What is religion?

What is religion, anyway? And why are people religious? And why can religious people belong to different groups that have such widely varying beliefs? Thing about the differenced between Catholics, Buddhists, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, for example? People espousing to these various beliefs can all be said to be religious, yet their beliefs can vary so much.

Religion is man’s attempt to explain something that can’t be explained in words. Most all religious have the concept of “god,” of some higher power that lies beyond what can be seen and comprehended in every day life. Most also have some sort of afterlife belief. There’s an emphasis on the “spirit world” in some way in all religions. All are trying to talk about these things. But, since this “other” world is just that–other–it cannot be talked about in ordinary words.  Thus, each religion is just a particular way of talking about basically the same things. Unfortunately, most “religious” people and their religions codify this belief, and enforce a strict set of prescriptions regarding their beliefs.

I’m not a big fan of this. I believe all religions are attempts to talk about somethign that is real, but that can’t be talked about. I believe that all religions have good parts and bad parts, that all religions have some fundamental understanding of what lies beyond, so to speak. But I also believe that all religions generally only touch upon some small aspects of what lies beyond, and then fail when they try to solidify this into some rigorous set of beliefs. It’s the codifying of religion that really invalidates it. As soon as Moses wrote down the 10 commandments, religions stepped outside of contact with what lies beyond, because people started to focus on what they had to do or not do.

Perhaps to some extent Marx did have it right. Religion gives many people somthing to hang onto as they search for meaning in life. It’s not a bad thing, religion is a good thing. But, when a person stops their own search for meaning and just blindly adopts the precepts of some set of rules and guidelines that we call an organized religion, then that person stops experiencing whatever lies beyond (call it god, or spirituality or the afterlife or whatever)–that person stops trying to reach it and understand it on their own and does it by someone else’s experience.

Thus, I am not a big fan or organized religion, mostly because they are too…well, too organized! A little less organization, and people would be free to experience life and all it entails to a deeper level. Think about it!

One Response to “What is religion?”

  1. edi4god says:

    Leon , you put too many things in that one box called religion. You are right that it is a set of rules and that it focuses on what man can or should do in order to appease their divine or at least their consience.

    For me God is a matter of daily experience and loving relationship. I am a follower of Jesus but I do not pratcice dead religion. My relationship with Him is based on what He has done for me. My external conduct has changed because I was changed inwardly first not because of externally imposed rules ” I have known the truth and the truth has set me free.”
    Heaven is a fact for me because I have seen it, everything Jesus was teaching is part of my experience.
    You might refuse to believe it , you have right to do so.
    God has given you a free will but if you really want to know the Truth you will find Him ,if you search for Him with all your heart.
    God is a Spiritual being and He can be experienced spiritually, however, we are able to see effects in the natural as well. For example when missing limbs are growing by the power of God or dead are being raised or when things written hundreds of years ago are coming to pass before our very eyes…
    Think about it.