- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
The role of religion in the society: diversity and opinions
How long will it take for us to begin accepting other people's beliefs?
Greetings! This is my first hub, my name is Eric and I'm glad I have joined this site so I can share my knowledge and experience with you on the different things I have seen and learned in my life.
For now, I will begin discussing about how today's society do with the topics of religion, faith and spirituality.
First, how can we define religion? General perception of this term is system in which there is a belief in a deity which is responsible for our existence. Religion has existed in different forms since the very beginning; from the belief of many deities, represented by different ways, like the Sun and the nature being deities themselves or ways to see those deities, to the belief of a Supreme Energy which has created what we see around us and the entire Universe.
Today, there are some major religions, like Christianity (practiced by nearly 2 billion people, making it the largest religion today), Islam (1 billion believers, second largest religion) and Judaism. There are also philosophies which can work as a form of religion but where "deities" or the closest representation if a deity is simply a form of energy or feeling, and not an external force.
Religions work as a form of "language" in which humans try to understand spirituality and understanding why several things happen and cannot be explained by empirical means. As a matter of fact, in the beginning, when science and technology was non-existent or in its very early origins, everything was explained in terms of religion. For example, thunder and lightning was seen as the wrath of a deity. Droughts were seen as punishment from deities, as well as different forms of climatic and geological phenomena like hurricanes and earthquakes. Even today there are people who still believe so, because most scientific developments explain why they occur in terms of cycles, physical origins, and causes, but still don't have full explanations and give people space to believe they happen as a consequence of a previous event which has no relationship to it physically, for example- a country with high crime rates being impacted by a huge earthquake. The country may lie in an area where they are not common, so people may quickly imply it was God's punishment for not dealing with the high crime. Geologically, it may be possible for an earthquake to occur anywhere in the world simply because the earth is not perfectly solid below us and therefore, huge movements can occur which forces the ground we walk in to move, fall and tremble. There are more prone areas, but there is nowhere on Earth where it is immune to earthquakes.
In its positive aspects, religion helps people to try to connect to that energy they cannot feel with their senses- touching, hearing, seeing, smelling or tasting. Religion exists because there are questions that science, no matter how it advances, will not be able to answer. Why does love exist? Why do we feel anger? Why do we choose to like some people and reject others? What can make people good or evil? Yes, there are some chemical and biological aspects linked with emotions, but to say they cause-originate them is vague. Why do we want to bond socially and romantically? Why do good things happen to some, and bad things happen to others? These questions are impossible for empirical science to give a thorough and reliable answer. What happens inside our body has nothing to do with the cause of what we feel emotionally. And even if they did, what makes them act like they do? More empirical data will lead to more questions. For example, why do we want to love? Some will say? High levels of oxytocin. So what? That does not answer the question. There is a need for a psychological answer, and until now, religion may bring some good theories about why. In some cases, there is no answer. Let's go to one question: why do people marry? Some say because we have emotions and we feel the need to be with someone, it's part of the nature. May same a nice answer, but it does not end there. Why are we that way? These questions are valid because not everybody wants to marry, in fact not everybody wants to bond with someone. So, the first answer is relative, not absolute, and therefore is not a good answer. Some people will say that religion will not bring good answers to some of this questions either. For example, some say "we bond because that's the way God designed us". Again, a relative answer because for example, Christianity has several books and in one of them, Jesus assures his disciples not everybody is here to marry. So the relative answer that "God wants us to multiply" becomes troubling with the gospels, if we see it in a literal way. Perhaps it will take several centuries to get a close, reliable answer, close to be absolute, as per why do people marry. Until now, it is a choice, not a need. The same can be said for romantic love. There are celibates and asexuals in the world so "the need for romantic love" so claimed even by some professionals is not absolute, and treating asexuality or celibacy issues as "rare" in a negative way shows that some people are biased when trying to give a reliable answer. Some people believe that the rule for the majority is the acceptable rule, but that is not always the case. Absolute answers require that there are no exceptions. Mathematically, 1 plus 1 is 2. There are many ways to interpret 1+1 being something else than 2 but they are never mathematical. So, mathematically, 1+1 is 2, no relative in this aspect. It will never be 1, or 3, or 11, again- mathematically talking.
Then, a very important word in the matter of religion is relativity. So far I have written why is it important to not take something relative as absolute. That is exactly the main problem with religion- its negative trait. Even in spirituality, people don't seem anywhere close to find a way to harmonize the different ways of trying to understand the supreme energy whatever we wish to call. Let's call it God for now. The first important step is to recognize religions in the world as relative ways to understand God. People who practice a specific religion take their religion as the only one valid. Everything else is wrong. In a future hub I will describe the dangers for this mistake. For now, let's set the example- Christians versus Muslims. Both believe in the same God, even though some may even go to a point to deny so. God, or Allah, is interpreted by both groups of people in similar yet different ways, and those differences have created a lot of human perceptions which, through the years, have become to be believed as made by God, regardless of its erroneous nature due to the incongruousness and lack of logic found in them. To expose them with detail will take long so let's live it to a future hub. Religious people who turn fanatic and way too conservative are stuck with their ideas, which impede them to expand possible aspects that may bring a logical answer to why two groups may be right in their distinct ways to understand God. Some people go to the other extreme point- confusion and lack of logic in some traditional beliefs lead them to agnosticism and atheism, and therefore, it is all a big lie, no deities exist and we are here- because of some unknown reason, which will never be known because if we only trust what we see then nothing happens for a reason.
So to conclude for now, it seems religious differences may be far from being dealt with. As long as people don't open their minds to different opinions, mostly because of fear of recognizing the very possible error of their current mindset, there will be no harmony between religions, just like it happens with politics. We have to recognize the importance of what is relative and what is absolute. Relative means that it may be different depending on the people or circumstances. Religion is not absolute, it will never be absolute because we all have different cultures and minds and even though there are people who are similar, each human is unique. And humans, generally, like to persuade their way of thinking to others, some in a very aggressive and not-so-nice way. Absolute means there is no room for variation or difference. We may want to assume some things are absolute because in most cases they don't vary, but a slight variation in something will never allow it to be absolute.