TED Conversations

Roy Bourque

Aerospace Education Officer for Cadets, Civil Air Patrol

TEDCRED 30+

This conversation is closed.

What is the true purpose of religion?

For many people, religion is a system of beliefs that are taught from childhood and expected to follow unto death. Many choose to follow whereas many choose to fall away from what they were taught.

I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I was disillusioned by the age of nine, but not in the basic concepts, rather in how the concepts were being presented. In searching for answers, I went way beyond what the church was teaching. A spiritual experience led me to an awareness of God that was totally foreign to what the church was teaching. From that point on, I followed my own path, guided by an inner awareness.

In time I came to study Eastern philosophy. I found myself reading my own thoughts. The convert is not expected to merely believe what is taught. The convert is expected to act on what is taught to come to one's own understanding. The premise is; until you understand, you haven't been taught anything. It is in coming to an understanding that religion begins to reveal its secrets. Most never get that far.

When the Catholic Church attacked Galileo, it divorced itself from science. Since then, science has revealed many secrets which are objected to by religious fundamentalists. But religious fundamentalists are word junkies. They can quote the scriptures, but when you ask them the meaning, they just quote other scriptures that pertain to the same thing.

The word "theology" used to contain a reference to "that which is revealed by nature and reason"; taken from a 1904 dictionary. The modern definition contains no such reference.

My point is that modern religion is a mockery of what religion is supposed to be. Less than 100 people wrote the bible out of thousands who lived. Very few people understood it then, and not many more understand it now; which is just what Jesus said "The way is narrow, and few there be that shall find it". In my opinion, religion needs a complete overhaul.

Let me hear your thoughts.

Share:

Closing Statement from Roy Bourque

This debate has two sides; what is there in religion that has value and is worth pursuing, and what is the perceived current purpose of religion.

Some notable comments;
Don: a fight between good and evil thinking.
Natasha: religions are based on collective experience of being one with nature and the whole. Religion is a kind of residue of the real experience.
John: Religion offered a framework for explanation and served as a forum for debate on those issues that plague the human mind.
Debra: A quote from Micah 6:8, and another from Mahatma Gandhi “as long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it”
Charles: to keep people in touch with the notion that there is “something more”, transcendent, mysterious, beautiful…
Mitch: To experience truth; look up MAYA (illusion).
Rhona: To control other people by people who probably declined to control themselves.
Franz: see quote from St. Catherine of Siena.
Mark: Pure science, material power, and formulas are incapable of knowing love and mercy.

I believe the true purpose is to lead the initiate back to the source of creation so as to allow the initiate to effectively participate in creation (gleaned from Eastern philosophy).
It has seven stages;
SELF – recognizing who you are.
SEX – procreation of the species.
POWER – learning to exercise control over human affairs.
HEART (the center of being) – recognizing yourself as a part of the creator.
PURGATION – learning to tame the animal passions within.
TRANSCENDENCE – expanding your awareness beyond perceived limitations.
CHRIST – becoming one with the creator.

Modern religious institutions have become domineering, hence Rhona’s and others comments to that purpose.

Religion united people. In times of stress, it became the cohesive force in war and conflict. Religion has both the power to enlighten and the power to lead astray. It’s greatest warning was the power of deception.

My advice; Let go of blind faith. Question everything. Seek to understand. Hold on to what enriches life.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Aug 26 2012: Religion is only useful for providing moral teachings for those who prefer to follow instead of think for themselves. The problem is that there are horrible untruths poured into most of them - mainly suggestions of gods and devils and afterlives and things.

    Even Buddhism, which is supposedly quite a good one to 'choose' because it's all just philosophy, is now, I've noticed, rather ruined by the people who choose to worship 'Lord Buddha'. I don't think that was his intention at all - to be called a Lord and have people worship him. It totally goes against the idea of the religion itself. Such is a the simplicity of people who need a leader to provide mental security.

    'Oh I'm from Thailand and therefore I'm probably Buddhist so I'll worship this guy"
    "Oh I'm from american so I choose God and the bible"
    "Oh I'm Indian so I choose Lord Brahman and his other godly extras"

    It's quite a labelling thing, hence it's use in wars across the world.

    Religion creates community and moral goodness, but it also exacerbates blind idiocy on the international level.

    I hate religion. And what I mean by that is that I think it's possible to do all the moral things that all the holy books suggest without even classing yourself as being connected to any religion at all. It's just about knowing right from wrong. So... how does religion help in that case? It doesn't really. We could learn to be good people without the extra supernatural baggage.

    I conclude... there is no use to religion at all.
    • thumb
      Aug 26 2012: You base your conclusion on what religion has become, and yet you make a distinction between a spiritual way of seeing the world and those who put great spiritual minds on a pedestal and worship them as a deity.

      You are right that most people are born into a religion. They are not at liberty to choose for themselves unless they choose to follow their own path.

      Would wars not occur if there were no religious labels? I doubt that you could make a hard case to support that claim. The pressures of survival incite war regardless of whether religion exists or not. People would simply find another label.

      No one is blind unless they choose to be blind.

      It is possible to do all the moral things that the holy books suggest. What I find, is that people CHOOSE NOT to do all the moral things that the holy books suggest, all the while they criticize religion because it challenges their freedom to do as they please.

      There are teachings in religion that need to be challenged because they lead to misconceptions. Anything that is false leads to corruption of the mind. This was the meaning of the master of deception. The character itself isn't real. But what the character represents is very real. Learning to discern the truth comes from learning to think on your own. I do criticize modern religion for suppressing freedom of thought. that is one thing that I would like to see changed.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.