In every day life we experience many internal conflicts and crisis. These crises often manifest themselves as moral dilemmas and are a part of being human. But the question that arises is what causes us to handle ourselves the way we do in those situations. Some people might say faith, but the true answer is our beliefs. That is why we seem to be at an all time low in morality, we are having a crisis of belief. Most people believe that faith is what holds us together, and our beliefs are just a guide.
However, it is our culture and the sets of meanings people share that mediate our experiences with one another along with the combination of these experiences which our behind our religion. Our beliefs are a reflection of our culture and this becomes obvious when we observe other cultures. Saudi Arabia, for example has a very different belief system than the United States and these religious beliefs are function of their faith and culture combined. As their culture changes, their beliefs, too, many change.
As the sets of meanings people share change, their beliefs will follow. In a religious aspect the difference between faith and belief is easy to see if you go to church the week before Christmas and then Christmas day and look at the difference in the number of people. The regulars who give of themselves one day a week for God truly believe in God, those who show up for Holy Days more than likely have faith. Not to sound cynical, having faith is better than nothing, it is just not all that a person could give.
But why are we being so lazy The answer comes to us in the context of our current society. In the dark ages people had little to do, and very little enlightenment, so religion was turned to as a way to fill a void. In that time people knew what it was to believe in something. Men of the dark ages fought wars for their religion and died for what they believed was right. No, I am not saying the holy wars were a good idea, but it is a way to see what it is like to fully believe. Today people dont even have the ambition to fight and defend their country, much less give anything extra.
We have things to occupy our selves and do not rely on a God for everything that happens to us. This is where cultural shift comes into play when looking at religion. As people have advanced and explained things that used to be a mystery, needing to believe in religion became unnecessary. In the Classical times of Greek culture, the gods played an important role of everyday life. Everything that occurred was accredited to a god; thunder meant Zeus was angry, a rough sea meant Poseidon was having a bad day on Mount Olympus.
They needed that to keep order in things that were inherently chaotic. Everything was made certain by religion. The Classical stage in history held the Earth to be deep, permanent, and fixed. We were at the center of the universe and everything revolved around us. Deductive logic to give reason to all cases where there was a lack of understanding. A logical assumption to the Greek was that lightning was a sign of anger from the gods. As time progressed religion took on a slightly different role, as a guide for those in despair.
People stopped thinking everything was done by a group of gods and began to believe in a creator that was responsible for the Earth and the moon and all of the stars. In the 1500-1600s we hit the Modern or Empirical stage. We realized Earth wasn’t permanent and new science a discoveries forced a new way of thinking. Socially, our views became relative to our experience and this was acceptable. Nothing was certain anymore, but things became probable and individual cases reflected a new importance.
Modern science developed several theories that systematically explain how we came to be, from the big bang to the theory of evolution. With this change in science, came a revolution in society. It is for that reason that the purpose of religion in a modern context has changed dramatically. People were factioned into those that believe science and those that believe religion. It caused tension in society and made discussing religion a taboo. It also narrowed the types of questions that one could ask about the universe.
Only one big question remained, Why That is what currently holds people to religion without any boundaries. Why are we here has been one of the longest running questions in the history of the world. Centuries have been spent trying to find an answer and their greatest minds have come up with nothing. That is how religion can bring people back into the light, do what it has always done best and give people an answer to the question that plagues all of us. Get people to believe again and the ills of the world will fall.