On "Subject" mention article name and author
© Religion, the Role in Man
Fragment from the book "Origin" not
L. J. White
From the very beginning of recorded history, and even before, there has been what we refer to as “Religion” present in man; What is “Religion” and why the need for it? This is a very broad question that requires a lot of thinking, many books have been written about it throughout the ages. Another question that pops into mind; Is “Man” the only creature on earth with the “Religious Instinct” and furthermore, is the need for religion an instinct innate in Man?
Religion is not limited, of course, to Christianity or any other religion and certainly it did not originate with the birth of Jesus Christ. There are, and have been, countless religions which have influenced man over thousands of years of existence on this small planet we call Earth, some of these Religions or beliefs are partially, if not completely unknown to us as they have disappeared due to the fall and rise of civilizations. We can, if we want, study and explore many important religions and religious movements, but for the purpose of our exercise it won’t be necessary to go into great detail.
What is Religion? One definition is “Sacred engagement with that which is believed to be a Spiritual reality". “Religion is a worldwide phenomenon that has played a part in all Human Cultures”. This particular definition is given by Encarta Encyclopedia (1997). The Webster Dictionary defines religion as “Service and worship of God”. Yet another dictionary defines religion as “Recognition and worship of controlling superhuman power”. The words “Spiritual”, “ Phenomenon”, “Superhuman”, “Sacred” and “ God” make up some of the known definitions and interpretations of religion, as we understand the phenomenon today.
Nowhere in the definition of the word religion is there a mention or a hint that it could be an “Instinct”. Why not consider that very strong possibility? Are we so conservative that we cannot conceive that religion might be one of our so-called “Instincts”? First of all we must ask the question; what is an “Instinct”? According to Encarta Encyclopedia (1997) it is defined as “The innate programming characteristic of a particular animal species that organizes complex patterns of behavior”. The definition of instinct according to Webster Dictionary is “Naturally inherited or subconsciously motivated behavior”. If this definitions are our conception of what an instinct is, then religion fits right in.
If we are to accept, or even consider, that religion is innate in all human beings then one must consider the possibility of religion being an “Instinct” in man. The argument that religion is indeed “Inborn” in the human race is very strong. Since religion itself is “Spiritual” in nature and said spiritual part of human existence is widely accepted by all of us, therefore, religion can be said to be “Inborn” into the human race or Man. If religion is an innate part of us then one must consider the strong possibility that religion itself is one of the instincts present in our lives. Therefore if religion is considered in theory an “instinct” and inborn in man from the beginning then the question would be; Why is this “Religious Instinct” present in man?. Another very important question would be; do other creatures or species on Earth have the same “Religious instinct”?
As of today we cannot say or prove through any method that any other species living on the planet possesses the “Religious Instinct”. This being a fact raises a question and an undeniable statement. Why is man the only creature on earth that has a “Religious Instinct”, why is this so, and for what purpose is the instinct present? By the way, it is one of the most powerful instincts present in mankind. Then we can further state that; “ Man although a Primate possesses and Instinct that, so far, has not been detected in any other life form that ever existed con this Planet”. At this point, it could be construed that this particular behavior or instinct became part of Man from and exterior source outside our Planet or environment.
Most religions separate the spiritual self from the physiological self by doing so creating a conflict between “Animal Self” and “Spiritual Being or Conscience”. Religion is actually a name given by men to an aspect of “Inborn” human behavior not yet understood at all. We understand quite clearly that the “Sexual Instinct”, for instance, is an innate behavior mechanism that assures the continuance of the human race, we have no problem with that explanation. This sexual behavior or instinct can be easily observed and studied in all species living on the planet. There are many other innate Instincts present in Humans that are also present in all species living on the Planet; there is very little doubt about that.
However, not so with the “Religious Instinct” how do we explain it and what is the purpose of it? Because of the fact that, to date, we have not been able to detect any similar instinct in any other species on earth, we therefore do not relate nor can explain, study or understand it. One simple way of looking at it is to say that: “ Religion is the name given by man to an “Instinct” that subconsciously motivates man to search for the “Origin” and purpose of his existence or creator. An organized religion movement is a group of human beings in search of their “Origin” and purpose for existence. Religion, in general, is not and does not use conventional scientific methods; in fact, the majority of religions reject the scientific approach.
