Does a belief in God constitute religion?

e-bible-quiz-booth-salvation-o-meterWhile reading “The Family”, I got to wondering about God and religion. If one assumes God exists, does it then become necessary to form religious beliefs? Are they one in the same?  There are over 4200 active religions in the world, all of them thinking they’re the one true religion. The average Christian religion posits one cannot attain heaven if one doesn’t take Christ into both their lives and hearts. That would leave out all atheists, Jews, Muslims and non-Christians. Quite a large group of humans destined for someplace other than heaven.

Jews believe Christ has not been on this planet, Buddhists believe in Buddha, Muslims believe in the prophet Mohammad, etc.. Would a God, any God, exclude such a population because of something they don’t  believe in? God supposedly told the Prophets, after the flood, He would not interfere in the affairs of man again. One can take that to mean there was no Son of God on earth, because if He did, wouldn’t that make God a liar? Can God lie?

My point is religion can be both a good and bad thing, and at the same time. How many wars have been fought in the name of religion? How many humans slaughtered in the name of Religion? Do those wars justify religion in any way? Conversely, and maybe more importantly, does religion justify war? Believe me, I know religion is abused by any number of people, Tony Alamo being one example, but the majority of religious people are good people. But is religion, in the long run, necessary to attain heaven? Is a religion, such as Catholicism, any better than an Australian tribe worshiping  Uluru? My opinion would be emphatically no. My base belief is if one lives the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, that is all that is needed to attain heaven, assuming, again, heaven actually exists. That, to me at least, is not a religion, per se, but a core belief in humanity. Does that mean I’m destined for the bbq pit? I have no problem with religion, I just don’t think any organized religion is a deciding factor when it come to God’s judgment: He judges on how one lives their life.

Okay, can open: your thoughts? (Imagine this post on TBTSNBN)

jamnmer5

33 Comments

Filed under Ethics, Life Lessons, Religion

33 responses to “Does a belief in God constitute religion?

  1. Great post, jammer! I want to talk about this — it’s a subject I really want to delve into, but it’s late, I’ve just arrived home, must wait until morning.

  2. Jammer is a deep thinker, isn’t he? I have always liked John because of his willingness to consider various positions. He reminds me a lot of pre-seminary students I knew in college. It’s too bad Catholicism doesn’t do that for more people.

    John, Thank you for you many contributions here.

  3. I remember posting on the BTSNBN about a study that suggested abortions increased under the Bush administration. Of course, the beauty of that irony was too much for me to pass up… The only problem was that the article that reported those findings had cherry-picked the data so that they left out a number of other states. When all reporting states were combined, it turned out that abortions under Bush had not increased. The problem with the data was pointed out to me by Jammer. I became a big fan of his after that.

    Jammer appreciates the truth much more than rhetoric. I am proud to know him for that reason alone.

    • jammer5

      Thanks Iggy. The best part of this blog is the people who post here. I know I can post anything from the absurd to posts like this and get good, honest responses. Believe me, it’s a pleasure to know all of you.

      I really am interested in all your thoughts and opinions on this subject. Probably should have saved it till Wednesday 🙂

      The fact I went and saw Zombieland (seriously funny) had nothing to do with this post 🙂

  4. On the book The Family, I was real interested in the early part of the book, found the historical review of the movement a bit tidious, but enjoyed the last part of the history.

  5. Check out http://www.crystalclarity.com/yogananda/

    “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramahansa Yogananda.

    When I was in Los Angeles I attended many services at the Self-Realization Fellowship.

    Yogananda had a most impressive and persuasive view of “God-ness.” (Nobody gets it, even when they think they do. Everyone wants to think their insight is right. God’s bigger than the lot of us. Don’t ever think you’ve figured it out; that’s God’s job.

    But the stories and legends and fables and even the rituals of every religion have a nugget of truth and an insight to God-ness.

    I think religion is humanity’s way to grasp that which is beyond our reach. God-ness.

    I’m not sure that’s always a bad thing, that reaching.

    What’s dangerous is people who think they’ve grabbed it.

  6. Monkeyhawk, you said what I wouldn’t have said as well — “What’s dangerous is people who think they’ve grabbed it.”

    Those who tell you most often about their religion come across with a superior attitude and are doing their religion a great disservice. That doesn’t even touch on what a disservice they do to themselves and to any God they say they follow.

    Like jammer my ‘religion’ is The Golden Rule. I strive, and sometimes I get it right. I think God is love and every human deserving of dignity.

    I spent too much of my life going to church every time the doors were open and feeling exceptional in my superiority when I should have been hanging my head down in shame!

    I need to try to live a life of love and kindness without the crutch of religion. No one to blame but me. No one to ask to help me. I’m on my own here and take full responsibility for this one.

  7. tosmarttobegop

    I agree for some at least there is a real need to have a understanding of that they can not control and reasoning for it. A need to appeal to some higher power when there is nothing left for them to do themselves. To explain that which they can not or do not understand or it frightens them.

