Religion: God Essay, Research Paper
?A true religion makes hope possible rather than despair convincing?
Religions come in all forms but essentially serve the same purpose in human?s lives. By definition, religion is ?human beings? relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine? (Webster 1). It is commonly associated with a person?s relation to God or gods or spirits. Worshiping and following religious doctrines is a main cause for followers? behaviors and a societies social mores and folkways. These basic religious elements prescribe different ?moral conducts, right beliefs and participation in religious institutions? for followers to adhere to in order to fulfill their religious life (Britannica 1).
Through the ages there has been many different religions served the followers with the sense of a meaningful life and made ?hope possible rather than despair convincing.? Even in prehistoric religions, archeologists have found remains from the Middle Paleolithic Period burial sites that consist of the ?corpses accompanied by stone tools and parts of animal? that were laid in the burial site (Britannica 2). Some of the impressions of the corpses were buried with the tools in their hands, implying that they needed them in their after-life. This shows that even these primitive humans and societies had some concept of an after-life, which implies a primitive religion that the people of the Paleolithic Era.
Even the people of Mesopotamia practiced a religion of their own. The religious beliefs of the Sumerians and Akkdadians who were the earliest inhabitance in Mesopotamia followed a religion of their own. It consisted of deities that ?tended to be localized, centering around the subsistence of the community? (Britannica 3). These deities were believed to promote ?fertility of the fields, water, and flocks? (Britannica 3). These deities ?took the form of the phenomenon which the deity represented. For example, the deity associated with the rain cloud was pictured as a dark, lion-headed bird hovering in the sky? (Britannica 3). Again, showing that ancient civilizations knew that there was a force greater present in the universe than just their inhabitance of the Earth.
As time continued to elapse and the sophistication of each society grew, the societies adopted more complex religions. Dating back to ancient Egypt, Egyptian religion consisted of a polytheistic faith that was ?characterized by numerous deities having both animal and human forms? (Britannica 4). One of the most foremost concepts of Egyptian religion was the idea of Ma?at. ?Ma?at signified the correct world order as given to man by the gods? (Britannica 4). Ma?at included ?the ideas of truth, justice, and correct social behavior? (Britannica 4). This concept leads the followers to lead lifestyles adhering to ways of ancient Egypt society. Leading a good life allowed for the judging a person?s heart in accordance to how they lived their lives on Earth. After they pass their judgment, only then they can live their after-life with all the deities and kings who have passed before them. This just like the religions of past societies provide a reason and purpose for life on Earth.
Later in the chronology of time, other societies had much the same religions as the ancient Egyptians did. In ancient Greece, the concept of a polytheistic belief of gods or deities that controlled all the aspects of everyday life and natural phenomena. Some of these gods were Zeus, Aphrodite, and Hades. Zeus was the ruler of all the gods who governed over all the human inhabitants, as well as all of the gods. Aphrodite was the goddess of love that allowed humans and gods to love and fall in love. While Hades was the ruler of the underworld, being ?hell? in Christian terms. The Greek religion had numerous beliefs, but ?the sole requirement was to believe that the gods existed and to perform ritual and sacrifice, through which the gods received their dues? (Britannica 5). These gods served as the standards for the acceptable mores and folkways of the Greek society.
As time progressed, many of the polytheistic views of religion gave way to a monotheistic view of religion. Monotheism proposed that there is only one God ruling over all the events and phenomena of the world as well as the spiritual realm. Most of the monotheistic religions are based on the events and encounters that occurred in The Bible.
The Bible depicts many different religions and events throughout The Old Testament. The Old Testament also depicts the actions and prophecies of events to come, such as the coming of Jesus. Some religions just use the teachings of The Old Testament as the main backbone of the religion. One of these religions is Judaism.
Judaism is the religion of the Jews. It is ?the complex expression of a religious and ethnic community, a way of life, as well as a set of basic beliefs and values? (Britannica 6). Jewish religion was developed from ?the response of the people of Israel to the divine presence in history . . . and for mankind itself? (Britannica 6). Jewish faith helps structure ?the pattern of communal and individual life? of the people (Britannica 6). The continual analysis of history resulted in the establishment of a covenant that was documented into the Jewish holy book, The Torah. The basis of the Torah was to develop ?a further means by which the divine presence was made expressed in concrete human existence? (Britannica 6). The Jewish faith follows the examples and actions that the prophets of the Old Testament describe, and their obligation to lead their life with accordance with the prophets, ?who warned of retribution within history and argued the case of affirmative human response? (Britannica 6).
