Religious belief: Wikis

  
  

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Religious belief refers to a mental state in which faith is placed in a creed related to the supernatural, sacred, or divine. Such a state may relate to: 1 the existence, characteristics and worship of a deity or deities; 2 divine intervention in the universe and human life; or 3 values and practices centered on the teachings of a spiritual leader. 4 to come to a conclusion without valid evidence In contrast to other belief systems, religious beliefs are usually codified.

While the term "religious belief" is often considered to have the same meaning as religion, the latter term usually deals with both ideas and practices. Religious belief can be seen as a focus exclusively on ideas.

Contents

Difference between religious and other belief systems

While religion invariably involves a belief system, not all belief systems are religion. Theism is often confused with religion. However theism isn't always a belief system. Spirituality, which deals in matters of the spirit, usually considered a part of religion, can also be distinguished from religion. Spirituality may encompass both religious and non-religious practice.

Religious adherents often distinguish religious belief from superstition. Both superstition and traditional religions are non-materialistic, do not see the world as being subject to laws of cause and effect and presume that there are immaterial forces influencing our lives. Both religion and superstition seek meaning in otherwise random and chaotic events. There is, thus, a continuum between what is termed “superstition” and the ideas in animistic religions.[1]

Religious belief vs philosophy

Philosophy is sometimes confused with religion since the two topics cover many of the same issues. Both religion and philosophy address questions such as: Why are we here? What is the nature of reality? What is good? How should we treat each other? What is most important in life? Religion often has rituals marking important life events and times of the year. Unlike philosophy, religion makes a distinction between the sacred and the profane. Religions also often have a belief in the “miraculous.”[2]

Forms of religious belief

Pluralism

People with pluralist beliefs make no distinction between faith systems, viewing each one as valid within a particular culture. Examples include:

  • Extracts from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh Holy Scriptures), "There is only the One Supreme Lord God; there is no other at all" (Pannaa 45). "By His Power the Vedas and the Puranas exist, and the Holy Scriptures of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. By His Power all deliberations exist." (Pannaa 464). "Some call Him, 'Ram, Ram', and some call Him, 'Khudaa-i'. Some serve Him as 'Gusain', others as 'Allaah'. ||1|| He is the Cause of causes, the Generous Lord. He showers His Grace and Mercy upon us." (Pannaa 885).

Syncretism

People with syncretistic views blend the views of a variety of different religions or traditional beliefs into a unique fusion which suits their particular experience and context (see eclecticism). Unitarian Universalism is an example of a syncretistic faith.

Universalism

Some believe that religion cannot be separated from other aspects of life, or believe that certain cultures did not or do not separate their religious activities from other activities in the same way that some people in modern Western cultures do.

Some anthropologists report cultures in which gods are involved in every aspect of life - if a cow goes dry, a god has caused this, and must be propitiated, when the sun rises in the morning, a god has caused this, and must be thanked. Even in modern Western cultures, many people see supernatural forces behind every event, as described by Carl Sagan in his book The Demon-Haunted World.

People with this worldview often consider the influence of Western culture to be inimical. Others with this world view resist the influence of science, and believe that science, or "so-called science", should be guided by religion. Still others with this worldview believe that all political decisions and laws should be guided by religion. This last belief is written into the constitution of many Islamic nations, and is shared by some fundamentalist Christians.

In addition, beliefs about the supernatural or metaphysical may not presuppose a difference between any such thing as nature and non-nature, nor between science and what the most educated people believe. In the view of some historians, the pre-Socratic Athenians saw science, political tradition, culture, and religion as not easily distinguishable, but all part of the same body of knowledge and wisdom available to a community.

Systemization

In Buddhism, practice and progress along the spiritual path happens when one follows the system of buddhist practice. Any religion which follows (parts of) the fundamentals of this system has, according to the teachings of Buddha, good aspects to the extent it accords with this system. Any religion which goes against (parts of) the fundamentals of this system, includes bad aspects too. Any religion which does not teach certain parts of this system, is not because of this a 'bad' religion; it just lacks those teachings and is to that extent incomplete.

A question by the monk Subhadda to the Buddha: "O Gotama, there are Samanas and Brahmanas (religious leaders) who are leaders of their sects, who are well-esteemed by many people, such as Purana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosala, Ajita Kesakambala, Pakudha Kaccayana, Sancaya Belatthaputta and Nigantha Nataputta. Do all of them have knowledge and understanding as they themselves have declared? Or do all of them have no knowledge and understanding?"
The reply by Buddha was: "Subhadda, in whatever teaching is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither in it is there found a Samana (priest or holy person) of the first stage (Sotapanna), nor a Samana of the second stage (Sakadagami), nor a Samana of the third stage (Anagami), nor a Samana of the fourth stage (Arahant)".

As a religious tradition, Hinduism has experienced many attempts at systemization. In medieval times, Shankara advocated for the Advaita system of philosophy. In recent times, Tamala Krishna Gosvami has researched the systemization of Krishna theology as expounded by Srila Prabhupada. (See Krishnology)

Approaches to the beliefs of others

Adherents of particular religions deal with the differing doctrines and practices espoused by other religions in a variety ways. All strains of thought appear in different segments of all major world religions.

Exclusivism

People with exclusivist beliefs typically explain other religions as either in error, or as corruptions or counterfeits of the true faith. Examples include:

Cristo Redentor, the famous Christ the Redeemer statue at the top of the Corcovado mountain
  • Christian scripture states that Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." John 14:6. It also says things such as: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
  • Islamic scripture states: "O you who believe, do not take certain Jews and Christians as allies; these are allies of one another. Those among you who ally themselves with these belong with them. Surely Allah does not guide the unjust people." Qur'an 5:51. and "O you who believe, do not befriend those among the recipients of previous scripture who mock and ridicule your religion, nor shall you befriend the disbelievers. You shall reverence GOD, if you are really believers." Qur'an 5:57
  • Hebrew scripture states that God said to Israel through Moses: "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now, therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
  • The Buddhist scriptures of the Dhammapada states: "The best of paths is the Eightfold Path. The best of truths are the Four Noble Truths. Non-attachment Nirvana is the best of states. The best of bipeds is the Seeing One. This is the only Way; there is none other for the purity of vision. Do follow this path; it is the bewilderment of Mara". Dhammapada verse 273 & 274

Inclusivism

People with inclusivist beliefs recognize some truth in all faith systems, highlighting agreements and minimizing differences, but see their own faith as in some way ultimate. Examples include:

From Christianity

  • Jesus said, "Whoever is not against us is for us." Mark 9:40 (NIV) However, this use of Mark 9:40 distorts the true meaning of what Jesus said, since the verses prior to this one indicate that the man was driving out demons in Jesus' name. Therefore, the man driving out demons had to have been for Jesus. Jesus then follows that quote by saying this, "I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." (Mark 9:41) So it would seem that this passage indicates that one would in fact have to belong to Christ to be blessed.
  • "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7 (NRSV)
  • The Apostle Peter wrote of God: "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
  • "And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Matthew 9:10–12 (KJV)
  • Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:43-45 (KJV)

From Islam

  • The Qur'an states: "Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way - except in the case of those of them who do wrong - saying, 'We have faith in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to him.'" (Qur'an, Surat al-'Ankabut; 29:46)
  • "Among the people of the Book there are some who have faith in God and in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down to them, and who are humble before God. They do not sell God's Signs for a paltry price. Such people will have their reward with their Lord. And God is swift at reckoning." (Qur'an, Surat Al 'Imran; 3:199)
  • "...You will find the people most affectionate to those who have faith are those who say, 'We are Christians.' That is because some of them are priests and monks and because, they are not arrogant. (Qur'an, Surat al-Ma'idah; 5:82)
  • The Quran says: "O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware (Quran 49:13).[3]

From Judaism

  • The Talmud states: "The righteous of all peoples have a place in the World-To-Come" (Tos. to Sanhedrin 13:2, Sifra to Leviticus 19:18), and affirms that the great majority of non-Jewish humanity will be saved, due to God's overwhelming mercy (BT Sanhedrin 105a).
  • The Torah mentions a number of righteous gentiles, including Melchizedek who presided at offerings to God that Abraham made (Gen. 14:18), Job, a pagan Arab of the land of Uz who had a whole book of the Hebrew Bible devoted to him as a paragon of righteousness beloved of God (see the book of Job), and the Ninevites, the people given to cruelty and idolatry could be accepted by God when they repented (see the Book of Jonah).
  • Rabbinic tradition asserts that the basic standard of righteousness was established in a covenant with Noah: anyone who keeps the Noahide Laws of this covenant has "a share in the world to come".

From the Bahá'í Faith

  • Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith states: "The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, the followers of his Faith firmly believe, is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society." (The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in World Order, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1972–73)) [1] The Bahá'í faith extends hypothetical affirmation to various religious faith traditions as among the Native Americans and others[4] to the extent that individuals and institutions may accept for their own purposes that various cultural heroes may have been in fact a Manifestation of God.

From Hinduism

  • A well-known Rig Vedic hymn stemming from Hinduism claims that "Truth is One, but sages call it by many names."[5]
  • Krishna, incarnation or avatar of Vishnu, said: "Whoever resorts to Me in whatever manner, in the same manner do I favour them; men experience Me alone in different ways, O Arjuna." (Bhagavad Gita: 4:11);
  • Krishna said: "Whatever may be the form [of the deity] a devotee - whosoever he may be - desires to worship with faith, I assume that form which is firm and is according to [his] faith. Endowed with that faith, he seeks to worship that deity and therefrom receives his desired objects that are ordained by none but Me.(Gita: 7:21-22)
  • Another quote in the Gita states: "O Arjuna, even those devotees who worship other deities (e.g.,Devas) with faith, they also worship Me, but following non-injunction" (Gita: 9:23)

Modern reasons for adherence to religion

Young Tibetan Buddhist monks of Drepung

Typical reasons for adherence to religion include the following:

  • "Experience or emotion": For many, the practice of a religion leads to religious experiences and pleasurable emotional highs. Such emotional highs can come from the singing of traditional hymns to the trance-like states found in the practices of the Whirling Dervishes and Yoga, among others. People continue to associate with those practices that give pleasure and, insofar as it is connected with religion, join in religious organizations that provide those practices. Also, some people simply feel that their faith is true, and may not be able to explain their feelings.
  • "Supernatural connection": Most religions postulate a reality which includes both the natural and the supernatural. Most adherents of religion consider this to be of critical importance, since it permits belief in unseen and otherwise potentially unknowable aspects of life, including hope of eternal life.
  • "Rational analysis": For some, adherence is based on intellectual evaluation that has led them to the conclusion that the teachings of that religion most closely describe reality. Among Christians this basis for belief is often given by those influenced by C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. This reason is closely tied to fields of study like the Philosophy of religion.
  • "Best Working Model": For some (e.g. John Polkinghorne) religion makes the most sense of "the way the world is." Religion is not regarded as proven but as the best available reflection of things which are intractable to other analysis.
  • "Moderation": Many religions have approaches that produce practices that place limitations on the behaviour of their adherents. This is seen by many as a positive influence, potentially protecting adherents from the destructive or even fatal excesses to which they might otherwise be susceptible. Many people from many faiths contend that their faith brings them fulfillment, peace, and joy, apart from worldly interests.
  • "Authority": Most religions are authoritarian in nature, and thus provide their adherents with spiritual and moral role models, who they believe can bring highly positive influences both to adherents and society in general.
  • "Moral framework": Most religions see early childhood education in religion and spirituality as essential for instilling and internalizing moral discipline.[citation needed] Belief in God, for example, is seen by some to be necessary for moral behavior.[6]
  • "Majesty and tradition": Many people consider religious practices to be serene, beautiful, and conducive to religious experiences, which in turn support religious beliefs.[7]
  • "Community and culture": Organized religions promote a sense of community among their followers, and the moral and cultural common ground of these communities makes them attractive to people with the same values.[8] Indeed, while religious beliefs and practices are usually connected, some individuals with substantially secular beliefs still participate in religious practices for cultural reasons.
  • "Fulfillment": Most traditional religions require sacrifice of their followers, but, in turn, the followers may gain much from their membership therein. Thus, they come away from experiences with these religions with the feeling that their needs have been filled. In fact, studies have shown that religious adherents tend to be happier and less prone to stress than non-religious people.
  • "Spiritual and psychological benefits": Each religion asserts that it is a means by which its adherents may come into closer contact with God, Truth, and Spiritual Power. They all promise to free adherents from spiritual bondage, and bring them into spiritual freedom. It naturally follows that a religion which frees its adherents from deception, sin, and spiritual death will have significant mental health benefits. Abraham Maslow's research after World War II showed that Holocaust survivors tended to be those who held strong religious beliefs (not necessarily temple attendance, etc), suggesting it helped people cope in extreme circumstances. Humanistic psychology went on to investigate how religious or spiritual identity may have correlations with longer lifespan and better health. The study found that humans may particularly need religious ideas to serve various emotional needs such as the need to feel loved, the need to belong to homogeneous groups, the need for understandable explanations and the need for a guarantee of ultimate justice. Other factors may involve sense of purpose, sense of identity, sense of contact with the divine. See also Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl, detailing his experience with the importance of religion in surviving the Holocaust. Critics assert that the very fact that religion was the primary selector for research subjects may have introduced a bias, and that the fact that all subjects were holocaust survivors may also have had an effect. According to Larson et al. (2000), "[m]ore longitudinal research with better multidimensional measures will help further clarify the roles of these [religious] factors and whether they are beneficial or harmful."[9]
  • "Practical benefits": Religions may sometimes provide breadth and scale for visionary inspirations in compassion, practical charity, and moral restraint. Christianity is noted for the founding of many major universities, the creation of early hospitals, the provision of food and medical supplies to the needy, and the creation of orphanages and schools, amongst other charitable acts. Many other religions (and non-religious organisations and individuals, e.g.: humanistic Oxfam) have also performed equivalent or similar work.
  • Crisis of faith is a term commonly applied to periods of intense doubt and internal conflict about one's preconceived beliefs or life decisions. A crisis of faith can be contrasted to simply a period of doubt in that a crisis of faith demands reconciliation or reevaluation before one can continue believing in whichever tenet is in doubt or continuing in whatever life path is in question - i.e., the crisis necessitates a non-compromisable decision: either sufficiently reconcile the cause of doubt with the belief or decision in question, or drop the belief. Religious doubt could lead to anxiety over the doubter’s supposed eternal future (e.g. going to Hell if they believe it exists). The friends or relatives of freethinkers can also experience distress over the supposed eternal future of a loved one. While many religious adherents derive happiness from their religion, some religious beliefs may cause unhappiness to some. Similarly many freethinkers derive happiness from being able to decide philosophical and moral issues for themselves, and some become unhappy in their state.

Modern reasons for rejection of religion

Typical reasons for rejection of religion include the following:

  • "Irrelevancy": Many find the beliefs, moral practices, and rituals of a religion to hold no meaning in the modern world, and find no effect from them if applied, and conclude that the religion is irrelevant. Likewise, many who live a contemporary lifestyle find that modern lifestyles conflict with traditional religious understanding, and so reject religion in favour of the current lifestyle, finding the religious beliefs to be outdated or pointless.
  • "Alternative Explanations": Some see religion as merely an attempt at explaining observed phenomena in the world by attributing it to the actions of an omnipotent deity. Now that science has been able to solve many of these problems, religion is no longer necessary. This is effectively a God of the Gaps argument.
  • "Promotion of guilt, fear and shame": Many atheists, agnostics, and others see religion as a promoter of fear and conformity, causing people to adhere to it to shake the guilt and fear of either being looked down upon by others, or some form of punishment as outlined in the religious doctrines (e.g. Hell). In this way, religion can be seen as promotional of people pushing guilt onto others, or becoming fanatical (i.e. doing things they otherwise wouldn't if they were non-religious), in order to shed their own guilt and fear ultimately generated by the religion itself.
  • "Irrational and unbelievable creeds": The fundamental doctrines of some religions are considered by some to be illogical, contrary to experience, or unsupported by sufficient evidence, and are rejected for those reasons.[10] Even some believers may have difficulty accepting particular religious assertions or doctrines. Some people believe the body of evidence available to humans to be insufficient to justify certain religious beliefs. They may thus disagree with religious interpretations of ethics and human purpose, or various creation myths. This reason has perhaps been aggravated by the protestations of some fundamentalist Christians.
  • "Restrictiveness": Many religions have (or have had in the past) an approach that produces, or produced, practices that are considered by some people to be too restrictive, e.g., regulation of dress, and proscriptions on diet and activities on certain days of the week. Some feel that religion is the antithesis of prosperity, fun, enjoyment and pleasure. This causes them to reject it entirely, or to see it as only to be turned to in times of trouble.
  • "Self-promotion": Some individuals place themselves in positions of power and privilege through promotion of specific religious views. Such self-promotion has tended to reduce public confidence in many things that are called "religion." Similarly, highly publicized cases of abuse by the clergy of several religions have tended to reduce public confidence in the underlying message.
  • "Promotion of ignorance": Many see religion as a primitive attempt to understand nature and the world at large, and that it has since been superseded by scientific inquiry. They therefore conclude that religious beliefs, founded in superstition and ignorance, merely perpetuate said ignorance onto future generations for the sake of tradition.
  • "Childhood indoctrination and ethics": Many atheists, agnostics, and others see early childhood education in religion and spirituality as a form of brainwashing or social conditioning, forcing a child to accept certain ideas before he or she is old enough to fully understand them and make an informed decision whether or not to agree. Some argue that simplistic absolutism taught by some religions impairs a child's moral capacity to deal with a world of complex and varied temptations which, in reality, is far different from what they have been brought up to believe.
  • "Unappealing practices": Some people consider religious practices and ceremonies to be distasteful, boring, antiquated, or needlessly arcane, and reject religion for that reason.
  • "Detrimental effect on government": Many atheists, agnostics, and others believe that religion, because it insists that people believe certain claims "on faith" without sufficient evidence, hinders the rational/logical thought processes necessary for effective government. For example, a leader who believes that God will intervene to save humans from environmental disasters may be less likely to attempt to reduce the risk of such disasters through human action. Also, in many countries, religious organizations have tremendous political power, and in some countries can even control government almost completely. Disillusionment with forms of theocratic government, such as practiced in Iran, can lead people to question the legitimacy of any religious beliefs used to justify non-secular government.
  • "Detrimental effect on personal responsibility": Many atheists, agnostics, and others believe that many religions, because they state that God will intervene to help individuals who are in trouble, cause people to be less responsible for themselves. For example, a person who believes that God will intervene to save him if he gets into financial difficulties may conclude that it is unnecessary to be financially responsible himself. (Some believers, however, would consider this a misrepresentation of religion: they would say that God only helps people who take initiative themselves first.) This attitude can be taken to extremes: there are instances of believers refusing life-saving medical treatment (or even denying it to their children) because they believe that God will cure them. Many atheists, agnostics, and others also find the assertion that 'circumstances are overpowering because they are the will of God' to be a negation of personal responsibility.
  • "Exclusivism": Many major world religions make the claim that they are the one true religion, and that all other religions are wrong (see exclusivism). This, to many, is a logical contradiction, as many religions possess similar, or identical, understanding of issues. Many also find exclusivism repulsive. However, it should be noted that exclusivism is not central to religious beliefs, and few seem to leave a religion fully based on a rejection of exclusivism.
  • "Tensions between proselytizing and secularizing": Increasingly secular beliefs have been steadily on the rise in many nations. An increasing acceptance of a secular worldview, combined with efforts to prevent "religious" beliefs from influencing society and government policy, may have led to a corresponding decline in religious belief, especially of more traditional forms.
  • "Cause of division, hatred, and war": Some religions include beliefs that certain groups of people are inferior or sinful and deserve contempt, persecution, or even death, and that non-believers will be punished for their unbelief in an after-life. For example, some Muslims believe that women are inferior to men. Some Christians share this belief. At the time of the American Civil War, many Southerners used passages from the Bible to justify slavery. The Christian religion has been used as a reason to persecute and to deny the rights of homosexuals, on the basis that God disapproves of homosexuality, and by implication homosexuals [2]. Adherents to a religion may feel antipathy to unbelievers.[11] There are countless examples of people of one religion or sect using religion as an excuse to murder people with different religious beliefs. To mention just a few, there was the slaughter of the Huguenots by French Catholics in the Sixteenth century; Hindus and Muslims killing each other when Pakistan separated from India in 1947; the persecution and killing of Shiite Muslims by Sunni Muslims in Iraq and the murder of Protestants by Catholics and vice versa in Ireland, (both of these examples in the late Twentieth century); and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that continues today. According to some critics of religion, these beliefs can encourage completely unnecessary conflicts and in some cases even wars. Many atheists believe that, because of this, religion is incompatible with world peace, freedom, civil rights, equality, and good government. On the other hand, most religions perceive atheism as a threat and will vigorously and violently defend themselves against religious sterilization, making the attempt to remove public religious practices a source of strife.
  • "Opportunity cost of resources": Many believe that the resources spent on religious practice, such as the cost of building and maintaining places of worship or the time necessary to participate in religious ceremonies, are better spent in other places. (On the other hand, the fact that many believers choose to spend time and money practicing religion voluntarily may indicate that they, at least, believe the benefits are worth the costs.)
  • "Immoral doctrines": Some people may be unable to accept the values that a specific religion promotes (e.g., Islamic attitudes towards women) and will therefore not join that religion. They may also be unable to accept the fact that those who do not believe will go to hell or be damned, especially if said nonbelievers are close to the person. More recently, charges of speciesism against religions, both East and West,[12] have posed a curiously re-discovered intellectually challenge: does one reject speciesist religions or merely the speciesist interpretations by speciesist affiliates who do not fully comprehend the breadth and depth of religious teachings? In other words, are religious teachings that describe the moral fallibility of human life more true because speciesism, a newly-recognized sin, is evident even among religious affiliates?
  • Crisis of faith is a term commonly applied to periods of intense doubt and internal conflict about one's preconceived beliefs or life decisions. A crisis of faith can be contrasted to simply a period of doubt in that a crisis of faith demands reconciliation or reevaluation before one can continue believing in whichever tenet is in doubt or continuing in whatever life path is in question - i.e., the crisis necessitates a non-compromisable decision: either sufficiently reconcile the cause of doubt with the belief or decision in question, or drop the belief. Religious doubt could lead to anxiety over the doubter’s supposed eternal future (e.g. going to Hell if they believe it exists). The friends or relatives of freethinkers can also experience distress over the supposed eternal future of a loved one. While many religious adherents derive happiness from their religion, some religious beliefs may cause unhappiness to some. Similarly many freethinkers derive happiness from being able to decide philosophical and moral issues for themselves, and some become unhappy in their state.
  • "Mental Health versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice" The maintenance of his life and the achievement of self-esteem require of man the fullest exercise of his reason—but morality, men are taught, rests on and requires faith. Faith is the commitment of one’s consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof. When a man rejects reason as his standard of judgment, only one alternative standard remains to him: his feelings. A mystic is a man who treats his feelings as tools of cognition. Faith is the equation of feeling with knowledge. To practice the “virtue” of faith, one must be willing to suspend one’s sight and one’s judgment; one must be willing to live with the unintelligible, with that which cannot be conceptualized or integrated into the rest of one’s knowledge, and to induce a trance like illusion of understanding. One must be willing to repress one’s critical faculty and hold it as one’s guilt; one must be willing to drown any questions that rise in protest—to strangle any trust of reason convulsively seeking to assert its proper function as the protector of one’s life and cognitive integrity. Man’s need of self-esteem entails the need for a sense of control over reality—but no control is possible in a universe which, by one’s own concession, contains the supernatural, the miraculous and the causeless, a universe in which one is at the mercy of ghosts and demons, in which one must deal, not with the unknown, but with the unknowable; no control is possible if man proposes, but a ghost disposes; no control is possible if the universe is a haunted house. His life and self-esteem require that the object and concern of man’s consciousness be reality and this earth—but morality, men are taught, consists of scorning this earth and the world available to sensory perception, and of contemplating, instead, a “different” and “higher” reality, a realm inaccessible to reason and incommunicable in language, but attainable by revelation, by special dialectical processes, by that superior state of intellectual lucidity known to Zen-Buddhists as “No-Mind,” or by death. His life and self-esteem require that man take pride in his power to think, pride in his power to live—but morality, men are taught, holds pride, and specifically intellectual pride, as the gravest of sins. Virtue begins, men are taught, with humility: with the recognition of the helplessness, the smallness, the impotence of one’s mind. His life and self-esteem require of man loyalty to his values, loyalty to his mind and its judgments, loyalty to his life—but the essence of morality, men are taught, consists of self-sacrifice: the sacrifice of one’s mind to some higher authority, and the sacrifice of one’s values to whoever may claim to require it. A sacrifice, it is necessary to remember, means the surrender of a higher value in favor of a lower value or of a nonvalue. If one gives up that which one does not value in order to obtain that which one does value—or if one gives up a lesser value in order to obtain a greater one—this is not a sacrifice, but a gain. Remember further that all of a man’s values exist in a hierarchy; he values some things more than others; and, to the extent that he is rational, the hierarchical order of his values is rational: that is, he values things in proportion to their importance in serving his life and well-being. That which is inimical to his life and well-being, that which is inimical to his nature and needs as a living being, he disvalues. Conversely, one of the characteristics of mental illness is a distorted value structure; the neurotic does not value things according to their objective merit, in relation to his nature and needs; he frequently values the very things that will lead him to self-destruction. Judged by objective standards, he is engaged in a chronic process of self-sacrifice. But if sacrifice is a virtue, it is not the neurotic but the rational man who must be “cured.” He must learn to do violence to his own rational judgment—to reverse the order of his value hierarchy—to surrender that which his mind has chosen as the good—to turn against and invalidate his own consciousness.[13]

See also

References

  1. ^ Cline, A. Religion vs. Superstition: Is Religion Just Organized Superstition? Is Superstition Always Religious?. About.com. Retrieved on September 20, 2008.
  2. ^ Cline, A. Religion vs. Philosophy: Are Religion and Philosophy Two Ways of Doing the Same Thing? About.com. Retrieved on: September 20,laura roemekso 2008
  3. ^ 49. Al-Hujraat (The Private Apartments), translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali"13 O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)."
  4. ^ Christopher Buck (1996). "Native Messengers of God in Canada? A test case for Baha'i universalism". London: Association for Bahá'í Studies English-Speaking Europe. http://bahai-library.com/file.php5?file=buck_native_messengers&language=All. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  5. ^ Rig Veda, Mandala 1, Sukta 164, Mantra 46
  6. ^ "Roy Moore: 'We Have No Morality Without an Acknowledgment of God'". Christianity Today. 2005-03-07. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/110/13.0.html. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  7. ^ Miller, David Ian (2005-02-15). "Finding My Religion: Steve Georgiou on his faith and mentor, minimalist poet Robert Lax". SFGate. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2005/02/15/findrelig.DTL. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  8. ^ Repa, J. Theodore (1998-10-18). "Building Community: The Marriage of Religion and Education". http://pages.nyu.edu/~jtr1/sermon.htm. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  9. ^ Larson, David B.; Susan S. Larson, Harold G. Koenig (October 2000). "Research Findings on Religious Commitment and Mental Health". Psychiatric Times 17 (10). http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/p001078.html. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  10. ^ Russell, Bertrand (1927-03-06). "Why I am Not a Christian". http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/russell0.htm. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  11. ^ Beauchamp, Philip (pseudonym of Jeremy Bentham) "Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind", 1822, R. Carlile, London, at page 76: "Of all human antipathies, that which the believer in a God bears to the unbeliever is the fullest, the most unqualified, and the most universal"
  12. ^ The Spectre of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals (American Academy of Religion Academy Series) by Dr. Paul Waldau
  13. ^ Branden, N. (1963), "Mental Health versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice," Ayn Rand - The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism.

External links


Simple English

A religious belief is a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. Religious beliefs often are about the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe and involve devotion, ritual practices and rules which must be followed.








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