Religions seek to elevate ‘god’
while philosophies aim to deprecate human nature.
Plato once stated that “good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”. In the context of religion, “good people do not need religions to teach humanity, while bad people will find away to avert human progress”.
What is “religion”?
The word “religion” itself is defined as the belief or pursuit of a superhuman with supreme importance, such as personal gods or a God. Before a religion became recognized as such, it started as an idea or an interpretation of the human relationship with nature.
Many ask, “what is the difference between religion and philosophy?” Simple. Religion is a set of practices, a way of life, how people choose to experience each other. Philosophy explores many religious principles, but generally does not pinpoint a “superhuman” entity. Religions seek to elevate ‘god’ while philosophies aim to deprecate human nature.
Now, we can see after thousands of years of battles and disputes regarding beliefs that religions — Eastern and Western — generally agree on one aspect: nature is out of our control.
How was “religion” popularized?
Religions were popularized because humans needed control — of beasts and of man. It was soon discovered that certain forces are purely natural, nowadays deemed scientific. In the old texts, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam agree that Egypt had a series of plagues. If we read history as it is, without the religion, these plagues took place around the era of Intermediate Periods, a time that is recorded in history as droughts and food shortages.
Since the leaders in the past lacked technology and understanding of what we now call “climate change”, they had to keep the People at peace and thus transcribed an interpretation of the events. Leaders used these events as “wake up calls” to their people, to signify and amplify human limitation. Through this, Fundamentalists were able to gain power and order — some were respected, others were feared. But they had control, or at least the illusion of it.
Why is “religion” criticized?
Although fundamental religions seek to humble the human ego and submit its inferiority to “nature”, or the “supernatural”, many religious leaders are often criticized for embodying egocentric and narcissistic values. To adhere to a religion enables a superiority complex, because one is declaring that his/her belief is the best compared to the other ways. Extreme or propagandist religions are criticized for being unable to “practice what is preached,” to the rational critic, it would appear as if religion has a deluded disregard for human nature and its flaws. While it is true that some religions seek to cultivate strengths, a great weakness in institutionalized religions is that people are punished for nature: for the flaws of human nature.
While it is true that some religions seek to cultivate strengths, a great weakness in institutionalized religions is that people are punished for nature: for the flaws of human nature.
What are the benefits of “religion”?
Much like any species on the planet, human creatures move towards similarity, or “conformity“. A lion sticks with its pride of lions, a human is born into a family or a community of people. While ethics and morals are often viewed as culture or tradition, one could argue that they are philosophies in action throughout the ages. Religion is an institutionalized set of philosophical practices that allow people a framework of boundaries, almost like a “rule book” on how to live life.
The way that many religions are enforced — through politics, through education, through the way we perceive and receive other humans — creates a discipline of sorts. Religion is a discipline: it is a repetitive practice that gives people a sense of foundation. Religion also encourages discipline: that those who “commit wrongdoing” shall be punished. The human ego seeks balance, religion then incorporates rewards, so that humans are motivated to improve.
These principles are taught in religious theory, and its greatest threat in practice is human ego. When boundaries are clearly defined, humans feel a safer sense of movement. Religion can serve as a buffer to those seeking to understand one’s true relationship with self, and with nature.
To many, the idea of religion can be anything from “the arguments of the afterlife” to “who created earth?” Ironically, as life progresses and one journeys into further adulthood, these two questions become as deep as they are meaningless. We are stuck on the idea that religions are supposed to answer to our unexplored psyches, to have definite answers to the universe. If this is the purpose of exploring religion, then one is better-off with metaphysical explorations such as astronomy and astrology.
Religion is a guiding star, an ethical dictionary that conditions humans to “behave better” and become “good, civilized, standup members of society”. As Plato once stated, “good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”. In the context of religion, “good people do not need religions to teach them humanity, while bad people will find away to avert its progress”. Religion is a form of direction, but it is not the final destination.
Thank you for reading.