Where did religion come from?

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  • Nun
  • I’ve often wondered if I am perhaps envious of those who can, with absolute conviction, claim to know and communicate with God. Their certainty that their choice of God is correct, and that all other choices are wrong, is both amazing and completely confounding to me.

    As I watched a nun walk around the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres looking at its spectacular stained glass windows and many religious artefacts, I found myself wondering how it was she decided to become a nun. I wondered what she had given up for this life or religious service, but also what it was she gained.

    The truth is, religion fascinates me. It’s at the core of so many acts of profound kindness, yet also some truly perplexing acts of cruelty. It’s inspired us to build beautiful structures, and at the same time destroy so much. I find myself challenged by the fact that faith, by its very nature, requires a remarkably open mind, yet few would put religion and open-mindedness in the same category.

    For me, God is the uncertainty of everything, the mystery, the unanswered. To claim to understand the profound creative power behind everything is surely a ridiculous act of short-sighted human superiority for which we have little evidence to support such assertions. I would suggest that the fact that throughout time humans have ‘found’ different Gods, proves that our search for God is one that we can never claim to complete.

    The creation of religions, with their rules, writings, and rituals, is surely evidence of the glaringly limited way we grapple with notions far beyond the understanding of our earthly minds. It seems to me that religion is the mechanism we use to dismiss anything that might challenge our faith. In other words, faith takes an open mind, and religion closes it.

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  • 5 comments on “Where did religion come from?

    1. Well put Simon!

      Although I’m not devout these days, and have argued “for” and “against” my particular set of beliefs in my head constantly over the years, I cannot deny the existence of a divine being. I believe in evolution. I don’t believe that science and the divine are contradictory.

      I could continue but I know you are familiar with my opinions on the matter. This is a topic that I find fascinating as well, I love getting in these types of conversations with people who keep an open mind to differing viewpoints and experiences. If you’re into podcasts you might enjoy On Being with Krista Tippet (sp?). It’s very open conversations about spiritual beliefs, philosophies, etc. Very non-linear and usually quite interesting.

      Anyway. Is there a way for us to receive a notification if you reply to our comments? I don’t typically revisit pages I’ve already read (I usually do this on my phone thus making it slightly more difficult to navigate the site anyway), I would hate to miss out if you post a reply.

      • Hi Sparkles.

        Ah yes, On Being, I did used to listen to that. Kits Tippet is another example of how everyone in the world of podcasting has to have an unusual name! Anyway…

        I cannot deny the existence of a divine being, but only in the same way I cannot deny the nonexistence of a divine being too! I like the idea of God because it’s comforting to think that we aren’t a chemical accident that amount to nothing in the end. The idea of all of my stories, experiences, emotions and connections just ending and being forgotten is a little depressing, so the idea of ‘crossing over’ into heaven or some floaty wise spiritual happy place, that’s comforting too.

        I think thats why man created God in his image (as opposed to what the Bible tells us about God creating man in his image). We made God like us because we needed a divine being we could relate to, we needed something that could fit into our minds in a way that this subject really can’t otherwise.

        Then there are the faithful. The nuns, the priests, the swamis, the jihadists. We admire some, revile others, but theirs is a faith that must on some level be madness, right?

        God is a great question mark. The start of a fascinating conversation, the beginning of a beautiful journey even. It seems to be that we run into trouble when we impose our human limitations on his, our need to claim dominion.

        I don’t have any problem with people who believe whole heartedly that they’ve found the one true God. I have a problem when they impose that belief onto others. If God is a destination, then religion is the highway patrol!

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