General Question

Hobbes's avatar

What is religion?

Asked by Hobbes (7311 points ) March 16th, 2009

It seems that every other debate on Fluther is at least tangentially related to the topic of religion, and yet it is at best a very fuzzy idea. What does the word “religion” mean to you?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

149 Answers

psyla's avatar

Religion is a method of working on one’s Jungian archetypes.

essieness's avatar

A way for other people to tell me how to worship God and how to live.

augustlan's avatar

A set of beliefs pertaining to a supernatural being or beings, and a set of rules based on those beliefs.

aviona's avatar

a euphemism for “cult”

psyla's avatar

Those kinds of people are working with their Dictator archetype.

steve6's avatar

recognizing a higher being

psyla's avatar

Heck, the cops tell us how to drive, what’s the difference? We all have to learn how to handle others who attempt to control our behavior. Some people enjoy being controlled, and some people really do need to be restrained from going out of control.

“Supernatural” means we don’t yet understand how it works…

AstroChuck's avatar

It’s ligion, all over again.

psyla's avatar

What’s a “Ligion”?

AstroChuck's avatar

It’s a cross between a lion and a pigeon, silly.

ponderinarf's avatar

Noigiler. Soo, that’s what religion looks like spelled backwards. Without a dictionary, religion to me is group-think based on individuals’ faith/belief. However, group-think is not what does it for me(again, just a quick stab in the dark). I think religion comes from how people respond to the idea of and/or reality of a being greater than humans. This presupposes that some people are going to reject ideas of a “greater being(s)” but that by doing so they are responding to the idea and/or reality of a “greater beings.” Yeah, but religion as I have defined it is not what I am about personally.

**My comment here is sheer speculation and without much thought. But I did try to give my 2 cents.

teirem1's avatar

A morality system and sometimes lifestyle reinforced through myth, story, ritual, and the belief in a higher power. Often organizing into groups which can strengthen a culture by supporting it’s norms.

asmonet's avatar

Oh, please no.

I spent 9.5 hours today in TWO Sociology classes talking about this – the whole fucking time.

asmonet's avatar

/wrists.

essieness's avatar

I just reread my first response and it comes off as very biased and jaded.

I think religion serves a purpose for some people, and for others it does not. I happen to be one of the latter.

aviona's avatar

hell, and mine doesn’t?

psyla's avatar

There’s alot of truth in your biased jadedness.

ninjacolin's avatar

I’ve been searching for the best possible definition. Most dictionaries suck for this.

the highest possible quality of life: just want to define this. it’s the kind of life lived that deserves the greatest possible reward for its achievements. (that reward could be as lofty as heaven or as humble as a funeral with many in attendance)

Recognizing the commonalities between all religions: A person’s religion always includes rules, principals and guidelines that someone is convinced they should abide by in order to enjoy the highest possible quality of life. These rules, principals and guidelines can be about and apply to anything from punctuality to generosity to food to hobbies to places you should visit on a regular basis and what dates are best to show up.

Religious views are based on personal and/or unique beliefs about how the world actually works. Sometimes these beliefs include concepts of the supernatural and sometimes even the rules the supernatural follow. However, in some cases they do not.

Definition of Religion:
1) The Etiquette by which an individual lives their life and based on personal and/or unique beliefs about how the world actually works.

2) (Organized Religion) The prescribed etiquette by which an individual should live their lives as established by a group of people and based on personal and/or unique beliefs about how the world actually works. (eg. a church’s religion)

Beliefs about how the world actually works:
This is fun to think about. Since everyone believes something different about what’s really real (eg. Some believe reality contains a God watching over us.) everyone ends up with a different religion.. a different PATH to the highest possible quality of life. I mean, if you don’t believe there is a God watching over us, then living the highest possible quality of life is a different task than it is for someone who does believe there is a God. Or maybe you believe there is a god, but you just don’t believe he’s personal.. or Maybe you believe we ALL are god.. or maybe you believe God is Jesus so you pray to Jesus.. while the next person believes God and Jesus are seperate and so they pray THRU jesus to God…
So, beliefs are the hinges for our actions. Religious and otherwise.

so, my answer to the question
In case my opinion hasn’t become clear as yet.. I think we’re all religious. We simply believe in different concepts of reality. Still, though, we all pursue the same thing: Living the highest possible quality of life for ourselves and attaining WHATEVER reward there is to get out of this thing we call Life.

asmonet's avatar

We are not all religious. I feel as though you’re twisting the word a bit.

ninjacolin's avatar

Even you are a religious fluther member.
Your etiquette has been to answer as truthfully and honestly as possible. check in regularly.. be as helpful as possible.. i’ve heard you say things about how we’re a “community”.. none of your actions fall short of the typical behavior of a church goer.

ninjacolin's avatar

also, i’m not “twisting” the word.. but i am using it in it’s broadest possible context, yes. but I’m trying not to go beyond any of the accepted definitions.

psyla's avatar

Lao-Tsu said that as we define something as beautiful, we so, at the same time create the concept of ugliness. By defining a state of being as “a higher quality of life” we have thus created a “lower quality of life” as well. Why not just live life as it is?

ninjacolin's avatar

hmm.. i would argue that by “JUST” living life “as it is” we are yet again achieving/pursuing “the higher state of life” than when we toil and look for “the right path”

asmonet's avatar

I think in this case you are overgeneralizing to the point that it fits your example. At least to you. I am not one who would consider Fluther my religion in any sense of the word other than jokingly.

asmonet's avatar

When applying a term to a set of behaviors and further trying to apply it to individuals you really must consider the connotations present.

Qingu's avatar

Religion is an ideology centered around a belief in supernatural beings that have personalities and want humans to act in certain ways. In newer religions, the supernatural beings tend to be aliens.

Also whatever Zen Buddhism is.

Deism skirts the line. Functionally, I don’t really see much different between Deism, Pantheism, and Atheism. It’s just semantics—the Pantheist’s God is my Universe, and the Deist’s God is functionally equivalent to the Theory of Everything in an atheist’s worldview. If a “God” has zero interaction in human history or cannot be differentiated from the Universe as a whole, then I don’t really see why you’re calling it a God or a religion in the first place.

asmonet's avatar

Uh…newer religions tend to have alien deities? Newer cults do not qualify as religion. But that is an entirely different subject I could debate with myself for hours.

