As you can imagine, it is impossible for anyone to answer this question.
Many people believe in God. Because they have felt him, heard him or experienced him, they sometimes even believe in him very strongly. For them it is certain: God has created me, takes care of me and resurrects me after death.
But there is a difference between believing and knowing. While it can be great to believe in God, no one knows with absolute certainty that he exists. Some people think they know. However, they cannot prove it.
If you really believe in God, then you don’t really care that you can’t prove His existence. Because then one is satisfied with feeling protected by him. Sometimes children experience this feeling much more intensely than adults. Because kids find it even easier to believe in something without actually knowing it.
Depending on how you grew up, you may believe in God, the good in the world, many nature gods and spirits, or simply the meaning of life. Some people don’t believe in anything, so to speak, and rely only on what they can grasp and experience with their senses.
The aim of this article is not to analyze whether it is probable that God exists. Rather, we want to offer you a look at different faiths to show you that they all have their justification. It’s okay to be Jewish, just as it’s okay to go to Christian church and pray to Jesus there. Also, if you don’t believe in God, then you shouldn’t be made to feel bad for it.
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All over the world, people believe in different gods, myths, and stories. They all have their reasons for doing so, most of which go way back in history. Some have holy books, sacred sites, and very specific religious customs.
While some religions accept other faiths, there are some that consider themselves better than the rest. Some even go so far as to claim that there is an afterlife only for their followers.
You can leave that in the room or argue about it. For us applies in any case: Everyone should believe what he wants or is simply used to. Normally, it is the parents who decide which religion the child belongs to. Because by means of a baptism or similar ceremonies the child becomes a follower of the same faith community as the parents. Only much later does one ask oneself whether one really wants to belong to this religion or whether one is attracted to another faith. Many people leave their church when they become adults. Today, this is no longer a taboo and, in the case of Christianity, is hardly associated with any immediate consequences.
Belief In One God
Belief in one God is also called monotheism. This comes from the Greek and means something like one-god belief (monos: alone and theos: God). A few of today’s world religions are monotheistic. Among them: Judaism, Christianity as well as Islam. Unlike various natural religions and Eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, Christians, Jews and Muslims believe in one God.
There are indeed prophets who report about God and his miracles. However, there is only one God at the top of the list. In Christianity, numerous saints are worshipped who are said to have performed good deeds in the past. However, like the prophets, they too are not gods.
Some monotheistic faith communities assume that only the followers of their religion will one day go to heaven. That is why they clearly demarcate themselves from the outside world.
Strictly Christian faiths lived by nuns and monks in monasteries even forbid contact with the outside world. There are monasteries whose nuns do not even talk to the “worldly” people. Secular means living in the world with all its temptations and sins.
Muslims also live a very strict faith. For example, they do not want their children to marry followers of other religions. In fact, among Muslims, there is a close, family-like cohesion.
Monotheistic religious leaders want to spread their faith and can sometimes be quite aggressive in doing so. Just think of the Crusades in the Middle Ages, in which Muslims and Christians bitterly fought battle after battle against each other to claim the precious places of faith in Jerusalem for themselves and to set a sign of faith.
The Christian church is still criticized today for these warlike conflicts. Among other things, it is accused of having exterminated pagan peoples (who believed in many gods) and destroyed their places of worship. The burning of witches is also an issue that is still held against the Christian church today.
Would You Rather Have Many Gods Than Just One?
Long ago, there were cultures scattered across the globe that believed in nature gods, spirits, and dream and fantasy beings.
Belief in these gods arose from situations that could not be explained at the time. Thus, the Greek Zeus was held responsible for hurling lightning, while in the sagas of the Norsemen, the legendary son of the god Thor was said to control lightning.
Thus, there were nature gods for the sea, wind and fire. Gods of wrath, war or wine were also worshipped long ago. To pay homage to the deities, people created large “monuments”. While the widely known Stonehenge probably reminds of past Druid cults, the impressive Egyptian pyramids are closely connected with the ancient cult of the dead.
As diverse as the nature and polytheistic religions themselves were the reasons for their disappearance. Only a few polytheistic religions still exist today.
However, paganism and witchcraft are experiencing a kind of resurgence today. Many people feel connected to nature and therefore count themselves among covens, pagan tribes or modern cults like the Wicca. Because information about ancient cults is almost completely freely available and exerts a strange fascination on people, many Christians also decide to abandon their original faith in favor of a nature religion.
I KnowTthat I Know Nothing
This ancient phrase comes from the philosopher Socrates, who lived in ancient Greece many hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.
However, it does not really have anything to do with the philosophy we are about to describe to you. His well-known saying, “I know that I know nothing.” describes the mindset of agnostics quite well.
These are people who neither claim that there are higher forces (gods), but also do not fundamentally deny their existence. The agnostics insist that the existence of God is basically not provable for us. An agnostic can certainly believe in God. However, he is aware of the fact that he can never KNOW whether he actually exists. Accordingly, agnostics answer the question “Does God really exist?” not with “Yes.” or “No.” but with “I don’t know.” or “It doesn’t matter.”
In this, of course, they are not entirely wrong. After all, man’s short life and limited senses do not allow him to fully perceive reality. Long story short: We humans cannot know everything. Logical, isn’t it? From this point of view, you can leave the opinion of the agnostics in the room, because you can hardly object to it.
You see, agnosticism is actually not a belief system per se, but goes beyond it.
Natural Sciences Instead Of Religion
As you learned in the previous section, not everyone believes in the existence of a God. While the agnostics do not feel able to answer this big question, the atheists do have an answer ready. They say, “No. There is no God.”
Unlike Christians, Wiccans, Buddhists or Hinduists, atheists assume that the earth (as well as everything else) has the Big Bang as its origin. The Big Bang was a cosmic event from which, according to current scientific opinion, our universe is said to have originated.
Atheists believe only in what they can see, feel, explore and experience. Believe is actually the wrong word here. Because atheists would like to KNOW, not believe.
It is not enough for an atheist to believe in the existence of a God based on ancient writings and stories. They need evidence to acknowledge something as true.
Many atheists are scientists themselves or involved in scientific work. Others have at some point decided for themselves that the explanations of religions for the important issues of life are not sufficient for them and became atheists.
God Cannot Be Described
For the atheists there is no God. The agnostics leave the question of the existence of God open. Then there are those people who believe in a different kind of God than we are used to from Christianity.
Buddhism is actually more of a philosophy than a belief system. Nevertheless, it is a good example of how you don’t have to have a particular image for God. Like other similar philosophies, Buddhism deals with the interaction of cosmic forces and their influence on death as well as the afterlife. According to Buddhist teachings, in the course of our lives we accumulate a kind of “account” of good and evil deeds. Depending on how we have spent our lives, we have to live with the consequences after death. This “account” is also called karma.
Depending on the type of karma, one is reborn as a higher or lower being. In each life one learns something about oneself and develops. At some point, ideally, you have accumulated so much good karma that you become one with the greater whole. This is also called “entering Nirvana”. There are many people worldwide who live according to Buddhist teachings.
Some natural religions assume that there is a “great whole” that mysteriously provides order and influences the living beings on earth. Thus, they believe in a kind of God that cannot be properly described. It is an energy that acts on man and rewards man for good deeds, while evil deeds eventually bring a consequence.
Worksheet For The Text
1) Explain the difficult words from the text.
- Big Bang
2) Which religion do you belong to? Do a research about your religion on your PC. Create a profile about your religion. Write down the following information:
- Time of origin
- Place of origin
- Approximate number of followers
- Prophets, deities
- Holy book
- A known story from it
3) What is the difference between atheism and agnosticism?
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