History of religious “Doing”

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The discussion about God and religion has always been in the public domain. Many people believe that the concept of God should be easy and that religion must be understood by everyone. Despite the technological and scientific advancement, many people continue to present underdeveloped and sometimes primitive ideas about religion. Karen Armstrong through her book brings out the concept of religion and culture. According to Armstrong, religion is very crucial to the human beings and has been there since the Paleolithic period. Religion forms the basic concepts of what is right and what is wrong. Her arguments, therefore, means that a bigger part of the modern and the pre-modern history is shaped by the religious beliefs. The change in activities of the world has influenced the people’s thinking on the importance of religion both at the individual and the societal level (Armstrong 65). The main objective of religion was to provide a means in which people could co-exist peacefully and joyously, and was not to give answers that fall within human reasoning.

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There is a close relationship between religious fundamentalism and backslash amongst atheists. Armstrong in her book brings out this concept by developing a comprehensive study on the change of religious perspectives since the ancient times. Religion is not a rule to be believed, but rather something that should be experienced and practiced in ritual. This statement brings a distinction between those that have grown spiritually and the mundane. Through the concept of doing, it is clear that the role of a spiritual person is not only to read the scriptures but also exercise it.  Debunking the Bible is thus not a way of adequately understanding the idea of religion and the ideas of the divine. Religious discourse is not something to be understood literary because it only brings out the reality that transcended in symbolic terms (25). Fredrickson in his article states that the love towards something develops a zeal inside a person to achieve it (Fredrickson, pp. 10). This means that the difference between the spiritual and the mundane is their perception towards the scripture. In efforts to continuously exhibit them in the Bible, the concept of doing in the creation account was not meant to bring out the literal meaning in which the physical beings were made (Armstrong 308). Reading the scripture literarily is not a justification of the possession of truth because it must be accompanied by a detailed interpretation and actual practice.

Many people in the pre-modern era went to large extends in order to present their analogy that it was not easy to speak to God. As Armstrong brings out in her article, the people during this era had not fully embraced the religious concepts but most of their activities were centered towards a supreme being (58). Many Muslim, Jewish, and the Christian theologians argued that as much as it was a necessity for them to present their wishes to the divine through words, the beliefs could not be adequate as it would be man-made. They, therefore, came up with spiritual practices that subverted the normal patterns of speech and thought in order to make the faithful understand that the worlds they used to tell God were not suitable. The ancient time theologians argued that the idea of God being divine, powerful and good could not be clearly understood. Symbolism formed a bigger part of the pre-modern Christian practice. Taking the medieval Europe as an example, the believers were urged to see the Mass as a symbolic remembrance of Jesus’ death and resurrection (89). Unlike the current situation where everybody has a Quran or a Bible, the believers in the ancient times had a different relationship with the holy readings. Study of the scripture entailed keen listening while they recited the piecemeal. The myths formed a bigger portion of religion in the ancient times. They played a major role in helping the people negotiate understand the religious beliefs that were considered hard to express.  Although they were successful in creating the correct psychological and spiritual environment, it required action in order to enable a person take the next step of discovering the idea behind the myth. Religion was therefore not something that the people thought by a practice they did. Its full truth was realized through practical engagements. The Daoists perceived religion as a Knack that needed constant exercise.

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The advancement in the field of science and technology shifted the theologians from the notion of viewing religion as practical to theoretical (56). The art of interpreting the old stories of God separating the waters or walking on the earth was lost and the believers began to embrace concepts such as revelation, mystery, and faith. Through the transformation, the concept of belief changed tremendously to the current nature in which the doctrines as judged based on faith.  This rationalized interpretation led to the development of two fronts with regards to religious belief first being the fundamentalism and second being the atheist. The current religious belief has evolved compared to the pre-modern principles. Even though there are a number of people presenting their views on the concept of faith, the world has achieved religious revival. Research among various forms of religion has shown a phenomenological growth that underlies the traditional beliefs and concept about spirituality (52). One major transformation that was evidenced in the modern Christian perspective was the end of the myth error. Although some people feel that the myths and the rituals provide a clear and spontaneous understanding of the various kinds of human understanding, they are primitive. The adoption of faith has changed the current style of worship in religious perspective as the people can now read and understand the scriptures. Unlike the pre-modern era, people have built temples in which they can worship God (123). This has ended the primitive era in which the believers worshipped in dangerous caves. Through education, religious leaders are able to clearly interpret and translate the Holy Scriptures into a language that can clearly understand. Besides the advancement in religious activities, Armstrong brings out the fact that various fundamentalist sects have been created in the current religious perception. The rise in various radicals that use religion as a justification for killing is a big concern that developed through the advancement of the religious beliefs. Unlike the pre-modern tradition, the human beings associated as equals and always looked upon a supreme being to provide for them.

Depending on the understanding, the idea of religion being a practice has led to various actions. The modern era saw the construction of temples, churches and the mosques because people realized that it was not enough to believe but they also needed to practice their religion (527). Those that had not adopted the religious concepts could now be accorded the privilege of visiting the holy places in order to get spiritual nourishment. The Christians adopted the art of pilgrimage as a sign of turning away from the sinful ways and embracing holiness. The transformation in the religious belief led to a lot of praying in the churches as the priest involved their congregation in the appropriate forms of prayer and meditation. Knowledge and understanding grew amongst many people because of religion.

The religious leaders shaped the community through their teachings and always emphasized on the need of collaboration amongst the many religions. Those that belonged to a common religion ended up developing a sense of brotherhood and always worked together. Besides the advantages that came with the concept of doing, many religions started attaching each other because of different religious views. The Christians and Muslims in Spain slaughtered each other due to radical religious concerns.

While Armstrong’s interpretation brings challenges in a number of areas, she places her liberal theological thinking on religion. She is correct in taking a stand in the primitive religion that only centered itself to sacrifices, dances, music, and chants. Along the evolutionary line, she was able to appreciate the role of Christianity and other religious adherents who came up with the doctoral beliefs that changed the idea of religion. She, however, acknowledges that religion does not have one way of description. As the people continue advancing technologically and economically, they are bound to develop their own interpretation of religion and thus the atheists cannot be faulted on attacking fundamentalism because it is what religion is for many people in the current society.

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  1. Armstrong, Karen. “What is religion?.” Ten Lectures on Psychotherapy and Spirituality (2005): 183.
  2. Fredrickson, Barbara. Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, And Become. Avery, 2013
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