Curious to man is his origin. Man’s genesis has baffled philosophers and intellectuals for centuries upon centuries. No definitive answer has been given but several theories have been put forward. Among the theories postulated, is the Creation Theory. This theory forms the basis of most religions. The theory states that a supernatural being created everything out of nothing and governs the universe.
The world, through it’s diverse in cultures and beliefs, has led to the genesis of several religions most of which have a constant factor, a supernatural being; a Creator. What the Creator is referred to differs from place to place. Christians call him God, Muslims refer to him as Allah and Buddhists say Buddha. The main goal of most religions based on this theory is the veneration of the Creator and the ideal that we are all created to live up to his standards.
Religion: is this a way of life? The term religion comes from the Latin verb ‘Religare’ which means binding. According to onlinedictionary.com, religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
There are 3 major religions with at least 1 billion followers which are: Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism (of which Buddhism may or may not be considered an offshoot). It is however impossible to accurately predict the number of religions. This is because there are many small, isolated religions in certain parts of the world. Some claim that there are as many religions as there are people, a rough estimation would put it at approximately 6.7 billion believers in the world today. However, this figure can only be factored in tentatively, as there are new religions that are made almost every day.
So what is religion really? What does it entail to be religious? Are there any perks associated with this moral high ground? And if so, what are they? These are some of the many questions that have continuously plagued my mind and the search for their answers has not been comforting.
As a child, I was brought up in a Christian home. I was taught to believe in God, to live according to the Christian doctrines and uphold Christian morals and values, to know that there is a place of eternal joy (heaven) for those who follow the Christian doctrine and a place of eternal suffering (hell) for those who shun the teachings. Scriptures often quoted on a daily basis and most like Romans 3:23(for the wages of sin are death) would serve to haunt my conscience should I contemplate any mischief.
This has lead to the metamorphosis of my four point approach to Christianity: the major belief, the doctrine, the promise and the consequence.
I had always taken religion and Christianity as synonyms. I would use them interchangeably as they meant one and the same thing. Going to church; obeying parents; reading the bible; being good to others and striving to do good at all times; religion to me meant that there was someone high above watching my every action and ready to punish me for any misdemeanors. This meant not associating to the people of other religions and sects. Cults and occults have always been an abomination. There was nothing that I could do in hiding, which meant living in fear.
Then I grew up. I became older; I began having a deeper comprehension of things and started to question and challenge authority. Questions were not left to be questions anymore but now involved a deeper sense of satisfaction derived from seeking the answers. The question that most are still asking to date is: which religion is the ordained one? Which will lead to heaven? Is there even a heaven? Is it the Catholics or is it the Buddhists? As I understand it now, religion is like someone’s personality. One cannot ‘confine it to a box’ or try to seek one generalization to serve for all. Religion is dynamic, it means different things to different people and different people practice it differently.
There are also some controversial aspects of religion such as the ever present association of the ever Islam culture with an affinity for terrorism. Albeit not true, many accentuate this misinformed notion and consequently many fail to interact with people of different cultures. Do the actions of fellow believers define who you are? Do the doctrines of your faith necessarily confine you to them? I would suggest that they do not. Ones faith is versatile and choice will forever be the determining factor of free will. Thus one should be defined by their actions and no by the deeds of their kind.
Many religions are based on faith as many have not yet seen their supreme being and thus rely on their faith to continue in this ‘way of life’. But what is faith? Faith is simply the belief in the unseen. This is, in essence what drives religion.
If we were to be guided by traditional definitions and ways of handling religion, it would mean that very few people are correct about this matter. What would then happen to the rest of the populations? Because of the nature of the subject and lack of credible answers to support theses, another group of individuals has been on the rise: atheists.
What do we make of atheists? Atheism has been in existence since time immemorial and the number of people who choose this path is ever increasing. These are people who’ve chosen to not believe in the whole aspect of religion and are not attached or follow any particular one. They choose to find a neutral ground but as popularly asserted: I would rather live as if there was a God and find out that there is none, than to live as if there is none and find out that there is.
In conclusion, regardless of the affiliation to a particular religious group, they all point out towards and accept or recognize a supreme being. The question of whether which one is more correct than the other, is however not my call to make. I have always been a Christian. I always will be. However, there is a big difference between the Christian that I was and the Christian that I am now. I am now more informed in decisions and there is a reason for my decisions and my accepted way of doing things and also how I perceive them. This however, does not mean that I consign my religion to a pedestal and consider the others as rubbish. No! I believe that it is important to fully understand what you believe in and with equal measure stand up for it. More importantly, is the ability to develop a relationship between you and your God. The different sects might and could be misleading, so developing a more close relationship will be able to justify your actions should you be held accountable.