Sep 28, 2012

Religion V.S. Vitality... Or Not: Part 1

By Wordsmith

Below is Part One of the “Religion V.S. Vitality…. Or Not “ series; this collection of articles discusses the ideas that revolve around whether or not religion enhances or debases the quality of an individual or society. While this first article may seem quite historically based, it is important to supplement an argument with evidence that is undeniable and relevant to the general public, which may very well be, in some cases, a history lesson. However, the coming articles of this series will be more logic, theory, or research-based; this portion aims to refute only a small but equally essential part of the debate.

In many contexts, spirituality is considered a very personal matter of choice that is to be respected by all and protected by law, as proclaimed by the Constitution of the Unites States of America; nevertheless, this fact does not keep faith from entering the sphere of debate and controversy. As can be witnessed by recent events of the country, such as the year’s presidential campaign, it is quite futile to attempt to segregate religion from permeating within the public arena. One of the sharpest angles from which faith and spirituality are examined would be the comprehensive effect of both such concepts on the vitality of man. The question is an essential one: does faith enhance or debase the quality of life? Of the latter perspective comes the idea that religion is a constituent of manipulation and evil, condoning violence and illogical conceptions in the mind of man, therefore leading people into misery and disunity that can otherwise be avoided. Contrary to this opinion, many conceptualize faith as an aspect of optimal positivity that serves to enhance the overall well-being of humans through a healthy mindset of certitude, accountability, and optimism; indispensable is the fact that spirituality is an abstraction that ubiquitously optimizes one’s frame of mind as well as actions.

Many of those who oppose the above statement pose a strong argument by pointing fingers at history, in terms of religion and its influence on various societies of the past. According to Charles Kimball, a professor of Religious Studies, “more wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history. The sad truth continues in our present day.(1)” Like Kimball, those who share his views argue that faith cannot possibly be an item of good service to mankind; differences over God’s commandments, His books, and His land have led to bloodshed and the absence of peace in the world, time and time again. Again, as it is argued, one can examine history for proof; from the Spanish Inquisition to the Crusades, the “Troubles” of the Catholics and Protestants, and the 9-11 tragedy, it may seem quite undeniable that religion is at fault for a significant number of bloody episodes of both past and present. (2) That being true, how can one so erroneously claim that spirituality factors into the well-being of man? Even George Washington concurs: “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated. (3)”

In one way, George Washington is absolutely correct: such animosity, regardless of its roots, must be eliminated completely. However, upon examining the context of the above mentioned “religious wars,” it must be noted that religion fails to be the root cause of the conflict and instead a disguise for more materialistic advantages to be gained incognito. Take, for example, the Spanish Inquisition that served as a preliminary step in the process of founding America. Declared a Christianizing mission by the royal family of Spain, the inquisition that lead to the termination of millions of Native Americans in a minimal period of time was morally justified as a motive to spread the way of Christ and save all from savagery and eternal damnation (4). In reality, however, there are two facts that disprove the claim of this colonial occupation disguised a religious war; being that the alleged murder of another soul and the coveting of “anything that belongs to [one’s] neighbor” are acts that defy the Ten Commandments, which serve as the rudimentary principles of the Christian faith, how can one make the claim that this war was religiously waged (5)? Moreover, the economic gains of such a political move only serve to fortify the proof that the Spanish conquest was dressed as a missionary war to justify un-Christian acts that would yield a supply to an ever-growing demand of eastern spices and land for the imperialistic West. 

This same approach can be measured against the “holy war” of September eleventh; according to a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer who served as the Bin Laden Unit Chief, Michael Scheuer relays that contrary to what the media has projected about Bin Laden’s motives to attack the U.S. being driven by Islamic beliefs, the truth falls far from that. In fact, according to Scheuer’s research, Bin Laden is driven by U.S. foreign policy that supports “[Israel, a Saudi police state, U.S. presence in the Arabian Peninsula, and military activities]” in various areas of the Middle East (6). The connotation of every political strategy greatly insinuates its true motives, as was proven above and therefore religion should not be given the credit of striking every match of war.

It makes perfect sense that religion become a scapegoat used to justify the most immoral and materialistic acts of history; what power of persuasion is easier than that which is claimed to be Divine? Yet what most do not realize is that spirituality is a tool, just as any other, that can be manipulated for good or evil. One can use their hands to create life by planting a seed, but they may also use those same hands to pull the trigger of a gun and end vitality; does this mean that the hands of humanity are evil and maleficent?

Needless to say, these facts are not sufficient to holistically affirm the correlation between wholesome spirituality and living a quality life. They only serve to disprove one of the most common arguments waged against religion and its purpose. In the following articles of this series, we will discuss the virtues of religion under a more minute and detailed scope. Be sure to post in the comments below if you would like to pose a counter-argument to the above mentioned concepts and contexts, as this will help us all keep an open mind as well as help form the progressing arguments within the rest of this series.

4: HB

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


i thought this article is very deep. prompts my mind to go into several places in thinking about religion and politics, that has always been a little controversial to talk about in the same topic.
I think if you can actually go deep, then we can think and act in ways concerning this topic out of intelligence rather than emotion.....keep writing.

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