And Buddhism is a philosophy.

Jack79's avatar

Religion is the effort of an ant on a chocolate wrapper not only to guess the recipe of the chocolate, but also to psychoanalyse the owner of the candy factory. Not taking into account that it’s a multinational with thousands of shareholders.

ninjacolin's avatar

@asmonet “I think in this case you are overgeneralizing to the point that it fits your example”

actually, what I’m doing is finding a defintion that fits ALL examples. not just the one I’m providing. a good definition will hold true in all cases and I believe you’ll find that mine does. (naturally, i’d love to see an example of where it fails to match)

The fluther example was a little silly though. I just thought it’d help you understand metaphorically/jokingly. But my point is that the religion of asmonet is asmonet’s ethical standard of life BASED on whatever asmonet knows to be true about the world and about achieving life’s greatest rewards.

sandystrachan's avatar

religion = lies
ultimate definition

asmonet's avatar

Again, you should be aware of the weight of the word religion.

One could easily replace ‘religion’ in your example of me with judgment, conscience, morals, whatever. Many things other than religion could be used and might have a more positive effect if you separated the two concepts in your own view. Or at least in your writing to others, who may not view things as simply as yourself.

@sandystrachan: Play nice.

sandystrachan's avatar

@asmonet i was nice i could have gave more on how its lies but i kept it simple

asmonet's avatar

Sometimes being blunt can have the unintended effect of being borderline insulting. :-/
It just seemed very judgmental and oversimplified. I apologize if that wasn’t what you were hoping to achieve. :-/

psyla's avatar

If a person believes they’re clumsy, they’re more liable to fall down. If religion is a lie, we can make it true by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yet your religion will not hold true for me, I’ll have more fun creating my own reality, won’t I?

Alright, if you’re really hot, I’ll see if you can create a fun reality that I would find believable.

ninjacolin's avatar

@asmonet Absolutely, I appreciate the idea of the commonly accepted weight of the word. But I think it’s important to clarify where possible.

My whole point is that when we use the word “religion”, we use it in sooo many different contexts that if we were to account for them all we would end up with this one concept: Life Etiquette.

It explains all religions and religious behaviour missing none (that i know of) and adding nothing new from outside of those understandings. It is an absolute definition that requires no words like “especially” or “sometimes”.. it is what all religions are about. all of em. (unless I’m mistaken.. and i would like to know if i am)

psyla's avatar

Etiquette towards people or towards life?

asmonet's avatar

Well, I don’t know how many times I can say you’re wrong politely and convincingly.

That’s simply not the case. We do not use the word religion in more than one context other than to imply level of commitment by exaggerration. Period.

psyla's avatar

I thought you were going to bed?

ninjacolin's avatar

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU GO TO BED, ASMONET!! lolol. :) just kidding.

asmonet's avatar

Well, I got sucked the hell in. :)

psyla's avatar

Don’t you love it?

psyla's avatar

@asmonet, what is religion?

teirem1's avatar

ninjacolin, I don’t believe Life Etiquette is a complete definition for religion though it overlaps. Religions, across the board, believe in a “higher power”.

ninjacolin's avatar

@quingu i’m agnostic. i lean towards atheism and pan-en-theism. i wonder if you’re confusing deism and pan-en-theism..??

@psyla etiquette towards everything IN life. it’s how you go ABOUT life. consider the etiquette of how to play tennis. If you decide to play tennis with dirty shoes on the court and two tennis balls.. YOU may still believe you are playing tennis whereas a connoisseur of the sport would be like: “pff! that’s not tennis! you have to have clean shoes and only one ball!” meanwhile, you just think he’s a jerk. you might say: “hey, i’m having fun this way just fine screw off!”

where “having a fun game” = “the highest possible quality of game” as far as you’re concenred. and for him: “plaing by all the classic rules and having fun” = “the highest possible quality of game.”

all religious differences work the same way as this disagreement, in my opinion.

asmonet's avatar

Let’s define RELIGION shall we? The way Sociologists, that’s right, scientists would. And for that matter, any religious person.

1. Religion is Institutionalized. A pattern of social action organized around the beliefs, practices, and symbols that people develop to answer questions about the meaning of existence.
2. Religion is a feature of groups. That’s a whole essay I have no interest in condensing at the moment.
3. Religions are based on beliefes that are considered sacred. The sacred is that which is set apart from ordinary activity for worship, seen as holy, and protected by special rites and rituals. The sacred is distinguished from the profane, which is the everyday world and is specifically not religious.
4. Religion establishes values and moral prescriptions for behavior. A prescription is a constraint imposed by external forces. Religion establishes prescriptions for believers.
5 Religion establishes norms for behavior. Religious belief systems establish social norms about how the faithful behave should behave in a given situation. Worshippers are expected to follow these norms – covering the head, avoiding foods, prayer, etc.

AND

6. Religion provides answers to the questions of ULTIMATE MEANING. The ordinary beliefs of daily life are SECULAR beliefs and may be institutionalized, but they are specifically non-religious. Science, for example, generates secular beliefs based on particular ways of thinking – logic and empirical observation are at the root of scientific beliefs. Religious beliefs, in contrast often have a SUPERNATURAL ELEMENT. They emerge from spiritual needs and may provide answers to questions that cannot be probed with the profane tools of science and reason.

Did you enjoy the CliffsNotes of Asmo’s textbooks?

You are warping your definitions. Plain and simple.

asmonet's avatar

See, I was working on it Psyla.

psyla's avatar

@ninjacolin, I love that analogy! If the universe has 11 dimensions and is shaped like a plant, I’m sure we’re having a similar discussion in an alternate timeline.

@asmonet, nice one!

asmonet's avatar

And that’s the Introduction to Sociology Concepts book, the first you get. It’s not even real Soc. yet. :’(

ninjacolin's avatar

@asmonet

scientists? lol, those windbags could learn a lesson from this windbag!

everything you’ve said fits in my definition the only difference being that mine is more eloquent.

asmonet's avatar

Um. Yeah, mmkay.

psyla's avatar

The only exception to the.. rule is that Hindus do not practice as a group…

asmonet's avatar

A group in this context is defined as a collection of individuals who interact and communicate, share goals and norms, and who have a subjective awareness as ‘we’.

ninjacolin's avatar

@asmonet lol, really though. i should do a side by side comparison tomorrow. no time tonight.

