Religion is a system of beliefs that puts a focus on metaphysical reality or being(s) to give meaning or drive to life. Some are focused on an experienced, intellectual deity, others are focused on an experienced emotional reality. Each individual expresses their religious beliefs differently, from liberal to conservative, to something that is neither.
Religion and Ideology
Religion shares many common factors with ideologies, placing importance on knowledge of certain axioms to explain the world, human condition and morality. Though sharing in this respect, Religion generates culture and rituals centered on the transcendent, with the human relationship to that transcendent. Though violence has been done in the name of religion; Marxism, environmentalism, radical Liberalism, and extreme secularism has caused violence to the same degree.
Comment by Proxima Centauri: This is a blanket statement given without evidence. Marxism has caused a great deal of violence, Marxism is a faith based system that is opposed to freethought and the scientific method. This website is critical of Marxism. When have there been wars fought over environmentalism, radical Liberalism, and extreme secularism? I know of none.
This is a common logical fallacy involving conflating different ideas together so readers may confuse them. Marxism has caused extreme violence but environmentalism, radical Liberalism, and extreme secularism haven't caused more than minor violence if that. Readers who don't read carefully or who don't take care to think it all through may imagine that environmentalism, radical Liberalism, and extreme secularism are as violent as Marxism just because some careless or dishonest author puts them all together.
Marxist theory of religion
The social philosopher Karl Marx (1818–1883) held a strictly materialist world view and saw economics, including class distinctions, as the determining factor of society. He saw the human mind and human consciousness as part of matter. According to Marx, the dynamics of society were fueled by economics, according to the Hegelian concept of theses, anti-theses, and synthese False consciousness is a term used by Marx' collaborator Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), not by Marx. He saw religion originating from alienation and aiding the persistence of alienation. He saw religion as supportive as the status quo, in correspondence with his famous saying that religion is opium of the people. This view is however contradicted by the existence of certain religious groups, like the liberation theology. Marx saw religion as a source of happiness, though illusory and temporary, or at least a source of comfort. Marx saw religion as an unnecessary part of human culture. These claims were limited, however, to his analysis of the historical relationship between European cultures, political institutions, and their Christian religious traditions.
Marxist views strongly influenced individuals' comprehension and conclusions about society, among others the anthropological school of cultural materialism.
Marx' explanations for all religions, always, in all forms, and everywhere have never been taken seriously by many experts in the field, though a substantial fraction accept that Marx' views possibly explain some aspects of religions
The origin of religion is uncertain, but it has been suggested that it evolved for the nurture of children. There are a number of theories regarding the subsequent origins of organized religious practices. According to anthropologists John Monaghan and Peter Just, "Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs. Charismatic individuals have emerged at many times and places in the world. It seems that the key to long-term success – and many movements come and go with little long-term effect – has relatively little to do with the prophets, who appear with surprising regularity, but more to do with the development of a group of supporters who are able to institutionalize the movement."
The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group. In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies. Anthropologists John Monoghan and Peter Just state that, "it seems apparent that one thing religion or belief helps us do is deal with problems of human life that are significant, persistent, and intolerable. One important way in which religious beliefs accomplish this is by providing a set of ideas about how and why the world is put together that allows people to accommodate anxieties and deal with misfortune."
One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.
Comment by Proxima Centauri: Suggesting religion enables us to deal with intolerable problems is a logical contradiction, what's intolerable can't be tolerated in any way. Religion can provide comfort over problems that are hard to tolerate, to that extent Marxist analysis of "opium for the people" was correct. While people are focused on dealing with problems in religious ways this can divert attention away from finding ways of overcoming problems. Is teaching children irrational beliefs nurturing?
Religion is always changing and adpating as people experience life. Many religious organizations fight against poverty and injustice, examples are the Liberation theologians who are fighting against Israel occupation of Palestine; PWS&D which feeds millions within Africa, Asia, Canada and South America. Other issues that Religion fights are Environmental issues, racism, sexism and Capitalist oppression.
Comment by Proxima Centauri: To be rational we have to acknowledge that religion does good as well as harm. Sometimes people use religion to fight oppression. Other times people are oppressed in the name of religion. The Religious Right in the USA is a good example of that.
Because of the nature of religious experience, and of the rise of Post-Modern thought, Evidence cannot be pinned down.
Religion and Spectrum
Religion like other aspects of life follow the habit of Spectrum, from Liberal to Conservative, Traditional to Reform, Orthodox to unorthodox, explaining many of the wide variety of religions within the world.
Though because of these variety people have discussed the possibility of collective religious practice and individual Spirituality.
- Chinese Spirituality
- http://www.grassie.net/articles/2007_sciencesofreligion.html Essay on the New Science of Religion, William Grassie