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Why people are religious

September 15, 2007
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It is possible for science to question the fundamentals of each and every religion but while science has a right to do it…the state doesn’t.

Religion is very important to people and this is putting it mildly. Why it is important is very complex. An answer has been given here:

Religion — whether we are theists, deists, atheists, gnostics, agnostics, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucians, Shintoists, Zoroastrians, animists, polytheists, Wiccans, secular humanists, Marxists, or cult devotees — is a matter of ultimate concern….the basic human need that probably exists for some sort of salvation, deliverance, release, liberation, pacification, or whatever it may be called, seems to be among the main foundations of all religion. There may also be a basic human need for mystery, wonder, fear of the sacred, romantic worship of the inexplicable, awe in the presence of the completely different, or emotional response to the “numinous”…

Another site it explains it briefly:

Religion is important as a way for people to come to terms with questions like “Why should I lead a good life?” “What is my purpose?”

Is it any wonder then that most people in the world feel that religion is essential to their lives? In fact, a Pew Global survey of 38,000 people in 44 different countries shows this clearly. The survey measured how important religion was to people and the percentages show the number of people who thought religion was very important in their life.

A look at the chart shows on the left shows that most of the countries in Africa, from Senegal and Nigeria to Tanzania and Angola are exceedingly religious…well over 80 percent of people are religious.

It is a similar story in Asia. India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Philippines have huge numbers of very religious people. The better-off countries have fewer religious people and this makes us feel that perhaps money can be a compensation for faith. Perhaps people with money feel more secure and struggle less…and therefore do not need faith…

But this could be too simplistic an answer as inspite of the United States being a rich country, almost 60 percent of Americans are religious! A real contrast even with their immediate neighbor Canada, where only 30 percent of people are religious. At the other end of the spectrum, Vietnam stands out as a poor country which has fewer religious people than other poor countries. Does this mean that the state is interfering, or does it mean that Vietnamese are happy without religion, for unknown reasons? China did not allow this question to be asked of its people.

I think perhaps it is not just money that is important to give a feeling of security and contentment to a person…it is also the question of whether society is providing a human being with the necessary things to make him or her feel fulfilled. Factors like relationships, community feelings and prevalence of crime must play a part. Could it be that the more lonely a person, the more likely that he or she will turn to some sort of belief system?

Another site, Gadling, gives a list of the least religious countries of the world:

1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
2. Vietnam
3. Denmark
4. Norway
5. Japan
6. Czech Republic
7. Finland
8. France
9. South Korea
10. Estonia (up to 49% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)

It will indeed take a detailed understanding of these countries to find out why exactly the populations are religious or non-religious. I am sure that each country has its own unique reason and the nature of their religion will also play a part. Some religions are more demanding…

Where India is concerned I can say that almost everyone around is religious, some extraordinarily religious. I don’t see too much difference between the rich and the poor in this regard…in fact the rich may be far more flamboyant in celebrating their religion than the poor, because of their wealth. Some actually believe, some make a show, some find rituals healing…and this includes the rich and the poor. Whether it is because spiritualism is in our blood, or because we are a superstitious people, or because we are conscious of the transient nature of life, or because our lives are a hard struggle, the fact is that the majority of Indians are religious. And atheism is not something that people wear on their sleeve.

(The first picture is linked to the original, and the stats from Pew Global)

Related Reading: True faith in God can be confused with rituals
Believers do not need proof to believe – about Ram Setu
Inter-religious marriages frowned upon in India
Is a dress code required in a temple or a church or any other place of worship?
Book countering the Hinduphobia of the west
What role do “Gurus” play in our life?
Can one become a Hindu?
The future of religion looks very good!

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50 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2007 9:39 am

    well how do you define being religious? i don’t think everyone in India is devoted and all….its just that my father did i do it attitude….

  2. September 15, 2007 10:00 am

    Vishesh, I would define religious people as those who practice organized religion.
    Even though I believe in the existence of God, I do not practice any religion and therefore I would be considered non-religious.
    Ofcourse, the point you have brought out, about people doing things blindly, simply following tradition…well, society would call them religious, even if they are not so in their heart.
    Truly religious people actually believe in what they do.
    But then in all walks of life don’t we have people who pretend to be something, even if they are not?

