Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Everyone is Religious.

 Religion is the basic human experience. The only reason one may not think so is because they are not aware of the underlying assumptions we have of the world.

Most people who live in our culture think of religion as something resembling Christianity. They think it involves worshiping supernatural or divine deities and adhering to strict behavioral and moral codes. While many religions do have these traits, the basic underlying definition, “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe” (dictionary.com) is broad enough to encompass all humans. Who doesn’t have beliefs pertaining to the cause nature and purpose of the universe? Atheism, agnosticism, and scientism, although considered to be irreligious, are very religious. Why? Because they have beliefs about what is the cause and nature of the universe. One might object and mention that someone like an agnostic or an atheist has no faith/belief in anything. But they do. For instance, an atheist affirms that there is no such thing as god. Atheism is: (1) a stern belief that god doesn’t exist and that the universe was not created by (2) a faith that there is no god and never will be any god (3) the belief that the purpose of the universe is not determined by a god. As one can see, atheist has its own beliefs and assumptions.



But one can argue and point out that the atheist got his information through empirical scientific findings, not tradition and/or scripture. While this is true we must ask: what makes empiricism a more valid way of getting knowledge? (This happens to be scientism’s main belief/faith) If what makes empiricism valid is the fact it deals with the sensory realm we can all experience, we must acknowledge that there is no empirical evidence for this assumption. That is, there is no empirical fact that tells us that empiricism is the only valid way of receiving knowledge. Scientists favor empiricism because they intuitively feel it to be the best way of gathering data, yet there is no experiment or test which will objectively tell them that empirical knowledge is the only valid knowledge. This feeling that empiricism is the only valid way of obtaining knowledge is the underlying assumption that is taken for granted.



The same thing goes with agnosticism. It claims to be “unsure”-this is the cornerstone of the belief system. Agnostics sternly believe that it is impossible or unnecessary to know about god. This assumption, no matter how reasonable it may be, is still an assumption that is no more valid then the assumption that one can know about god.



Thus, we are all religious because we have belief systems about the universe (no matter how insignificant one may feel them to be) which are derived from the underlying assumptions we have about the world. And these assumptions are inherently all equal to each other (some may being more useful in precise circumstances and for particular people, based on what they understand as useful). Nevertheless all these assumptions, Christian, atheist, logical positivist (scientism), etc, all are of equal weight and should be seen as so. Religion is what makes us human. The fact that we all come up with ideologies about the universe is central to our everyday experience. Therefore religion is the basic human experience. We are all religious.