    The Chicken and the egg, the thunder is sounding, the wind is blowing and the sky is lit up by the lighting.
    Man stands at the opening of the cave, the whole scene is frightening and awe inspiring. He is confused something seem to be wrong but he can not understand what?

    The environment seems angry, a living thing and in his limited understanding he does know anger.
    The power and strength of the sky seem to show that something or someone more powerful them himself is roaring and showing its angry mood. In his world he relates everything to him and his understanding.
    There must be something, a being that is doing this.

    He with his limited understanding he knows simple emotions and a order to things. But there are those times when things happen he can not put a order to. To that he lacks a explanation, a understanding and he so need to have a explanation and some kind of understanding. Deep inside he wants to have something he can appeal to and reason with.

    He wants hope and there seems so much that there seem no way to have hope in.
    The flood and the fire, he understands to run but when trapped he want a way out.
    There is a power to such large and more powerful things and so angry. Again almost human emotion so there for a possibility of reasoning with.

    Such a powerful being must have a name.

    Death comes, the ending of life and he so fears that end and understand it comes to all.
    There is nothing he can do to stop death, no matter how much he fears it and wants it not to happen.
    He can not understand the why of death, he does understand life and beginning.
    So he comes to think of death as a new beginning, it has to be since that is understandable.
    Death is fearful and the end of life, he understands beginning he has seen his children born.
    But then who was the parent of him and his, that is a important thing to him and he does not understand.
    The order of it and therefore there must be some first parent.

    If Death is so fearful then if it is just a new beginning it is not so fearful. It is not a end, there is hope in death now.

  8. tosmarttobegop

    Humans are self aware, this is a curse for it gives us a understanding of more then a moment.
    More then just that which is in front of us and beyond our selves. It also causes us to have a need to understand the reasoning.

    To have an answer for things, it as much causes us to explore and research as it does to have us accept any answers. If a understanding is not so apparent then there has to be reasons and finally accept.

    “The Great Blue whale is the largest animal on Earth, yet its throat is about the size of a Walnut.
    Do you know why? Neither do I it is just the way it is!”.

    A belief in a higher power is illogical to the thinking mind, the storm clouds that cause man to think of the environment as a being. Is now explained and in a understandable way that does not need a powerful being and showing its anger. But this also counters those of such a belief, to do so also attacks every other part of that belief. If the man behind the curtain is exposed then all his other powers and wonders are in question.

    Death is really nothing more then the end of life and though a part of life is once again something to be feared.

  9. 6176746f6c6c65

    No. Next question, please.

  10. Ya gotta admit discussions on this forum are a tad more cerebral than those on WE Blog.

    But sometimes you guys distract me from my lifelong comittment to keep the tencil on the toad.

    • I missed how that came about — the tencil on the toad phrase — can you catch me up to date so I can completely enjoy the moment? 🙂

      • Oh hell, “fnord” —

        It was a couple of days ago. Another one of “Regular’s” word salad non-sequiturs strictly from out of the blue.

        I have no idea what it means.

        He apparently did. Or thought he did at the time. I thought it might be some obscure Lewis Carrol quote or something and Googled it for a while and found nothing of the sort.

        But ol’ “Regular” has become a personal prophet for me. I’ve dedicated my life to keeping the tencil on the toad.

      • Ah! Yes, one of those rambling meaningful (must be in some way I haven’t yet grasped) full of big words posts. I have read some of them, didn’t see this particular one. I’m glad you’re helping make him and his quotes famous!

    • Zippy

      Heh, I haven’t even read Jammer’s no-doubt thoughtful post yet (busy Saturday), but, honestly, a paintball match would be more cerebral than that other place these days.

      Anybody give Jed an invite to here? I still have a 3-year-old email address?

      • Please invite him, Zippy! I’ve never had an email addy for him, but just yesterday I sent off one to PMom asking her if she could contact him. Small world. Great minds and all that. 🙂

  11. I’m more sure today about what I don’t believe than what I do. This afterlife stuff is up in the air for me! Don’t have a clue, don’t expect to know either. Actually don’t spend any time thinking about it.

    I will not live my life in fear! Including fear of an afterlife that might well be a fairy tale. My ‘rewards’ are here everyday and I have so many of them!

    I play an important and even irreplaceable role in the lives of enough people to more than fulfill my needs for appreciation. I always need to protect those relationships and do my part because it always takes two to make a relationship stay healthy.

  12. Bad Biker

    TENCIL

    tencil, a word used for describing the letter “t” when using a two-way radio. Not to be confused with pencil, which is used to describe the letter “p,” tencil is far more superior and easy to interpret on a nextel.

    “Keep the ‘T’ on the toad.”

    Stupid, but what would you expect from Reggie – he discovered the Urban Dictionary.

    Wow!

  13. jammer5

    Just got internet access back, thanks, cox . . .

    Some interesting discussions here. I was raised as a Catholic; went through twelve years of Catholic school. The education was excellent, but I could never quite grab onto the teachings. They seemed to me to be too limiting on what one was allowed to actually think concerning God.