Religions also have in common a set of values or conduct for the human race that must be adhered to in order for one to be, so called “Saved”. This is a very interesting point, as not all religions have the same set of values but in the vast majority the “Laws” insure the physical and spiritual protection and longevity of the human race. If we were to study different religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and even the Egyptians we will find many different “Laws” pertaining to what one can or cannot do in order to serve a Supreme Being or Beings. Therefore, religion not only searches and tries to explain our origin and purpose but it also advocates a number of “Laws” vital for our physical and spiritual survival.
Another very interesting aspect of world religions is the fact that there is little, if any, flexibility in the clergy and members. What this means is that there is a set of guidelines that are not flexible to change or rapid evolution. Also member or clergy of another particular sect does not easily accept other beliefs or religions. Furthermore, some religions openly advocate and teach that if one does not belong to the sect one simply will not be saved, a very ignorant and primitive approach. Because of the lack of understanding in the “Religious Instinct” we find ourselves lost in a sea of religious movements throughout the ages.
One very significant similarity present in almost all religions is turning into the “Heavens”, or better put, the subconscious conviction that our creator or creators do not reside on Earth. From the Aztecs and Incas in the Southern Hemisphere to the ancient Egyptians the skies, planets and stars have been the home of our “Creator”. Even obscure and very primitive groups and tribes have the same tendency to look outside the Earth for our origin. One of the most significant prayers in the Christian religion is the “Our Father”. Jesus Christ recited this particular prayer after the Apostles asked him how to pray. The “Our Father” prayer literally states, “Our Father who art in Heaven hollowed be thy name thy Kingdom come………”. If we were to look into other religions present and past the story is much the same.
There are countless mentions and stories in all religious texts relating to visitations from heaven and interaction between man and God or Gods. The Old Testament, New Testament, The Book of the Dead and many more religious texts are full of such accounts. We could mention many different passages written over the years into the religious books of the world. The main thing to understand is the fact that; Just about all religions on Earth past and present look outside of our Planet for our Creator and our “Origin”. Why do we look outside Earth for our beginnings? Would it not be easier and more logical to assume that Mr. Darwin was correct and we simply evolved from primates?
Are all the religious texts and stories about our creators originating in Heaven merely illusions, hallucinations or simply pure science fiction? To say yes would be insanity and 90% of the world population would disagree, to believe and take them literally could be a bit far fetched. So, where is reality and where are we? Are we to trust our instincts and take more seriously what humanity has been saying for thousands of years?
The bottom line is that Religion or what we can call the “Religious Instinct” is a very powerful mechanism inborn in the human race. We can add that “ Religious Instinct” is a Spiritual phenomenon that has been present in the human race from the very beginning and to date little understood. Furthermore, we know, at this point, of no other species on the planet possessing such an instinct or behavior, only man. We have also established that all religions have basic similarities and in essence just about all religions “Lead to the same place”.
Science has made great progress researching and exploring not only our planet but the universe as well. Over the past 70 years or so scientific achievements have been immense shedding light on many issues and mysteries not understood in the past. However, science has made little progress studying the human spirit, as we call it. On the other hand, religious movements have failed to embrace scientific methods to explore the possibilities of what religion claims and professes. This separation between science and religion seems to be a “Natural Rejection” and not easily understood. To date scientific research into spiritual areas of the human being failed to yield conclusive results. This, in part, is due to the absence of the “Religious Instinct” in the other species so we find no way of establishing a conventional scientific approach. However, there is much scientific proof of events and
situations mentioned on religious documents and texts that shed light on the issue of our “Origin”.
In our subconscious search for our origin and purpose man has turned to religion for the answers, in doing so, many religions have emerged and disappeared from the Planet. Science to date cannot fully explain the spiritual and or subconscious part of the human being. Scientific researchers should look more seriously at world religions for answers. At the same time world religions should become a bit more “Global" in nature and begin to apply a more scientific approach.
Religion today generally is fragmented and segregated, in some cases very fanatic in nature. Some religions have even become “Commercial Enterprises” and by doing so defeating the very essence of its nature and purpose. It should be very obvious to an individual with average intellect that there is only “One” possible answer to the question of our “Origin”. Therefore one must think in terms of one, so called, Religion or approach to objectively answer the questions and mysteries of our
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