Saturday, January 22, 2005

Religion vs Spirituality

Some people need religion. Others don’t.

One problem I’ve always had with religion is that the various religions and denominations of religions have become “mega-cliques.” Those who need religion and have chosen one tend to think everybody needs it, and that their chosen religion is the right one.

But religion is not a one-size-fits-all garment. Not everyone’s needs are the same, and those disparate needs cannot all be met by the same religion. That’s probably why there are so many.

I have recently had sort of an epiphany with regards to religion and God. No, God didn’t “speak” to me as others have claimed. And I didn’t run into a burning bush or get struck by lightning.

I contemplate a lot about religion. And there are a few things I’ve figured out. For one thing, I think the world, as a whole, would be better off today if religion had never existed.

Granted, religion provides a lot of comfort and hope for a huge number of people. So it can’t be all bad. People need comfort and hope. Some also need the social aspects of religion – meeting in church each Sunday morning and attending other church-related social events.

But if socializing were all religion was about, there are other ways to accomplish the same thing. What people really need is not religion, but spirituality. There is a difference.

Spirituality can also provide comfort and hope. Spirituality can bring people together; religion often tears people apart. Did God really intend to be the cause of more wars and loss of life than any other single reason?

I learned a long time ago that I don’t know what God thinks or how He works. Neither does anyone else. The problem with religion is that its subscribers believe they have it figured out and that everyone else should listen to them.

Religion also lends itself to the concept of worship. We gather together to worship God in church.

The epiphany I mentioned above is this: God doesn’t want people to worship him. He wants people to love him, to respect him, and to acknowledge his existence. But worship is a man-made creation. It is not divine.

I say these things knowing full well that I have already stated that I don’t know what God thinks. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me that God would have created beings for the express purpose of worshipping him. Is he that egomaniacal and vain that he would have to create an entire species of life to worship him?

If you are a parent, do you want your children to worship you? No, you want them to love and respect you. You want them to grow up to be high achievers. You want them to be successful, but to always remember that you helped them over the hurdles of life.

Maybe God just wants the same thing for us all. He allowed us to evolve intelligence. It would only make sense that he wants us to develop it and use it, not to live our lives based on millennia-old biblical superstitions.

We are the only animals capable of understanding ourselves. We are the only ones who can contemplate our own mortality.

For that reason, centuries ago, people needed to comfort themselves about their mortality. So they invented religion. The ancient pagans invented various and sundry gods that were in charge of different aspects of their lives. They invented worship.

Those who chose to believe in the God of Abraham picked up on the worship aspect of religion from those pagans. And, throughout the centuries, styles of worship evolved into the various sacraments of Christianity.

The bottom line is that religion and worship are human inventions. Neither will grant anyone a pass into whatever afterlife there may be.

Spirituality, on the other hand, which is the most deeply personal form of faith, is what may bring our souls closer to everlasting peace and comfort. At the very least, it could bring peace on earth, something that religion has failed miserably to do.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love your most recent article, Religion vs Spirituality. It hits the nail on the head for my own feelings. -Kenny

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot for your thoughts. they are like a present to me. xavier

Anonymous said...

Wery well said. My feelings exactly. I hate when people start stupid holy wars. Its so pointless.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more, it's as if you took my exact thoughts down. So glad there is still some people out there who can think for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more, it's as if you took my exact thoughts down. So glad there is still some people out there who can think for themselves.

curious said...

A very good article. Very non-threatening and well thought out. If I chose to believe in a god, I would pick a god like yours.

Becki said...

Hi! I really liked this article. I liked it so much, in fact, that I included it in my blog www.unbiased-spirituality.blogspot.com I included some information about you and link to your main blog. I hope this is OK with you, if not let me know. Please let me know also if you'd like me to add or change anything to the iformation I posted about you. Thanks for sharing your insight with the world!

Lauren said...

Hi Jerry! I'm writing a research paper for my religion class about whether or not people truly believe in religion or if they use it as a source of comfort. Your blog was very inspiring! I'd really like to talk to you more about the topic because you seem to have a strong grasp for it! If you'd be interested i'd appreciate it if you'd e-mail me at lmoller@students.lfanet.org! Thanks!

Sincerely,

Lauren

MissRobinson said...