@teirem1 i’ve heard this complaint before but i think the supernatural is misunderstood. it’s a little tricky, but still i think technically correct. consider:

If God is Real. If he really counts as a part of reality.. then he is not SUPERnatural. he is natural. Same with miracles.. the point being, that religion includes the supernatural only to someone who doesn’t believe it. But to believers, everything in their faith is a part of what is really real. everythign is natural.

asmonet's avatar

Maybe you should buy an unabridged dictionary. ;)

From Wiki:
“The term supernatural or supranatural (Latin: super, supra “above” + natura “nature”) pertains to an order of existence beyond the scientifically visible universe…Characteristic for phenomena claimed as supernatural are anomaly, uniqueness and uncontrollability, thus lacking reproducibility required for scientific examination.”

‘God’ still qualifies as SUPERnatural. :)

asmonet's avatar

And now, I am going to bed. I’ll return tomorrow to sass you fully alert.

Prepare yourself, sir.

teirem1's avatar

Ah, but ninjacolin I personally didn’t use the word “supernatural” only “higher power”. Supernatural is not a word I would use in a description of religion. However asmonets desciption from wiki works well in the context that asmonet is using it in.

psyla's avatar

@asmonet is going to bed. Praise Ganesh.

I must stress the notion that religion is a method of working with one’s Jungian archetypes.

ninjacolin's avatar

I think “supernatural” is a perfectly valid label, asmonet, to distinguish between the “scientifically visible universe” and the rest of the universe. Still though, I spoke to the Universe as a whole. The big whole everything thing we call “Reality.” which is the word I should have used, rather than merely “Universe” It’s a matter of what each individual believes is REAL.. not just tangible.

@teirem1 you really think “a higher power” is always a part of a religion? Like a President? or a Gang Leader?

Know what I mean.. “a higher power” is just three words strung together. I’ll need concrete examples that give this definition.

psyla's avatar

I think a higher power is something like a traffic light at an intersection.

Now that was a ridiculous thing to say.

ninjacolin's avatar

^ a guiding force?

admittedly, i always thought this too, teirem1.. but you always hear some stray opinion that says: “not all religions have a god or higher power.. look at buddhism!” and i never know what to say about that because i don’t know Buddhism well enough to know whether there actually is a God or any kind of “supernatural” phenomenons.

but i know Buddhism does fit the rest of the definition. SO.. i settled for just playing it safe and allowing for religions to include and not include a diety if they want.

psyla's avatar

Nice call. Shamans don’t have a deity. Is Shamanism a religion?

teirem1's avatar

FYI -In Mahayana Buddhism there are diety. In Therevada Buddhism, though there is no supreme diety and thus the confusion between Buddhism being a philosophy or a religion. You have me on the “higher power” I don’t have a good descriptor this late (maybe tomorrow) – that then leads me unwillingly to the word diety which leads to supernatural (though I balk at that word) and thus to your discussion with asmonet

I think I will have to pick this up tomorrow (I’m falling asleep).

Shamans come from various religious systems that to my knowledge have some sort of creator/greator being.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Actually Ligion is a band .. for those of you with the ingenious plays on words.

The word “religion” means nothing special to me.

Harp's avatar

@teirem1 This whole business of gods in Buddhism is very confusing. You seem to be referring to the bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism as “gods”, which a Buddhist would never do. The bodhisattva is not a higher order of being, it’s a level of spiritual attainment. A fundamental tenet of the Mahayana is that all beings are potential bodhisattvas.

Even in the Theravada, “gods” are part of the cosmology, holdovers from the pre-Buddhist Indian myths. But these are not involved at all in spiritual practice; they’re simply bit players that, along with animals, humans and others, form the spectrum of sentient entities.

The confusion arises because in some folk Buddhist traditions, Buddha and bodhisattvahs are treated much as Catholics treat saints: as super-powerful beings to whom supplications can be made and who can perform miracles on our behalf. This is seen by other Buddhists as a gross misunderstanding of what Buddha and bodhisattvas actually are.

fireside's avatar

- from Anglo-Fr. religiun “conduct indicating a belief in a divine power,”
-religare “to bind fast”

Based on the etymology, I would say religion is a way to increase the bond between people who share a belief in a divine power. I guess Harp would have to answer as to whether Buddhists have a sense of a “divine power”

toleostoy's avatar

In my mind, religion should be about faith expressing itself through love. faith normally is a belief in God, but really I think it is appropriate to have faith that love will overcome hatred and bigotry, forgiveness creates intimacy, and a community at peace should be the goal. Hopefully that kind of religion would be pleasing to God—you know, caring for orphans, widows, the sick and oppressed.

Harp's avatar

@fireside ”...as to whether Buddhists have a sense of a ‘divine power’”

Strictly speaking, no. The stated aim of Buddhism is relief from suffering, not just for oneself but for all beings. That seems like a monumental task that would require a superhuman power to accomplish, but most Buddhists don’t see it that way.

They understand suffering to come from a fundamental misunderstanding, a delusion, concerning the nature of Being itself. The key to the end of suffering is ridding the mind of this delusion, and so to see things as they are and always have been. To do this requires effort and power, since those delusions are deeply entrenched, but I can’t see any reason to characterize that power as “divine”. To be human, according to Buddhism, is to possess this ability.

Qingu's avatar

@asmonet, there is no difference between a religion and a cult. When a cult gets enough followers and enough of a history, it becomes a “religion.” All religions probably started out as cults with charismatic leaders.

And there are kind of aliens in Mormonism. If you get to the highest level of heaven you get to become God of your own planet. Earth’s God is such a being. There are also aliens in Scientology.

fireside's avatar

@Harp – Thank you for that clarification. Does the power within the individual ever manifest itself outside of the individual? In other words, is it by tapping into this extra-ordinary power that suffering is relieved, not just within the individual but by the whole of humanity?

What I am getting at is a sense of interconnectedness or oneness.
Is there a unifying force?

asmonet's avatar

@Qingu: There is a reason I specifically avoided the cult/religion debate. I am not interested in getting into it right now and quite frankly it would be unfair to Hobbes to derail his topic with a entirely separate and hefty question.

And your comment about Mormonism shows a complete lack of understanding of the faith. I have had many Mormon friends over the years and because of all the mystery surrounding their religion I have spoken to them about it at length. You do not become a God in the highest kingdom of heaven. You live as he does, where he does, with him. Most Mormons I know get very upset when people assume they become their own god. People seem to misinterpret the fact that you live as God. Not to be confused with living as a God.

