Monday, January 23, 2017

Why Are There So Many Religions In The World

If you have the view that the world as it is was predetermined and there is nothing that we can do about it, you would have to admit it is rather odd that there are so many religions in the world.

When people think of religions, they may think that there are about five religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. These are often considered the main religions. Yet how many people practice Judaism? 

There are about five million Jews living in Israel and there is unlikely to be more than fifteen million Jews outside of Israel.  In fact, the worldwide estimates for Jews puts their number between around 14 million to possibly 18.5 million. The following are the estimates for the top twenty-one countries.

Enlarged 18,437,400
 United States
       5,400,000 - 6,800,000
 European Union
United Kingdom

World Religious Adherents
The following chart shows the top nineteen largest followings of religions. Secularism includes atheism, agnosticism.

2.200   million
1.800   million
1.100   million
1.000   million
Chinese traditional religion
   394    million
   376    million
Ethnic religions not mentioned
   300    million
African traditional religions
   100    million
     23    million
     19    million
     15    million
     14    million
       7    million
       4.2 million
       4    million
Cao Dai
       4    million
       2.6 million
       2     million
       1     million[ii]
We can see that there may appear to be some discrepancy in the numbers, but they are estimates. Judaism in the second chart is estimated at 14 million, where in the previous chart we have a slightly lower estimate and a larger estimate. Regardless of the fact that the figures are a little rubbery, this does give us an idea of the beliefs people have in the world. The so-called Abrahamic religions numbering over half the world’s population at just over 4 billion adherents. Secularism is the surprise figure with 1.1 billion adherents. Buddhism also surprises figuring a lower number of adherents than what it is usually claimed. This is because many people mix traditional Chinese religion and the population of Japan in with its numbers to give it a heuristic 1 billion adherents.

Using  Fear
The reason there are so many religions is because people are able to think and those seeking positions of power have been able to control the ignorant by using fear.  Fear is very much a feature of most religions. Roman Catholicism has used fear to control people since the time of Constantine. Islam is a religion of fear and nothing else. Hinduism is another religion where fear predominates as good works are promoted in order to progress in the cycle of reincarnation. Buddhism promotes the avoidance of suffering and this entails fear. Witch doctors and shamans use fear to control people. In fact, the fear of hell permeates all religions, except Hinduism and secularism. Hinduism has no hell, unless we want to call being reborn into the lowest of creatures and then being tormented in the next life on Earth, hell. Secularism does not believe there is any life outside the one we live now.

Positive Aspects of Religion
Within all the religions there is the recognition that goodness exists. Goodness is found in kindness, generosity, graciousness, positive attitudes, personal esteem, integrity, righteousness, virtue and charity. This recognition of goodness plays a major part within religion and those who practice doing what is good find more favor than those who do evil. Secularism likes to major on the goodness of being human, with humanism being a synonym for secularism.

Quest for the Truth
The underlying reason there are so many religions is that true religion is neither a faith nor a system of thought nor beliefs, but a quest for the truth. However, we could say that we are born at zero and we have to arrive at 100 to be a hero. Like the game of snakes and ladders, each one of us to discover how to get past the pitfalls of life and overcome death and its cause, if we are to be set free by the truth.

Snakes and Ladders
The game of snakes and ladders is an apt analogy for the quest for the truth. This is because the Bible tells us that a snake (the serpent) deceived the first woman and brought about the fall of man. In doing this, God was challenged and events took on a trajectory into the future that were not intended originally. Instead, a righteous God was forced into a position where he had to work with the freewill of men and women and bring about justice for all concerned.

Justice is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, justice provides compensation for those who suffer loss, while on the other, it requires retribution for injustices committed.

As it turns out, the Bible tells us that the first snake decided to invite other angels to join him. These angels left their positions of responsibility and became poisonous snakes too. The reason they are poisonous snakes is they seek to cause people to self-destruct by violating the laws of righteousness (i.e. sin), rejecting God and worshiping the fallen angels. This is why snakes and ladders is all about getting the victory over the snakes to find one’s own place in the plan and purpose of God.

Religion comes about because the recognition of the existence of opposing ideas such as good and evil, love and hate, peace and fear, joy and anger, happiness and suffering, right and wrong, true and false, justice and injustice, life and death, hope and futility.

Two Types of Religion
There are two types of religion. Personal religion is the quest for the truth. Organized religion is the quest to control the masses by those who want to rule.

Disregarding organized religion and considering personal religion, then we are all of a quest to find our roots and establish our true connection with our Heavenly Father. How we do this depends on a number of factors. The more serious we are in seeking the answers for our existence, the more earnest we will be. If we recognize that we are not seeking personal gratification but the truth, then we will not rest until we have discovered it.

The way to the truth is where most people get caught out. This is because like the game of snakes and ladders there are many snakes that want to prevent us from finding the truth, even if we have begun to align our thinking and our ways towards knowing the source of life, because this is our heartfelt desire.

Only Person To Truly Rise From The Dead
Jesus of Nazareth is the only person in history of whom it is attested that He has risen from the dead.  People mock this and point to other fables that are recorded about people rising from the dead. Only we do not have any religion today where the originator rose from the dead with adherents claiming that they have met the one who has been raised, except for those who claim to have had an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Apart from the fact He was crucified an innocent man and rose from the dead, what is significant about Lord Jesus Christ is He clearly stated that not only He is the Way, but also that He is the Truth, and He is the Life.  Acknowledging the futility of being born to die, the desire for justice, and the recognition of personal responsibility, are three basic elements inherent within religion, or any quest for ultimate truthestablishing the existence of eternal life and the purpose of existence.

Different Views Among Christians
Even among people who call themselves Christians, who begin to look to God and desire to find the truth that will enable them to enjoy life forever, there are many different views. Looking to God is the beginning of discovering the way.

Unfortunately, the snakes want to divert our thinking, and they will do whatever they can to cause us to accept a falsehood as truth. Because of this, within Christendom (a better term for Christianity), the kingdoms of the world that like to identify with the sayings of Jesus establishing, we find many organizations that acknowledge Jesus but in different ways. Some say Jesus was a great man. Others say Jesus was a prophet sent from God (Islam and Judaism acknowledge this but not His resurrection. Then there are those people who acknowledge Jesus' death for the sins of the world and His resurrection.

The Narrow Way
The way back to the Father of Creation is a road for many is a windy road (up hill and down vale) that suffers potholes, sinkholes, and landslides, and requires a do or die earnestness on the part of the seeker if the truth is to be found.  When we consider this, and the fact that we have adversaries intent on our destruction, we can begin to understand why there are so many expressions of religion in the world. For as Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, when on Earth:
 “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 World English Bible)
In the book of Proverbs, speaking about wisdom personified in the Eternal Son of God, we have this instruction:
I walk in the way of righteousness, in the middle of the paths of justice; (Proverbs 8:20 World English Bible)
Heart For Justice
If we have a heart for justice, we will desire the truth more than flattery of men and the lies of the evil one. However, those who love justice, need to find it for themselves first, before they can help others. This is true religion: the pursuit of justice. You did not ask to be born. You did not ask to suffer. You did not ask to die.

Those who use religion as a means of deception to confuse, delude and reign over you, are not of God, but from the devil. The devil is the god of this world. If the Devil can have many religions to bring about his purpose to thwart the will of God, then like the snakes in game of Snakes and Ladders, every time the Evil One can get his fangs into your thinking, he will drag you down, and, if possible, even create a new religion using you. This is why there are so many religions.

However, Jesus is the Way, the truth and the Life. Besides Lord Jesus Christ, there is no other.

No comments:

Post a Comment