Believing Something

People who say they believe in nothing has always been a puzzle to me. Believing in nothing is, in fact, believing in something.

The simple fact there are a dozen major religions in the world is evidence enough to me we humans need religion, a faith, to survive. The human spirit, or psyche, needs faith in something just to get through our daily tasks, to struggle through life itself. There is no question in my mind this is a simple fact.

Religion, a faith in an Almighty, provides us all with guideposts, the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, to name two. There are many more, depending upon the one of 11 major faiths to which you subscribe. “What the Great Religions Believe”, by Joseph Gaer, 1963, Signet Books, describes the major “living” religions in reasonable detail. I used this small compilation alongside my Bible, while attempting to answer the multitude of questions posed by my high school Sunday School classes over the years. It is recommended reading for those who truly want to understand others.

For educational purposes, here is how the major religions stack up, not listed in order:

Christianity: 2.1 billion: Islam: 1.5 billion; Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion; Hinduism: 900 million; Chinese traditional religion: 394 million; Buddhism: 376 million; primal-indigenous: 300 million; African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million; Sikhism: 23 million; Juche: 19 million; Spiritism: 15 million; Judaism: 14 million; Baha’i: 7 million; Jainism: 4.2 million; Shinto: 4 million; Cao Dai: 4 million; Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million; Tenrikyo: 2 million; Neo-Paganism: 1 million; Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand; Rastafarianism: 600 thousand; Scientology: 500 thousand.

Christianity, by any measure responsible for the creation of the United States of America, is the faith of approximately one-third of mankind. Christianity, too, like most other religions, has divisions–Catholic, Presbyterian, Missionary, Methodist, etc. In general, though, the different divisions get along well together, believing in one single proposition. Islam, that with the largest number of followers, do not get along well together. There are various sects, tribes, and the like posing internal strife among those who follow the faith.

In my view, the connection between Christians and Jews is simple to understand. Loosely interpreted, Judaism (the religion of the prophets) focuses in the Old Testament of the Bible, while Christianity concentrates on the New Testament. Jesus Christ, the centerpiece of Christian belief, was a Jew, so the relationship between these two major religions, to me, is quite simple. In my opinion, it is the reason the United States and Israel are closely allied.

Fractionalization is, I believe, the root cause of discord between those of the Islamic faith and other beliefs. Further, it is a centuries old conflict within the single Islamic faith. Modern goals of getting along together is, by and large, not a manifestation of Islam. The conflict within the faith is, in my opinion, part and parcel of the clear distaste for Western cultures, and will not easily, if ever, be resolved.

So, it remains for those of us with an abiding faith in an Almighty, a reason for living, to refocus and steadfastly stand in the forefront, defending against the attack on religion in America.

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