  3. September 15, 2007 10:52 am

    There is a need of Faith to Believe in God.. That’s what religion says.

    I bet No one can proove Existance of God.. Except God himself… but chooses not to reveal himself to man in ways that we would expect.

    Don’t try to prove the existence of God, rather just ask people to believe and if they choose not to, then it’s their choice.

    My religion Jainism says.. This is “Kalyug”.. and There is need of having faith in God here.. where One Cheats Others..One kills Others.. and One eat Others too.. and I am convinced by my religion.

    ——————————————–
    “Happy Ganesh Chaturthi”

    Hope people are not disturbed by it’s celebrations on streets. I live in Bangalore where I miss kind of celebration we use to have at my Hometown Village.

  4. September 15, 2007 12:14 pm

    Thanks for the wishes Bharath and the same to you.

  5. rednivarn permalink
    September 15, 2007 1:22 pm

    Being religious is a fundamental right for people in all countries and societies.

    Unfortunately people take this Right as reason enough to be blind to Reason for being so.

    I could be grossly wrong but I would imagine more than 80% people follow religious practices for the fear of being damned if they don’t.

    As a crude example, don’t we all get several mails asking to forward these to 10 people failing which all the bad luck will come our way? Not more than 20% of us delete those mails. Balance 80% forward out of fear.

    My question is is God so cheap a guy that he will revenge me for not forwarding the mails and in any case how was revenging before the internet was discovered?

    Cheers!

  6. September 15, 2007 1:34 pm

    Rednivarn, even I wonder sometimes how many people actually believe and how many people just go through the motions. Frankly I feel that many do not really sit down and think…Do I believe? But if you ask me I feel that many people are not sure…they do not necessarily pretend…
    even that example you gave of the mails…that is sheer superstition. If you ask me, i would say delete the mails. I have never ever forwarded such a mail and if something bad happens I will never blame it on the mail. In fact I have told all my friends to not forward anything that says I have to forward it! So my friends now send me the mail, with the last bit deleted!!

  7. rednivarn permalink
    September 15, 2007 1:55 pm

    Nita,
    I have long stopped even opening these mails. My friends are well warned now.
    What’s frustrating are the times when your close friends pity you for being heartless🙂
    Red

    Red, we can pity them too, for other reasons.🙂

  8. rednivarn permalink
    September 15, 2007 2:54 pm

    …. such as the Viagra advts that result from such forwards😀

  9. evanescent permalink
    September 15, 2007 8:15 pm

    People are religious because humans have an innate curiosity and thirst for answers.

    Religion offers answers to these deeps questions. The further back in time you go, the more powerful religion appears, and the more authority it has, and the more answers it claims to have.

    However, religion has nothing useful to say on anything. It has no deeper answers.

    From questions of why is the sky blue? Where does thunder come from? How can we make it rain? Why should we be good? How did life get here? Religion has tried and failed to answer all these questions.

    When people say “people need religion”, what they mean is: people need answers. Now, perhaps we can find these answers. Most of the time we can indeed. But it’s also fair to concede that some questions we can never answer. But don’t think for a second that those who believe the ancient myths of bronze age Jews hold some transcendent knowledge that the rest of us can’t acquire. It’s a sham.

  10. September 15, 2007 8:16 pm

    Having lived in the US for many years now, I have realized that a lot of people are very giving, be it in the form of money or time. Most families here volunteer their time for charity like building homes for the poor, sponsoring a poor child, sponsoring someone in need of medical help, education etc. I have really come across many people like that. Most rich or middle class people do not neglect the poor. If you compare these people to the rich or well off people in India (who are supposedly religious), the well off people in India seem to be very selfish. In India, we are afraid or unwilling to give time or money though there are exceptions which are very few.

  11. Julie permalink
    September 15, 2007 8:40 pm

    Excellent post, raises very good questions. Thanks for this research.
    I don’t know about most of these other countries, but i live in Canada and volunteer teaching the bible and what i find most often is education and liberalism is the main issue, deterrent in Canada when it comes to religion. Most Canadians feel that they are too educated to believe in the bible, or any religious teaching. They prefer to be thought of as “Spiritual”, to combine the ideas of many different religions to create their own idea. They don’t like the “Institution of Religion”, especially in the wake of Catholic scandals. But the younger ones are curious. I think we all have a spiritual need, but many believe hearsay rather then dig for the truth, they prefer to believe what higher education teaches them and then create something that suits the life they want!
    At least in Canada that is how things seem.

