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Religion Versus Human Values.

Updated on July 11, 2012

You're what??

First, I want to ask you a question. Would it be better to be kind and practice general ethics and humanity or subscribe to a religion? I know most of you will answer; that is not a choice. You can be both. Then why is it that many religious folks practice ethics and humanity selectively and seldom. Many only have those traits toward another member of their religion, not toward everybody alike. I happen to think it is more important to think of my fellow human beings and treat them respectfully, try to be the best human I can, then to think selfishly and worry whether or not I'm getting into heaven. if I had to choose, I'd sacrifice for my fellow human beings.

A few times I've had conversations with religious folk and most wonder why I don't go to church and if I don't go to church then I must not believe in God? Or...What exactly is my religion? I believe in God, but I believe the foundation of my beliefs is built on basic human values. For all of you who want to know WWJD (what would Jesus do)? He would treat others with respect, regardless of their religion, social status, or any other classification- they are all human.

Jesus Christ walked and talked with all walks of life, various types of people. He treated life as a journey and even though he was not treated fairly, he kept his faith in humankind...us. Well, he died for all of us. He acted in kindness...just as a Buddhist would do or perhaps a Hindu. He did not try to cut someone off in traffic or flip them the bird just because they cut him off. Jesus believed in kindness and human values and spreading that through his acitons.

So what do I believe? As I've proclaimed many times, I have a rich spirituality and practice human vlaues. But I did not learn either at church. Some people think they have to take their kids to church to teach values. If they aren't seeing it in the home, you can take them to a church where Jesus himself has a speaking engagement, and they won't learn values. Your kids watch what you do everyday, not just on Sundays. In fact, I first learned about drugs and betrayal from church: The pastor's two kids were smoking dope outside the church every Sunday and when my mom got a divorce the church members turned their back on her.

I've always referred to Buddhist principles when I think about values. The Ten Commandments are almost impossible to adhere by..some are not even natural for human beings. There are ways and reasons around all of them. 'Thou shall not kill' (unless you are protecting yourself, etc.) 'Thou shall not steal' (unless you are trying to feed your hungry children, etc). I do not proclaim any one religion so this further complicates the minds of many.

Church versus human values

Church is a place and human values are a practice. Some people get the warm fuzzy feeling if they go to church and others feel better if they practice human values...yes, some do both and congratulations to them. My church is the world. My practice are the people (I admit I'm still practicing this one). I have never grown spiritually inside a church or within the confines of a certain religion. For many years I tried to make it work for me. To me, church is an organization. It basically organizes the way one believes and what information they receive depending on their particular faith.

You can go to 50 different Christian (for example) churches and all have their own belief system. Yes, based on the Bible, based on Christianity, but some churches concentrate on certain aspects more than others or have various interpretations, and a bit of group-think. Just like various companies, even within the same type of business, can have different company cultures.

Human values are human values- nothing more can be interpreted, added, or taken away- it is what it is. I've been to churches where the members will dispute various versus and their meanings, but who can argue human values? You can't argue the Ten Commandments.

Right or wrong?

Religion advertises a sense of community, but I think it separates us into 'this way is right' and 'this way is wrong'. As long as religions are different, somebody or something is right or wrong. This is counterproductive to having a core ethics system between all humans alike. A particular church may build a community within it's doors, but the rest of the world only suffers from this so-called unity- it excludes the "others" or one group is trying to get the other group to think and believe as they do..

My naive and young Christian mind (when i was kid) thought that Atheists were mean people, like serial killers. This isn't so. While I am not an Atheist, I believe anybody is capable and should desire practicing human values. Wouldn't it be beneficial to have a unity among religions, among non-religious, among everybody across cultures?

Religion and Coffee

There is a plan for this. Recently I picked up a book that explained what i've felt but didn't quite know how to express. The Dalai Lama, in his new book, "Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World" gives an analogy of religion versus human values (or ethics) and it goes like this...

The people of Tibet love their tea so he uses tea for his example, but imagine we are talking about your favorite beverage- if you live near Seattle, WA like I do. My version of this story would easily be translated into coffee, cappuccino, Americano, espresso, frappuccino, or the multitudes of names for coffee drinks we have here in the northwest. We don't need coffee, but we like it- OK some people would argue they need coffee, but go with me here. In reality. we do need water and however you make the coffee, and whatever cream, sugar, or flavor you add to it, the primary ingredient is water.

