L. Cargill, Medical Laboratory Scientist, ASCP. Retired blood banker and laboratorian. Loves to write about a wide range of subjects. Enjoy!
World Religions by Percentage
Question - What do you find to be beneficial in your religion?
I recently asked this question in a couple of ways on the forums and in the question and answer section of HubPages.
These are the responses I have received. At the end of the hub I will make a personal commentary about these responses. I wish to thank everyone that participated in this short survey on how religion can be of benefit on a personal level.
Please feel free to comment at the end, but do not copy and paste responses from other sources. Do not include links to any other web site. Just state your original thoughts on the subject at hand. Thank you.
The Number One Benefit of Religion
"Having a Personal Relationship With God"
This benefit was expressed in various ways. "Knowing God", "Experiencing His amazing love", "He will someday explain the relationship between God and Man to me (personally)" and "Receiving God's grace" are all quotes from some of the responses.
I may have paraphrased some of the responses, but the intent is there. I understand this benefit to mean that religion brings with it a guarantee that God is a companion, a father figure, a real and present partner to them. He dwells within the religious believer as a real entity.
Religious Benefit Number Two
"Having your sins forgiven"
This response sounds like it came mostly from Christians, but they believe that "absolution of sins" is a huge benefit of being religious. This absolution comes from the main tenet of Christianity regarding the crucifixion story.
For non-christians, the story is that God sent his "only begotten son" to earth to spread the word about God's love for his creation (man). The son of God then became a target of the original Jewish religion which labeled Jesus (son of God) as a blasphemer and heretic for claiming to be the "savior" of all mankind. He was sentenced to die on a cross in a manner normally reserved for thieves and the like.
During his lifetime, God (in human form as Jesus), ostensibly performed many miracles, even bringing a dead man back to life. He was also "resurrected" after his own crucifixion and purportedly ascended to heaven.
Jesus had disciples that wrote of God's life on earth as a man. It's all in a book called The Bible. According to the book, Jesus once stated that those who believe in him and his promises will be "born again", "saved from original sin" and will live forever in the kingdom of heaven. During his execution, he forgave all of the world's believers for their sins against God and asked God to forgive all of mankind.
Religious Benefit Number Three
It appears that having the ability to pray, pray for others and have others pray for you is a religious benefit.
According to religious sources, prayer has the ability to heal the sick, serves as a communication conduit to God and calls for "God's Grace" upon the performer and recipient of prayer.
Some prayers are in the form of poetry and dissertations. Some prayers need to be memorized and repeated as a penance for less than God-like behavior. Some prayers are mandated five times per day facing the Holy Land.
Prayers may be spoken or whispered aloud, alone or in a group. They may be spoken in the dark inside a closet, but they are mostly performed in public. Prayers are spoken in time of peace, stress, fear and war or for no other reason than to keep a child safe at night while sleeping.
Prayers are generally requests for blessings of some kind. They are petitions directly to God. Religious groups believe they have a constitutional right to pray whenever and wherever they so choose, even in government run institutions (such as public schools) that mandate separation of church and state.
Religious Benefit Number Four
This benefit is nearly world wide and crosses the basic beliefs of all named religions. Spirituality is the concept of place in the universe. It attempts to answer the question, "Why are we here?".
Spirituality is the basis of all religions. We attempt to find a purpose or function for being born. For some, spirituality is found in a church or religion.
Religious Benefit Number Five
This benefit should not be confused with spirituality although it is similar. Inner peace is defined as the acceptance of one's place in the universe. A purpose has already been discovered via spirituality and the person achieves contentment with that purpose.
Inner Peace is also a release of stress. The inner self is in a state of calmness and satisfaction with the world and themselves.
Religious Benefit Number Six
Purpose and Good Deeds
Most religions bring practical ways to discover life's "purpose". They practice good deeds like feeding the poor, ministering to people in "spiritual" distress and organization of groups to spread the word of God.
Religions recognize the efforts of "saints" and those "filled with the holy spirit". Members of the religion generally praise the outstanding work of its believers. They have public ceremonies for awards and special titles. Recognition of one's deeds is indeed a tangible benefit of religion.
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Religious Benefit Number Seven
Visiting Like Minded Individuals
People who have the same types of personalities and beliefs enjoy the beneficial companionship that religion provides. Everyone wants to feel needed, wanted and appreciated. It is a basic human trait.
Many churches are very social with their members. They have even formed "teams" of like minded splinter groups. Generally, a person will always belong to the group they were raised with. It is rare to change religions during a lifetime.
