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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Faith vs Religion

On 13 July 2016, I read a newspaper article written by a Dutch Muslim. She stated that it's tiresome to be a Muslim nowadays. She feels she always has to defend her Islam religion. I suppose that Jews also feel this need to always defend the state of Israel. Defending my religion is too much work as ridiculing Christians has been common practice for decades in my country.

People are not able to separate faith from religion. Faith is what you think, feel and believe inside. Religion is an outside man-made representation of faith. From an auditing perspective: faith = substance and religion = form. Moreover, faith is subjective as anybody's faith is personal and thus different. Religion is formalised and thus – in a sense - objective.

The human involvement in religion has been the source of many conflicts: eg, Catholics vs Protestants, Shia vs Sunni. I think, feel and believe that it's safe to say that all current main religions are the result of man-made separations (or: derivatives) of even much older religions (eg, Zoroastrianism). A recent conversation with a Muslim showed him and me that our faith is much less different than our religions are.

I do understand the aversion against religion. In that same conversation, it appeared that his and my faith in – or respect for - our religion has been dented. I’m disappointed by the many (man-made) scandals in "my" Roman Catholic Church and I've lost respect for that institution. Yet I do separate my faith from my official religion. My faith has increased while my respect for religion - as a man-made institution - has decreased.

I think, feel and believe that the human aversion against all religions is accelerating. It's easy to label Religion as the new scapegoat for all today’s problems. Essentially, it's a new kind of antisemitism and this time by using the word Semitic in the correct way. Christianity, Islam and Judaism are the main 3 Semitic - or Abrahamic - religions.

Ironically, the continued fast growth of Islam may even save the concept of Religion and thus implicitly save declining religions in its slipstream like Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Remarkably, that would even confirm Matthew 20:16: "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." I feel a wink from somewhere now.

Some weeks ago, I watched a beautiful 2013 movie called The Physician (IMDb). One of the main characters is Ibn-Sīnā (a.k.a. Avicenna), an outstanding Persian academic during the Islamic Golden Age. The movie is also a beautiful illustration of the elements of my concept of the 7 Belief systems: Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science and the Truth.

Nowadays, lots of people call themselves either atheist or spiritual. The former group is distrusted by other people, according to scientific research; please refer to my 2 April 2016 blog for details. The latter group may not at all be that different from people carrying faith inside them. “What's in a name?”, a quote from William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

I cannot imagine being faithless, neither to our Deity (eg, Allah, God, Yahweh) nor to my friends. Being faithless feels like a deliberate absence of a moral compass in life. A society without a moral compass has no direction and is a lost society. Having faith also means that I sleep well at night after “Having my talk with God” (artistlyrics, video, Wiki).

Faithless - Insomnia (1995) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2