This is the season for religion, Palm Sunday then Good Friday, then Easter. Let’s see how you do on this Religion Quiz (no pressure, I scored pretty low).
To redeem myself (no pun intended), I thought it would be good to reflect on this thing we call “religion.” It goes by many different names, traditions and beliefs. Its history is as old as whatever creation story you believe. It is the only fashion that never goes out-of-style.
Why do you think that is?
Blaise Pascal, the noted mathematician/theologian/physicist/inventor/author… etc. etc. etc. took a stab at that question? “(Man’s) infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.”
My chosen faith, Christianity, explains it this way: “(God) has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3.11)
But there are other explanations:
It’s a crutch (Richard Dawkins)
It’s like a childhood neurosis (Sigmund Freud)
It’s a figment of man’s imagination (Ludwig Feuerbach)
It’s the sigh of an oppressed creature (Karl Marx)
It’s the price we pay for being intelligent (Aldous Huxley)
So to prepare for World Religion Day 2018, here are 6 reasons to reject religion…
Religion is a poor excuse for war
I am anti-war, aren’t you? Is there really anyone who wants war? And yet over the centuries religion has waged war. Jesus called his disciples to live at peace with the world. “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
Governments wage war, God wages peace.
Religion is a poor substitute for faith
Who is the despicable creature who first used the word “religion” as a synonym for “faith?” The first great world religion was toppled by God himself. The builders in Babel were determined to build a tower to heaven and to make a name for themselves. But God confused their language.
That was the end of that!
But wars in the name of religion continued and continue today. The most despicable atrocities are committed with the cry, “Allahu Akbar!” Faith seeks to understand who God is; religion celebrates self.
Religion is a poor reason to be good
Being good is a good thing, but there are bad reasons to be good. Did you get that? I mean that religion is no guarantee of goodness.
Even Jesus said, “There is no one good except God.” The rest of us try our best, but for different reasons: to please someone, to fool someone, to fit in, or to ease our guilt. The best reason to be good is to be good.
Religion is a poor path to happiness
According to the Pew Research organization, “religious” people are happiest. With all due respect to Pew, I think they’ve missed the point.
Happy people make happy churches, not the other way around. Religion can contribute to happiness, but it is the impulse to worship, the pursuit of religion that comes from a larger place inside the heart beyond the pews and stained glass windows.
Pew Researcher Besheer Mohammed puzzles, “We see the patterns but we don’t know what is causing what. Is it that regular churchgoers get something from the church practice and involvement or is it that a certain sort of person is more likely to go to worship more frequently?” he said.
Good question. The answer is that religion is the effect not the cause of happiness.
Religion is a poor answer to society’s questions
And we have a lot of them.
Is there life after death?
Is there only one way to God?
How could a loving God allow suffering?
Which political party is doing the will of God?
Careful. If you’ve never struggled with these questions your religion will seem like an escape from reason or an excuse for not having the answers. Faith, not religion, is the best answer to society’s questions.
Religion is a poor reason to worship
Actually, you don’t need religion to worship. The Christmas and Easter “worshipers” are missing out on the other 50 weeks of the year when God is waiting for worship. Even the perfect attenders still have six other days each week to worship. Worship is a frame of mind that makes religion worthwhile. The Christian worshiper thinks, “I will lay down my life today and every day just as my savior did for me.” Worship is payback.
Worship, even without religion, is meaningful. Religion without worship is meaningless. If you’ve decided to reject religion – and I hope you have – you probably ought to put something in its place. Maybe you’ve gathered that I have a real problem with the word, “religion.” It screams to me of suits and offering plates and budgets and programs and denominational power plays.
Not that there’s anything wrong with these. It’s just that Jesus didn’t tell us to believe in them, he told us to believe in him.