The existence of religion seems as old as the human ability for imagination, and to formulate questions on the basis of our ability to have a sense of wonder. Some believe that humans had a start as apes and this ability developed through evolution. Others believe humans to have had a start as fully intelligent, conscious creatures specifically designed by a Creator. Instead of arguing over which group of thinkers is right, let’s peacefully accept the present reality. The present reality shows human beings to be capable of religious thought. Whether we choose to exercise it or not is a different matter. Individual aptitude for religion is also a different matter. The existence of the ability in humans for religious thought is undeniable. This is what we must use.
A propensity for religion
In terms of an inclination or having the ability for it, religion is very natural to the human mind. It is true, our world is turning more and more toward achievements of the physical kind. This does not have to in any way be considered a bad development. The physical comforts that have made possible through human ingenuity do not have to conflict with the human propensity for religion.
There are individuals who thrive on being single-minded. Their devotion to a particular task or idea leads them to excel in it. An imbalance develops in the lives of such individuals because they must sacrifice their time and energy to their chosen pursuits. We consider them abnormal, or unreasonable. This world has progressed because of its unreasonable individuals. We might disagree with the changes, wish that these had never taken place, but we cannot deny the power of religiosity in the single-minded pursuits of the change-bringers!
Other individuals have an ability to follow. They can carry forward the work done by the leaders. Among these followers, too, unless there is the existence of strong religious devotion, the movement cannot be sustained. So we do find religion – regardless of the subject of devotion – to be a reason for a change, if not even the desired progress.
There is no need to redefine religion
Religion is already a very comprehensive term. Its practical effect is very pervasive in human thought. The interesting thing is: Even when a person stands in opposition to ideas and beliefs that have grown to the proportions of an organized religion, the opposition itself can take the form of religion. It would seem that devotion to a singular idea or pursuit itself leads to the expression of religion in a human being.
Often times, it is difficult for a person to find a reason to be so devoted to a cause. Maybe there is nothing that absolutely captures a human’ interest. So many options exist before a person that he could be interested in many things, not devoting himself to a single cause. If there are general pursuits, the accomplishment of which can then diversify in expression, these can become reasons for religious devotion. We see this to be the case with technology, with money, the arts, music, and with power in general. These offer so much opportunity for each human being involved to bring out almost limitless innovation while still holding on to a specific interest.
Why will religion live on?
As long as a sense of wonder finds causes for devotion, religion will live on. It is bound to the world we live in. Our world, the humans in it, and what we have been able to learn produces endless cause for wonder. In all this wonder, each person can surely find some reason to be devoted to it. There are so many reasons to produce a sustained interest.
I believe, there is so much unnecessary human suffering. This too leads to religious investigation. There are answers a person can find that cannot be satisfactorily found in the limitations of a physical existence. It is desirable to have a physically comfortable existence, but it will not ever extinguish religious thinking. Even if all of the human sufferings can be removed, and we can somehow achieve perfect justice, religion will hold the answers to what we can only wonder about. Maybe our answers will be absolutely certain or have a finality, but the desire for spiritual inquiry cannot be removed from the human heart.