    Thanks again for the topic biblestudyaid@gmail.com

  12. September 15, 2007 8:43 pm

    Su, I guess you are right, here charity as a concept is less strong than in the developed countries. One of the reasons I think is that Christianity itself is very strong on charity…hinduism is different. I am not saying that excuses the lack of charity….
    but you have to see that people here live a harder life. A middle class or even a well-to-do person has to struggle a lot. With low comfort levels, people want to take care of themselves first. And frankly I don’t blame them. It is human nature, but again one can help within one’s own means, and I believe they do. A lot of good work is being done here…but also remember that over there schools, colleges etc inculcate it. Here they don’t. Over there community service is a part of everything, even a college curriculum, here it is is non-existent. So it is not fair to blame individuals.
    Also being a close community, over here you will find that people tend to help relatives a lot…I doubt whether that exists out there.
    Also individual communities do charity work for their own communities. Christians help christians, muslims help muslims, parsis for parsis etc.
    Overall, I do not think westerners are superior because they do more charity. We are all human. People in India suffer more, and even when they make the money, the insecurity of the past clings on to them…
    At the same time, I want to say that being a good person and being a religious person need not go together. In fact I have written a post on this subject. But let me clarify that I do not equate charity with being a good person. I know a lot of really bad people who do charity work! And a lot of good, hardworking, honest souls who don’t!

    Julie, thanks for dropping in and sharing your experience about Canada.

  13. erica permalink
    September 15, 2007 9:11 pm

    Notice that the least religious country is Sweden, but also one of the most socially conscious and well organized countries in the world. When you take religion away, you take a lot of subjective reasons to absolve yourself of your obligations toward humanity. You face the simple choice of whether to live in a society where everyone is entitled to medical care, an education, rest, family time, or in a society where the strongest succeed and the weakest be damned. And that’s because disparity, greed and cruelty are more easily accepted if you can convince yourself that your fate is in a greater power.

  14. September 15, 2007 9:33 pm

    Erica, that is certainly food for thought.
    In India there is this concept of Karma which is one of the reasons why people simply accept the miserable conditions they are in. It will work the other way round too…many people who suceed tend to think that this is God’s will and if others are suffering, that is their karma and one can’t do a thing about it…or maybe shouldn’t…

  15. September 15, 2007 10:01 pm

    In another view: Karma makes you believe in rebirth… and it says you will be punished for your evil deeds… It make sense in certain ways..

  16. September 15, 2007 10:10 pm

    ya everything is an illusion…i love the subjects i do at school…but i still pretend i am studying…simple cause i don’t feel like….or becuase something else is stopping me from….but in the end i do it..cause all the dear petite things which i crave for depend on it…(no not for the salary and earning stuff) rather i may have to restrict my usage of comp etc if i don’t…for me these things are a sign of freedom..and yes it means responsibility…

  17. September 15, 2007 10:11 pm

    And that’s because disparity, greed and cruelty are more easily accepted if you can convince yourself that your fate is in a greater power.

    Erica, I don’t believe in the existence of a greater power, but it can be argued that it works the other way too. If one convinces himself that there is no greater power, then it becomes easy to be more greedy and cruel.

  18. erica permalink
    September 15, 2007 10:17 pm

    It makes total sense, Karma and especially rebirth, particularly since time in this life is devoted to self heightening. And they’re are people of all faiths who do amazing work for humanity in the name of God… But I don’t know one example of a religious country whose government encourages and institutes sophisticated social programs in the name of God and humanity. Do you? And if one might say that it’s not the governement’s place to use religion to improve the condition of the people, one should also say that religion should never be the reason for a governement-sanctioned war.

  19. September 15, 2007 10:24 pm

    I agree, ‘religious’ states definitely don’t do much for the people except oppress them by laying down rule after rule, not just about important things but about petty things as well. These type of states are more interested in control rather than humanity.
    They want war to distract people from the real issues of poverty and development.