    I can say I never doubted the existence of God: all one has to do is think about the complexity of life, the size of the universe, the distances between galaxies, the fact it all had to start at sometime from nothing. But religion has always been a stopping point for me. Wiki defines religion: The term “religion” refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. “Religion” is sometimes used interchangeably with “faith” or “belief system,”but it is more socially defined than personal convictions, and it entails specific behaviors, respectively.

    So is it mainly the social aspect of ones beliefs, where people can gather and confirm their own beliefs? I think that is what constitutes the word “Religion”, and not just a belief in God.

    When one realizes the fact there are billions of galaxies and trillions of star systems, one can only come to the conclusion there has to be more than one intelligent race. Do we then all look alike? Have the same beliefs? Worship the same God? I seriously doubt it. For instance, right here on earth, people at one time worshipped a variety of Gods. Were they wrong? No one really knows, so who’s to say they were? Is there in fact more than one God? Again, no one really knows.

    Bottom line: Religion can exist without a belief in God, or be founded on a belief in God or Gods. I’ll look up at the night sky, in all its glory, or see a picture of nature, like the one Fnord posted yesterday, and have no problem believing a God exists, but entering a church, where people seem to want to shape God to their particular beliefs, and worshipping Him as such, is something I’ll pass on.

  14. “There are over 4200 active religions in the world, all of them thinking they’re the one true religion. ”

    While that is the case for many, there are many who don’t attest that they are the one true religion nor do they try to convert others to them. Plus I would say that many of the 4200 are Chritian based and therefore are similar in their belief.

    “How many wars have been fought in the name of religion?”

    How many of the secular nations/leaders targeted religious people through the ages. How many of those fought in the name of religion were really power plays for land/money and had nothing to do with religion (except to spur the masses).

    “Those who tell you most often about their religion come across with a superior attitude ”

    I would venture that Atheisms is a religion based on definition and they would tend to fit this description.

    Now, personally I have questions and doubts but still am awed by the wonders of the world and feel something has to be behind it.

    • I dunno.

      I’m in constant awe of natural law.

      But I have a hard time thinking anyone who aspires to be “God” deigned the platypus.

      (Unless he was drunk on a Saturday afternoon and just screwing around in the workshop.)

      The more I know about DNA the more I’m in awe of something somewhere who came up with that whole double-helix thing. Good job, “God,” if that was you!

      And thanks for making sex fun as well as essential! Nice touch.

    • jammer5

      Bearman, you may be correct in your opinion about religions and their beliefs concerning a one true religion, however, that wasn’t the point I was trying to make; just an observation. I linked the site, and there are some way out there religions listed, and active. I’ve read about many, but who am I to doubt their beliefs?

      And, yes, many wars claiming religion as a cause were really about land, etc., but the crusades had both in mind: land and converting Muslims. But that wasn’t my point either. Again, just an observation: wars did happened in the name of religion.

      The whole premise of the post is: does a belief in God constitute a religion? The answer is as varied as there are people on the planet. I think my statement in my last posts recognizes that: Bottom line: Religion can exist without a belief in God, or be founded on a belief in God or Gods.

  15. I agree that Atheism is a religion — it’s following a belief, after all. No matter the religion, it is my experience those who tell you most often about their religion come across with a superior attitude. Understandable! If they’ve ‘accepted’ a belief system it would to them be superior and the fact that they are part of it be something they will be proud of.

    I’ve known some people who live a life that seems peaceful, calm, full of love and tolerance. Those are the people I think of as being filled with the love that is God. They don’t talk about, they radiate it.

    The people who bother me most aren’t the ones who want to share their religion with you, because those seem to have a genuine love they’d like to share. No, it’s the ones who say morality cannot be achieved without embracing their religion, and the moral codes it represents. They also brag about their charity, and are quick to tell you your understanding isn’t correct. They seem to have a need for a person who doesn’t think like them to be wrong and are quick to tell you so.

    • jammer5

      I couldn’t agree more: Hell fire and brimstone preachers are something I stay away from. Organized religions that sell “prayer cards”, “personal communication with God”, etc., are doing nothing more than prostituting themselves for the almighty dollar. Churches that beg money from the poor and tell them the more they give, the more they will become rich, need to lose their tax status and be prosecuted as thieves, because that is all they are.

  16. Wow, the classical definitions of what constitutes a religion pretty much agree that one doesnt NEED a belief in God, in order to have/practice a “religion” — I sort of like that idea… I wish more of those who are out to get “money” from the unsuspecting, would get investigated for fraud… But, I suspect nobody has the cajones to start the investigation!!

    Hi everybody!!! And good to see some of you I recognize!!

    I will look in more often, now… Later!! And have a great weekend!!!

  17. Oh nooo a moderator here too?? LOL

  18. OK, what am I posting “wrong” that is causing my comment to be waiting moderation??

  19. Hi Chas.

    The first time a poster makes a comment it requires approval. You made three before I got here to approve the first. Yes, the site is moderated but not for the silly crazy stuff, we just expect common courtesy, ya know the same thing living an adult life usually involves. 🙂