What Is Religion?
Definition of Religion - The search of the soul for an adequate and satisfying consciousness that there is a Supreme being along with the impulse to seek that being and surrender to that being.
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT RELIGION
Religion is universal to man. It differentiates man from beasts as no animal displays any evidence of religious life. Some men lack desire for religion, yet as a whole, mankind is religious. There has never been a tribe that did not have some form of religion, and so, religion has been one of the most powerful factors in all of human existence.
THE FUNCTION OF RELIGION
Religion gives a person confidence in the outcome of life's struggles as they connect with the power that rules the destinies of all mankind. It provides individuals with additional abilities and satisfaction, helps an individual to bear with the troubles of life, improves the quality of his present life, offers a hope of a better future life, and sets a working plan of salvation.
THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A DEITY
Deities are Superhuman in character and power even though a deity may be similar to a human being in some respects. Deities are Supersensous in that the deity is invisible but can be represented in material ways. Deities are ruling over the natural world and human destiny, and are responsive to the efforts of the person seeking the deity. Deities arouse worship from human beings.
Depending on the religion there is one God or numerous gods making each religion monothestic or polytheistic. Some religions believe their deity is either a person or an abstract principle (ie; Christianity believes God is a heavenly father while Christian Science believes god is massive mind and all human minds will be absorbed into that mind eventually). Some religions teach their deity is limited in power and others teach the deity is the absolute power in the universe. Some religions believe their deity has moral absolutes to be obeyed and other religions believe morals are arbritary making few or no demands on them. This is an issue of accountability and responsibility. Some see their God as just and loving while others believe their god to be vengeful yet forgiving.
VOCABULARY INVOLVED WITH RELIGION
Idealism - the belief that thoughts are reality and the material universe is an illusion.
Materialism - The belief that only what can be sensed physically is real. This is the opposite of Idealism. The Christian scriptures teach that there are things which may not be sensed physically but are very real, and equally as real. Two terms associated with this belief are temporal or temporary things and eternal or things that will exist forever.
Deism - The belief that God created the world but he is not involved in the affairs of mankind and let's them live as they will and never thinks to be involved with their lives. Christianity strongly refutes this.
Theism - The belief that God created the world and exerts influence over it and always has. This is strongly present in Christian belief.
RELIGIONS AND HISTORICAL BEGINNINGS
Religions which began in Southern Asia - Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism
Religions which began in Eastern Asia - Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism
Religions which began in Western Asia - Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism
Hinduism 2000-1500 BC Aryan invasion of India
Judaism 1500-1200 BC Approximate date of Moses
Shintoism c. 660 BC First Japenese Emporer
Zoroastrianism c. 660 BC Zoroaster's Birth
Taoism c. 604 BC Lao-tse's Birth
Jainism c. 599 BC Mahavira's Birth
Buddhism c. 560 BC Buddha's Birth
Confucianism c. 551 BC Birth of Confucius
Christianity c. 4 BC The Birth of Jesus Christ
Islam c. 570 AD Birth of Mohammed
Sikhism c. 1469 AD Guru Nanak's Birth