If i asked you to list me down religions, you would probably give me names like Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and some of you would find it challenging to think of another religion. Some would go as far as listing, Judaism, Taoism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Sikhism, and Bahai. Some of you brainiacs would be able to go beyond that and enlist Hellenisticism Zoroastrianism, Mandaeism and Sabathism (if got fellow Malaysians who can reach this level, The Desperado salutes you lah).
However those are religions in the traditional concept. Where people have certain spiritual beliefs and carry conducts according to their spesific believes. In the world there are hundreds of different religions and believes. Today allow me to introduce to you a whole range of believes that cropped up in modern times and how this believes have constructed the concept of God. Back in the days of Abraham, Jesus Crist or even Muhammad (peace be unto them) their propogation was radical and beyond comprehension of their time. They propogated a believe in an invisible God, one that has no image, there was no tangible item for the people at that time to understand how this Almighty looked like.
These religions have paved way to the mainstream understanding of God today. As generally accepted, God Almighty is preceived to be the entity that created everything which is in existance and everything that is not in existance, that minute piece of carbon by the beach all the way to the incredible giant blob in outter space, and if we somehow discover that there is another space in an alternate dimension, there you go God’s wonders. So regardless of religion, humanity now subscribe to a common understanding of Almighty God.
It did not just stop there, God or rather the concept of God evolved and it is continuously evolving. This is where i would like to introduce to you the modern religions that have further expounded the concept of the Almighty Creator. Allow me to introduce to you Deism, the belief that a supreme natural God exists and created the physical universe, and that religious truths can be arrived at by the application of reason and observation of the natural world. Deists generally reject the notion of supernatural revelation as a basis of truth or religious dogma. These views contrast with the dependence on divine revelation found in many Christian, Islamic and Judaic teachings.
Deists typically reject most supernatural events (prophecy, miracles) and tend to assert that God (or “The Supreme Architect”) has a plan for the universe which he does not alter either by intervening in the affairs of human life or suspending the natural laws of the universe. What organized religions see as divine revelation and holy books, most deists see as interpretations made by other humans, rather than as authoritative sources.
Deism became prominent in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment, especially in the United Kingdom, France and the United States, mostly among those raised as Christians who found they could not believe in either a triune God, the divinity of Jesus, miracles, but who did believe in one god. Initially it did not form any congregations, but in time deism strongly influenced other religious groups, such as Unitarianism, which later developed into Unitarian Universalism. It continues to this day in the form of classical deism and modern deism.
Spinozism is the monist philosophical system of Baruch Spinoza which defines “God” as a singular self-subsistent substance, and both matter and thought as attributes of such. Spinoza claimed that the third kind of knowledge, intuition, is the highest kind attainable. In Spinozism, the concept of a personal relationship with God comes from the position that one is a part of an infinite interdependent “organism”. Spinoza taught that everything is but a wave in an endless ocean, and that what happens to one wave will affect other waves. Thus Spinozism teaches a form of karma and supports this as a basis for morality. Additionally, a core doctrine of Spinozism is that the universe is essentially deterministic. All that happens or will happen could not have unfolded in any other way. Spinozism is closely related to the Hindu doctrines of Samkhya and Yoga.
Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe. In panentheism, God is not exactly viewed as the creator or demiurge but the eternal animating force behind the universe, with the universe as nothing more than the manifest part of God. The cosmos exists within God, who in turn “pervades” or is “in” the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within God. Panentheism holds that God is the “supreme affect and effect” of the universe. Kinda like the Soka Gakai Buddhism principle of the Universal Power/Order.
I would also like to bring to your attention to some creative religions which are very organized. One of the most interesting ones is Cao Dai from Vietnam. They believe that Jesus Christ is regarded as a Buddha and true Son of God, shed directly from God. Then there is Gnosticism which refers to a diverse religious movement consisting of various belief systems generally united in the teaching that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect god, the demiurge, who is frequently identified with the Abrahamic God. Then there is Juche, the only government-authorized ideology in North Korea, to the point of excluding all other religions. “Juche” means “self-reliance” in the Korean language. Juche began in the 1950s and is the official philosophy promulgated by the North Korean government and educational system. Its promoters describe Juche as simply a secular, ethical philosophy and not a religion. But, from a sociological viewpoint Juche is clearly a religion, and in many ways is even more overtly religious than Soviet-era Communism or Chinese Maoism.
So where am i going with introducing all these religions to our readers? Oh well, i want to bring people out of the box, so that people would realize that when it comes to religion its not just those main steam religions that we always hear about on television. The diversity of religion is humongous, and to think that only certain types of religions exist is shortsightedness. Apart from that this piece of writing is necessary before i publish my next piece on the Evolution of God, if i had not published this piece then the next would be like explaining rocket science to a five year old 😉 . So till next time people, take care!.
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