Religion is like the coffee (or tea). We don't need it, but what we do need is human values (the water), compassion, mutual respect, and the basics principles of ethics. Religion is made up of part human values, but there is more to it, and as I would say, more to it than what is really needed.

I can't quote anything to you from the Buddhist Principles that is going to damn you or send you to hell. Here is where i go astray from religious folks. People quote the Bible to me about how I am wrong, how they can prove me wrong, or how I am going to hell. They way I see it is the Bible is words and translations of God- those are His and not meant to demean or be used against others. I have several other religious hubs, and if I had a coffee drink for every time someone quoted from the Bible to make me look bad or prove me wrong, I'd be on a caffeine buzz that would propel me from here to Tibet.

Some values worth practicing

  • Forgiveness
  • generosity
  • peace
  • discipline
  • equality
  • responsibility
  • gratitude
  • commitment
  • sacrifice
  • service
  • Virtue, Morality
  • Renunciation
  • Insight
  • Effort, diligence
  • Patience
  • Honesty
  • Determination
  • Loving-kindness, Compassion
  • Serenity

How do we get to a better world?

  • I believe these actions, values, and ethics are contagious. Start practicing them today.
  • Acceptance that you don't need religion to lead a happy and ethical life.
  • realization that ethics are more accessible than religions.
  • We are born without religion, but not born without the need for compassion.
  • prayer is beneficial but the results are not always tangible whereas the practice of compassion and ethics can be seen...and felt.
  • move beyond a limited sense of closeness to this or that group or identity, and instead cultivate a sense of closeness to the entire human family.


All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives...Dalai Lama.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness...Dalai Lama



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    • mosaicman profile image

      mosaicman 

      4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Fl

      Izettl, I have a couple of thoughts. First church doctrine if full of ethical values. If someone is truly practicing their religion, they will exhibit these features. Second, at church (many religions) your spirituality is addressed. What is going to happen to your soul when you die? Many religions have different views. This topic reminds me of the propaganda used in the conservatives vs. liberal, Democrats vs. Republicans battle. The Republican party says they stand for family values. In reality, most Democrats stand for family values also.

      Anyways before I continue to digress, check out my hub "The debate over what is the true religion. I'd like to hear your thoughts. Interesting material, once again.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Yes, thanks for keeping it real.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 

      6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      The problem with Church it is made up of people and people sometimes are hurtful. Jesus loves you and me, he died on the cross for us and lives today sitting at the right had of the father. He is the one who we seek to be like. Jesus created the local church to be a support organization for the Christian walk. It is made up of us, imperfect people. God Bless You

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Elefanza~ good to see you. I agree- had an experience today. I was talking to another mother at a story time at a bookstore with my daughter and baby boy. I was talking to her about various things- she mentioned her christian faith a lot which is fine then I mentioned my step-daughter was here for the summer and she immediately looked away and said "oh" kind of walking away. So my family isn't perfect because my husband has been married before and with a kid...!

      i wish I'd run into the accepting and non-judgmental religious folks sometimes cause it seems more often than not I run into ones like that lady.

      i like the religion you aim to practice- well said and yes you are practicing so there is no finish line and no need to "succeed" just practice.

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 

      6 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Although I've had some good experiences with people who are religious, I find more often than not that church means exclusion. When my dad died, my mom and I had to leave because they didn't want a widow to be messing with the family dynamics. Even the church I liked going to in high school didn't want to support single - parent families because they are a "family church." Whatever that means.

      I do wish that instead of going to church, where people just sit and listen to something that they will forget by the end of the day, that people would consider challenging their comfort zone and helping out someone they wouldn't normally meet. Isn't being in a diverse community that is resolved to help one another something that we all need and maybe crave? Shouldn't our "religion" be an expenditure of effort on helping those that are struggling and giving a voice to the voiceless?

      The religion that I aim to practice -- and still haven't succeeded in -- is be the change you wish to see in the world. Now that is something I wouldn't mind focusing on!

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      drbj~ thanks...that quote pretty much sums it up for me too.

      Carneades Georgia~ Interesting perspective- i haven't done much study on husmanists, but I get your point. I like the quote.

