It's Lowell's Turn column: Give me something to believe in
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
Religion has always been an important part of life for nearly all cultures around the world. These beliefs not only help societies live together morally, but also give life purpose and meaning. In addition, they also answer many questions that simply cannot be answered any other way.
Lately, the word “religion” has become unpopular. I’m guessing it’s because it implies a strict code that most don’t want to follow, as well as the idea of blindly following traditions and participating in “outdated” ceremonies. Religion seems too constricting and limiting for people nowadays. We want to do our own thing – and doing your own thing is not compatible with traditional religion.
Many people say religion is dying. Reports tell us that fewer people are going to church or believe in God. I don’t doubt that is true, but I don’t think religion is dying. As a matter of fact, it seems to be more widespread than ever. But it’s a different kind of religion.
One of the basic components of any religion is the idea that it’s something you believe in unquestioningly. In other words, at some point you make a decision to believe and that you will continue to believe regardless of future evidence. Any challenges are then either ignored or squashed.
And so, in 2021 we find ourselves in a world overloaded with religions. Nearly everything has now become a religion, with followers who stubbornly believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. Facebook is full of people with their own faiths who are certain that they have it all figured out and that everyone else is damned and despised.
Think of any modern issue and you will find loads of people who have turned it into a religion. All the big issues, such as politics, the environment, climate change, racism, sexuality, social justice or COVID, have religious followers. they’ve decided what they believe and nothing or no one is going to change their mind.
So, the problem now is not that there is too little religion, but instead that there are too many religions. We believe in these things so strongly that they become unquestionable, despite the fact that they sometimes should be. Rather than being open minded and considering possibilities and alternatives that could lead to solutions, we create a dogma that is unchanging and unchallengeable. Then we demand change that fits in with our own religious view.
This becomes a problem because unlike traditional religion, we have no Ten Commandments to guide us. In other words, it’s every man for himself, with no guiding principles beyond what each individual believes to be true and important. Obviously, this leads to nothing but disagreements and fighting.
Faced with this problem, some people have turned to science as the master religion and source of truth.
But that doesn’t work either. Science is simply worthless for answering many important questions in life. And even for the things it can legitimately address, it was never meant to be unchallenged and unchanging. Real science has very little room for absolutes. Instead it is constantly being updated and tested.
As a result, whenever you hear someone appeal to science as a source of ultimate truth in a disagreement, you can be pretty sure that there will be no real science anywhere nearby. In fact, you can be fairly certain that you are instead dealing with a religion and that the person has no interest in actual science other than as a perceived way to win the argument.
It could legitimately be pointed out that all traditional religions have much in common with these new religions, in that they are based on unquestioned faith. I guess all I can say is that if we don’t believe in God or a higher power, or even the idea that any person or group should have authority over us, then one religion is as good as another.
If that’s the case, then we should at least be clear that we believe we are god and can create our own reality.
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.