Essay, Research Paper: Faith And Belief

Religion

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In every day life we experience many internal conflicts and crisis. These crises
often manifest themselves as moral dilemmas and are a part of being human. But
the question that arises is what causes us to handle ourselves the way we do in
those situations. Some people might say faith, but the true answer is our
beliefs. That is why we seem to be at an all time low in morality, we are having
a crisis of belief. Most people believe that faith is what holds us together,
and our beliefs are just a guide. However, it is our culture and the sets of
meanings people share that mediate our experiences with one another along with
the combination of these experiences which our behind our religion. Our beliefs
are a reflection of our culture and this becomes obvious when we observe other
cultures. Saudi Arabia, for example has a very different belief system than the
United States and these religious beliefs are function of their faith and
culture combined. As their culture changes, their beliefs, too, many change. As
the sets of meanings people share change, their beliefs will follow. In a
religious aspect the difference between faith and belief is easy to see if you
go to church the week before Christmas and then Christmas day and look at the
difference in the number of people. The regulars who give of themselves one day
a week for God truly believe in God, those who show up for Holy Days
more than likely have faith. Not to sound cynical, having faith is better than
nothing, it is just not all that a person could give. But why are we being so
lazy? The answer comes to us in the context of our current society. In the dark
ages people had little to do, and very little enlightenment, so religion was
turned to as a way to fill a void. In that time people knew what it was to
believe in something. Men of the dark ages fought wars for their religion and
died for what they believed was right. No, I am not saying the holy wars were a
good idea, but it is a way to see what it is like to fully believe. Today people
dont even have the ambition to fight and defend their country, much less
give anything extra. We have things to occupy our selves and do not rely on a
God for everything that happens to us. This is where cultural shift comes into
play when looking at religion. As people have advanced and explained things that
used to be a mystery, needing to believe in religion became unnecessary. In the
Classical times of Greek culture, the gods played an important role of everyday
life. Everything that occurred was accredited to a god; thunder meant Zeus was
angry, a rough sea meant Poseidon was having a bad day on Mount Olympus. They
needed that to keep order in things that were inherently chaotic. Everything was
made certain by religion. The Classical stage in history held the Earth to be
deep, permanent, and fixed. We were at the center of the universe and everything
revolved around us. Deductive logic to give reason to all cases where there was
a lack of understanding. A logical assumption to the Greek was that lightning
was a sign of anger from the gods. As time progressed religion took on a
slightly different role, as a guide for those in despair. People stopped
thinking everything was done by a group of gods and began to believe in a
creator that was responsible for the Earth and the moon and all of the stars. In
the 1500-1600s we hit the Modern or Empirical stage. We realized Earth wasn't
permanent and new science a discoveries forced a new way of thinking. Socially,
our views became relative to our experience and this was acceptable. Nothing was
certain anymore, but things became probable and individual cases reflected a new
importance. Modern science developed several theories that systematically
explain how we came to be, from the big bang to the theory of evolution. With
this change in science, came a revolution in society. It is for that reason that
the purpose of religion in a modern context has changed dramatically. People
were factioned into those that believe science and those that believe religion.
It caused tension in society and made discussing religion a taboo. It also
narrowed the types of questions that one could ask about the universe. Only one
big question remained, Why? That is what currently holds people to religion
without any boundaries. Why are we here has been one of the longest running
questions in the history of the world. Centuries have been spent trying to find
an answer and their greatest minds have come up with nothing. That is how
religion can bring people back into the light, do what it has always done best
and give people an answer to the question that plagues all of us. Get people to
believe again and the ills of the world will fall.
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