  20. rednivarn permalink
    September 16, 2007 1:01 am

    I am a bit confused by.

    Does being ‘religious’ amount to being involved in Charities?

    Does voluntary involvemnet in a charity amount to being ‘religious’ ?

    The littlle that I know – being ‘religious’ relates to being involved with God, while as involvment in a charity is “humanity”

    World of difference !

  21. September 16, 2007 1:03 am

    I did not say the westerners are superior, but I am just stressing the fact that we need to be a little more generous with our time and money. Family commitments including culture and religious beliefs hamper a lot of social or community work that some people may be willing to do and I think it does come in the way of development too. The more importance we give to religion, the lesser the chance of overall development of the country and when I talk of development, its not about money, but good schools, medical care, food, hygiene etc. Rational thinking is the need of the hour. Sorry, I am digressing from the topic.

  22. September 16, 2007 6:36 am

    Great discussion! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  23. September 16, 2007 8:02 am

    Red, I hope Su’s comment answered your question somewhat. Actually, religiosity is often connected or confused with being ‘good’ (which can also mean doing charity work, like christian missionaries) and at times religious people themselves believe that they are ‘better’ humans. Whether its at Mecca, or at Tirupati, donating to the poor is often considered doing a service to God, or rather, doing something that God wishes.
    But ofcourse in reality, whether someone does charity or not is not connected with a person’s religiosity.

    Su, I don’t think you are digressing from the topic! What religiosity is, and how it can affect our life is what you talking about.

    evanescent
    , your comment had gone into spam, just recovered it! Thanks for dropping by.

  24. rednivarn permalink
    September 16, 2007 8:17 pm

    Nita,
    I agree to disagree.
    Religious work, as practiced by 90% of the population, is a mind less waste of human resources while as Charity is a the best service one can render in his / her living days.
    But as I said
    I agree to disagree.

  25. September 16, 2007 8:20 pm

    Red, I don’t think that I said that religious work is not a waste of time!

  26. erica permalink
    September 16, 2007 9:07 pm

    Rednivarn, your comment about equating religion and charity gave me much to think about. You’re right, those are two very different things. And even if history doesn’t bear this out, religion is about a relationship with God, as a person and a people, to reach higher levels. I have always assumed that working toward a better world for all is part of it. Maybe selflessness toward others is the role of the “little” people in religion (the woman who cleans up after meditating budhists, the christians that organize fundraisers for the church, the guy that will give his life up for Allah at another man’s request) Higher thinking, the kind that brings you nearer to your God, that’s the stuff of more provileged people. Please don’t think that these comments are meant to criticize or inflame. Your feedback will help me form a softer approach to religion.

  27. September 16, 2007 11:52 pm

    Erica, your comment had also slipped into spam…
    anyway, although you have asked Red his view, let me give my own too!
    About religion and charity being different things…yes, but I cannot agree that the Higher thinking makes a better human being as it is more selfish.
    I will anyday respect a good human being more than a person who has a ‘higher’ relationship with God…and anyway we just have that person’s view of it!
    Who really knows about that person’s relationship with God? It has to be seen in the real world, by that person’s attitude towards others…

  28. erica permalink
    September 17, 2007 12:27 am

    I”m with you on that, Nita. I have always admired and tried to emulate people who live their lives generously, with tolerance, to the service of themselves and others. And if you can live like that,unless you believe in an afterlife or in God, there’s really no need for religion. I don’t know other religions well enough, but the Christian religion hands you a code of conduct which guides how you will live your life. If some are a bit antiquated, they are good guidelines that I follow thought I’m not a Christian. What I would love to understand, in a deep way, is what else there is to know about living a religious life, and whether it matter what religion you choose.

  29. Padmini permalink
    September 17, 2007 12:34 am

    Another way to explore this issue is to ask what religion is not. I am still exploring this but definitely, to me, being religious does not mean belonging to any particular religion. Religion should be a way of life that you practice each and every moment. It should not be restricted but should be broad enough to encompass everything in this universe.

  30. September 17, 2007 12:50 am

    Erica. I don’t think it matters which religion…because it is the way that you practice it that matters. Frankly it is possible to take every religion to the extreme, practice every little dogma and in my opinion that is not going to send that person to heavan or get him to the path of enlightenment!
    If you ask me, my opinion of religion, it is being a good person. I have written a post on this here.

