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Religion 101: "Religion Made Simple" Mba Mbulu, Instructor

Class # 1: What Is Religion?

Read the following ESSAY. To the best of your ability, relate what you read to what you know about religion. Also, consider the following question(s).

(1) In your opinion, or based on your belief, what is religion?

(2) Has it ever occurred to you that that might be a difference between religion and organized religion?

(3) If there is a difference between the two, does it matter?

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"Religion, Organized Religion and Religious Ideology," Part 1 [Audio Version]

Religion is a combination of intelligent thought and application. Religion begins with the recognition that people are not in complete control of their destiny, and that forces exist that are more powerful than people. When people come face to face with these forces in threatening situations, people recognize their powerlessness and religion manifests itself as a fear. Thus, fear of the harm a greater power can do is at the core of religion---, so religion scraped to its bones is fear. As people learn to control their fear of that greater power, religion begins to assume more rational traits. Religion becomes an intellectual pursuit when people try to understand the greater power and communicate with it. The more one learns about that greater power, the more comfortable one becomes with it; and the less one is likely to panic in the face of it. From there one develops the need to communicate with that greater power, to find strength and solace in it, to "believe" in it and, eventually, to put one's well being in its hands.

Human fears, insecurities, vulnerabilities and inquisitiveness make it possible for religion to emerge and develop. Since every individual is different and no individual can feel what another individual experiences, religion is, at its core and in its pure form, a personal reality.

Religion is a good thing. It is the recognition that human beings are part of a greater totality, and that humans are obligated to look beyond themselves in order to establish harmony. By looking beyond oneself, a person can appreciate the value of acting in ways that will be good for other humans and other life forms. Looking beyond oneself is the key to goodwill and peace, it is the key to a healthy human society. Religion can play a role in developing that society.

It is important to understand that there is a difference between religion and organized religion. That is the subject of the next class.

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