And I have never heard mention any actual of aliens in Mormonism, care to link me? Because your jump in logic doesn’t qualify as proof.

Scientology was created by a science fiction writer as a new therapy. I hardly feel it needs to be entered into any portion of this debate. It was created to be a form of psychotherapy and his own opinions about reincarnation and alien happenings eventually blended with it and became a religion. It’s a fault of it’s creator being pulled in by the experiences of others that it became one instead of remaining what it was intended to be. You might want to read about the history.

Qingu's avatar

@asmonet, I’m having trouble finding sources about Mormons and other planets that are not biased, so the best I can do on short notice is this Wikipedia entry, which seems legit. I admit I may have skipped the details, and I admit that “aliens” (as we understand them today) is probably not the best description. But it does seem like other planets are a longstanding tradition.

As for Scientology, I don’t think it’s as accidental as you’re making it out to be; Hubbard supposedly was toying with the idea of exploiting religion’s tax exempt status. I don’t really see the relevance of what you wrote, though. Are you saying that L. Ron Hubbard was a charlatan, whereas the founders of “real” religions were all genuine? I don’t think there’s as bright of a line between the two as you might think.

asmonet's avatar

I wasn’t saying that at all. L. Ron Hubbard was pulled in with stories of past lives from others, his previous inclinations may have contributed to the end result that we know as Scientology today. Yes, I believe L. Ron Hubbard is a charlatan for making a ‘therapy’ that was rejected by nearly every medical professional and journal into a religion.

I have no opinion on older religions as I do not have an unbiased account of their beginnings or motives. I do think they had some great thoughts, and some good practices however.

Harp's avatar

@fireside sorry, work got in the way :)

The delusion at the root of suffering is the delusion of separation. The very idea of an individual apart from the rest of humanity is a manifestation of that delusion. Unity is not a goal to work toward, or something that requires a force to bring about; it’s simply the fundamental nature of the way things already are. The fact that we perceive things otherwise and act accordingly, thus bringing about suffering, is the delusion at work.

The delusion of separation and individuality is extremely persistent, compelling and self-reinforcing. The power to break free from it doesn’t come from the individual, for the simple reason that the individual is illusory. By the same token, the individual was never enslaved to the delusion to begin with because, again, the individual is illusory, a product of the delusion. Speaking in terms of “a release from suffering” is actually misleading because the bondage never truly existed.

The metaphor of dreaming is often used to clarify this. A person being chased by a mad dog in a dream is suffering terribly. The solution to that suffering lies in understanding that this dream self is not his true self at all, and that the dog tormenting him never really existed. Awakening to the reality behind the illusion brings the realization that both the cause of suffering and the sufferer never existed.

Where did this awakening come from? Not from the little guy in the dream, nor from any other being in the dream. It is simply our nature to dream and to awake from the dream.

augustlan's avatar

@Harp Deep. One day, I’ve got to look into that some more…

fireside's avatar

@Harp – work happens. I would never want to rush your thoughtfulness.

It seems to be primarily a contextual shift from saying that there is an external mover (i.e. God) to saying that there is a universal oneness with individualistic graspings (or possibly the other way around, chronologically).

Granted, that is based on my conception of a constant God as the inspiration behind all religions and not on a personal God with emotions.

Thanks for the great summary.

Harp's avatar

@fireside The reason Buddhists have always so strongly resisted “God” language is that it carries with it an implied separation. As soon as you posit an entity, no matter how expansive, then you imply that something lies outside of that entity. If I talk about God, then my listener will naturally assume that I’m not talking about my cat, or bricks, or the listener himself. The separation is implied whether or not I intend it. If I say that God is a is a unifying force, for instance, then the implication is that any force that divides must be something other than God.

But Buddhism tries to point to a reality that has no separations whatsoever. What do you call that? Calling it anything is problematic. At some point it got called “Buddha” and then we’ve had to spend the next 2 1/2 millenia mopping up the misconceptions that arose from that. You could call it it “God”, but you’d face the same problems.

Whatever it is, it’s also got to be the cat, the brick, us. But the ultimate meaning of this is that there is no cat, no brick, no us.

fireside's avatar

@Harp – that makes sense. I use God as a handy term for what I imagine in my mind as a vast interconnected field of which we are all a part. Somewhat similar to the Higgs field or a stream of collective sub-conscious.

Is that larger oneness Brahman and the individual illusions Atman?

Harp's avatar

@firesideIs that larger oneness Brahman…?” No. But I’d say the same thing if you asked ’’Is that larger oneness Buddha?”. No name can apply.

I understand the urge to imagine this in metaphorical terms, such as your web, but abstraction isn’t the way to approach this. It has to be grasped directly and concretely, without the intermediary of ideas. This is not in the least bit complicated. Its utter simplicity is what makes it hard to understand: we’re looking for something more complicated than this.

fireside's avatar

@Harp – so it can be better described like this:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Harp's avatar

Otherwise known as “Thundering Silence”.

asmonet's avatar

Nice. ;)

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: By definition you see lots of similarities between cults and religions, and in general I would agree with you in saying that one could characterize some religions as cults and all cults as religions. The biggest contrast between these two words is really the connotation of both. Cults have a negative connotation and in general require mandatory submission to leadership, emphasis of emotion over thought, and emotional manipulation. Religions which in general have a more positive connotation, IMO, can be better described as a group of people with similar beliefs and thoughts which are uncontrolled by leadership in a church. Religions do not require force, manipulation, or control to run, although I don’t disagree that some do. Just reiterating my point that not all religions can be defined as cults.

fireside's avatar

@critter1982
 
 

 
 

Qingu's avatar

@critter1982, I can’t think of a religion that didn’t “require force, manipulation, or control to run” at its inception and throughout much of its history.

Let’s take the big three, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. If the Bible is even a third true, the early Hebrew religion was a totalitarian society. Moses ordered the execution of unbelievers. Afterwards, the priests had a huge amount of authority, as did the judges and kings, who largely deferred to the priests. This was also a heavily militarized society, except during the periods that it was conquered and subdued by more advanced civilizations (and even then Jews frequently, and violently, rebelled, as the prophets, Macabees, and sicaari zealots show). It wasn’t until after the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 A.D. that the religion of Judaism finally “settled down” and essentially gave up violence and political authoritarianism (though at the rate Israel is going demographically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these aspects return.)