    Hi Padmini! I agree, religion is a way of life and I like Hindusim because there are few things that are a must and that means one is free to live the way one wants.

  31. September 17, 2007 4:59 pm

    Hey,

    Few interesting question I collected from web which can go with this Post !!!

    * Why Water is colourless, odorless & no taste in it.. when no living thing can survive without it??

    * Why Earth size is perfect… it’s neither as small as Mercury nor as large as jupitor.. % rotating at perfect distance from sun & It’s perfect to sustain plant, animal and human life??

    * About human brain…isn’t it amazing thing?? .. lot of process running simultaneously.. with unimaginable much memory in that compact physical space!!

    * Insufficient explanations to natural causes??

    * Why vast number of people are convinced that there is a God??

    I repeat – Science is too naive.. it has a lot to invent.

  32. rednivarn permalink
    September 17, 2007 8:16 pm

    B Chopra
    Because God made them so – happy???
    Now can you move to the subject.

    Erica- Nita
    I got in a little late.
    But I suppose now I may not be required to speak. You both explained it so well.

  33. September 17, 2007 9:19 pm

    rednivarn,

    Everyone is not perfect here.. I agree I do lot of mistake.. and you are welcome to correct me..

    I was saying “God Exists” to those who donot believe.. Yeah I am happy to hear you agree with me.. and every should believe.

    and I agree with Erica’s comment..

    //”religion is about a relationship with God”//

  34. September 17, 2007 10:23 pm

    I disagree with part of the premise, “It is possible for science to question the fundamentals of each and every religion.” Science is about understanding the natural world. It cannot explain the supernatural. It’s only when the supernatural exerts influence on the natural world that science comes in to play and there so far has been no scientific evidence for the supernatural.

    That being said, it’s up to everyone to find their own truth, whatever that is. Science can help you find that truth if you use it that way, but that’s up to each person. I think the reason that some people in science have a problem with religion is because they’re told that they can’t pursue science because that religious person has a problem with the science.

    To me, religion is as much of a tool as science in understanding our world. I’ve rejected religion as my own personal choice. Some people accept more, some people accept religion exclusively. What’s important is to think about what you believe, evaluate it, and understand it.

  35. evanescent permalink
    September 17, 2007 10:34 pm

    Hi Ordinary Girl, I don’t actually with everything you said there. If you make a claim about the natural world, you’re making a scientific claim.

    You’re right about science not being able to make supernatural claims but 1. religion rarely confines itself to explaining just the supernatural and 2. the supernatural is a meaningless explanation anyway.

    When it comes to discerning truth in the natural world, there is only one way to do that: science. Religion has nothing to offer in way of truth in the world around us. If you further suggest (as I would) that there is nothing meaningful apart from the natural world, you conclude that religion is left with nothing useful to say on anything!😉

    I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be religious or aren’t free to make their own choices, but let’s be clear about what we mean by facts and truth. That is, don’t equate them with comforting *beliefs*.

    (And if I’ve misunderstood you I apologise!)

  36. September 17, 2007 10:39 pm

    Bharath, I guess it is because there are no answers to those questions that so many people believe in the existence of God.

    Hi Ordinary Girl. That was a fresh perspective, all the more interesting because you write a lot about science on your blog. You said science cannot explain the supernatural…but don’t you think that those who do not believe in the supernatural will take the help of science to prove their point? As you recently wrote on your blog, even the ‘out of body’ experience is now proven to have a scientific reason. But many people for years thought it a supernatural experience.

  37. September 18, 2007 3:07 am

    Hi, Nita and thanks again for letting me know about my link! (I’ve updated it for good, I hope now.)

    When you try to explain the supernatural with science all you are able to explain is the natural world. The out of body experience article I wrote about was how scientists are able to make people feel like they’re having an out of body experience by tricking their brain. That’s not supernatural at all, but completely natural. There’s no need for a supernatural explanation if it can be explained naturally.

    I do think there’s still a lot to learn in that area and that may not explain everyone’s experience, but in my own experiences I believe there’s a natural explanation for everything I experience. I may never have an answer to everything and that’s OK. I’d rather say, “I don’t know,” then try to come up with an explanation I can’t ever test to see if it’s true.

