There’s always been a tug of war over religion- which one is the right one, does it offer eternal life, does it exclude belief in, or tolerance of other offshoots of that religion or others? Just what HAS religion done for us, humanity? What has it done TO us? Does the one out weigh the other in a positive way? A negative way?
All of these are thorny questions, ones that not everybody has handled with grace and tolerance- witness the schism between the S’hia and Sunni sects of Islam. Each one holds the other to be apostate, and thus an enemy of true Islam, and this goes back to one small thing- when Mohammad died, he did not leave a will, directing the continued rule of Islam in one direction, thus leading to two different interpretations of the same religion, and conflict over the disparity between the two.
The same sort of schism with Christianity- first was the Catholic church, with its eventual corruption (the selling of blessings, etc) that led to the schism that Martin Luther fostered, that became Protestantism, with Lutheran, Episcopalian, and Methodist sects of Christianity.
And then you have the Mormons, and Quakers, and others, oh my.
We won’t even get into the Eastern religions in this discussion, not that they are not important, but for this discussion, they are not germane to the conversation.
“Religion is the opiate of the masses”, was a favorite maxim of the communists, as they attempted to leach the religion out of their citizens, but for all their atheistic rant, they never quite kept the faith out of everyone’s life. So why? Why does religion hold such sway over people? What does religion do for the people?
For starters, religion grounds people, gives them a reason to go through another day, despite what at times seem like insurmountable odds. Belief in a higher being gives many people some solace in times of need. To those who do not believe, it might be a useless waste of time but to those who do believe, the peace that this belief brings is, no pun intended, a Godsend.
But let’s get down to the nitty- gritty here- just what has Religion done for people over the years?
The obvious thing is that the Ten Commandments has given us a baseline for our acceptable behavior towards other people, and started us on a pathway to a society that has laws that punish the defendant, and compassion towards the victim. Virtually every major religion has a version of these commandments, that give us a pathway to civilized behavior. This is a good thing, otherwise you have no society at all, as everyone is out for themselves, and if there is no God, and no afterlife, what is the use in following laws?
Some might say that this is the case now, but I would say that this is because not enough people have taught their children well. Religion has not been the problem- not teaching the religion has been the problem. Part of this is the disintegration of the family, where a father or mother is absent, and the children do not have a parent set that reinforces the laws and codes of behavior that the child is expected to adhere to. The phrase “God- fearing” is often used in a negative connotation to the adherence of the Commandments, but this is really a positive in the scheme of things.
If you have a fear of God and/ or his Judgement, your obedience to the Commandments may be reinforced, and you might be better able to resist the myriad temptations in life. God, in effect, becomes another parent, one who never grows old, or dies. Praying is just having a conversation with God- and everyone needs someone to talk to, even if, at times, the talk is all on one side. God is nothing if not a good listener.
Atheists often denigrate me and my faith, poo- pooing the beliefs of the Christian peoples. That’s all well and good, for I am not evangelical. I think that God has provided the book, but there will always be people who do not want to read, so I am fine with their atheism, except when it gets in my face.
That’s not socially acceptable, or very gracious, but I have come to expect ungracious behavior from some, as well as ridicule, to which I simply reply that if I am wrong in my belief, I simply lose some time in my life, but if they are wrong, they risk losing eternal life. That’s a gamble I wouldn’t take.
Do you feel lucky, punk? Well. do you?