Do you believe in magic?
According to Adherents, there are over 4,000 faiths and spiritual movements in the world today. So, what is a religion? Some would say it is a type of magic. While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, defines it as a "[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in people by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and giving these conceptions an aura of factuality that seem uniquely realistic."
Religions have stories, figures, legends and divine tales that are intended to give purpose to life or to reveal the origin of life or the world or our existence. Religions tend to assume virtue, values, spiritual laws, or a chosen lifestyle created from their ideas about the cosmos and individual nature.
The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief because it has a public aspect. Most religions teach their faithful organized practices and teach a belief in the value of their particular hierarchies. The religion defines who and what constitutes membership. The leaders set up a routine for the followers including regular meetings or services for the purposes of worship of a deity or for prayer. The leadership also identify holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts for the followers.
All religions have language that is sacred. Religious practice may also include sermons, the commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Spiritual beliefs have also been used to explain out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and otherworldly experiences.
One theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a similar model. Social constructivism is a theory of knowledge according to which human development is socially situated and all knowledge is constructed through interaction with others.
All social constructs impact us in ways they affect our behaviour: money causes us to move material goods all around the world, war causes us to kill and destroy, justice can create peaceful communities (or violent ones, when absent), etc. Religion clearly also has an impact: we construct temples, write books, come together for prayer, contemplation, and we persecute those who believe differently than we believe.
Some have theorized that it doesn’t matter what faith you believe in as long as you believe in something that gives you meaning, guidance and peace. But others believe that believing in something that isn’t true is a definition of insanity.
Believing in religion is the same as believing in magic. It can be fun and harmless, but it can also be counterproductive if for no other reason than it’s a waste of time. It keeps you busy while ignoring real-world issues that have consequences. Your life and everyone else’s would be improved by focusing on and solving real problems.
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