In every day life we experience many internal conflicts and crisis. These crisesoften manifest themselves as moral dilemmas and are a part of being human. Butthe question that arises is what causes us to handle ourselves the way we do inthose situations. Some people might say faith, but the true answer is ourbeliefs.
That is why we seem to be at an all time low in morality, we are havinga 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 ofmeanings people share that mediate our experiences with one another along withthe combination of these experiences which our behind our religion. Our beliefsare a reflection of our culture and this becomes obvious when we observe othercultures. Saudi Arabia, for example has a very different belief system than theUnited States and these religious beliefs are function of their faith andculture combined.
As their culture changes, their beliefs, too, many change. Asthe sets of meanings people share change, their beliefs will follow. In areligious aspect the difference between faith and belief is easy to see if yougo to church the week before Christmas and then Christmas day and look at thedifference in the number of people. The regulars who give of themselves one daya week for God truly believe in God, those who show up for Holy Daysmore than likely have faith.
Not to sound cynical, having faith is better thannothing, it is just not all that a person could give. But why are we being solazy? The answer comes to us in the context of our current society. In the darkages people had little to do, and very little enlightenment, so religion wasturned to as a way to fill a void. In that time people knew what it was tobelieve in something. Men of the dark ages fought wars for their religion anddied for what they believed was right. No, I am not saying the holy wars were agood idea, but it is a way to see what it is like to fully believe.
Today peopledont even have the ambition to fight and defend their country, much lessgive anything extra. We have things to occupy our selves and do not rely on aGod for everything that happens to us. This is where cultural shift comes intoplay when looking at religion. As people have advanced and explained things thatused to be a mystery, needing to believe in religion became unnecessary. In theClassical times of Greek culture, the gods played an important role of everydaylife.
Everything that occurred was accredited to a god; thunder meant Zeus wasangry, a rough sea meant Poseidon was having a bad day on Mount Olympus. Theyneeded that to keep order in things that were inherently chaotic. Everything wasmade certain by religion. The Classical stage in history held the Earth to bedeep, permanent, and fixed.
We were at the center of the universe and everythingrevolved around us. Deductive logic to give reason to all cases where there wasa lack of understanding. A logical assumption to the Greek was that lightningwas a sign of anger from the gods. As time progressed religion took on aslightly different role, as a guide for those in despair. People stoppedthinking everything was done by a group of gods and began to believe in acreator that was responsible for the Earth and the moon and all of the stars. Inthe 1500-1600s we hit the Modern or Empirical stage.
We realized Earth wasn’tpermanent and new science a discoveries forced a new way of thinking. Socially,our views became relative to our experience and this was acceptable. Nothing wascertain anymore, but things became probable and individual cases reflected a newimportance. Modern science developed several theories that systematicallyexplain how we came to be, from the big bang to the theory of evolution. Withthis change in science, came a revolution in society. It is for that reason thatthe purpose of religion in a modern context has changed dramatically.
Peoplewere factioned into those that believe science and those that believe religion. It caused tension in society and made discussing religion a taboo. It alsonarrowed the types of questions that one could ask about the universe. Only onebig question remained, Why? That is what currently holds people to religionwithout any boundaries.
Why are we here has been one of the longest runningquestions in the history of the world. Centuries have been spent trying to findan answer and their greatest minds have come up with nothing. That is howreligion can bring people back into the light, do what it has always done bestand give people an answer to the question that plagues all of us. Get people tobelieve again and the ills of the world will fall.