Christianity had its start in the following of a Jesus, a cult leader who said to his followers “let the dead bury the dead” and essentially threatened unbelievers with torture when “his dad came home.” Eschatological cults were quite common at the time (especially with Jews), promising a near-future destruction of your enemies and “payback” for unbelievers. Some early Christians were utterly convinced that the world was imminantly going to end (especially after the Temple’s destruction, an unspeakable sacrilege supposedly, like nuking Mecca would be today). If that’s not manipulation via psychological coersion, I don’t know what is. Some of Jesus’ followers were apparently violent, as they were close with the Jewish zealots at the time. I think it’s quite likely that the reason the Romans were pissed at Jesus for being the “king of the Jews” is because that was actually the airs he was taking for himself—hence the whole point of establishing a direct lineage of descent from King David, the last great political leader of Judaism. In any case, 300 years after Jesus got axed Christianity was firmly established as a state religion and violently enforced for the next 1,200 or so years.

Islam was established by Muhammad and governed by the Quran even in its early days. The Quran calls for killing apostates. Muhammad’s followers were violent mauraders and went to war with neighboring tribes. The idea that “Islam spread by the sword” is not really fair, because the spread of Islam did bring a lot of progressive changes for the region and many of the “conquered” people didn’t really seem to care, but it was most certainly violently enforced for most of its history, and still is in many countries.

Hinduism is sort of complicated. I wouldn’t even necessarily call Hinduism a religion, singular, because the term only came into use in the 1800’s from British colonialists searching for a name for the collection of various beliefs connected by a common mythology. Some Hindus worship Vishnu as the utmost divine being. Others worship Shiva. Still others worship both and see them as manifestations of Brahman. Many Hindus are remarkably tolerant of other beliefs, both within Hinduism and from other religions. However, much of the start of the religious tradition of Hinduism can be traced back to the Aryans who composed the Vedas around 3,000 years ago. They were violent conquerers who instilled a priest caste that violently enforced their religious system.

I don’t know enough about Buddhism or Shintoism to comment. But it sure seems to me like most religions were “cults” by your definition for much of their history.

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: I“m not saying that force, manipulation, or attempts at control never existed in these particular religions and I’m not saying that it doesn’t even exist now in some of them. Hell by that definition we could consider our families to be cults. How often do parents use force, manipulation, or control over their children to get them to do the right thing, or at least in their opinion, the right thing? Christianity at least from my perspective and from the churches that I have attended do not use these tactics in their congregations. This is the reason I have an issue with labeling all religions as cults. I can’t speak for all religions as my personal experience with many of them is very limited.

There is a very fine line between religions and cults and from my experience this is how I would differentiate them. I would not attend any church that guilted me into belief through any of these practices.

Qingu's avatar

Where do you draw the line between “guilting you into belief” and not?

Isn’t the whole payoff of Christianity a carrot-stick? Isn’t the reward of “heaven” or “salvation”—and the threat of being tortured—motivate your belief?

ninjacolin's avatar

isn’t a cult just an unpopular and dangerous religion?

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: No I disagree. The threat of being tortured would be fear, not guilt, and the reason I have faith, is not because I am afraid of Hell. The reason I believe is because I believe the Bible to be the Truth. For example, why do people not steal things, like candy bars, or food, or money especially if they know they won’t get caught? Is it because they have a fear of going to jail? Do they fear the repercussions. No, this is the reason our penal systems are so full of immorality, because immoral people who do steal, find the repercussion of going to jail worth the risk.

People don’t steal because it’s not the right thing to do. People don’t steal because deep down inside they know what the right thing is, the moral thing. This is kind of like my faith. It’s not the fear of going to Hell that drives me to believe in my faith it’s that feeling deep down inside that says, yeah I believe this is the right thing, I believe what the Bible says, so I am going to follow it to the best of my ability.

I don’t know where you draw the line between guilting people into a belief and not. I simply know that the reason I believe is not because of guilt, it’s not because of fear, nor even fear of the unknown, it’s because I believe the Bible to be true.

ninjacolin's avatar

@critter1982: “because I believe the Bible to be the Truth”

hmm.. the reason I don’t believe the bible to be true is because I believe it is not the truth.

i’m curious what you think about that.

critter1982's avatar

Well the definition of faith is a belief that does not rest on material evidence or proof. You’re free to have faith or a lack of faith in whatever you want. Why do you ask?

ninjacolin's avatar

respectfully, i must disallow you that definition. it makes no sense what so ever.

i would really like to have faith that tomorrow I will grow wings, but i submit to you that I cannot “freely” choose to believe that tomorrow I will grow wings. I would really like to have faith that my lurve score is at 300000001. but again, i submit to you that I cannot freely choose to believe that my score is at 300000001.

the reason i cannot do these things is because the contradicting evidence outweighs the supporting evidence in my own mind according to how I perceive it.

there is nothing that you can have faith in without evidence.

no one prays to jesus without first hearing testimony that praying to jesus is helpful. and no one ever has faith without a reason for it. not even you.

Qingu's avatar

@critter1982, how did you come to the belief that the Bible is the truth?

My suspicion is that you came to this belief through fear, manipulation, or brainwashing, because it’s certainly difficult to arrive at just from reading the Bible.

critter1982's avatar

@ninjacolin: What??? Faith is a belief in something without proof. I’m not really sure what your point is?

ninjacolin's avatar

no that is not what faith is.
you’ve been had.

critter1982's avatar

enlighten me!

ninjacolin's avatar

lol..Sorry, we can only argue if we argue.. if we just say statements to eachother we can’t get anywhere.. example: “Yes it is! No it isn’t! Yes it is! No it isn’t!” haha, we have to have to show support for our statements, not just make statements. otherwise we could state anything such as: “God doesn’t exist!” to which your argument “Yes he does!” is just as useless as my statement. :)

On Faith

k, so.. often people try to claim that they have faith outside of logic and apart from evidence. but i submit to you that this is never ever ever ever the case.

Why do muslim countries have so many muslims and christian countries have so many christians? the answer is that their faith is developed into them the way a Jury comes to a verdict. Each individual observes various evidence in their lifetimes and that evidence gives them confidence one way or another.