      MsDora~ I appreciate your comment...as a churchgoer. I think it is truly great for people who have kept their peace and faith even within a church. I just get, well, distracted I guess. I believe in God, not much into church, and I believe we treat others how Jesus would have treated us. thanks for stopping by.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great points to think about. I'm a regular church goer, and don't intend to stop, but your hub reminds me that church attendance is not nearly as helpful to me or anyone else as the practice of these values! WWJD? Your answer is correct.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Beautiful hub, izettle, and the very last line, for me, says it all: "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." - Dalai Lama.

    • profile image

      Carneades-Georgia 

      6 years ago

      Izett, we humanists also have values,but ours stem from people's real needs instead of from some God. Yours are ours from what I see.

      We find that no God has rights over us and has no right to send us to any kind of Hell. We find that no future state exists.

      " Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate meaning to which neither God nor the future state can further validate." Inquiring Lynn

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THanks Bob~ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ...and did not do...this is great! Thakns for adding this to the conversation!

    • FIS profile image

      FIS 

      6 years ago

      Hi Laura,

      Don't have time to type it all out but here's the Bible quote in support of your main message: Matthew 25: 31-46.

      Bob

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Mr Happy~ I know I get your point but you had to make me think. I completely agree and it was a great observation for you to suggest that if it's done in love, it's really not a sacrifice.

      noenhulk~ completely agree. If you are doing for good and even if it's one of those sacrifices like not getting something you want because you must cover the needs first, then that can be a great teacher. Sacrifice can teach all sorts of great lessons. It's taught me patience and priorities for sure. THanks for stopping by.

    • noenhulk profile image

      noenhulk 

      6 years ago

      Wow! great comment @izette to Mr happy. It was your choice and I love that way of thinking. There are two meanings of sacrifice as I read each of them, the sacrifices you don't want and the sacrifices you are happy doing it. Sacrifices are not bad anyway. You are doing it for the good of others and for your own good too.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings once again,

      I see your perspective for sure (as I said above). What I was thinking though (just from my perspective), is that if one loves what they are doing than it is not a sacrifice. So, if I truly want to help my friend move and love to do that, then I would not consider my Saturday as sacrificed.

      When I do volunteer work, I do not see my time as sacrificed. Or when I donate money to Greenpeace or Red Cross, I do not see myself sacrificing my money or my time/energy which it took me to get that money. I guess all this is just a matter of perspective.

      All the best and thank You for the conversation!

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Mr. Happy~ I can think of numerous things to be sarcificed for the good of something. Sacrifice can come in the form of sacrificing your Saturday to help a friend move or sacrifcing your wants for something you need. Or the biggest sacrifice of all, speaking as a mother, I have two children and I believe the first 5 years of their life, I'm not sure what I haven't sacrificed...my body (I'm still recovering from my son's birth 3 months ago...my job...my freedom to do what I want when I want...putting myself first, and the list goes on). Children are a huge sacrifice but great reward. THis is all from a certain perspective because as you speak of love is exactly why taking great care of my children just comes naturally. Day in and day out I don't even think of the obvious sacrifices, but I constantly think of how I love them. I want to and I couldn't imagine not doing my best for them, but I still know things have been sacrificed. That's a tricky one isn't it? THanks for making me think...

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      tsmog~ what kind comments. thanks so much.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Izett 

      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Cruelkindness~ I like your name! Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Very interesting. I like your perception.

      The only trouble I have is with your idea that one must practice the "value of sacrifice", as You put it. I am of the opinion that if one feels that one is sacrificing something then, one is on a mistaken path. There is no sacrifice as I see it, in the Great Spirit. If we walk with the Light, there is nothing but love, confidence and power. I understand the way You see sacrifice but I think with Love we can go right past sacrifice and in this case it is no longer needed. (Just my personal opinion.)

      Have a great week-end! May Wakan Tanka guide your path.

      P.S. I think your philosophy and attitude to Life is great.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Hello Izzetl. What a great read here with this hub. Very good points for us to ponder. The Dali was here in Deigo just a week passed or just about. A friend went, she said he did a lot of laughing, smiling and knew some good, witty jokes. I think what ever the aura was she experienced is still simmering a bit.

      I will be back, later at home, another gander, with some music for sure. This is a very good read, and highly recommended.

    • cruelkindness profile image

      cruelkindness 

      6 years ago from an angle view.

      Their are people like me out there.

      Awesome Hub!

      Cruelkindness (Subliminally Thoughtless)

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