Editorial by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD, DLFAPA
Religious narratives and practices are almost universal. All such narratives share certain characteristics centered around a powerful deity, whether it is called God, Theos, Gott, Dieu, Allah, Elloheim, YHWH, or The Great Spirit, or even worshiping many gods like in the Hindu culture.
There must be a universal need written in our nature to create such narratives and worship them, assigning them a power to help and protect humanity, especially the deity we assign for our particular tribe. Such a trait may have an advantage trade-off or many trade-offs. Even though the particular narratives of each of the faiths may have contradictions, irrationalities, or be in direct competition with the narrative of the adjoining tribe — thus resulting in strife and even mayhem like religious wars of the past or present.
In addition to such a need written in our nature, there indeed exists an unfathomable mystery out there that has been deepening as we increase our scientific knowledge about the universe. It creates an awe and reverence for what is out there of a higher power concerning not only the entirity of humanity, but the whole universe.
The few individuals who state they don’t believe in a god are actually proclaiming a negative religion, since the only thing you can say is that there is a powerful mystery out there that is unfathomable and beyond our powers of comprehension. Having faith and worship in our tribal deity does answer questions of meaning, and identify and boost affection, empathy, and altruism to our fellow humans which are written as traits in us as part of our nature anyway — increased identity in belonging to one tribe, cohesiveness, and hope that “our” particular god will help us in natural catastrophes, or even irrationally against “the enemy” whose religious narratives have different names.
The hope is that humanity worldwide will realize, as we are tending to do so lately, that there is one universal higher power and that the best universal narrative should be focused around 1 Corinthians 13 of St. Paul which almost identically appears in all religions. Specifically, that caring and exhibiting altruism and cooperativeness and affection for each other worldwide is the only possible survival of us as a species in this life, in addition to the “salvation” of the possible next one — as many religions believe.
And let’s all of us remember that our religion of our own tribe is our own way of expressing the concept of God. Other religions are a different way of expressing the same God.
Second to remember, occasionally religious groups may commandeer and use their faith for killing “the infidel” or “the unfaithful” as is being done recently and has been done in the past. It takes on the ironical universal belief “my god is bigger god than your god, and I’ll kill you for it.” In addition, if you ever discovered gruesome statements in “their” holy books, there are equal number of similar gruesome statements found in “ours.”
Finally, while we are angry and fearful about certain religious killings, we are also and sadly unable to imagine how an entire group/nation felt as thousands of bombs rained over their heads for the last 10 years.
In conclusion, when you think of the defects of the adjoining tribe with the different religious narrative, it is nice to remember they are identical to our own defects as being seen through their eyes. And this is not a good prescription for harmony or survival as a species.
Copyright © 2017 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
For more information on Dr. Pediaditakis and his Raleigh NC mental health clinic, visit his Facebook page.
Dr. Nicholas’ blog may be read at chroniclersofthesoul.com.
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