(if they observe that they Draw well and others enjoy their art.. they grow confidence in their abilities as an Artist.. if they observe that they can sink 3 pointers and dodge adversaries on the basketball court they grow faith in themselves that they are “good” at basketball.)

so, faith is just confidence. there’s nothing more to it.

and evidence is just like in a court case. it includes testimony of other humans and observable hard data that your brain can say: “Ok, this makes sense to me.. and this other stuff does not.”

if no one ever told you about jesus, about the bible and if you have never EVER had a pleasant experience with your religion.. you would have no confidence in them.

critter1982's avatar

@ninjacolin: Okay? I’m still not quite sure how confidence/faith is different from what my definition was, a belief in something without proof. If you believed in something with proof, it would be the truth or a fact, not faith. I don’t disagree with what you are saying but again I’m still not sure how my statement is incorrect? Actually I’m not even sure what you’re point was in telling my statement was incorrect? And further I’m still not sure why you asked me what I thought about your “non-belief” of the Bible.

Actually I wasn’t arguing, I’m very confused on the point you are trying to get across?

ninjacolin's avatar

hmm.. me too. i get caught up sometimes on the idea of why people disagree with eachother. i think that’s where i went astray.

you said: “the reason I believe is because I believe.” which is a really circular statement that I happen to agree with, nonetheless. i think everyone believes whatever they believe for reasons. not for no reason. meaning.. people have faith and lack of faith for reasons. never for no reason.

so, if i DON’T believe what you believe the REASON is because you and I have literally been exposed to different evidence that forces us not to see eye to eye. meaning, you’re always an innocent heretic.

i guess this is kind of related to the topic but it’s a little off. anyway, i’ll stop now.

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: I’m not sure I want to go into the full story of how I became a Christian but I will give you a very brief version.

Growing up, I was raised by mainly my mother. I grew up with a very hard working mom and a father that lived far away, of which I was only able to see on the weekends. Growing up I probably went to church a total of 20 times, over Christmas and Easter. We weren’t much of a church going family, my dad especially when he lived at home, we were lucky to get him to go over Christmas. In high school I rarely thought about the issue, and in general I have a very logical thinking mind. I am very good at math and physics, which is why I became a mechanical engineer. Senior year of high school I met a girl whom was a Christian and we began dating. Rarely was religion a topic in our conversations. She didn’t seem to mind that I was an atheist and I didn’t mind that she was a Christian. In college we remained a couple for all 4 years. In college I met a friend who was also a Christian. He would on Sundays go to church in the evening (student church thing). Our sophomore year he asked whether I wanted to go. I figured it couldn’t hurt so I started to go with him. Not much changed over the next year. I would sporatically go with him just to learn more about the bible. My junior year on September 23rd in the evening I went with my friend to church and during one of the songs I got this incredible overwhelming very welcoming experience. I didn’t know what it was, it almost felt like I was fainting, sort of, but not really. Well Sept 23rd happened to be my grandmothers birthday who was a Christian who passed away about 3 years earlier. She would always tell me growing up how her neighbor thought he had a ghost of his wife in the house because every day on her birthday the cupboards would open. She told me this story about 100 times. Later the next day I replayed over and over again what happened the night before and eventually came to the conclusion that my grandmother was somehow involved (I’m sorry because I know this absolutely sounds crazy, but it is the God’s honest truth). I’m not 100% that’s what it was but that was the feeling that I got. That day I became a Christian. Move forward 1 week to the day. At this point I hadn’t told my girlfriend that I was now a Christian. She was praying for me for 5 years (I later found out) and she would have been excited. So we are now a week later and in the middle of the night I got this really weird pain in my side and I had trouble breathing. I thought it was my asthma so I went out on the roof of the house that I currently lived in to get some air. When I was outside something again was coming over me, and I felt like I needed to email my gf (Erin). So I emailed her that night and told her what happened to me. It just so happens that the very next day she was planning on breaking up with me because she had lost all hope that I was going to be a Christian ever and didn’t want to marry a nonChristian. She was talking to a pastor she didn’t really know in her college town and he had convinced her to break the relationship off. Well she got the email and we eventually got married.

I was not brainwashed, threatened, or manipulated into becoming a Christian. I came to this conclusion all by myself, and throught the experiences that I had. Some could see these incidences as coincidence, I however don’t. I saw these situations occurring, I analyzed them over and over again in my head, only to come to the conclusion that it was not mere chance that everything happened as it did. I’m sorry you don’t belief people can have faith without fear or manipulation, but they absolutely can.

steve6's avatar

@ninjacolon Did you ever hear the expression “There are no atheists in foxholes”? I hope you find yourself in a foxhole someday so you will have a chance at redemption.

augustlan's avatar

@critter1982 Thank you for sharing your story.

Qingu's avatar

@critter1982, thank you for the story. It didn’t really address my question, though, which was “how did you come to the belief that the Bible is true?”

ninjacolin's avatar

@steve6.. i must’ve said something good.. but i’m not much of an atheist exactly. i’m agnostic with both atheistic and panentheistic leanings.

those people in foxholes however fit @Qingu‘s description from earlier of people who are essentially beaten down and forced to believe something that they otherwise could not with a clear conscience and a chance to think it over calmly.

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: Well you now know how I became a Christian. I guess there are several reasons I believe the Bible to be true. One reason would be that the Bible is grounded in history, so generally speaking we have proof that at least parts of the Bible are true. If something like the son of God did miraculously appear 2000 years ago the way I would expect it to be recorded, would be through a wonderful document or book that would somehow last all these years. I would expect the book to be filled with stories of his life. If Jesus was not real, if he was a fake person, I would expect there to be books and information back from that time period disputing his claims. I believe the Bible to be true because of experiences that I have had and knowledge that I have gained through those experiences. I’m not sure what you’re looking for, if it’s some hint of manipulation, brainwashing, or fear?

