Even though nobody has been able to prove the existence of one deity or many, much evidence of the power of religious belief has been found. Religion has shaped cultures, laws, and lives for thousands of years.
A religion is a set of belief systems that is passionately held by a group of people that is reflected in a world view and in expected beliefs and actions which are often ritualized. Such belief systems are commonly divided into major religious groups or simply the ones below and come along with written manifestations:
- Abrahamic religions Christianity · Islam · Judaism · Bahá’í Faith · Rastafarianism · Samaritanism · Mormonism
- Dharmic religions Hinduism · (Buddhism) · Jainism · Sikhism
- Other religions Unitarian Universalism · Raelism · Wicca · Zoroastrianism · Eckankar · Druidry · Yoruba religion · Taoism · Deism
- Nontheism Atheism · (Agnosticism) · Ignosticism
- Holy texts Pravachanasara · Bible · Qur’an · Torah · Vedas · Aqdas · Avesta · Tripitaka · Adi Granth · Book of Shadows · Book of Mormon
It might be argued though if for example Buddhism was a religion or rather a philosophy as it does not worship any deity. Buddhism focuses on the development of oneself to follow the teachings and footsteps of the Lord Buddha who ultimately became a devine being.
Also, I personally would not list Agnosticism being a nontheistic belief system as it does not explicitly exclude nor include nontheism or theism for that matter – Agnosticism does not claim to know and therefore leaves the door open for both (any and all) possibilities.
Let’s teach Religion?
One of the most controversial of all topics to teach is religion – and many teachers either do not teach anything about religion for fear that what they might teach is not constitutionally protected, or because they fear they will not get support from parents and / or administrators for teaching religion.
Dan Dennett | Let’s teach religion – all religion – in schools
Diego Meneses | Teaching acceptance through teaching religions
Causes of Wars!
There is rarely one single, clear cause of conflict and, ultimately, war. The causes of a war are usually numerous, and several reasons for a conflict can be intertwined in a complicated way. Many theories have been put forth over the years as to why wars happen, and some of the greatest minds have offered their take on the subject: Within the eight main causes of wars, religion ranks number three:
- Economic Gain
- Territorial Gain
- Civil War
- Revolutionary War
- Defensive War
Organized religion has inarguably been responsible for many of history’s wars, atrocities, and injustices. Yet it’s not all bad. Religion can help people make sense of a confusing world, provide motivation, encourage altruism, and bind communities together.
Sadly, there’s not widespread enough but thank *who-/whatever*, there’s at all religious pluralism which – broadly construed – is another response than war to the diversity of religious beliefs, practices, and traditions that exist both in the contemporary world and throughout history (the header image above shows the Temple of All Religions in Kazan, Russia).
Why believe in a higher Power?
Humans ask questions. That’s what they do. Since humanity’s earliest ancestors walked the earth, individuals have wondered where they came from, why they’re here, and what it all means.
Religion, by and large, represents society’s attempts to answer those questions. While it isn’t always able to achieve that goal – many religious claims can be disproven by science – it often succeeds at providing followers with structure, a code of ethics, and a sense of purpose.
In certain parts of the world, but particularly in Western culture, organized religion’s influence appears to be on the decline. But even people who don’t believe in any type of god or dogma will continue to ask the complex, unknowable questions religion aims to answer.
Those who adhere to The World’s Newest Major Religion: No Religion. More people than ever before are identifying as atheist, agnostic, or otherwise nonreligious / irreligious, with potentially world-changing effects. So, in terms of causes of wars, there seems to be hope: “…with potentially world-changing effects.” Let’s watch that closely.
What about Philosophy?
Philosophy in general is the rational investigation of truth, whereas religion often makes the same kind of truth claims but doesn’t claim to base it on reason or rationality, but instead it is based on other things like faith. Be it as it may, the difference between religion and philosophy can be difficult to explain. Here’s a quick video on Thought Monkey’s take.