Thursday, September 11, 2008

Religion, Spirituality, and Atheism

Time for an English lesson:

Religion: noun

  1. a Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

    b A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship

  1. The life of a person in a religious order.

  2. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teaching of a spiritual leader

  3. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion

Antonyms: (That means opposite, by the way . . . .)

agnosticism, atheism, disbelief

Spiritual: adjective

1. of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material

2. of, concerned with, or affecting the soul

3. of, from, or related to God; characterized by divine or godlike nature

4. of, or belonging to a church or religion; sacred

5. relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural

Now . . . . lets start our e-musings in light of these defined terms.

Religion is a set of beliefs or practices. I assure you that the beliefs and practices within the same religion don't always match. For instance . . . Resurrection Sunday doesn't always fall in the same month with Passover – which was essential to the crucification and resurrection of Christ. Tradition trumps beliefs and has caused Easter to follow it's own schedule which only matches Passover most of the time.

Spirituality deals with matters of spirit – the immaterial, metaphysical, or supernatural. But, not necessarily with any specific religious rules or dogma. Many times, yes, but sometimes, no.

Fundamentalism is considered to be strict adherence to a belief set within a religion. The belief is often taken literally and accepted unquestioningly. Usually a religious text and spiritual leader give the layout for the religious rules of the fundamentalist group. Fundamentalism usually involves spirituality.

Fundamentalist believers of religion have no room for opposing viewpoints within or from outside of their sect. As a result, such religious groups often splinter due to disagreement over doctrine. These disagreements often turn into power struggles for authority. This, in my opinion, is to be expected; Imagine the difficulty of turning metaphysical things into rigorous rules upon which everyone must agree!

Try getting a group of people to gaze at a cloud and insist they all perceive the exact same image. Everyone is entitled to an opinion – especially with finding shapes in clouds, wouldn't you say?

Spirituality minus religion allows people to acknowledge the metaphysical and experience the metaphysical without strictness of any sort. Everyone can see whatever image they desire from the cloud in the sky. Why not? After all . . . it's just a cloud. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, right?

Of the three great religions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – fundamentalist belief is most exuberant and (I dare say) most dangerous. All three fundamentalist variations of these faiths lean towards the expectation of a cataclysmic series of events. These events will herald the act of God taking back control of the earth (Taking back? What happened to his omnipotence?) War and conflicts are almost welcomed – at the very least, expected. Thus, invasions, suicide bombings, terrorism, and military retaliation are viewed as necessary to fervent, radical fundamentalist believers. Some even think that these events can accelerate the advent of the Apocalypse.

Am I saying that the world would enjoy total peace if all the Jews, Muslims, and Christians disappeared?

No, absolutely not. I am saying, however, that fundamentalism needs to largely disappear. Spirituality is welcomed to stay – regardless of the religious faith.

Oh, and as final note – I really wish people would stop buying into the idea that atheism is a religion. Atheism can only be considered a religion to the degree that someone is devout or zealous over a concept or idea. Concerning the true definition of the word “religion”, atheism is no more a religion that my devotion to keeping myself caffeinated with fresh brewed, organic, 100% Arabica coffee made from fresh ground whole beans.

No instant, pre-ground, or stale coffee – please.

Religious? YES!

A religion?


Religion requires a deity as the object of worship and often has a leader who is the object of leadership towards the rules and acts of worship and adoration to the deity in question.

Atheism is the opposite of religion. A-theism. No belief in a deity or god. No object to worship or adore or serve. No religion to follow, as a result.

If you are one that says atheism is a religion, then what is the opposite of religion?





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