- Published on Sunday, 12 February 2012 07:00
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1322
The popular religions do a great job of catering to the need that many have for a “spiritual feeling”. I wonder how many don’t even know what their particular religion believes – they just like the feelings it provides. Of course the feelings are somewhat different with each. Evangelical/Pentecostals specialize in “feeling the love” – they have rousing hymns and sermons and have firm beliefs that the Bible is God’s word that give them feelings of security. Catholics have the mystique of being the ancient keeper of the faith and a veneer of rationality plus a tremendous collection of ceremonies to suit every day and occasion. Catholics usually stay with their faith because they of their confidence that their Church has all the answers. I’m less familiar with Islam but they too have a wealth of mystical behaviour and an aura of spirituality. Recently, Liam Neeson said that his exposure to the spirituality of Islam made him debate changing from his childhood upbringing of Catholicism to Islam. He would change not because of teachings, dogma or anything factual but simply the feeling.
“The call to prayer happens five times a day and for the first week it drives you crazy, and then it just gets into your spirit and it’s the most beautiful, beautiful thing.
“There are 4,000 mosques in the city. Some are just stunning and it really makes me think about becoming a Muslim.”
No mention of what Muslims believe; no mention of their Qur’an; no mention of how they treat women; Neeson just liked the feeling.
The two biggest religions in the world are Roman Catholic and Islam – is it a coincidence that they have the most emotional pull on their followers? Is it a coincidence that the fastest growing religion in the western world is fundamentalist Christianity? Given that people want to decide, and do decide their religion based on their emotions, why bother trying to explain that they are wrong using reason, logic and evidence?
The other day I commented to a good Catholic that I thought that Mormons had weird beliefs. He surprised me by saying that the Catholic belief in transubstantiation was about as weird as it gets. (As he explained it: That’s the belief “that a few words spoken over a piece of bread converts it to the actual body of Jesus”). Instead of saying that he didn’t believe that, he said that Mormons can believe what they want since Catholics do (believe what they want). Maybe he doesn’t believe but he still sees himself as Catholic. Logic won’t convince him to give up on his religion – he already knows it does not make sense but still hangs in there!
So why are so many leaving their traditional Church – especially young people? I think that the reason that most religions in Canada (and U.K. and Australia and Europe) continue to lose followers is nothing to do with logic or evidence. I suspect many simply don’t think it’s relevant or useful so they just stop going to Church and stop paying any attention to what anyone says about God etc. That is, just like emotions win people to religion, a lack of emotional ties lets them leave.