How did you come to the conclusion that the Bible was not true?

ninjacolin's avatar

don’t mind me.. i’m just stuck again on how it’s so easy to disagree. @steve6, pay attention to this. your god would have to help others not to be able to see things this way if it isn’t true. but this is what makes sense to many people. we don’t CARE to believe these things.. they just make sense to us:

“I guess there are several reasons I believe the Bible not to be true. One reason would be that the Bible isn’t grounded in history very well, so generally speaking we only have proof that some parts of the Bible deal with real(ish) events. If a group of people fallaciously concluded that something like the son of God miraculously appeared 2000 years ago*,* I would expect it to be recorded in a document much like the bible and glorified to the extent that it has been and lasting as long as it has.”

this is all plausible. nothing about this is absurd.

critter1982's avatar

Hence, faith.

ninjacolin's avatar

yes.. because of all the (exhaustive) evidence i’ve personally considered and taken in.. i do have faith that the mainstream religions, Christianity, Muslim, and Judaism.. are all kinda wrong. demonstrably so.

but this is NOT to say that my opinion could not change in the future.. or even by the end of the day.

steve6's avatar

I think you need to read my previous question about long answers. I see you are repeating yourself over and over. Even if you don’t believe the Bible to be true you should read it and then have a debate. If you have then God help you. I don’t know how.

ninjacolin's avatar

yea, i was a pretty hardcore christian dude and I loved it. so i appreciate how devote you must be and i know what it’s like to be proud of it.

steve6's avatar

I’m not really that hardcore. I’m not sure there are degrees of it. I do try to witness to others if the situation calls for it. I really find these discussions of religion distasteful. I prefer to talk about the carnal aspects of life.

ninjacolin's avatar

honestly, though, steve6, we’re all imperfect humans here sharing ideas about everything (including religion) so that we can all benefit from different experiences of life that others have had and that we have missed out on.

also, i think some people confuse the feeling of enlightenment with the feeling of offense. especialy artists who rely on their current understandings of the world for their art. they can feel disillusioned by a new idea and think that their sense of self is threatened.. but really your self only grows with new information.. new understandings, i think, only give you new worlds to explore and base your art on.

Qingu's avatar

@critter1982, I came to the conclusion that the Bible was not true by opening and reading the first page. It says the sky is a solid dome holding up an ocean of water. It also says the sun, moon, and stars are set inside this dome. Not only does this contradict everything we know about the Earth and the solar system, it is also clearly derived from Mesopotamian cosmology.

And if I had any lingering doubts I suppose I could flip to the next page and read another creation story that blatantly contradicts the previous one (and is also derived from Mesopotamian mythology).

Also, the claim was disputed. Tacitus—a Roman official writing around the time the gospels were written—called Jesus’ resurrection a “mischevious superstition.”

Also, the fact that the Bible contains many stories about Jesus’ miracles is about as significant as the fact that the hadiths and Quran contain many stories about Muhammad’s miracles.

Frankly, I don’t believe you rationally came to the conclusion that the Bible is true. I don’t think you’re telling the whole story. Perhaps you’d care to tell us more about your girlfriend? Was she putting any pressure on you to convert?

ninjacolin's avatar

!!!

it’s not possible to choose to act irrationally, Qingu.
not possible at all.

SherlockPoems's avatar

Religion is what you believe in that you cannot touch with your hands, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, smell with your nose or taste with your mouth… but nonetheless you believe.

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: Why is it so important for you to either prove to yourself or me that my faith in Christianity is illogical. Is it difficult for you to accept the fact that people believe different things than you do?

Secondly, the bible is not a science book. It was designed and written so that the people of that particular time would understand it. You cannot conlcude that the whole Bible is fallacious simply because the astronomy in it, is. It was not God’s purpose to define the world or even the galaxy to us. Hell, we don’t even understand the galaxy today.

So frankly, I don’t believe your disbelief in the Bible to be rational. Perhaps you can tell us more about your family, or your life, because I want to prove to everyone that your beliefs are irrational and wrong.
Note this was all said condescendingly. I don’t want to know your life story so that I can prove you wrong. Your faith or non-faith lies in your world experiences and whatevery knowledge you have gained througout your life. I don’t doubt that your disbelief in the Bible is rational. But for fucks sake don’t try to rationalize your disbelief by trying to step all over those that do believe.

I’m done with this thread.

Qingu's avatar

@SherlockPoems, I can’t touch, see, hear, smell, or taste quarks or electrons either. I can’t “sense” that e^πi + 1 = 0. Nor can I sense the speed of light or the curvature of spacetime.

I believe in all these things, though, because they’ve been experimentally or mathematically verified.

djmuzk's avatar

As a student of the Bible for 29 years I can tell you what the Bible says about what religion is. It is man’s attempt to reach up to God which is impossible.The Bible teaches that it is a “relationship” and that it is allowing God to reach down to us through humility and faith.The Scriptures are very clear that God hates religion in this definition.He desires a relationship.

ninjacolin's avatar

^ i think that’s just your interpretation of it.

just sayin

Qingu's avatar

I thought Yahweh desired food, in the form of constant sacrifices. Preferably seasoned with salt and herbs.

ignorantsavage's avatar

what happens when people stop being nice and need a reason to.

ninjacolin's avatar

huh?

you can’t just decide to stop being nice.
you have to have a reason to stop being nice.

i don’t understand where this question came from.

fireside's avatar

Maybe he was making a reference to The Real World

“It’s what happens when people start stop being nice and start being real

essieness's avatar

@fireside and @ninjacolin I’m getting a troll vibe…

SeventhSense's avatar

The problem with religion and those interpreting it on both sides is that some mistake the finger pointing at the moon to be the moon itself. It is a structure and a construct to experience life or an understanding of life which serves no purpose other than to point to the source of love.

fireside's avatar

@essieness – Yeah, he already got modded earlier today over some randomness.

psyla's avatar

126 responses, this may qualify as the largest Fluther of all time. Good God!

asmonet's avatar

@psyla: Oh really, you think so?

ratboy's avatar

Someone—I think it was Jesus—said “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Given that religion currently poses a grave threat to the existence of civilization, it might now be more accurate to say “religion is the crack cocaine of the masses.”

