Report on the Religious Life of Planet Earth
In the recent past, I had the opportunity to visit the planet Earth to explore whether its residents are religious or not. In doing so, I had to have a clear definition of what constitutes religion. To me religion is a set of beliefs, values systems that guide behavior among the adherents (Nye, 2008). In addition, religion must have a connection to a deity or the supernatural forces that guide the affairs of the people. In this manner, religion can only be understood if people accept something that is beyond rational thinking. To my amazement, I discovered there many religious organizations whose beliefs and values varied greatly. However, most of them believed in a supernatural being that controlled all creation. The main religious groups were Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists (Haddad, Smith & Esposito, 2003). These groups have sacred writings, which they attribute to the creator. However, it is only Christianity which seems to have many religious sects, but all had a divine allegiance to someone they called their savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Muslims believe in Mohammed. The other religions also have their prophets as well.
How to know that the People on Earth are Religious
To determine whether people were religious or not, I had to devise a criteria that was measured across the whole planet. I observed the narratives from the people as well as institutionalized nature of the groups. I chose the main religious groups, which represented the majority of the Earth’s population. I visited many places across the planet to gauge the groups’ activities in line with my criteria. For instance, I found that most groups had social institutions where they converged for prayers and reading from the holy books (Bouma, 2006). Christians met in Churches every Sunday, while Muslims converged in Mosque every Friday (Bouma, 2006). The most dominant religion in Europe, America, and Australia is Christianity. In Asia, Muslims are the majority. Indeed, the social institutions and meetings by each groups fulfilled one of my criteria.
Behaviors and Beliefs that Supported the Criteria
During the tour, I came across several behaviors and beliefs that matched criteria of explaining whether the Earth was religious or not. Indeed, there was commonality between the various religious groups that I observed. As explained earlier, there are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. These groups had unique rituals that supported their belief systems. For instance, during a certain month, the Muslims observe a solemn fast in honor of their prophet Mohammed. During the Holy Month, they share food with the poor and the needy. On the other hand, Christians also have holy days (Bouma, 2006). For instance, around April, they celebrate Easter. The Christians carry a cross, which is sacred as it connects them to their savior. They claim that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. They drink wine and eat bread to commemorate the blood and the body of their savior. These rituals connect them to their prophets and the supernatural.
Secondly, I discovered among the Christians that there are different sects with different teachings. Sects follow certain fundamental doctrines, which they belief represent God’s will. This they say is according to their holly writ, the Bible. For instance, Catholic priests do not marry, which they claim is a good example of Jesus Christ. The Catholics also carry a cross, which they put on their neck. They claimed is what their savoir meant when he said each believer should carry his or her own cross. These behaviors indicate a concerted effort in following their savoir. Lastly, each of these groups had a unique day within the week when they assembled together, sand songs, and received instructions from their religious leaders. Some Christians meet on Saturdays and others on Sundays to offer prayers and praises. On the other hand, Muslims meet of Fridays to offer payers and read from the Koran (Bouma, 2006). These behaviors and rituals meet my criteria of connecting to the deity beyond rational thinking.
The Functional Purpose of Religion on the Planet Earth
One thing that clearly struck me while on Earth was the ways in which religion dictated life on the planet. For instance, I saw that religion was critical in maintaining morality among the people on Earth (Ferraro & Andreatta, 2009). Each religious faith has moral tenets that must be adhered to by all members. In addition, I saw that religion was paramount in creating harmony, teamwork and collaboration in handling societal issues (Ferraro & Andreatta, 2009). For instance, Muslims and Christians joined hands in one country called Kenya to preach peace and co-existence among the various communities after a disputed election. In addition, religion is used to teach people concerning their origin as well as their destiny. Therefore, each member is expected to respect each other because they are sojourners on Earth.
Distinct Ways of Understanding Religion
Religion is also seen in a relativism manner. Apart from theologians, there are also atheists who do not believe in a supernatural being. This group carries similar beliefs espoused by evolutionists (Stewart, 2009). Scientists and moral relativists regurgitate similar sentiments concerning religion. Both camps have beliefs that are in conflict with mainstream religious groups. They do not celebrate holy days and believe that no religious group is superior to the other. Curiously, these people have a notion of a superior force behind creation (Stewart, 2009). Evolutionists could not fully explain why evolution is not happening nowadays. However, religious people seemed to have a complete explanation of origin and the end of life on the planet Earth.
Bouma, G. (2006). Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ferraro, P. G. & Andreatta, S. (2009). Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective. New York: Cengage Learning
Haddad, Y. Y., Smith, I & Esposito, J. L. (2003). Religion and Immigration: Christian, Jewish and Muslim Experiences in the United States. Walnut Creek, CA: Rowman Altamira.
Nye, M. (2008). Religion: The Basics. New York: Routledge.
Stewart, Y. M. (2009). Science and Religion in Dialogue, Two Volume Set. New York: John Wiley & Sons.