further... It's time for a new model... (imho of course)

Keanda said...

The point of religion I guess is maybe to bring us closer to that beautiful truth. Even if it means for the moment we may appear to hold blind faiths in things we cannot explain. Because who's ever managed to define beauty?
So yes. We do need religion, as much as we need love and care and support from our family. When you think about it, they're much the same thing.

~ Keanda

Land of shimp said...

Jo, I think it is important to remember that the vast majority of religious wars had next to nothing to do with faith, or God. Most were about resource acquisition. The "Because God says we should" was just a manipulation by those in power.

People treat the words Faith and Religion as being interchangeable but they are not. One is a byproduct of the other. Religion is the organized practice of a Faith and it is religion that is most often misused. Sometimes faith is also.

But in the case of the Crusades, it was mostly about land and resource acquisition, and the "bringing Christ to the Heathens" was mostly a smokescreen. Also, the Crusaders themselves were considered potentially dangerous within a society -- people who run around lopping the heads off of other people as a profession can make dicey home-front neighbors. So that's part of it also, there was a ramble rousing element that was put to great use in attempted land acquisition, and the excuse used was religion.

Just saying, if we were to remove Religion from the equation, wars would still be fought on pretty much the same schedule, but with different "reasons". Instead of "I come to bring you my version of God" perhaps it would be "We come to forcibly stop you from polluting the rivers, as that is an abomination."

When it comes to War the excuse is rarely the true reason. Religion has been the excuse, the reason has been to expand holdings and wealth. If we didn't have Religion, some power mad soul would make one up, and others would follow along with that.

Religion is also a source of comfort to the vast majority of people who practice it.

As an aside, you've heard of Star Trek, who hasn't, right? The creator of the original series purposefully removed religion from the future, believing that we would outgrow it as a race, but many sociologist argue that is extremely unlikely. The need for religion is mainly psychological. A belief that "this is not all that we are" there is more to this life.

Even those that do not practice a religion generally find a sense of purpose, some kind of uniting experience (environmentalism, political activism, volunteering) to give them a feeling of functioning within a larger unite, having purpose.

So, do we need religion? No, I don't think so but people need an anchor, or a purpose in their lives at a very base psychological level.

If it wasn't God, it would be something else.

I also have seen lives changed by Faith and the practice of it. I don't practice a religion personally, but I think there is merit to it for many.

Land of shimp said...

Rabble, not ramble :-)

Brenda said...

Wow...this post brought so many comments I don't have time to read them all. I am very happy with my faith and religion, but I have had my share of doubts and disappointments over the years. Just for today though...I love where I am at. My soul feels happy and content.

PinkPanthress said...

That is the reason why I do not think that there is a real God and am Agnostic.
A benevolent being, whoe created us, would step after all this time!

And if we really were 'sculpted' after 'him/her', than he must have a very bad charackter!

I say, people need to think more often before they start talking stuff... and be more humanitarian! :9

@Indian Pundit - What The F?
Care to send me some of that shite you were smoking, while writing your comments?
George W: Bush himself said once on tv, that his christian God told him to invade places where there are huge Oil Fields & other natural resources (that his Family's corporations have use for)?
It was ok to kill those dark skinned Arabs(semites), 'cause God said he had put the Oil there in advance for Bush to grab!
He(God) would have given Bush even more in other Countries, if Bush had created Sons with his Wife!
(I mean WTF? Hello Sexual-fascism!)

Lauralee Prov said...

I don't know exactly what the Anglican Church is, but let me offer you this; Why not try the one and only true church Jesus Christ. Forget about it all and just read the Bible. There is only one Bible and it is the King James Version and it is the true word of God. But don't take my word for it. Just pick it up and read it. Just try it. There is only one God and it is the God of Israel, the Lord, Jehovah, Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins because he loves us. It is our sin that brings pain and suffering into the world. People always want to blame God, but they never consider the devil. What do you think happens to you when you die? You better be 100% sure you're right before you take a chance on your eternity. I'm sorry I felt the need to get lengthy just now but God is so great and as a Christian I am so sickened by the world sometimes. We can not wait until Christ's return. His mercy endureth forever.

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Please consider, this goes out to anyone, the man Jesus. He lived. He died. He rose again. If the resurrection is a lie then all of it is a bunch of bologney. Are you saying Jesus did not rise from the dead? That many suffered persecution in the name of a lie? That the disciples just one day decided to fabricate a story and were willing to die for their lie? Just read the Bible!!!!!

Your scientists will agree along with the historians and scholars. Jesus Christ did exist. He was a real person who walked on this earth. Was he a nut? Did he make up a lie? What's your take? The truth is he rose again. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Him. I hope this isn't offensive, but your salvation is so important.

PhilipH said...

Let's be HONEST. God did NOT make man; MAN made god!

And many of them!

I am an agnostic atheist humanitarian. THAT is my religion, for want of a better word.

ALL religions are man-made schemes to control the masses. Brainwash the kids and keep them on the straight and narrow. Until the kids start thinking for themselves.

Religion is the opiate of the people according to Marx. He was so right! For the billions of people in this world who live in pain and poverty they are drugged by religious leaders with promises of paradise in the 'next life' in order to make THIS life bearable.

No, my dear Jo. Religion is NOT for me. For those who find comfort in the bible, the koran or any other book WRITTEN BY MAN, jolly good luck to them.

God save the children, especially from paedo priests and the like.

Amen Jo.

Sureshkumar said...

All I can say is this is one mind blowingly candid , powerful , innocent intelligent creative blog which is politically scientifically and logically correct all along the way !

Mia said...

Every culture in the world has had some form of religion. Is it necessary? Is music, art, literature necessary? Religion is to the soul what art is to the spirit. I think that's a line from a movie. Is it politically correct? I don't know. Is politically correct good or bad? Would people accept it or would it be considered divisive and unnecessary? Yes.

Religions don't cause wars. Most religions preach peace. Faith doesn't cause wars. People with genuine faith are usually at peace with themselves. Hate causes wars. People who hate anybody who may be different from them cause wars.

Belief in God doesn't necessarily contribute to morality. That's true. Some religious people are simply horrible. As are some irreligious people.

If a belief in a higher power causes so much strife and misery why is it so important? Belief in God doesn't cause strife or misery. Human suffering is caused by humans. Why is belief in God important? For the same reason family and friends are important.

Millions of people have died in the name of Jesus. But how many people did he tell his followers to kill?

If all you hear from God is silence then you're not listening.

Have a nice day.

Bill said...

To suggest that most conflicts have been about religion is overly simplistic. It's kind of like saying the American civil war was all about slavery and human rights and nothing whatsoever to do with economics (ie: the Union states not being able to compete with the confederate states who didn't have to pay for their labour)

It's always more complex when you look into it.