What is Religion About?
by Ron Kurtus (revised 24 February 2012)
The basis for most religions is to provide answers or explanations of the important concerns that people have.
These concerns include survival in a harsh environment, moral and social rules, overcoming disease and the mysteries of life, including life-after-death. Many people believe that there is a Supreme Being and a master plan for life. Religious worship is often an attempt affect the outcome of these concerns, as well as to attain peace of mind and spiritual nourishment.
Questions you may have include:
- What are major concerns of people?
- What are the religious answers?
- How does religious worship try to affect the outcome?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Note: This is an educational website. We are not promoting any one religion.
Survival in a cruel environment
In ancient times, a people's existence was very precarious and often depended on the whims of nature and the environment. This was a major concern of those societies and their religious beliefs reflected those concerns.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped the Sun god Ra, who would provide the energy for their food supply. American Indians would often place offerings of fish among the corn they planted as gifts for their gods.
People still look to their religion to affect the outcome of droughts, storms and other natural disasters. For example, they may pray for rain to relieve a long dry spell and help the crops grow.
Illness and disease
When some people become ill or diseased, they may turn to their religion or even go to another religion that will help them achieve a cure.
Many religions believe that prayer, meditation or ritual can result in curing a disease. Some religions believe that illness is part of the hardships people must endure in life, and others believe that disease is a result of sin or breaking religious rules. There are also other religions that have no stance on the topic.
Moral and social rules
Stability in a society is important. Most religions have moral and social rules to guide their people in living correctly. Some extend these rules into stating how the people should dress, cut their hair, as well as providing rules on what is acceptable to eat.
Following the rules or religious laws is important in maintaining respect in the community. In some religions, it is a way to gain peace of mind or a prosperous life. Obeying the religious commandments is also considered the route to salvation in the life-after-death and perhaps a higher position in that existence.
Mysteries of life
Birth, life and death are mysteries. A large number of people believe their is "something" out there besides what we normally see and hear. The believe there is some sort of spiritual essence to themselves and in the order of the Universe.
The answer to questions on the mysteries of life can often be found in a person's religion. The religion people follow is usually that of their parents, relatives and friends. This is comforting and a source of stability and meaning in life.
Atheists, agnostics and freethinkers often have a "religion" based on science, logic or measurable facts. Either they don't have the answers or they don't think about the questions in their belief system.
Young people seldom worry about dying. But after a certain age, many people realize that their years on Earth are numbered and that they soon will pass away.
Having a religion that has an explanation for life-after-death and a method to attain that existence can certainly be comforting. These people will follow the dogma of their various religious beliefs, worship and pray in an attempt to affect the outcome of their physical death.
Some explanations for life-after-death include reincarnation, going to Heaven (or Hell), and entering a new consciousness.
Religion is a way to explain questions about the mysteries of life, survival in a cruel environment, moral and social rules, overcoming disease and life-after-death. Religious worship is a means affect the outcome of these concerns. People who have religions often have peace of mind and feel their spirit is nourished.
Follow your religious beliefs
Resources and references
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