The Fundamental Importance of Religion

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Any religion is simply a system of beliefs. Each belief is a part of the religion. Together, they form a mostly cohesive whole.

The more I ponder on what belief and faith and religion really are, the more important it is that you choose for yourself to believe the right set of beliefs.

Let me share an example with you. Yesterday, a man strapped a bomb to his chest and took hostages at the Discover Channel headquarters. He obviously threatened to kill a lot of people. Thankfully, the police were able to shoot him down before he could hurt anyone.

What drove this man to do this? Simply, it was his beliefs that by doing so, he was actually doing good. Yes, he was insane, but not all insane people go around trying to blow up or kill people.

Put another way, if you think about it, everyone is at least a little bit insane. I blame our mortal condition. We will never have enough information to make truly informed decisions, and we will always be manipulated to one degree or another by external forces.

Put another way, if you ever had the opportunity to get inside someone else’s head, I am all but sure that what you find there would, to you, be considered insanity. Conversely, anyone who had the opportunity to look in your head would consider you insane as well.

What helps us manage our latent insanity is our ability to believe in certain things and then allow those things to influence our actions. For instance, a pious Christian comes to believe that they have a purpose in life, and that purpose is to share Christ’s love with their fellow being. An insane Christian spends time supporting charities and preaching the gospel of peace, love, redemption and forgiveness.

This is not true for everyone, of course. Some people who claim to be Christian take up arms and fight against their fellow brothers. They may also preach damnation and hatred against their fellow beings, not with an eye to reclaim lost souls, but to wound even more deeply. These people obviously have incorrect beliefs, or bad beliefs, that lead them to do bad things.

In the environmental movement, there is a belief that humans are not part of the environment. This belief extrapolates to a belief that humans actually damaging the environment, oftentimes in irreparable ways. The belief further leads to the idea that human life is at odds with the environment, and must be somehow eliminated or severely limited in order to maintain the sanctity of nature. The natural logical progression for this belief is that humans must be treated as slaves to the environment, or sacrificed for the environment. Thus, we have someone in the lobby of the Discovery Channel with bombs strapped to his chest.

Do you see how a belief can have disastrous results? This particular belief is not new, and has been around for thousands of years. It is what inspired the animal worship cults in ancient times, cults which demanded human sacrifice.

Conversely, in the Judeo-Christian theology, and I believe Islam as well, there is a belief that the earth was created for man’s benefit, and man is considered lord of all the earth. It is thus up to man to not only exploit its resources for man’s use, but to take good stewardship of the planet and all its plants, animals, ecosystems and minerals. There is also a belief that the natural state of the world is a utopian garden, and we should inspire to recreate, as much as possible, this beautiful state. However, in all things, we must not lose sight of man’s nature as second to God only.

It is critically important that we choose our beliefs and our religions carefully. Look inside yourself and weigh every belief against what your conscience says. Rather than throw away your conscience, listen to what it has to say and adjust your beliefs accordingly.

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