Religious Benefit Number Eight
Accountability and Moral Guidance
Surprisingly this came up as a religious benefit. Presumably, this benefits religious followers in the same way our government and laws benefit non-religious people.
Religions have tenets, laws and guiding principles that they say come from God. These laws may supersede man's laws in various circumstances according to their beliefs about how the supreme being expects humans to act.
A great deal of these laws are incomprehensible in today's society, but religious followers continue to honor and obey some of the tenets put forth thousands of years ago. The laws guide their lives and therefore are a substantial benefit of their religion.
Religious Benefit Number Nine
Relieves the Fear of Dying
This may be the most substantial benefit of religion. Very few people have no fear of death. Those that are unafraid to die make fierce warriors and perhaps even heroes.
However, most mortals do indeed fear death. It is the singular most horrifying event in some people's minds. A person can be driven mad by dwelling on the means and manner of death. Grief is monumental when a loved one dies.
All religions of the world respect the process of death. All of us have to die. It is the great equalizer. No matter how rich or influential or powerful a human becomes in life, it is our destiny to die.
Organized religion greatly benefits the bereaved, the sick and the dying. It may even be the true purpose of religion in the first place.
Religious Benefit Number Ten
Although this benefit was never listed in any of the responses I received, I did get the impression that religious practitioners were quite confident in their religious beliefs. They truly believe that religion is the saving grace of their lives.
Religious tenets are ingrained from birth. Some people rebel against their religion, but other people become steadfast and extremely loyal. People aggressively defend their right to be religious and they have the added benefit of "God is on my side". Even if it means war with the "unbelievers".
By calling other religious people "infidels", it means those with a different religious view from their own. Confident that "their" religion is the "correct" religion, it is mandated in some religious books that we convert the "wrong" religions in a quest to educate and enlighten the "heathens" of that religion.
Confidence is the benefit that seems unbreakable.
Warning! The Following is a Personal Opinion of the Benefits of Religion
You may disagree with the way I have presented this hub. You may disagree with my views entirely. But please sit down and meditate on what you truly believe to be the benefits of being religious.
Most people tried desperately to convince me that their religion was great, wonderful and true. Answers were posted to try to explain their religious views to me. My question was about how ANY religion actually BENEFITS the practitioner, not preach to me about your particular sect.
I discarded all of the inappropriate answers - they were not benefits. A benefit is something extra that is derived from a common event. A benefit is something that adds value. A benefit is what makes one thing better than another thing.
It is my personal opinion that people have no clue as to what the actual benefits of their religion are. I was tasked to evaluate each and every post as to what benefit they were describing.
One person said that "God's Grace" was a benefit, but then went on to explain that God's Grace is available to everyone. Well, that is not an actual benefit then. It's not an "extra" advantageous feature of being religious if it is freely available to all.
So pick some or all of the benefits listed and meditate on them. Are they true benefits? Or are you confused as to what constitutes a real benefit from your religion?
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© 2012 Lela
Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on February 21, 2014:
Beautiful! You get people thinking and talking and that's far more valuable than any static dogma.
One problem with religious texts is that they describe a realm for which there is inadequate vocabulary. Our languages were created for physical things and relationships -- not spiritual. The Truth in scriptures lays underneath the literal. Most people, if not all, misinterpret the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita, the sayings of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha and more. Why? Because they're thinking in physical terms. Even my own interpretation is suspect, because I'm still learning.
There are many different ways to interpret what is written or said. Only one or none are True. Many might be partially true or at least helpful.
Take for instance your interpretation of "God's grace" as a non-benefit. The respondent said that it was available to everyone. It's unclear from your writing, but the person could have meant that, though it is available to everyone, very few actually take advantage of it. Therefore, such grace could be a benefit of their religion, if their religion facilitates that grace.
Absolute Truth may never be attainable in this physical universe. As spiritual beings, we strive toward it though. There is always room for improvement. And each relative truth is a step along the way.
No one person knows God's perfect Truth. Thus, it seems to me that everyone needs to remain humble and hungry for answers. It's interesting that even the best scientists do this when studying nature. Humility -- or as the Eastern philosophies may call it, the "empty cup" -- is essential before learning anything new. If your cup is full, then there is no room for learning anything new.
