Demonology is the systematic study of demons or beliefs about demons. Insofar as it involves exegesis, demonology is an orthodox branch of theology.
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed or doubted.
Theophysics is a merger between theology and physics. A branch of theology with the aim of proving the existence of a higher supreme of all (God) using physics arguments. The main area of interest for theophysicists is the Big Bang.
“One reason that religion persists is because it provides genuine psychological benefits to the practitioner. It is the original self-help. To those skeptics who dismiss religion so quickly by saying, “But it’s just a bunch of fairy tales” — the only way you can say that is because you lack experience with it, and so you misunderstand it. You misunderstand it, but not in the way you think. The reality is, there’s no way in hell a collection of purely fabricated stories could survive for such a long time. Religion survives because it WORKS!
It’s because it works that it becomes a problem. It’s because it works that people aren’t so eager to abandon it as your models would predict. People feel the positive effects and get seduced into thinking that everything in the religion is true because of the psychological or spiritual benefits they feel. And then that is take as evidence of the religion’s exclusivity: “My religion must be true because look! Look at all these great benefits to my life!”
The problem is not that the benefits are not real — they are REAL! The problem is that the benefits are not exclusive — but people hold them as exclusive. This cannot be seen without a more experienced, more cosmopolitan meta-perspective. It’s not possible to see the universal psychological and spiritual principles at work in a religious tradition without practice and study of other traditions and non-religious self-help techniques. If you do undertake such a study, you will see the common threads unpinning all traditions, from Mormonism to Islam to Judaism to psychoanalysis to Yoga to Scientology.
But the false exclusivity that many religious adherents subscribe to becomes a huge burden. Religion becomes dangerous when it feeds tribalism. ANY ideology becomes dangerous when it feeds tribalism. And virtually all ideologies do!
How many ideologies or religious traditions say: “We don’t care which other traditions you study or practice. In fact, let us help you study the vast diversity of ideas available in the psycho-spiritual marketplace.”?
Ha! Good luck finding an ideology like that!
How can we tell if an ideology is dangerous? Very simple. Just ask, “Is it feeding tribalism? It is putting itself on a pedestal?” Is it encouraging tolerance and unity with self and other, or separation of self from other?”
Christianity is the most popular religion in the world with over 2 billion adherents.
~Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
~Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
~Christians believe that God sent his Son to earth to save humanity from the consequences of its sins.
~One of the most important concepts in Christianity is that of Jesus giving his life on the Cross (the Crucifixion) and rising from the dead on the third day (the Resurrection).
~Christians believe that there is only one God, but that there are three elements to this one God:
~God the Father
~God the Son
~The Holy Spirit
~Christians worship in churches.
~Their spiritual leaders are called priests or ministers.
~The Christian holy book is the Bible, and consists of the Old and New Testaments.
~Christian holy days such as Easter and Christmas are important milestones in the Western secular calendar
The word Islam means ‘submission to the will of God’.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population.
~Muslims believe that Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia.
~Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
~Muslims believe that there is only One God.
~The Arabic word for God is Allah.
~According to Muslims, God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law.
~Jesus, Moses and Abraham are respected as prophets of God.
~They believe that the final Prophet was Muhammad.
~Muslims believe that Islam has always existed, but for practical purposes, date their religion from the time of the migration of Muhammad.
~Muslims base their laws on their holy book the Qur’an, and the Sunnah.
~Muslims believe the Sunnah is the practical example of Prophet Muhammad and that there are five basic Pillars of Islam.
~These pillars are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca (atleast once).
Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. There are 376 million followers worldwide.
Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC.
There is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.
Buddhists believe that life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty. These states are called the tilakhana, or the three signs of existence. Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering throughout many lives.
It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.
The history of Buddhism is the story of one man’s spiritual journey to enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it.
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal over 2500 years ago. He lived a life of privilege and luxury until one day he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Disturbed by this he became a monk before adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism. Neither path satisfied him and he decided to pursue the ‘Middle Way’ – a life without luxury but also without poverty.
