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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why Religion is Necessary

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Comments: 4

Today I am going to come to the defense of one of humanity’s oldest facets. It has existed as long as humans have been sentient; it has caused much ruckus and controversy and is famous for both dividing and uniting people. In the last few decades it’s taken an especially bad rap; sometimes for good reason, sometimes for no reason. It’s become both a trend to practice and to hate, and is the scapegoat for a large chunk of humanity’s mistakes. I’m going to tell you all today why religion is necessary. Now I know some of you may have just tasted bile, but do your best to be open-minded with me here.  I’ll explain how and why religion is beneficial, how and why it has become so hated, how and why the hatred it garners is so unwarranted, and what I feel is the best purpose of religion today.

                Let’s get something out of the way here first.  My father is a non-denominational Christian reverend and minister. He’s a well-known and respected man in the global Christian community, and as such he has done a lot of travelling around the world. I happened to be there on some of his travels and the things I’ve seen with my own eyes contradicts the general attitude towards religion. I have personally witnessed the absolute best and worst of religion from arm’s length—I’ve seen a man with next to no money donate the little he could afford to a local soup kitchen. The smile that crossed his face upon seeing people enjoying the food he contributed to was eye-opening. He may have been dirt poor but he made a difference, however small it may be. I’ve seen people in abject poverty as happy as a person can be—not because they are ignorant to the world outside. They are aware of how poor they are, but they don’t care. One tiny village in the middle of the poorest area of Ukraine—a place where cars don’t exist and all the huts were handmade by the people living in them—had a small religious population. The smiles I saw on their faces were some of the most genuine I’ve ever seen, and it was because of religion. They would get together and have their services and be as happy in their material ignorance as anybody I’ve ever seen. I could clearly see that religion almost sustained this small village. There were remnants of communism—an old, crumbling building with statues of Joseph Stalin was the place they held their services, not allowing the history of their area to discourage them. This town would be utterly hopeless if religion weren’t coursing through their veins.

It seems as if the last few decades have propagated a trendy hatred towards religion, which developed largely in correlation to the rise of postmodernist culture. As Western culture moves more and more to postmodernist thinking (which is a shame in itself), the attitude towards religion seems to shift along with it. Postmodernist thinking places an emphasis on self-interest, apathy and disregard for others, which is opposite to religious thinking. The further people move towards postmodernism, the further away they move from religion. More people in our generation are jumping on this bandwagon, which is saddening. It’s “cool” to hate religion these days, and I find it a real shame that so many people blindly buy into the ideology. A person blindly buying into ideology sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it? I’m not pointing any fingers, but amongst our age group I’ve noticed an alarming amount of people have settled for believing that religion is this horrible entity, good for nothing except propagating hatred and warfare.

This ignorant view is a cop-out. It’s easy to dismiss religion as poppycock and balderdash because then you can avoid asking yourself the hard questions and having the intellectual debate that fuels human progression. One of the things that really bothers me is when people belligerently claim that there is no God as if they know beyond a shadow of a doubt. The reality is that nobody 100% can know if there is a God, which many people seem to forget. There’s a lot of hypocrisy in atheism. I’ve met atheists that promote hatred and bigotry almost as much as Ann Coulter.

The overwhelming majority of religious people are extraordinarily kind hearted. Some of the nicest, gentlest, most genuinely kind-hearted people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting were devout Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, and Jews. The majority of religious practitioners only have the best of intentions, as outlined by their respective doctrines. Through volunteering with religious people, mostly Christians and Sikhs, I have seen the absolute best and worst of religion. The worst comes from the small clusters of fanatics, and unfortunately much of the secular world sees these small clandestine groups of extremists—the Muslim suicide bombers, the Christians on the side of the road with their ridiculous anti-gay signs—and judges all religion by them. Not only is this incorrect, it’s just cheap and unintelligent to do so. When you go to a grocery store and pick up a semi-rotten orange, do you assume that all the oranges are bad? I don’t. I don’t see why anyone else should, either.        

I believe that religion today should be used for spiritual fulfillment. Humans are naturally spiritual beings—we have emotions and feelings, which I believe is evidence of the soul and spirit. Religion can satiate that spiritual appetite, so long as you don’t overeat and start throwing up on other people. As with anything else in the world, it’s great in moderation, but overdoing it is wrong. Religious gluttony is just as bad as zealous anti-religious belief. Both are harmful, and this is important to understand. Definitely in the past people have used and manipulated for evil ends, but that’s not the religion’s fault. It’s man’s fault for not using religion properly. In my opinion the Crusades in medieval times were an anomalous blemish on the history of religion.

I hope that I may have changed some of your minds or at least given you something to think about. Religion isn’t evil. Practicing religion is an honourable thing because in this day and age it’s simply difficult to do so. People will hate you for what you believe, and I respect people that don’t let that deter them from doing good things in this world. Religious hatred and fanaticism will never disappear, but I hope that I’ve prevented you today from turning on your auto-atheism and I hope you will leave this page with a more open mind towards religion.
7:22 am - 4 comments - 2 Kudos - Report!
Comments
Bryc3e wrote on Jan 17th, 2012 5:47am

See, the problem with your argument is that you reduce religion to social work. Really, we don't need some deity to tell us right and wrong do we? If that's the case then humanity really does have major shortcomings. People can do good deeds and spread kindness without guidance from some absentee father figure.

I'd like to point out how hypocritical your 5th paragraph sounds after reading your 4th paragraph.

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Bryc3e wrote on Jan 17th, 2012 5:47am

In the fourth paragraph you explain how you have met atheists who are bigots and hypocrites or essentially bad apples; or to put it in your words " I’ve met atheists that promote hatred and bigotry almost as much as Ann Coulter." This made you come to the conclusion that there's a lot of hypocrisy in atheism. However, in the next paragraph, you criticize the exact same thinking towards religious people. "The worst comes from the small clusters of fanatics, and unfortunately much of the secular world sees these small clandestine groups of extremists—the Muslim suicide bombers, the Christians on the side of the road with their ridiculous anti-gay signs—and judges all religion by them. Not only is this incorrect, it’s just cheap and unintelligent to do so." So basically, it's ok for you (A christian) to call atheists hypocrites, but it's cheap and unintelligent when we return the favor?

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Bryc3e wrote on Jan 17th, 2012 5:47am

As for you saying that religion should be used for purposes of self-fulfillment I can't really argue. People will live how they want to live, but personally I've always felt that you should just live your life on earth as you want to and not by some strict doctrine such as Christianity, Islam or any other religion. This causes people to live a "Holy life" or "Devout life" to be guaranteed some paradise in the next life, which doesn't seem to be worth the gamble, because as you said - "The reality is that nobody 100% can know if there is a God, which many people seem to forget."

Enjoyed reading your take on things and I hope I didn't offend you too much with mine. Cheers.

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AwesomeOne3 wrote on Jan 13th, 2014 6:40pm

Good blog, but people do chose to have a religion to follow or not. I believe in God. But I'm not sure about others, they chose.

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