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purplebutterfly's avatar

Religion Today?

Asked by purplebutterfly (11points) January 19th, 2008

Is it harder to keep your religious beliefs in todays world then it was a century ago?

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12 Answers

sndfreQ's avatar

Hi p.b. :)

“I don’t know”...(my default agnostic response lol)-my personal ‘beliefs’ influence my position that, it is nearly impossible to tell because I wasn’t around a century ago; conversely, I don’t know of anyone who is still alive who was around then. But empiricism doesn’t count necessarily as a ‘religious’ viewpoint in this case, does it?...

While others may say “A“gnosticism is not a religion, it is a belief system (and I do respect their viewpoint and their right to their own beliefs)’s where I’m at in my own personal journey. I do believe that I live my life by some basic moral principles, one of which is to not judge others by their religious beliefs, so I too welcome all viewpoints on such topics as I believe it enriches knowledge.

So alas, as an ‘Agnostic’, I get to sit in the corner on this one (but I’ll still wear my party hat :)...Since your question is faith/religious belief based, I think you will get some great and interesting insights to this question.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I think so. I am not religious, but with all the immoral, selfish stuff on TV, I think it is driving down the immorality of the country, which is what I feel religion is about. I also think the speed at which this country runs, makes people more selfish and less caring about the effect of their choices to other people. I know many catholics (which is how I was brought up), that go to church on Sunday, but do not follow anything about the bible. I dont understand this. It seems like as long as they go to church on sunday, they will go to heaven. Again, I think society has taken over morality.

ambos's avatar

While I do believe that chris6137 is correct in his assertion that the ability for immorality to reach us is much easier than it was 100 years ago, I don’t believe that this is the reason people are unable to uphold their religious beliefs.

Each person, every day is faced with a choice to follow what they believe to be right. Now, this is not always, and very rarely is, the epic battle between good and evil that we all envision these choices to be. They are simple choices. Will I engage in gossip about this person? Will I use my time at work wisely to prepare the best presentation I can? You get the point. And we are constantly bombarded by other people, the media, and even our own thoughts to choose the easy way and not do the “right thing”. But you must remember that while we are constantly being bombarded in a way that those who lived a century before us were not, it is still our choice. No one other than ourselves makes our decisions for us. We choose to follow what we believe. And sometimes we make the wrong choice, I am most definitely guilty of that. But no one other than myself made that decision for me. And at some point we all have to make a decision as to whether what we are pursuing is worthwhile.

For some, they want to follow their “religious beliefs”. I personally believe that eventually they will fall away from that if all they want is a set of rules to live their lives by. Just following rules gives no meaning to their lives other than a set of standards they will not be able to live up to. This is why so many people fall away. They miss the point of what their professed belief system is all about. You have to search for the meaning behind what you are doing, because without it all that you do is empty. You do something because it has a purpose. Without purpose your religion becomes worthless to you.

And chris6137, a lot people go to church because it is a cultural norm. Everyone they know goes to church, so they do, too. My old boss once told me that she went to church every Sunday so her mom wouldn’t get mad at her. On Christmas weekend one year she went to 2 services because the Christmas day service wasn’t on Sunday. It was unacceptable to her mother to not attend both services. It was important to my former boss to please her mother and the way to please her just happened to be with religion. I don’t believe that she was trying to create a facade of godliness, but wanted to avoid confrontation with her mother. She never fell away from her religious beliefs because there were never any to begin with.

I hope I have made myself sufficiently clear in my answer. This was an interesting question and I very much enjoyed answering it. But I truly do believe that in the end, after wading through societal pressures, familial expectations, and cultural norms we choose that which is most important to us, whether it is independent of the aforementioned factors or directly in conjunction with them.

Spargett's avatar

One day we will study “Christian Mythology” the way we study “Greek Mythology” now. It’s only a matter of time.

btw: Once you study Greek Mythology, you’ll quickly realize that Christianity built it’s entire foundation on the same analogies of Greek religion. Just a little fun fact for all those people that know Christianity the the “truth” but no absolutely nothing about other religions. Ignorance sure does help with bliss.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Funny you bring that up Spargett. There is a documentary on the internet called Zeitgeist. It is stirring up alot of controversy throughout the internet. It basically starts by talking about the sun and how most religious characters are based on an anthropomorphism of the sun. Ex. Jesus is the sun, 12 disciples rep. 12 constellations, the death and rise of jesus rep. the solstices, Mary the virgin rep. constellation Virgo, it goes on more than that. Its not just about Christianity, it compares the similar characteristics of other religions like spargett said. Like the similarities between Jesus, Horus, Attis, Persia, etc. Im not sure the authenticity of the facts, but it is very very interesting. I am not religious, but I believe this more than the story of Jesus. Hopefully some of you will check it out so we can talk about it.Here is the link:

thegodfather's avatar


The question asked about religion in general. It’s just interesting to me how often people automatically default to Christianity when thinking of religion.

