A New Religion
All over the world, religion is a very influential aspect of human lives. There are countless religions, including sects and cults, and, although they may have parallelism, each is different from the other. Each has its strong points and weaknesses. There is no one religion existing today that can be said to be absolutely true or correct. Our objective is not to challenge existing and established beliefs, but to incorporate the strong points from different religion and to diminish, if not to eliminate, its flaws. It is to our purpose here to create a new religion—a religion that can be said perfect.
In the creation of a new religion, it is important to look as to why, in the first place, do we have a need of religion. Although religions around the world have diferrences, they have a common purpose. They attempt to aswer questions that could otherwise not be answered through the context known to the physical world. Anthropologist professor Clifford Geertz said:
“Man’s religion is the most fundamental of his meaning systems because it is one which provides an answer to the most puzzling and basic questions of the existence itself… Without religion, that is to say without a basic meaning system, it is not merely that man cannot interpret the meaning of problems like death and suffering and unexpected events but he finds himself threathened with an uninterpretable universe. Without religion, interpretability collapses and man is immersed in chaos (Greeley, 15-16).
The most basic of these questions, and perhaps the most difficult to answer, is “Why are we here?”, the very reason of our existence. Most believe that life has a purpose. The idea that life has a purpose adds to the hope or belief that life has a worth all its own, that human lives have meaning. It is suffice to say that life without purpose is worthless or meaningless. The purpose of human lives, not just of the individual, but in relation to everyone else, is the basis of religion. We shall begin, then, the creation of a new religion with this basis.
Life’s purpose, in some religion like Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, is to serve or to seek the pleasure of a higher authority, a sort of god. The worship of god or gods is one of the principal concepts of religion. The question as to why we are here may be answered by the belief of a god. For those believers, the god is an all-powerful being and the creator and that a god has created them and it is the creator’s purpose for them to join in the creator’s glory. Often, the god or gods is otherworldly. A person is qualified to join the creator’s glory depending on how well a person performs in this physical world. The belief of a god or gods, however, is not entirely universal. As we go along, we shall see if there is a necessity of a belief in god or gods in this new religion. We shall, in the meantime, set our purpose to a less complicated one.
My life has a purpose. My purpose in life is to be happy. Almost everyone, if not everyone, wants to be happy. Some gain happiness through personal pleasure, and others gain it by making some other happy. In any case, happiness is the ultimate goal of life. Being happy makes this life worth living. Thus, it is only natural to come up with a religion that would lead us all to happiness.
How, then, do we achieve happiness? For most, happiness comes from pleasure and the elimination of sufferring. It isn’t easy enough to obtain pleasure but the elimination of suffering poses a greater challenge. Life is full of suffering: hunger, anger, envy, jealousy, pain and death are some of them. This comes up to another question: “why do we suffer and how can we avoid suffering?”
In many religion, sufferings are tests by the gods. A person will please the gods if the person performs well during these tests and will be rewarded. In Christianity, people see suffering is given by God to test the faith of believers. It further teaches that man should endure suffering just as Christ, the Son of God, suffered for the sake of the world to join Him in the glory of God. Here is another point wherein the worship of god can influence religion.
It is a central teaching in Buddhism that suffering is part of human lives and is caused by the craving for pleasure, which can never be satisfied, and can be avoided by extinguishing this craving so that no passion and desire remains. This will not fit to our purpose of being happy since, one must admit that having some form of pleasure is essential to happiness.
That people are different from each other and the fact that we live in the world where resources are limited, however abundant, maybe some of the reasons why there is suffering. There is hunger because food is limited, anger because not everyone agrees with one another all the time, envy because not everyone can have what another has. That is why there are rules or guides set to settle the differences of individuals within a society. Here we come upon the concept of values, that of which is right or wrong, good or evil. One might ask why there is a need to settle the differences when one can live life for one’s own interests without regard for others. The answer is fairly simple: there would be chaos. Besides, as the famous philosopher Aristotle once said, “man is a social animal”.
Although every individual has their own set of values, every individual is also a member of a society. The society set standards of human acts that has been agreed upon and all those who would want to join that society should agree with those standards. “The values of the group are not only higher than those of the individual, they are genuinely ultimate and universal” (King, 68). These standards of human acts form the values of the society.
Although values are originally social by nature, religion has also set standards for human acts based on the social values, as religion professor Irvin King stated, “Religious acts and ideas are themselves an organic part of the activities of the social body” (88). In most religion, these values act as guides to guage the goodness in a person. In the making of this new religion, we will have to set values that should have to be agreed by those who would want to join this new religion. These values, of course, would eventually lead to happiness and to the diminish, or eliminate, human suffering.
In Christianity, believers are guided by what they call acts of mercy. In Buddhism, believers are guided by the Eight-Fold Path. Many are guided by religion to proper conduct. In many religion, goodness is often rewarded and would eventually lead to the ultimate purpose of happiness.
People often respond to their personal needs first. They seek out pleasure and success, wealth and fame, power and glory. The question lies not if we could achieve these or not but on how we are able to achieve. It has been said that if we work hard on something we could achieve it. We will, therefore, include industry and diligence to our new religion’s set of values.