The Jewish religion brought forth Christianity, stemming from ?the life, teachings, and death of Jesus of Nazareth? (Britannica 7). The earliest members of the Christian faith were Jews, as was Jesus himself. Early Christians were separated from the Judaism because Judaism did not accept Jesus as Christ. However, Christianity grew under the idea that Jesus was the messiah and delivered a plan of salvation and redemption. ?The agent of redemption is Jesus Christ? (Britannica 8). Christians believe that Jesus was place on the earth to die for the liberation of sins and to lead his followers to eternal life in heaven. And thus once again another religion that ?makes hope possible rather than despair convincing.?
Christianity accounts for many if not all the aspects of life of not only how to live a life in accordance with Jesus?s teachings, as well as, giving direction to peoples? lives. The direction of one?s life, according to the Bible, does not only begin at birth but rather the idea that God has actually predetermined the fate of each person. For as found in Jeremiah 1:5, ?Before I formed you, I knew you, before you were born, I consecrated you.? This gives the impression that even before the birth of a person, God has a place in the world for that person. However, it is up to that individual to make the correct decisions and exercise their free will to attain their predetermined place in life. It will not just happen. One must live life with the openness of heart to hear what God want one to do with their life. One must also use their free will to proclamate a lifestyle that is in accordance to not only their religion but, more importantly, the commandments.
The Bible can also show the idea of predestination with the readings about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary ?was a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph (Luke 1:27). Then an angel came to Mary and said, ?Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you. . . . You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus? (Luke 1:28-31). Mary accepted and thus Jesus was born. According to Catholic faith, Mary was born with out original sin. Original sin being the decree placed upon Adam and Eve after they had eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree. ?Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures? (Genesis 3:14). However, Mary being ?chosen? to not have original sin would signify more than just a coincidence that she was the bearer of Jesus.
The next stage in life after conception is the actual birth of a human into the world. Christianity allows for hope even out of this event, for it allows the notion that at birth, there are no impurities of the child. It is innocent and pure. Birth of human life is the one thing that all people have in common with one another. ?When I was born, I drew in the common air, and fell upon the earth, which is of like nature, and the first voice which I uttered was crying? (Wisdom 7:3). If everyone enters the world on the same level, starting their living experience on earth the same way, then it is up the individual to hear God?s voice and realize their destiny to accomplish their place in life. ?For there is no king that had any other beginning than birth. For all men have one entrance into life, and the like going out? (Galatians 4:19-20).
As a person?s life progresses, one must keep their life in accordance to at least the Ten Commandments. One must use their free will to ?love the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him? (Deuteronomy 30:20). This progression allows for the individual to make their own decisions as far as what to believe in and what to do with their life. These decisions, whether good or bad, makes one responsible to learn from the consequences to piece together the puzzle of wisdom, faith, and love. Holding faith close allows for ?hope possible rather than despair convincing.? Holding one?s faith close allows for a person to attain their predetermined place in life as God intended. Achieving this will result in true happiness on earth, and prepares that person for the next progression of life, which is death.
When one dies, their physical life of their human body ends, but their soul continues to live. Upon taking the last physical breath as a living being, one?s soul is placed into an intermediate place between heaven and hell. This is where their life on earth is evaluated and judged. This place as Catholics call it is purgatory. It is a time that one must do their penance and be forgiven for any wrong doings that they did on earth. One who lead a good life with minimal stay in purgatory. While, one who lived an inertly bad life on earth may not be sentence to hell, but rather just spend more time in purgatory until they have done their penance and been forgiven for their failures or short comings of following the commandments. Once their soul has been purified, then they would be ready to enter into the kingdom of heaven and see the face of God.
Religion as a part of life allows for humans to have something to look forward to superseding their stay on the earth as a human being. This allowing for ?hope to be possible rather than despair convincing.? Religion gives direction and standards to live by and the prescribed ways to act in accordance to one?s religion. But who is say which religion is the correct one? All the religions believe that there is some force greater any worldly figure. So there is no way to determine which is the true religion until life on this earth is complete, and the final truth is seen through the eyes of God. Jesus said, ?Do not judge, so that you may not be judged? (Matthew 7:1). Who is the one to determine which is the ?true religion? and the correct one to follow? After all, most religions are based on some parts or aspects of the Bible and their interpretations of it. As long as the religion keeps the commandments, ?you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father?s commandments and abide in his love? (Luke 15:10).