This is a pretty ridiculous blog, in my opinion. Honestly, reading it I thought I was reading the works of a child in grade 7. It sounds very ignorant and doesnt contain many valid points.... I dont mean to be rude, but this has been the worst read I've found so far on this topic. And I've read many an article on this subject, since I'm writing an essay on it right now.....

Galaxus said...

This blog reflects my EXACT feelings on the topic of religion vs Spirituality...Frankly, I feel that religion is EVIL, and the world would VERY much be in a better "state of evolution", had religion been "caught" early, and seen for what it really is.
Oh, btw, Please ignore the above comment by missRobinson...This is obviously a "generic" comment, cut & pasted here to cause trouble (notice that there are no references to the topic in her/his comment! haha)
Anyway, Thanks for the well thought-out & "Logical" blog.

"The Sleeper Must Awaken."
"Dune", circa. 1984

dacotah said...

I recently heard it stated, "Religion is for people who are afraid of Hell, Spirituality is for people who have already been there",

As for Myself, It doesn't seem right to Have To Be afraid of GOD, to be truthful, History has taught me that it made more sense to be More Afraid of Man and the Creations of Man.

dacotah

dacotah said...

p/s
thank you.

our best.

Krispi said...
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Krispi said...

Your entry was very well stated.

My research has revealed that religion was actually created to help control the masses... fear and lack of education of the general population might have caused "too much opposition."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Christianity or trying to bash religion, but I think you're smart to focus in on the question of what was God's true intention... interesting parent analogy. I like that.

Why is it that there are so many people with similar beliefs, but there are so few spiritual outlets that involve God in a way that is not as vain?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for proving to the world that not everyone in the midwest is "Bible-Thumpin." (-:

Gary S. said...

Beautiful!!!
Throughout history,organized religion has torn apart families and
ravaged societies. It breeds intolerance and judgment,which leads to
persecution. We should all respect whatever beliefs each INDIVIDUAL
needs to grow spiritually.As long as it doesn't hurt anyone else,what
difference does it make.--Gary S.

Gary S. said...
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Gary S. said...
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Gary S. said...
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DRB said...

Here is my take on Religion versus Spirituality (condensed).

1. Religions don't believe in all of the aspects of the Spiritual Realm. How many Archangels, Ascended Masters, Spirit Guides, Entities, etc. are there? Plenty.
2. Many Religions use wine (a mind altering drug used to brainwash people and get them hooked on alcohol).
3. Religions are based on so-called interpretations of God, yet none of them agree. Are they sure they got the information from GOD?
4. Religious leaders and followers believe that their Religion is better than another, PURE EGO.
5. Religious people tend to be very hypocritical in what they preach versus what they practice.
6. Many of the Religions ask their followers to ask God for forgiveness rather than the person that committed the sin against, and they ask God for forgiveness on Sunday, which is God's day off. :-)

Just be a good honest person, remove the drugs/alcohol out of one's life, make up with those that you hurt, and choose your friends and co-workers carefully.

Alecia said...

Interesting thoughts Jerry, however my views differ. One example: I absolutely believe that God wants us to worship Him! 1) God told Pharoah to let His people go so that they may worship Him in the desert 2) Leviticus is a whole book devoted to specific laws and acts of worship 3) The throne room of heaven is described as having angels circling the throne crying "holy, holy, holy" 4) Paul said that Christ is looking for people to "worship Him in spirit and in truth"...and I could go on. I don't claim to know the thoughts of the Lord either, but I think there is significant evidence in His word that suggests He does indeed want, and delight in our worship.
I also think that it is inaccurate to say that religion and worship are man made. I guess it really comes down to your definition of worship and religion, which were not clearly stated in the blog...? Sure, some of the forms of worship and rituals of religion were not directly God ordained, but that does not negate the spirit behind them or their significance. If you could give me a clearer definition of what you mean by religion and worship I would appreciate it!

bikash_2611 said...

Wonderful !!!

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Bob said...

Your views about Religion versus Spirituality are very self-explanatory and very very much in alignment with my belief on the subject.
When you hear the truth you will know it!
Thank you very much.
Bob

Jerry Wilson said...

I was just looking through some of my old posts and comments. I would like to respond to Alecia. First of all, thanks for your comment of several years ago. But I must tell you that quoting bible verses as proof of point doesn't float with me. I don't particularly believe in the bible as truth. The bible is for Christians; Christianity is a religion. And I think my post explains well enough that I think all religions are bad.