In some religions like Islam, people are asked to donate a portion of their income. In Christianity, people often give alms. People donating a portion of their income or acts of charity display the value of sharing. By sharing, we respond to the needs of those who have less in life and dimish their suffering. That people will strive to satisfy their needs first is reason why it is sometimes difficult to be generous. It is true that people’s cravings cannot be satisfied. Greed and lust are human nature. Eliminating our cravings is not the solution since it is impossible, in the first place, to share something of which you don’t have. It is enough to control our cravings through discipline. We negate greed with acts of charity and generosity. In the new religion we will include the values of discipline and generosity to gauge goodness.
There are too many values that we can incorporate into the new religion. Sadly we cannot enumerate them all here. In most religion, the values are often guided by a sacred text and we would have to create one to complete the set of values for the new religion.
My life is not worthless. I am not alone and I do not live alone. My worth is proven when I have stood by my purpose and alleviate others to achieve the same purpose. One’s worth is not given by its own but by the approval of others, as according to King, “the reenforcement of one’s sense of worth gains by the agreement of other minds is certainly of the greatest importance” (68). This is also consistent with the humanistic view that the happiness of the individual is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity as a whole because we find meaning in relationships. With this, life now will have a new purpose: to be happy and to make others happy.
In religions like Hinduism and Sikhism, a person is rewarded or punished in the next life depending on the goodness or wrongdoings committed by the person during that person’s lifetime. We now come across another concept: that of birth and rebirth, or reincarnation. The concept of reincarnation eliminates death as cause of suffering. The ultimate purpose of Hinduism is to escape the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth, which can be achieved eventually through pure acts, and reach enlightenment. In Christianity, the elimination of death is further simplified by the belief in the resurrection of the body, in which every person will be judged at the end of time. All those that has done good will join in the glory of God and those that are evil will be punished in eternal flame. In both religion, we see that death will no longer exist after the ultimate purpose has been achieved. Once again, we see the influence of a belief in god in the pursuit of happiness and the elimination of suffering. We also see the context of which values are necessary in religion.
The advantage of having a concept of reincarnation is that each has another chance at life, in case wherein one fails to achieve, in the pursuit of happiness which we have already established must include the happiness or well-being of others. To those that do not belive in reincarnation, there is only one chance to prove their worth. For them, there is no second chance which means they must perform well to achieve their purpose or fail. The advantage is that each will strive really hard and will not desire to make mistakes. Not to say that those who believes in reincarnation has desire to make mistakes since they will be given another chance, but it is a matter of fact that the desire not to make mistakes is beneficial to everybody. For those who believes in an all-powerful god who is the creator of all, failure in the fulfillment of purpose would contradict their beliefs—how can a god be all-powerful if that god make failures? This means that for god to be all-powerful, each must be successful.
We have already established that religion is supposed to find an answer to those we don’t have one. We also see that we can find the answer to almost every question with the idea of a god. We find purpose through the existence of a god, we find reason for suffering and reason to endure it through god.
The idea that god exists seems a convenient way of answering questions the world doesn’t have any answer to. There is no way for us, however, to prove the existence of a god. The inclusion of a worship of god just because of convenience and not on a factual basis maybe ill-conceived. However, it is easier to believe that something is true to justify our purpose to be happy and to give meaning to our lives than to search for meaning with nothing to hold on to. Besides, according to King, the idea of a god “does not come from man’s attempt to give a scientific description of the world, but expresses rather the keenness with which he feels his personal relation to the general order of existence” (263). We shall, therefore, decide to include the worship of God in our religion.
My life has meaning. The meaning of life is a subject of much debate. Oftentimes, the meaning of life is analogous to its purpose or worth. It is safe to suppose that our lives become meaningful when we have proven our wothiness to it. In this sense, the meaning of our lives is the value of achieving the purposes to which we have dedicated ourselves into, that is, to be happy and to make others happy.
We now conclude this with the specifics of the new religion. In our religion, God is the creator of all. He is kind and just, all-powerful and merciful God. God created us to glorify Him and wants us to live happy. In the end, God wishes for us to join Him in His Glory where everyone could be happy. God gives us tests so we can prove that we are worthy to join Him in His Glory. Sufferings are part of God’s tests. Since all was created by God, all can be worthy to join Him in His Glory. Everyone is given all the chance to prove their worth. Since God is all-powerful and wants us to be happy, God also wants us to be successful in proving our worth and in our pursuit of happiness. Since God is merciful, those that have not proven their worth in a given lifetime will be given another chance at rebirth until finally one has proven its worth. Since God is just, He rewards the good and punishes the evil. Death is the end of one’s lifetime. In death we are judged if we have proven our worth. We are proven worthy if we help others achieve the greatest happiness while enduring our sufferings. The meaning of our lives can be found on how we have helped others achieve the greatest happiness. We can find the greatest happiness if we find a place in the glory of God. We are guided by a sacred text to achieve the greatest happiness.
Greeley, Andrew M. Jesus the Myth. New York: Doubleday, 1971
King, Irving. The Development of Religion: A Study in Anthropology and Social Psychology. New York: Macmillan, 1910