TED Conversations

Matt Wolfe

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Usefulness of Religion and Spirituality VS Reality of content

My thought is of religion and spirituality and our intrinsic nature to ask questions. Intrigued?
I believe that people are naturally curious and our need to satisfy our questions is large. We constantly look for the answers to our questions, some of the biggest being major philosophical questions that have been debated for thousands of years. Why are we here? Where did we come from? How did this come to be? What happens after we die?
All valid questions that people have differing opinions on. Here is my opinion...
I think that religion and systems of belief have been placed into societies to create psychological safeguards and promote community. If we dwell too long on the fact that there is no real answer as to what will happen when we die, or if this life is real, or if there is just darkness after death, it becomes daunting and anxiety ensues. My creating a set of beliefs and putting faith and believing that there is a God that is watching over us, and that we are absolved of our sins, and that there is a place called heaven, we are creating a barrier so that we can live our lives with normality. The Greeks believed in gods of the sun, and of the ocean and of love, where now we know that it is the moon that controls the tide, and the sun is a star. They were creating meaningful stories to answer questions they could not comprehend. This allows us to move towards finding meaning in life and obtaining happiness. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist etc. you are putting faith into an idea that allows you to create meaning in life and live outside the nihilistic view of the absurd. It is important for all religions and spirituality to exist, because everyone is different and therefore need a differing set of beliefs. I am different than someone who is Jewish, yet we both derive the same satisfaction and closure from our set of beliefs as everyone else.

0
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Oct 6 2011: Many people ponder these issues, many people do not. Many people just follow, believe, trust what they were taught, told , raised as. But I can tell you from experience (read my Profile story) that when one is put to the test by traumatic life experience, one NEEDS something to believe in, to trust in. It would not be wise to pick or cling to just anything, tho sometimes people do (and may be satisfied by that) - but to really go deep and find out what makes sense to you. What is Your Universal Truth, or your understanding of what your think is universal truth?
    You may not find all the answers, but, in our human levels of understanding, we can grasp a fair amount of the Universal Truths (whatever they are.) I think all religions have part of the answers, but no one is the perfect religion - they are just differences brought about by different cultural expressions of the same values, yearnings, understandings, teachings,etc.

    What I DO NOT think is the Truth, is that THIS is all there is. I cannot be content with that. It does not ring true to me. To me, it is not enough that religion (which I see as a human organized set of beliefs based on spirituality, which is more broad and ponderous) is just to help control or pacify humanity. In our human experience and the way that we process things, we don't really KNOW what happens when we die - it has not been PROVEN, in our human ways of thinking. But I think that humans have been able to see, experience, grasp some parts of the essence of spirituality, which is also the essence of the universe. (Or maybe our universe is only one part of the Spirit.) I think we are capable of this and not just making it up to give us comfort. It is too universal to the human experience and understanding, going back a long, long time, to be just made up.
    • Oct 7 2011: I didn't mean that we are making it up for comfort, but as a necessity to live. If we consciously made it up for comfort it would contradict my thought.
      "What I DO NOT think is the Truth, is that THIS is all there is. I cannot be content with that. It does not ring true to me."
      This is exactly what I meant when I said that we are looking for answers and that we cannot be satisfied by accepting nothing. We MUST believe in something greater than ourselves to give us hope. This is what I believe creates religion and spirituality. I also agree with you that no religion or spirituality is perfect. I don't believe there can be a perfect one. Because like you said it has to do with culture, our different experiences make us require different things, and those requirements will fit best in different modes of thought. For that we have many different belief structures and systems.
      "one NEEDS something to believe in, to trust in"
      It's thoughts like this that have led me to develop the idea that it's our necessity for something greater than ourselves that leads us to "create" ideas of religion and spirituality. Whether or not they are true isn't of great importance. It's what they do for us when we believe in them that is. I mean that there is no way we will prove God's existence to someone who believes in God, so whether or not that is a truth, doesn't matter in our lifetime. What matters is the hope, belief and faith that person holds, that God does exist that is important.

      "I think we are capable of this and not just making it up to give us comfort. It is too universal to the human experience and understanding, going back a long, long time, to be just made up."
      If it is so universal to the human experience, then wouldn't everyone be on the same page of looking to believe in something greater, and therefore lead us to create religion?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.