Anyway, In my personal opinion, and as a researcher of religious history, the term “religion” is much too broad to categorize topics of faith, ritual, belief, theology, etc. These discussions usually don’t go far and end up turning against one religion or a couple of religions because the category “religion” includes just too many subcultures and belief systems to group them together in one word.

To answer the question, keeping religious beliefs appears to be more difficult empirically across the board. A great many religions are losing large numbers of adherents to atheism in the last several decades. I would guess that most of this is due to the increase in communication media and the availability to entertain criticism. Many questions which are common today were not even considered by many earlier religious communities which lead more people to question their faith than any time previously.

hossman's avatar

Spargett mentions a theory much in vogue today, that Christianity “built it’s entire foundation on the same analogies of Greek religion.” Most of the foundation of Christianity was derived from Judaism. Since Christianity, Judaism, and various Roman, Greek, Persian, Babylonian, etc, etc. religions all coexisted for centuries, it is impossible to say who borrowed what from whom, or whether the same elements were developed independently. It would be just as accurate to say Greek mythology borrowed from Judaism, or Mithraism, or Zoroastrianism.

Further, all of this comparative religious analysis is done in hindsight, centuries after the fact. It is easy to point to certain elements here and there to support just about any theory you wish to assert, it does not mean that the theory is accurate. As each religion addresses many of the same “Big Questions,” and as people in one culture bear many similarities to people of another culture, it shouldn’t be surprising that various religions have similarities. To point to those similarities centuries later and claim one religion based itself on another, when the reverse could be true, or each may have developed independently, requires as much faith as the religions themselves.

It’s the same sort of “cherry picking” logic that is used to create such popular “theories” as the Da Vinci Code, the various Templar theories, etc. Sure, it’s conceivable the Catholic Church is concealing the progeny of Christ, that the Templar Knights concealed Jesus was a girl, or that the Apostle Paul merely plagiarized Greek Stoicism. They’re all great stories.

hossman's avatar

Back to the original question, I think it is difficult for religious people to maintain their convictions today than in prior times for different reasons.

The problems religious people face today are less confrontational and more insidious. The hectic pace of modern society, the greater competition in the marketplace of ideas, a general increase in the daily bombardment of immorality (today’s society isn’t necessarily any more immoral, but it is a lot more open about immorality, and we are exposed to more immorality), and the intellectual and moral superiority and condescension asserted by some parts of the secular world to religious practitioners, all make it difficult to remain committed to religious beliefs.

On the other hand, I suspect there is less outright physical persecution than there used to be. There are fewer places in the world today, despite the recent rise in Islamic fascism, where the practice of one religion or another will readily get you killed. In some ways, religious persecution today is like racism, it hasn’t disappeared, but it has become more subtle.

hossman's avatar

@sndfreq: I would agree agnosticism is a religion, simply one that requires a lot less in the way of ritual. There are a lot of replacements for religion in today’s society. How many people are watching the Packers right now? Ever been to Lambeau Field?

As for blind devotion without even a shred of evidence in support, hey, there’s lots of Cubs fans around here.

sndfreQ's avatar

thanks hossman, as always great insights :)

I also think the points made above about communication media and proliferation of secular thought/criticism are valid and insightful; it makes me wonder at times about the very definitions of “religion”-esp. In consideration of the media as the message (McCluhan anyone?) could one consider technology in and of itself as a religion (or science for that matter?)...

It’s a thought I have when I think of the perception people have of embracing technology (technolust) and belief systems…or maybe just talking out my arse on that one…any thoughts?

hossman's avatar

Absolutely technology can be a religion, it reminds me of Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” the image of the scientist or engineer as priest is nothing new. The fanaticism devoted to various scientific theories, when these theories are no more capable of empirical proof than any religion (global warming and evolution both come to mind), would put the Inquisition to shame.

In fact, the concept that all questions may be answered by, and all progress is derived by, the uses of science and technology, smacks of religion to me as well.

The modern fascination with celebrity, and addiction to various media (Oprah, reality shows, etc.) remind me more of cults than religion.

ironhiway's avatar

I know we have some pretty old users, but anyone who answers this question has to assume or believe they know how hard it was to keep their beliefs century ago. As for me it’s become easier to keep my beliefs as time has progressed both because of what I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced.

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