Why Religion And Church
Recent polls have shown religion is declining in America. There are many reasons for this but it may be a good time to reflect on why there is religion in the first place. Why does all civilizations from ancient to present have an element of religion? What is it about us humans that need a belief in a higher power that oversee our lives.
Why Are There Religions?
That is the big question. Why does man need religion? any religion. I have my opinion and I have not heard it anywhere presented this way. It just came to me recently out of the blue. Thinking about it more and more, it just makes sense.
Here is my argument for the need for religion. Suppose the world is perfect. Suppose there are no wars or diseases or crime or tragedies. Suppose we have all the foods we need, all the resources at our disposal and all that we ever wish for exists and the leisure time to enjoy them. Another word, an utopia society. In that scenario, do you see a need for God or religion or church? I would venture to guess a resounding no.
Back To Reality
Now, back to the real world. Once we accept the premise that the world as we know it today is imperfect. With all the problems and challenges, we have to carve out a piece of it for ourselves and our family. Realizing that as humans, we can survive and thrive only if we band together and work towards a common good - what ever that is.
Being "self aware" as a living entity is the uniqueness of our species. No other animal on earth has reached this state. Whether you believe in a Creator or in evolution, it does not matter how we got here for the benefit of this discussion.
Here is what we are dealt:
- a world with a range of temperatures and climate conducive to life
- a world with a variety of plant life that we can use for food and materials and medicine
- a world with a variety of animals which we can harness for food and energy
- a world with plenty of natural resources that can be harnessed for energy and products
- a world that have a natural seasonal cycle with a sun and a moon
- a brain with the capacity to learn and invent and explore and be curious
- a unique personality and talent for every person
This topic require a bit more explanation. If you were to design a "perfect" machine, what would it look like and what properties would you want it to have? My contention is this - you would end up something like us. Why?
Think about this, what makes us unique? Given a pair of parents, with their DNAs, a new entity is created with some properties of the parents but with other talents and properties. Only with this design, replicated again and again, and over generations do we end up with the human race.
Current AI technologies are making some progress. However, even if they come up with the perfect robot that can do all the things a human can and more, it is only one model and only one model. It cannot reproduce and more over, it cannot create a new model that is different with a different set of skills and personality. That is our human advantage.
What Do Humans Need?
Religion and Churches go hand in hand. Once you have a religion, a church is needed to organize and to teach and to propagate and to disseminate information. It is a necessary bureaucracy.
Why do we need religion? Need is a strong term so perhaps want is a better term. Why do we want it? Because it satisfy a void.
In my introduction, I brought up the idea of a utopia. If all is well and the world is perfect, there would be no void. Since we don't have utopia, by definition, something is missing.
In our daily lives, we face many challenges. Many of which are small and insignificant. The major events such as accidents and illness and death of a loved one and terrorism require more to deal with. Our brain is designed to process reality and to keep a sense of order. When things that don't quite fit that template, we can't compute. Luckily, unlike a computer, we don't crash or freeze. Our brain has the power of rationalization and of "faith".
Faith is complete confidence or trust in a person or thing; or a belief not based on proof. It may also refer to a particular system of religious belief.
The Serenity Prayer is a simple concept that allows humans to deal with whatever that comes our way.
Imperfections And Failings
Humans are imperfect and therefore anything that they create by definition are also imperfect. As I explained, the church is a necessary institution for the propagation of the faith. It is a creation of man and run by people who also have failings. The Catholic church has done tremendous good around the world down through the ages. However, it is not exempt from these failings such as the sex abuse scandals of some priests. The bigger sin was the attempt by church officials to hide the crimes in a false believe that they are protecting the institution. That being said, it does not negate all the good works done by the church and it's pastors. The lesson for all is never put anyone individual on a pedestal for you will be disappointed.
The Case For Organized Religion
Even if you are convinced that we need faith, some will say we don't need an organized religion to have faith. Each of us can strife to be a good person and help others in need and provide for a better tomorrow for our selves and our posterity.
However, organized religion is the most efficient and longer lasting way forward. In order to document the history of events and people and doctrines, all religions require an organization to prosecute and disseminate that information. In addition, the human brain requires order and a periodic reminder.
For example, Catholics has the liturgical calendar which guides the faithful. The various seasons of spring summer fall and winter corresponds with the religious events of lent, Easter, Halloween, advent and Christmas. The various celebrations acts as a reminder to the average person and the weekly Mass is also a remind us of the passion of Christ.
The current media and others like to paint all religions with the same brush. That is not reality. Not all religion and churches are the same. There are churches and mosques that preaches hate and violence and indoctrination. They are not representative of most religions. Most religions preaches peace, harmony, charity and civility. They are the foundations of our society and provide time tested guidance of human behavior. The Ten Commandments is the basis of our laws. Our Government along with Churches and the Family are the three pillars of civilization.
Why The Decline?
Now that I present the need for religion, why are we seeing the decline in recent years? I have several explanations. First, science is being positioned as a new "religion." You can see this in the climate change theory of AGW. There are some in the scientific community that holds a certain believe almost by faith. The claim that CO2 is responsible for global warming leading to climate change is a doctrine that cannot be challenged. Also, science is used to explain past religious beliefs and miracles. However, science is only dealing with the physical world and ignores the spiritual realm all together.
Another reason that religion and faith is in decline is due to the influences of the secular groups. The ACLU and the Humanist society uses their political and legal clout to remove God from the public square. The academic world of higher education and Hollywood celebrities and main street media all are secular and often mocks religion and people of faith.
There are some signs that they are not always winning. For example, after 9/11, people aggregated to churches and synagogues and relied on their community faith leaders to heal and to pray and try to make some sense out of the chaos. It often takes a tragedy to remind us that religion serves a purpose.
If there were no religion, someone would have to invent it. That's human nature. There are those who either deny the existence of God or have a lack of belief in a higher power and yet seems to be hung up on Him. They gravitate to nature and mother earth as the source of all life. They depend on science for all the answers and believe people of faith use their religion as a crutch. What they are missing is the spiritual world which exists and are outside the realm of science. The truth is religion and church are here till the end of time.
Peace be with you.
The Serenity Prayer
- Serenity Prayer - God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time…