SeventhSense's avatar

@ratboy
Jesus didn’t say that. It was Karl Marx. Here it is in the entire context.-

“Die Religion… ist das Opium des Volkes”

“Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”

asmonet's avatar

lols, confusing jesus and marx. lol4rl.

djmuzk's avatar

I will stick to the real question here. After some real research I found this was the best explanation I have ever heard.” Religion vs. Christianity: What’s the difference?
“Why are you Christians always sending missionaries overseas? People have their own culture, their own religion, why don’t you just leave them alone?!” This is one of the most common statements we hear as we lecture on college and university campuses throughout the United States and around the world. Students and faculty often jeeringly ask us, “What is so special about Christianity, different from every religion in the world?” To be sure, this is a very significant question; and probably one of the most significant questions that any Christian could ask themselves: what is so special about Jesus Christ?
Our family has a close friend named Lou. Lou grew up in the nation of Thailand and he was a Buddhist for the first 20 years of his life until he met some Christian missionaries who introduced him to Jesus Christ. If you were to ask Lou today, “What is so special about Jesus Christ and Christianity different from every other religion in the world?” Lou would share with you the following story:
“When I was a Buddhist I felt like I was in the middle of a large lake. I was drowning and I didn’t know how to swim. As I struggled to keep my head above water, I looked out towards the shore and saw Buddha walking up to the edge of the lake. I was going under for the third time, when suddenly Buddha began shouting out instructions to me, teaching me how to swim. Buddha shouted, ‘Kick your legs and paddle your arms.’ But then Buddha said, ‘Lou, you must make it to shore by yourself.’ As I desperately struggled to follow the instructions of Buddha, I looked out towards the shore again, but this time I saw Jesus Christ walking towards the edge of the lake. However, Jesus did not stop at the edge of the lake. Jesus dove into the lake and he swam out and rescued me! And once Jesus had brought me safely back to shore, then he taught me how to swim, so that I could go back and rescue others!”
You see, this is the key difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world: Christianity is not a religion! What are religions? Religions are about human attempts to make our lives right with God, through our good works, sacrifices, rituals, and money. However, Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about God entering human history to graciously save men and women through His Son Jesus Christ. It is only by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and submitting to his Lordship that we will be saved.
A relationship with God will never be found in any religion, because religions only offer swimming lessons to people drowning in the sea of sin. And it doesn’t matter how sincere or devout you are in your religious faith and practice, because the sea of sin is eternally immense. The only hope for men and women drowning in the sea of sin is Jesus Christ. God entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ; he dove into the sea of sin in order to save desperate and drowning people. If you’ll allow him to take you there, he’ll hold you in his loving arms and bring you safely to shore. And after arriving safely to shore, then your swimming lessons begin, so that you can go back and rescue others!

SeventhSense's avatar

@djmuzk
I will stick to the real question here.
No you didn’t do that. You simply compared your idea of Christianity to your idea of religion. And Buddhism is not a religion, so much as it is a philosophy.
The question was: What is religion?

Harp's avatar

@djmuzk I feel for your friend Lou. He thought the Buddha was shouting swimming instructions when the Buddha was actually telling him that all that thrashing about was unnecessary- the bottom was always within easy reach of his feet.

Growing up as a Christian, the message I was getting sounded more like a promise of a rescue than an actual rescue, something along the lines of “It’s OK to drown. I’ll be there to give you CPR”.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Harp
We place our babies in a safe room and keep sharp objects away from them, so they don’t get injured. Why would a loving God do any less with His children? I used to be afraid I could make a mistake that couldn’t be undone. I don’t fear sin error the same way anymore.

djmuzk's avatar

@harp.You missed the point,but I think I understand what you are saying, but the bottom Isn’t within our reach according to the Bible. If so then Jesus died for nothing. Buddha claimed to be a prophet from God or a God. Jesus didn’t leave any room for that. He claimed to be God. That’s where faith in Christ is so different then a mere man named Buddha or some other prophet. If you choose anyone but Christ to save you including yourself ,then go ahead. It’s your choice and when you die you will either be right or eternally wrong.I figure if I’m wrong,so what, I still lived a great life and loved others.If I’m right then I made a great eternal gamble worthwhile.

djmuzk's avatar

@Seventhsense. I did explain what I think religion is. Sorry you missed it?

fireside's avatar

I think that a correct reflection of today’s society needs both options. Some people are able to hear the instructions and learn how to stay afloat in the ocean of God.

Others need that helping hand.

As a Baha’i, I recognize the necessity of being there for others but also know that each soul is able to proceed on their own if they pay attention the message and are able to release their fear of drowning..

Harp's avatar

@djmuzkBuddha claimed to be a prophet from God or a God.

Never, by any interpretation, was that claim ever made. The Buddha explicitly said “I am not a god”. Nor did he ever claim allegiance to any god.

His role was not that of a prophet. He simply found that bottom that we’re talking about with his own feet, and proceeded to tell others around him that they could do the same. There’s no need to wait until death to find out if he was right.

djmuzk's avatar

In the words of Bob Dylan.“You got to serve somebody”.

SeventhSense's avatar

@djmuzk
The question was- “What is religion”, not “Compare religion to your idea of Christianity”.
You simply described your version of Christianity against a straw man of religion. A comparison is one whereby you attempt to give equal weight to either side and then formulate an opinion.. Essentially you decribed a cow from across the barnyard and wanted us to concur that it was really the size of a squirrel. Furthermore concluding that the chicken was superior in size.
p.s.- the 80’s called and they want their shirt back

augustlan's avatar

@djmuzk I think the world would be a better place if more people chose to serve humanity.

fireside's avatar

@augustlan – Good answer!

djmuzk's avatar

I simply gave my opinion of what religion is to me and I actually do serve humanity,thanks. Jesus actually already said that to.

djmuzk's avatar

Actually Jesus commanded it.

doggywuv's avatar

Worship of and contemplation of one’s relation to what is perceived to be supernatural.

Ron_C's avatar

Religion in the U.S., U.K., and most Muslim countries, seems to be a way to force your views and standards on others while getting excellent tax breaks.

Butterflies61's avatar

What is religion? Well, it is a system of belief; the worship of a supernatural power or god. At least that is what one dictionary states.
However, only religion can fill our “need of God.” Only religion can answer our basic questions regarding the origin, purpose, and meaning of life. And only religion can give real meaning and substance to our lives.
But there are so many different religions. Why? There are many reasons why there is such a vast development of new religious groups. Some have said that the various religions all represent different ways of presenting religious truth. But a comparison of their teachings and practices with the Bible indicates that the diversity of religions is because people have become followers of men instead of listening to God. It is interesting to note that, to a large extent, teachings they hold in common, but that differ from the Bible, originated in ancient Babylon.

Frank4YAHWEH's avatar

I frequently define religion as who or what one believes.

Frank4YAHWEH's avatar

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. Pure religion and undefiled before Yahweh the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (Yaaqob [James] 1:26–27).

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther