The majority of people on this planet believe in some kind of god.
This god they believe in goes by different names. Jesus. Buddha. Krishna. Allah. et cetera. The list goes on for quite a ways, and the list of nicknames for these gods is even longer.
The religions that profess to be ways to worship god, are many and varied as well. They have a few things in common. Including the belief that their god is the One True God. They all have books, written a long time ago, that lay out the nature of their god, and of course, all the stuff you have to do in order to worship god in the right way.
These religions, and the righteous indignation of the people who believe most strongly, have lead to many wars and taken many lives for centuries. Religions have viciously persecuted those they thought were heretics, non-believers, and other sinners, those who practiced dark religions like witchcraft, and even those who would seek to create their own version of a religion.
And this warring continues to this day.
Organized religions have had two almost diametrically opposed purposes. The first is to give people who believed in whatever god they represented a place to worship and the company of other believers. The second was to sustain itself, and for that, they needed contributions or tithes from the people who worshiped in their churches or temples.
In the early days before the enlightenment, these tithes were in the form of food mostly, but later became currency and precious metals. And they collected so much money they were able to expand, buy more real estate, build more churches or temples take their teachings to parts of the world that were still in darkness.
Churches have always had the political power to greater or lesser degrees. In the Islamic faith, the religion is the government. In other places, religion is a very important influencer of governments.
Even in America, which is supposed to be the world’s shining example of democracy, the last words of ever important` political speech are ‘God bless the United States Of America’
Judging from the popularity of all of these religions, you’d think that throughout the entire course of history, there would be one concrete example of the power of god. One miracle that cannot be explained in any way other than that it was the work of god.
The bible is full of stories of miracles but almost all of these have proven to be metaphorical, or have their cause in some natural earthly occurrence.
Now, this obviously does not have much of an effect on the people, and there are billions, who have aligned their beliefs with that of their religion.
But then there are the rest of us. The spiritual orphans who are content to simply believe that god is not a being or a spirit, but that god is simply the energy that powers and holds the universe together.
We are not creatures of god, nor are we god’s creation. We are all a part of god. And as such, worship in the way religions instruct, is unnecessary. We worship god by simply being and working our hardest at being good and kind and thoughtful and fair and acknowledging that at our core, we are all the same and we are all part of this universe that is god.
I didn’t come to this belief, easily, nor early in my life. It took a long time and a lot of looking to shape this belief. And what I saw was that the edifices, political structure, cultures, religions, and industries that man has created are all about the few using the many to gain, keep and benefit from power. I started to understand this about 30 years ago when I was hardcore into advertising and realized that my creativity was just a tool to help people with lots of money make even more money.
Today, we are seeing that this unbridled pursuit of wealth and power has brought the human race and the animal kingdom as well, to the edge of extinction.
And we are also seeing a marked decline in the number of people who associate themselves with a particular religion.
But that does not mean that the spiritual world has gotten weaker. In fact, I would say it’s stronger than ever because there are more and more people who realize what I started to realize three decades ago, which is that the best religion is not a religion at all, but simply a powerful belief in each other.
Because you can spend your entire life looking for god, when all you really had to do was look around and see god’s reflection in every living thing.
Blessings Jim, great article to reflect upon in many ways, and I leave people to believe in their God how they wish, never forcing written work or spiritual beliefs on anyone. The line though that struct me is this that you wrote:
(We are not creatures of god, nor are we god’s creation. We are all a part of god) For this part especially I give my thoughts, and that is that we are certainly creatures of God and God’s creation. No one’s DNA is identical, including twins, and that says volumes to me. In my heart and thoughts God created not only our Universe but the human being as well, and when you look at a baby being formed in the womb, that is truly a miracle that cannot be duplicated. I have many long time friends who have their own way of believing in their idea of who and what God is or the higher power that they refer to, and it is great that we each respect the others point of view without agreeing. I often find that people who criticizes or judge without letting people believe as they wish are missing out in many ways. Thank you for this great piece to read and reflect upon.
Thanks Lynn. As I said to Jeff Inkler. I have the utmost respect for those who live their lives by the teachings of their religion. Everybody’s belief system is unique to them. I never judge, because I grew up a Catholic and understand the power of religion to bring out the best in people. I left the church, not out of cynicism, but because my belief had changed and I was happy with what it had changed to. I don’t think religion is a bad thing. But there are people who use it for less than charitable reasons and it’s those people who will be held to account at the end of their lives, and sometimes even before that.
Thanks for the comment, Jeff. It’s hard to write about religion without offending someone. I have nothing but respect for those who use the teachings of their religion to be better human beings. I just think that there is always going to be a number of different ways of looking at the universe, and what our purpose here is. Many people find that through religion. But a good number of others talk the talk but don’t walk it. And still others prey on people’s faith. America just went through 4 years of being led by a person like that. I also believe that religion provides a community for people who need it, and that’s a good thing. But I’m like you. For a couple of months when I was in the hospital I had a great view of a Turkey Vulture feeding ground. I would watch those birds riding the air currents for hours and think, many, whoever or whatever created the majesty of nature really knew what they were doing.
Jim, let me just say that I pretty much agree with you here. I have seen “religious” – nay purportedly pious individuals – leave the message of Jesus in the pew the minute the service ends. And I have seen those who honestly walk the lessons on a minute-by-minute basis. Our Dennis P. would fall into the latter category.
Me? Whenever I need to have a conversation with God or the Universe’s spiritual force, I just head to a nearby forest preserve.