    Evanescent, yes, it seems like we believe very similarly. Science is a tool, a method, and it can be used by anyone. Some people use religion instead. The end result is what people develop as their belief. I prefer to use science or at least critical thinking (and I don’t mean to imply that religious people don’t think) and questioning of everything around me. To me, that’s what’s important in life – to think and question and come out with something that I feel is the truth for now. But in the end even I know that my truth is only truth as far as the knowledge I’ve gained.

    In 300 years there will be so much more knowledge that my truth will probably look mythical. But that’s part of the never ending quest to understand our world. Stopping with knowledge from thousands of years ago to me is like putting on blinders. We learn through knowledge that we’ve accumulated and built upon over those thousands of years. To ignore the knowledge that is being built is like wearing blinders to me.

  38. Mate permalink
    September 18, 2007 1:04 pm

    Religious woule mean good moral character. It means your thoughts and action would not come in the way of others. It means honourable living that leads to actions sustainable for all huaman kind. A religious and spiritual man will always act and behaves based on sustainable principles of the earth planet.

  39. rednivarn permalink
    September 19, 2007 4:24 pm

    @Extra Ordinary Girl :
    To me religion is not a tool to understand our world – it is a tool used to make it worse.😉

    @Mate
    I read your thoughts – but politely think all these are good manners for a world citizen – where does religion fit in to that? Or is religion finding it difficult to survive w/out being associated with some thing that’s good?

    @Nita
    Do you plan to keep it open for ever? Just checking

  40. September 19, 2007 4:35 pm

    Hi Red, so far I have not closed comments for any post…though I have thought about it.
    One of the reasons is that often I get to a place where I want to comment but the comments are closed! So I thought even if a month down the line someone has something interesting to say, they should.
    I would like to stop when any post reaches 1000 comments though! One of my posts might near that, (the s india north india one) and I will close that.
    but usually this will not happen! As long as wordpress is not objecting, why not!

  41. evanescent permalink
    September 19, 2007 11:32 pm

    Mate said:

    Religious woule mean good moral character. It means your thoughts and action would not come in the way of others. It means honourable living that leads to actions sustainable for all human kind. A religious and spiritual man will always act and behaves based on sustainable principles of the earth planet.

    Unfortunately Mate, plenty of religious people don’t share your views. And as admirable as they are, they have nothing to do with religion.

    There is nothing to suggest that religious people act better than non-religious, and any good that you can glean from religion can be easily (and more honesty) gleaned from being non-religious.

  42. guqin permalink
    September 20, 2007 3:08 pm

    Hi all, here are some random thoughts come up while I was looking through the comments above. Hoping they are of some interests:

    1. Deny it or not, any reality is ultimately a spiritual one. As a thought experiment to demonstrate this: say, a mathematician who only believes in logic or a profitee who only believes in money, in the last five minutes in their death beds, they would not recollect their lives as how many mathematical theorems or how much money they have produced or made, instead, they will evaluate the worths of their lives. This is already a spiritual concern. That is, at the end of one’s life, inevitably and naturally, one is spiritual. People are religious because people are un-escapably spiritual. Science can challenge specific knownledges in a religion, but science can not challenge religion itself, because the scientific man is still spiritual.

    2. Organized religion is more a product of civilization but spirituality. Its secularity shifts it from its initial purpose. Ganghdi and Lao Zi (Daoism) all favored their countries returning to collection of small kingdoms (natural, humble, argricultural…) but united empires (big civilizations).

    3. The organizing of religion can occur in an individual’s mind too, which can lead to shortcomings too. The medium of this religional organizing is language (concepts, intellectuality and reason). For example, Karma, originally an insight and wisdom, but when it took rigid conceptual form in people’s mind, it may turn opposite to its initial worth as to liberate people, but to restrain them, like Nita said, people accepted all miseries without questioning them.
    Hence, Chan (Zen) Buddhism and Daoism reject langauge.

    4. Like some commentators mentioned above, people are tempted to mistake the two forms of organized religions in 2 and 3 for religion, and some question its necessity and its survival in the so-called modern world. But true religion is just formless spirituality which is what makes humanity meaningful. Religion will always be there.

