The Truth About Religion

[The Huffington Post]

The news media continue to stretch the boundaries of religion far beyond the usual parameters in the American popular imagination. Is belief in climate change a religion, as Rep. Steve King asserts? Did Steve Jobs create a new iReligion with all his visionary iProducts? Has Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead achieved the status of a spiritual icon?

Look on the pages of HuffPost, follow the religion headlines in Google news, read through the posts at Patheos, and you will see that religion is no longer simply a matter of faith in God. Instead, it is … anything and everything imaginable. The truth about religion is that there is no one Truth but rather multiple versions of many possible truths.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, called religion a neurosis and claimed that it was, at bottom, an illusion; Karl Marx, who called for the workers of the world to unite, famously stated that religion was the opiate of the masses; William James, American pragmatist and innovative psychologist, defined religion as the feelings, acts, and experiences of individuals in their solitude as it relates to their apprehension of the divine; 20th century theologian Paul Tillich asserted that religion is an expression of ultimate concern.

The great religious traditions all provide very different teachings about religious truth: no god and impermanence in Buddhism; multiple gods and one underlying cosmic reality in Hinduism; one God who created the cosmos and humans in the three monotheistic religions; and among indigenous religious cultures throughout the world, an understanding that sacred powers permeate the cosmos with a variety of spiritual truths tied to these powers.

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