What is Religion?
According to conventional notions, religion is a system of belief. However, this belief-oriented religious concept is not universally accepted. The doxastic religious approach is a contemporary development with the scientific revolution of the 16th century (Evans, 2017). There is no persuasive general theory that efficiently describes religion. Religion in the singular, as just one thing does not exist. The concept is polyvalent and uncontainable diverse for one definition. Nonetheless, a new approach continues to emerge. These new religious approaches divert from irrationalism wishful-thinking to rationalist and linguistic ones. Notably, contrary to popular belief modern individuals are irreligious and amoral, the postmodern allegory illustrates people profoundly engaging in the quest for religious insight. However, rather than the conventional religion based on belief, literalism, fundamentalism, and outright superstition, the basis of modern religion has increasingly emphasized cognition. Religion is not a belief in a spiritual being or a monolithic phenomenon but a group of related concepts that identify meaningful ways of existisence.
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It is plausible to inclined towards the idea of religious truth as fundamental. Religion without belief dictates that one requires transformation from the idea of ‘true religion’ because ‘my religion is the only true religion and not yours.’ Several religions are unique, with irreducible repositories in their ethical practice and religion narratives representing God in multiple ways (Kim-Prieto et al., 2018). There is a need to recognize all these religions since all the given religions are better without the idea of one true religion. The modern definition of religion without belief translates recommending a return to the medieval sense of religion as virtue and not a body of institution headquarters. Such an approach has been illustrated by the modern acceptance that religion has its function in society, but not dependent on belief, type of practice, but rather, its cognitive significance.
Religion does not explain nature, and its significance does not depend on mono-esthetic belief; instead, it has moral power over human cognitive ability. Since the 19th century, philosophers have argued that the existence of God is a condition of morality and a projection of human concern.The modern rejection of religious ecstasy arises due to a shift from the supernatural world to a disenchanted and materialistic one (Asma, 2018). Since the 17th century, the suggestion of a belief system has increasingly been regarded as ignorant eccentric, or unwell. Most thinkers of that age, including Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Immanuel Kant, accepted and promoted the idea that religion was compensation for and hence an escape from the unfortunate reality of human existence. Kant notes that religion is “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” (Asma, 2018). Some scholars neither accepted nor rejected the idea of religion based on faith in God. However, the power of religion does not depend on its power to explain existence but on cognitive function. While the modern view is skeptical about faith-based religion, religion has morals on the cognitive ability of humans.
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While science is superior in facts, religion is superior in values. Sigmund Freud argues that humans are awful creatures and left our own will; we would imminently destroy ourselves through aggressive behaviors such as rape, murder, and pillage, among others (Kim-Prieto et al., 2018). Therefore, contemporary religion encourages compassion and cooperation and promotes caution on activities that jeopardize peaceful human coexistence. The religion’s strength lies in its moral code that encourages collective effervescence of shared experience through individuals’ unity into cooperative social groups and not its belief system.
Therefore, religion definition does not depend on the trueness of belief in a higher power instead of on its significance of emotional management. How human feel is crucial to survival, and religion play a significant function in managing our emotions. Religion reduces anxiety, stress, depression and offers existential meaning and hope. Religion discourages aggressive conduct and encourages empathy and compassion necessary for offering consolation for the suffering (Evans, 2017). All major types of religion have a common theme: life is suffering. Any consolation and action to minimize suffering are encouraged. The trueness of a supernatural being existing is invalid; the pleasure of religion does not need to correspond to reality but offers emotional management (Kavanagh, 2016). Humans have always sought ways to ‘unself’ since they were creatures with an ego, anxiety, loneliness, and boorish life. Religion allows humans to self-transcend desirably.
Practices rather than beliefs characterize religion. Religious practices, although not universal, are nevertheless widespread. Regardless of the religious type, most activities illustrate humans’ desire to show compassion and active participation in religious rituals but explicit of faith. Religion is not stupidity or blind rage to Buddhists, Native Americans, or contemporary eco-feminist (Kim-Prieto et al., 2018). The practice of cooperation, friendship, and matric helps us comprehend ourselves better. In modern times, an individual can be involved in various activities and rituals of the various types of religion since all these religions offer a community sense of belonging. As Kavanagh notes in his research on Japanese religion (2016), a Japanese person can attend Shinto shrine to receive blessings, get married in Christian service, and be buried in a Buddhist funeral. While the case is unique, it is not isolated. The common factor in these activities is not a supernatural being; instead, such activities encourage belonging and reduce life suffering. For instance, in death cases, individuals shun the ideology of individuality and view themselves as a community. Death reminds individuals of their dependency on others, sorrow, vulnerability, and ways religion aids in connecting and comforting people.
I believe religion is the ecstasy or action that leads to psychological healing. For instance, when people experience ecstasy, it could be a God or human psychology. However, what matters is the consequences. Western culture still seeks psychiatric-related help through religious avenues more than psychiatrists (Pyysiäinen,2021). Hence, the convectional hostility towards religious but not faith-based people needs to stop. As humans, we often have a constant feeling of trauma, guilt, and low self-esteem. However, in the moment of such ecstasy, the threshold of consciousness is lowered, and people can express a deep sense of love to themselves and others. The significance of the activity is judged by its effect and not whether it is an opening to the subconscious or higher deity dimension. The ego-dissolution action might encourage struggle with reality. However, humans can ‘unsafe’ social context that is harmful, exploitative or one that encourages hate (Evans, 2017). While religion exposes individuals to the risk of ego-dissolution and unpredictability, elimination in its entirety exposes one to staleness, despair, boredom, and stress.
Hence, religion is not a belief in a spiritual being or a monolithic phenomenon but a groupo of related concepts that identify meaningful ways of existence. Religion is an undeniable aspect of human life. The study of any aspect concerning human life without the concept of religion is inconclusive. The postmodern existential compels every human to learn more about oneself and others. In such a manner, individuals enhance their lives and facilitate the peaceful coexistence of humanity as a whole, promote mature and unprejudiced relations, and aid in developing an integral life vision for the world’s benefit.
Kavanagh, C. (2016). Can religion be based on ritual practice without belief? | Aeon Essays. Aeon.
Asma, S. (2018). Religion is about emotion regulation, and it’s very good at it. Aeon.
Kim-Prieto, C., & Miller, L. (2018). The intersection of religion and subjective well-being. Handbook of well-being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers.
Evans, J. (2017). The art of losing control: A philosopher’s search for ecstatic experience. Canongate Books.
Pyysiäinen, I. (2021). How religion works: Towards a new cognitive science of religion. Brill.