    5. In main traditional Chinese view (at least since late Zhou dynasty), religion is ultimately formless and Godless, there is only the neutral, natural, universal Dao living. This view is at least good that no religion war was ever fought in China’s long history. Also because of this view of the universal, neutral, natural Dao, Chinese religion doesn’t seperate from science or other studies. For example, Daoism is perhaps the most responsible of scientific pratice in ancient China. Religion isn’t always opposite to science as it is in the west (I think this is because they are from two seperate origins, the Hebrew and the Greek.).

    And naturally, in this Chinese view , the supernatural is still natural. Actually I am a bit puzzled why it isn’t so in Indian view. Buddhism is in agreement with Daoism here, and Buddhism is from Hinduism. Any thoughts?

    6. Aso in Chinese view, the ultimate goal of spirituality is to realize the Dao (or the Truth in English language)), not meaning to understand it intellectually but to live it, then one’s behavior is naturally in accordence with the Dao. “Good moral behavior” as a principle is therefore only a menu for the ordinary men who haven’t realized the Dao yet. Therefore you could say intented “good moral behavior” is non-religious.

  43. guqin permalink
    September 20, 2007 3:42 pm

    Relation between science and religion can be quite cultural. After posting my last comment, I suddenly thought of the mathematician Ramanujan: Though learnt in an intellectually western environment, his mathematics still diverged from western mathematical tradition. Basically, his math was a collection of isolated original results which seemed very mysterious. They showed direct insights into deep mathematical truths but a construction of theory in attemp to explain anything at all. It is a bit hard to call this just a tool. It seems more like a consequense of some kind of spirituality.

  44. September 20, 2007 7:00 pm

    Gugin, about hindusism, one thing I can tell you and that is that hindusism has come a long way from what it originally was. it is actually a very spiritual way of reaching God and seeking the truth, but over the years it has become contaminated with rituals and dogma. however the good thing is that nothing is compulsory and an individual can seek his own path to God.
    In my opinion spirituality can help one live this life better, but not organized religion. Very often religion claims spirituality to be its own child, but not to my mind.

  45. guqin permalink
    September 20, 2007 10:57 pm

    Nita,
    Agree with you. Religion is the child of spirituality, not the other way around.

  46. September 21, 2007 8:15 pm

    Define spiritual? If it’s the emotions and feelings we have for people, then I can accept that. But those things are part of the natural world, not supernatural.

    Many people think that explaining our emotions through science cheapens it, but I don’t think it does. It makes me feel no less love for my husband to know it’s a chemical reaction happening in my brain than to think of it as a feeling.

  47. guqin permalink
    September 22, 2007 6:55 am

    Again, from the spiritual point of view, the supernatural is still natural.

    Spirituality can not be defined. What can be defined with language (concepts) is automatically intellectual. But A religion can be defined as a specific form of spirituality whem spirituality is given. This isn’t as confussing as it sounds. Say, the color red, no definitions can help the color blind to “understand’ it, one can give it wavelength, optics, eye and brain physiology, still no help.

    Science only describes but explains. The general format of science is: If X is true, then….(through logic)….Y is true. But the truth of X must be accepted. The effectiveness of science must be the biggest miracle in the past 200 years, as well as the validity of science the biggest myth.

  48. erica permalink
    September 22, 2007 9:26 pm

    Religion is an effort to organize spiritual thoughts. Spirituality is a qualification of a certain kind of thought, the one that seeks a personal understanding of things that science has not (yet) explained. These are questions that I never ask myself because there is no point, no way to understand. Reality, our life on earth, inequities, the destruction of the planet, wars…. these are the things I think about every day, looking for a way to affect change. The only challenge to this way of seeing the world? It’s to understand and accept that we are not reasonable. That is sometimes unbearable.

  49. raima permalink
    October 18, 2007 11:42 pm

    I believe charity is one way of asking god to forgive u for ur sins , made knowingly or unknowlingly. Religion is the faith inculbated in u from ur childhood. Religion and charity have nothing in common.Its a state of mind.

  50. chintu permalink
    May 16, 2013 1:45 pm

    whatever be the religion.humanity is the best religion of mankind.

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