Benefits of Religion

Given all the problems with religion we have discussed in the previous blogs, why should we take religion seriously?  There are several reasons.

First, the historians Will and Ariel Durant state:  “Even the skeptical historian develops a humble respect for religion, since he sees it functioning, and seemingly indispensable, in every land and age”. [1]  Religion has provided answers to humans about the ultimate questions of life for ages so it must offer something to humans for it to remain such an important aspect of our lives.

Second, the validity of our religious institutions is demonstrated by the experiences of people around the world.  Trueblood states “the only evidence that can stand alone, or nearly alone, is. . .empirical evidence”. [2]  Empirical evidence is defined as: “depending upon experience or observation alone”.  Our observations tell us that our religious institutions crystallize the first hand experience of millions of people over the ages and around the world who believe in the existence of God and the values he wants us to hold.  Are all these people suffering from delusions; are they mentally unbalanced? [3]  It would be absurd to make such a statement.  The truth is that religion works.

Third, C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man makes the argument objective values are built into the structure of our universe, just as certain physical laws such as gravity constitute the makeup of our physical universe.   The religions of the world recognize these natural values and have incorporated them into their teachings.  In the appendix Lewis lists several of these values:  Duties to parents, elders, ancestors, children, and posterity; justice, good faith, veracity, mercy, and magnanimity.  These natural laws, or the Tao as Lewis calls them, provide a common law of action that governs ruler and ruled alike.  “A dogmatic belief in objective values is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.” [4]

Lewis maintains there is no example of a person who has acquired power and stepped outside the Tao who has used that power benevolently. [5]  The reason is because if a person steps outside the Tao, they have no basis on which to make decisions other than their own pleasure.  Any one who has studied the human condition recognizes that our tendency is to be selfish and we are not much bothered if our gain is someone else’s loss.  To combat this tendency, all religions teach us some form of the Golden Rule.

Fourth, after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, where did people go to find meaning in these seemingly meaningless and horrific events?  Did they flock to governmental buildings, did they mass at our scientific institutions, did they meet at our business centers, did they inquire at our educational institutions?  Absolutely not!  If people want to know about the ultimate meaning of life, if they need instruction on the values we should hold, they know where to turn and that is to our religious institutions.

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[1]   Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (New York:  Simon and Schuster, 1968), p. 43.

[2]   David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row, 1963), p. 220.

[3]   Ibid., pp. 216-217.

[4]   C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (New York:  HarperSanFrancisco, 1974), p. 73.

[5]   Lewis, p. 66.

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2 Responses to Benefits of Religion

  1. Hira says:

    I am Ostranuel Senior Pastor of the Revival & Miracles Center Monrovia-Liberia West Africa I read your ministry and beviele in what you are doing how can I be part of it or attend any of your conference.thanks His servant.

    • admin says:

      I do not hold any conferences and have not given any talks. The purpose of this blog is to raise questions about our Christian faith that have not been adequately addressed by the Christian community. Hopefully raising these questions will prompt a discussion that will help us resolve these issues. If you have any ideas to contribute to this discussion, I would be happy to post them.

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