Religion is a subject that generates controversy in today’s society, because of the difference of opinions and how sensitive the topic can be for people. From my perspective, religion is the result of the human being’s effort to contact the “hereafter”.
There are as many religions as people since each individual can interpret the sacred texts in their own way, believe in more than one religion or even create their own that suits their needs. I believe that the goal of religion is simply to make its devotees better people. Each doctrine explains the why of this behavior in a different way, but most of them motivate the believer to follow the dogmas of a faith with the promise of a better life after death; positive reinforcement? It can be, although no one was ever certain that all these promises would be fulfilled. We can then ask ourselves how, with promises and without certainties, the different religions of the world have managed to recruit such a large army of the faithful. According to the company “Adherents” there was 14% of atheists in 2002 around the world, the BBC has calculated a figure higher by 17%. According to Gallup in 57 countries studied resulted in 13% of atheists, in any case we move between those 1,000 and 1,200 million people. Even so “There are many more atheists today than ever before, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total of Humanity”, explains Phil Zuckerman, professor of Sociology and Secular Studies at Pitzer College. In countries like the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, and Uruguay, religion was very important only a century ago, but at present the rates of believers are among the lowest in the world.
The religious feeling is conflictive: most monotheistic religions present a divine being that creates and controls the world, therefore the individual gains a sense of comfort through veneration. However, devotees also feel “frightened” by this omnipotent and possibly omniscient being. Of course, it depends on the interpretation of each believer, but should not God be the being that is always on your side? Should not God promote love and understanding in the world instead of judging people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, etc.?
An important aspect in all religions is the common practice of religion. Of course there are private ways to pray, but the practice is usually together. Thus, religions become an extraordinary example of teamwork, getting all their devotees, regardless of their personal differences, to practice community worship ceremonies. This guarantees solidarity between believers and the individual’s sense of belonging to a group. It is curious to reflect how many of the big international companies try to achieve the same feelings of belonging to a community and loyalty among their consumers. In the same way that, for example, Apple consumers do not usually buy in other brands, the devotees of a religion keep their whole life in that same doctrine.
With all the information explained above, my final reflection would be to encourage the faithful to reflect on what they want and need from God. I also think that we have to separate the parts of the religion that are real from the different interpretations by other people. The doctrines were revealed thousands of years ago and it is the responsibility of the faithful to update them to the times in which we live so that they can continue to be compatible with our modern lifestyles belonging to a religion.
Ana Fernández Hernández