Buddhists believe that one day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening), Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation and reflected on his experience of life until he became enlightened.
By finding the path to enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or ‘awakened one’.
Schools of Buddhism
There are numerous different schools or sects of Buddhism. The two largest are Theravada Buddhism, which is most popular in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar), and Mahayana Buddhism, which is strongest in Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.
The majority of Buddhist sects do not seek to proselytise (preach and convert), with the notable exception of Nichiren Buddhism.
All schools of Buddhism seek to aid followers on a path of enlightenment.
~Buddhism is 2,500 years old
~There are currently 376 million followers worldwide
~There are over 150,000 Buddhists in Britain
~Buddhism arose as a result of Siddhartha Gautama’s quest for Enlightenment in around the 6th Century BC
~There is no belief in a personal God. ~It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God
~Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent – change is always possible
~The two main Buddhist sects are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, but there are many more
~Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple
~The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.
Atheism is the absence of belief in any Gods or spiritual beings. The word Atheism comes from a, meaning without, and theism meaning belief in god or gods.
Atheists don’t use God to explain the existence of the universe.
Atheists say that human beings can devise suitable moral codes to live by without the aid of Gods or scriptures.
Reasons for non-belief
People are atheist for many reasons, among them:
~They find insufficient evidence to support any religion.
~They think that religion is nonsensical.
~They once had a religion and have lost faith in it.
~They live in a non-religious culture.
~Religion doesn’t interest them.
~Religion doesn’t seem relevant to their lives.
~Religions seem to have done a lot of harm in the world.
~The world is such a bad place that there can’t be a God.
~Many atheists are also secularist, and are hostile to any special treatment given to organised religion.
It is possible to be both atheist and religious. Virtually all Buddhists manage it, as do some adherents of other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity.
Atheists and morality
Atheists are as moral (or immoral) as religious people.
In practical terms atheists often follow the same moral code as religious people, but they arrive at the decision of what is good or bad without any help from the idea of God.
Judaism is the original of the three Abrahamic faiths, which also includes Christianity and Islam. According to information published by The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, there were around 13.1 million Jewish people in the world in 2007, most residing in the USA and Israel. According to the 2001 census 267,000 people in the UK said that their religious identity was Jewish, about 0.5% of the population.
~Judaism originated in the Middle East over 3500 years ago
~Judaism was founded by Moses, although Jews trace their history back to Abraham.
~Jews believe that there is only one God with whom they have a covenant.
~In exchange for all the good that God has done for the Jewish people, Jewish people keep God’s laws and try to bring holiness into every aspect of their lives.
~Judaism has a rich history of religious text, but the central and most important religious document is the Torah.
~Jewish traditional or oral law, the interpretation of the laws of the Torah, is called halakhah.
~Spiritual leaders are called Rabbis.
~Jews worship in Synagogues.
~6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust in an attempt to wipe out Judaism.
~There are many people who identify themselves as Jewish without necessarily believing in, or observing, any Jewish law.
Paganism describes a group of contemporary religions based on a reverence for nature. These faiths draw on the traditional religions of indigenous peoples throughout the world.
~Paganism encompasses a diverse community.
~Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, Sacred Ecologists, Odinists and Heathens all make up parts of the Pagan community.
~Some groups concentrate on specific traditions or practices such as ecology, witchcraft, Celtic traditions or certain gods.
~Most Pagans share an ecological vision that comes from the Pagan belief in the organic vitality and spirituality of the natural world.
~Due to persecution and misrepresentation it is necessary to define what Pagans are not as well as what they are. Pagans are not sexual deviants, do not worship the devil, are not evil, do not practice ‘black magic’ and their practices do not involve harming people or animals.
~The Pagan Federation of Great Britain have no precise figures but estimate that the number of Pagans in the British Isles is between 50,000 and 200,000 (2002).