Did religion develop as a way to help us deal with death?
Faith suggests religious belief is more than imagined
The Rev. Peter Luckey, senior pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:
Our death is the one irrefutable fact of our existence. Our consciousness of this fact drives human beings to questions of an ultimate nature.
Is death all there is, or is there something more? Not knowing the answer to that question confronts us with the reality of our finitude, which begs another question: So, knowing that I will die, why am I here?
Sigmund Freud argued that human beings coped with their anxieties around these questions by creating religious beliefs and practices. How often I try to give comfort to the bereaved at a funeral by speaking these words from the 23rd Psalm: "Even though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me."
Do I really believe there is a God who is with us in "death's valley," or is the prospect of there being no higher power beside us so horrifying that we make it all up?
There is no empirical evidence to marshal against those who say man created religion to deal with death. I readily confess religion could be a product of our human imagination. And yet, who's to deny that the human spirit's quest for transcendence is so ubiquitous only a God could have created us this way.
Thirty years ago, my father was struck down by a rare, fatal brain disease. For a time, he raged against his imminent and untimely death sentence. Then, just days before he succumbed, my Dad wrote, "I lie here blind on my bed and trust in the succeeding, loving power of the great Creator who knew and loved me before I was fashioned in my mother's womb."
Evidence may suggest religion is a human creation. Faith suggests something else altogether.
Send e-mail to the Rev. Peter Luckey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Confronting judgment leads us to seek peace in God
The Rev. Bill Hurlbutt, senior pastor, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:
There is a saying that has been around for ages that there are only two things we can be certain of in life: "death and taxes." While taxes may be a certainty in this country, there are those fortunate places on this earth where the dreaded taxman does not exist.
But in truth, there are still two certainties all of humanity will face according to the word of God. Hebrews 9:27 states: "Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment."
Undeniably, there are two realities every human will not be able to side-step: We all will die, and we all will be judged. There is a moral awareness of these two facts in the heart of all mankind. This is undoubtedly the fertile ground from which springs a diversity of religious thought.
Religion for many is now, and has been, the development of a system to bring or bind them back to God. For those involved in every major system of religious thought, their future security in the next life is determined by their work in this present one. That is, every religion save one.
For Christians, their future well-being as they pass through death and judgment is not based on their achievements but on those of their savior, Jesus Christ.
It is through Christ's perfect life, his death as their substitute on the Cross of Calvary and his bodily resurrection from the dead, that the believing Christian can "know" that they will successfully pass through death's door.
In fact, the believing Christian can actually look upon the prospect of leaving this world with great peace and joy. You see, for them, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Send e-mail to the Rev. Bill Hurlbutt at email@example.com.