Over the past century, our society has advanced more than the previous thousand years. We can now do things that were science fiction 100 years ago. Our society has learned so much and become exponentially “more advanced” in virtually every way at a pace that is unprecedented in all of history. We understand so much more about how our earth and stars work that it has allowed us to look at our creation and place in the world in an entirely different light. Our logical minds have begun to overtake our faith and mystery of our existence in that we now either understand everything or are very close to a scientific explanation of everything, and this has created an interesting phenomenon with regards to religion. In the early 1900’s, less than 1% of all Americans answered “no” to the question of “Do you believe in god?”. In 2019, that number is up ten-fold to around 11% of the population, that’s over 30 million people. This is a startling statistic considering how ubiquitous the role of various religions has been throughout history. Virtually every ancient structure we have unearthed, including the great pyramids and Machu Picchu were the result of a deep-seated religious ethos of the people that built them as either a gateway to heaven or tribute to god. Virtually every culture in history has structured their society with religion in mind and to a large degree lived their lives to serve their god. While the particular god itself has varied, the underlying message of all religion is shockingly similar.
This is now all changing. Science has advanced to offer an alternative explanation to many of history’s mystery’s and these explanations often drastically contradict religious text. Many of the stories in the bible and other religious texts now defy we learned to be possible over the past century, and we are questioning our religion in its entirety at an exponential rate. This isn’t a defiant choice people are making, but a fundamental inability to make logical sense of something in the face of so much evidence to the contrary, and we in turn don’t know what to believe.
Science has done a phenomenal job of explaining so much about how we evolved, how the world works and how our bodies get sick and stay healthy that it has been a boon to the advancement of civilization. But is this necessarily a good thing? One thing science doesn’t help with is giving life purpose and a manner in which to live our lives and relate with our fellow man and woman. The overwhelming downside of losing belief in religion is that with it our moral compass is left without a north pole. If there is no god to fear, there is no reason to abide by the tenets of religion, and we can then do whatever we want in the moment.
Our religious belief, if nothing else, tells us with the proper way to live our lives. With how to treat our fellows, how to act when things go wrong and how to keep centered and on the right path in life. It tells us how to act in order to live a happy and purposeful existence. Religion gives us faith in a better future and it gives us hope when things go wrong. It helps comfort us through tragedy’s and keeps us centered when things go well. Because of this, there is tremendous benefit to following religion. Without religion or some similar set of rules to live by, we are much like a boat with no rudder.
So how can we make sense of all this? How can we believe in religion and in turn give our lives purpose despite what we now know from a scientific standpoint? The answer is redirecting our eyes to see god. We are caught up in the literal meaning of god and seeing an invisible man in the sky, but that’s not where we will find him.
The thing about the stories in the bible is despite thousands of years passing, the moral implication of the stories remain true and timeless. Perhaps this is the takeaway from religion. Religion was meant to be a moral guide. It is all about our dealings with other people and nothing else. With that said, maybe we are looking at god wrong entirely. According to the bible, we are all gods’ children. We were all created in the image of god. In other words, human beings are the physical manifestation of god on earth. Maybe god in an idea, or an abstract as opposed to an actual being. The way we are to live religious and meaningful lives is how we interact and deal with his children. You get closer to god by getting closer to your fellow man and women. Helping man, treating them with respect and making yourself useful in society is how you live a religious life even if you have trouble with the literal iteration of religion.