My current "religion" is merely my current understanding of the Bible, life, spirit and creation. It keeps changing and refining. I view all other points of view as valuable, because they may help stimulate thought toward other breakthroughs. But if a person clings to one idea or dogma as Absolute Truth, then they have stopped on the road to Truth and their ideas are no longer valuable, but an abomination, because they have stopped. They are arrogant -- thinking that they have arrived, when they have clearly not arrived at that absolute. They are lazy, because they do not dig further. Such is the state of the biblical literalist, and the Bible even warns against the literal (letter) for it leads to spiritual death (2 Cor. 3:6). The fact that Jesus taught with difficult parables emphasizes this point. He knew that people struggling to understand often do a better job of achieving that understanding. Like words of wisdom, those who receive them too easily will usually dismiss them as unimportant, because they do not fully understand them and their relevance.
The biblical literalist clings to an easy method of interpretation, but Jesus said that the road is narrow and difficult. Laziness and arrogance do not serve them well.
I have spent my life studying many religions. In West Texas, I grew up in a mixed household -- my mother was Southern Baptist while my father was a student of all religion, sometimes reading from the Bible, but frequently reading of Eastern philosophy and even the works of Cayce and Hubbard. I have seen dozens of miracles that confound science. And I have studied science most of my life.
Taken literally, the Bible is full of enigma and contradiction. Even the literalists will "interpret" beyond the literal, but only enough to satisfy their limited understanding. Yet with greater humility and hunger it is possible to find a biblical timeline that is compatible with those of mainstream science. I have found such a timeline and the new date for Noah's Flood reveals, through science, the Flood's target and the true identity of the "daughters of men" mentioned in Genesis 6 -- a species which became extinct at that new Flood date.
I agree with Eric (as I often do). This is a most excellent piece, stimulating a great deal of thought.
Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on February 07, 2014:
Thank you, Eric, for your well thought out response.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 07, 2014:
Excellent piece I am glad you referenced it from your other hub. You do get a high compliment here -- yes you give much to meditate on.
Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on February 09, 2013:
Yep, a pastor even left a note for a waitress saying that God only gets 10% so why should he tip her more than that?
Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on February 09, 2013:
Well Lela! now you know you have to pay your 10% each week or you are going to H - E - double hockey sticks! You got to pay for protection and stuff!
Deepes Mind on January 09, 2013:
Thank you Austinstar
Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 09, 2013:
Love that quote at the end of your comment, Rory.
Deepes Mind on January 08, 2013:
Man WNP hit it on the head. There is a difference between religion and relationship. Most of the "benefits" deal, in my opinion, more with the system and the Majority group belief and ideology.. The "benefits" that are not benefits are:
Having a personal relationship with God- A personal relation is just that.. personal. It's borderline impossible to have a personal thought when you are mimicking and repeating a system's or group's philosophies and principles.
Prayer- Prayer again is a personal conversation with God which is individualized and does not fit fully within a group system. Having someone pray for you or praying for others may not totally have an effect on your personal relationship with God, but you have no idea of the next person's true relationship status.
Inner peace- Enough said. Inner peace is peace within the self based on relationship.
as for the other "benefits" mentioned, Being with like minded individuals is more of a hindrance at times than a benefit because if you all are believing the wrong thing, then what? Also you should always strive to be around those that will push your thought process along. I believe in the saying that if you are the smartest person in your circle then you need a new circle.
Sommer Dalton on December 10, 2012:
Encouraging people to think is exactly what this does! Some may not like it but it was very well done! Voted up !
Lela (author) from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on December 10, 2012:
And that is exactly what I am going for! Encouraging people to think. Thanks, Man WNP
TheManWithNoPants from Tucson, Az. on December 10, 2012:
I'm a Christian, but I have a problem with religion, and they are two separate things with me. Religion tends to deal with a system and I reject that. Too much focus on specific doctrines and other people's approval and opinions. I have a degree in Divinity but that doesn't mean anything. My religion is my personal relationship with Christ. Without knowing my background you couldn't really understand all that. lol Just for the hell of it, I looked up the definition of benefit ... ben·e·fit/ˈbɛn ə fɪt/ Show Spelled [ben-uh-fit] Show IPA noun, verb, ben·e·fit·ed or ben·e·fit·ted, ben·e·fit·ing or ben·e·fit·ting.
1. something that is advantageous or good; an advantage: He explained the benefits of public ownership of the postal system.
According to that definition, my personal relationship with Christ is very beneficial. For me personally, religion screws up my relationship. I don't need to go to a meeting or a workshop to have a great relationship with my girl. I don't need anybody to tell me how to love her and be a good mate. I just do. Same thing with my buddy Jesus. Great hub. Forces one to think!