Religion is a word that has more negative overtones than it does positive, for many religion drags long bad memories of things done by finite human beings that are in a position of authority or leadership. The late Christopher Hitchens cleverly subtitled his acclaimed book God is Not Great with Why Religion Poisons Everything. Millions of people reacted to the book with great love and enthusiasm, as though to say “Aha! See? Religion poisons everything!” Many atheist philosophers of today and old are very quick to do away with religion altogetherI’m spiritual but not religious. And while it has become a widely popular statement within the last ten years, there a few questions that deserve answers or better yet explanations
Within the follow pages of this brief paper an attempt to differentiate between religion and spirituality will be made and lastly to bring this paper to a close, we will discuss why all this talk on religion matters in the first place.
and them alone. Furthermore, in doing so, it allows for a person to appear to have any restraints on their world view and how they choose to live. The greatest problem then is that it can make for a society of people wandering aimlessly like a leaf in the wind being tossed to and fro.
let’s look at few ways that religion is defined. According to religioustolerance.org, religion is defined as The English word “religion” is derived from the Middle English “religion” which came from the Old French “religion.” It may have been originally derived from the Latin word “religion” which means “good faith,” “ritual,” and other similar meanings. Or it may have come from the Latin “religâre” which means “to tie fast,” or “bind together.”
ld think and behave. More socially sophisticated people cling to the words of William Ernest Henley who wrote the words I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Another way of defining religion stems from the book Invitation to World Religions, which it by stating that Religion is a cultural system integrating teachings, practices, modes, of experience, institutions, and artistic expression that relates people to what they perceive to be transcendent. As we can see in this definition, the author goes to great links to provide the reader with as broad and inclusive definition as humanly possible, not leaving a single stone unturned. The problem that many find is that while the definition is all-inclusive, it fails to guide others to a solid point on what religion is or how it is defined. Instead, the author leaves room for much relativity. Meaning that whatever one chooses to see as transcendent is truly up to them.
Christianity is not a religion it’s a relationship. Once more, much like the non-theistic view above, there are refusing to deal with the usage of the word religion means.
A View of Religion from The Past
ers. The late German philosopher Karl Marx Is best known for saying the following on the matter of religion: Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions. The two main points that can be gleaned from his words are
- Religion is simply illusionary, and therefore created in the minds of others to cope with human suffering.
- Religion should have abolished if one is to obtain truth happiness
Freud, much like Marx believed that religion was an illusion, furthermore he is most noted for saying the following in his book The Future of Illusion “Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one.” Neurosis, as defined by the encyclopedia of mental disorders as “Neurosis, is a term used to describe a nonpsychotic mental illness which triggers feelings of distress and anxiety and impairs functioning.
To summarize his biggest points on religion are:
- Religion is a delusion
The questions we must ask then is, has it always been this way? Has religion always been viewed as evil and for weak minded people? The answers to these questions are no, in fact, CS Lewis writes this on the topic of religion
Here Lewis readily combats the presumption that atheists carry about religion and suffering, in that they believe that for an all loving, all powerful God to exists then there can be no suffering. Lewis here is more than likely saying that The Christian view of religion informs us that persecution and hardship are to be expected within the life of a Christian. And as provides the Christian with a more realistic and sober-minded outlook on life in front of them, for a Christian, however, persecution is not the end. Instead, they are readily and willing to face the days of peril ahead, knowing that the best is yet to come.
Does Religion Matter?
After all, in the Christian Bible, humans are informed that pure and undefiled religion is taking care of widows and orphans (James 1:27, ESV).
And while it might easy for a person that lacks in Biblical knowledge, to imply that all they have to do is be a good person. Let us consider a brief commentary on the above passage from the staff at Ligonier Ministries:
It would also be a mistake to think that the Bible always defines the word religion in such a negative way. After all, the Bible does use the word religion in a positive sense to refer to the outward manifestation of a genuine saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We see a fine example of this in today’s passage where James gives us three ways in which we can recognize pure religion. The bridling of the tongue, the care for widows and orphans, and keeping oneself unstained from the world are all demonstrations of the pure religion that flows from authentic faith in Jesus (James 1:26–27).
It can be easy to look history and even present time, and quickly conclude that religion has done nothing but cause more war and societal oppression than anything else in the world. It can be all the more appealing to human sensibility to assume that we have to rid of it. All in the name of freedom and the pursuit of happiness. However, is it possible that we have gotten way ahead of ourselves in our thinking? Meaning that states as the problem anyhow (Jeremiah 17:9, Matthew 13:5, Mark 7:21-22, Romans 1:21). It isn’t time for believers to show the world what pure and undefiled religion is?
Karl Marx. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx
Ligonier Ministries. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/undefiled-religion/
Opium of the people. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_of_the_people
Robot Check. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from https://www.amazon.com/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/0446697966/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8
The Freud Museum ~ Education ~ Freud and Religion. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from https://www.freud.org.uk/education/topic/10573/freud-and-religion/
William Ernest Henley – Poem Hunter. (n.d.). Invictus Poem. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/invictus/