Twitter icon

Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
-Christian definition
 -Shared beliefs
 -Handling change
 -Bible topics
 -Bible inerrancy
 -Bible harmony
 -Interpret the Bible
 -Beliefs & creeds
 -Da Vinci code
 -Revelation, 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Confusing terms
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Death penalty

Same-sex marriage

Human rights
Gays in the military
Sex & gender
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news


Religious Tolerance logo

About religions

The roles of doubt & security in religion.

horizontal rule

Variety among religions:

According to one study, there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many thousands of unique faith groups. 1 Among this great religious diversity, there are probably hundreds of different religious creation stories which describe how humans, other species of life, the Earth, and the rest of the universe came to be.

The result is that major chaos exists in the field of religion:

bulletReligions differ greatly in their concept of deity. Even a simple listing of some of the popular concepts of deity is overwhelming: Agnosticism, Animism, Atheism, Deism, Duotheism, Henotheism, Monism, Monotheism, Panentheism, Pantheism, Polytheism, and the Trinity.
bulletReligions also differ in their beliefs about the afterlife, morality, the role of women, etc. We list over two dozen such areas of disagreement.

The role of security in religions:

There are many theories about the origins of religions. Unfortunately, the first religions predated the invention of writing, and so there is no concrete evidence for researchers to go on. Some anthropologists have suggested that religions were created to give humans a feeling of security in an inherently insecure universe. Primitive humans were the first species to be aware of their own impending death. They were also frightened of harm from storms, lightning, floods, hail, famine, etc. Fertility was critical -- both of the crops and families.

The first primitive religions gave people security and a sense of control. By performing specific rituals, they felt that they could appease the Gods and/or Goddesses and get them on the side of the believers.

This need for security and control continues today. This is particularly true among followers of religions like Christianity, Islam, and others that teach the existence of life after death in the form of Heaven and Hell. Many followers of those religions that believe in a God who tortures people throughout all eternity for not meeting his criteria tend to be very concerned about meeting their God's standards. Many religious conservatives are worried that if their country allows sexual minorities, religious minorities, etc. to have equal rights that God will punish the entire nation through natural disasters.

Sponsored link.

The role of certainty and doubt in religions:

Faith groups differ on these topics:

bulletMany faith groups teach exclusivism: that there are two types of religions in the world:

bullet"Top down" religions: Those that God has revealed to humanity.

bullet"Bottom up" religions: False religions created by humans to justify their beliefs in God.

They frequently teach that their own group is the only "top down" religion; their God created humans and revealed a faith to them. They teach that all the thousands of other faith groups in the world are "bottom up" religions; their God(s) and/or Goddess(es) are false deities, created by humans. Most also often teach that doubt is a great sin, because it leads to heresy and apostasy. Followers must believe all of their faith group's teachings, or else their immortal soul is in danger.

However, religion is becoming an increasingly hard sell. The Internet, mass communications, religious diversity, and comparative religion classes have together increased people's awareness of the lack of consistency among the world's religious beliefs. Doubt is beginning to creep into their religious life. After all, one's beliefs are almost entirely a matter of location. If a stork is blown off course, and delivers a newborn to a family in Saudi Arabia instead of South Carolina, that infant will undoubtedly become a devout Muslim, convinced of the accuracy and revealed nature of Islam rather than a committed fundamentalist or other evangelical Christian.

bullet At the other extreme, some religions teach inclusivism. These tend to be more liberal/progressive faith groups who have abandoned concepts like Hell and divine retribution, and who encourage their membership to seek truth wherever it lies. Clergy in such faith groups tend to view their roles as facilitators. They cherish doubt because they feel that it can lead to a deeper spirituality.

Doubt is creeping into many people's consciousness. It can be marvelously liberating in some cases; it can be a danger to their mental health and well being to others.


Sponsored link:

Please visit our section on the roles of doubt in religious life.

Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. David Barrett et al, "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," Oxford University Press, (2001). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

Site navigation:

Home page > here

Copyright © 2009 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-APR-11
Latest update: 2012-JUL-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or choose:

  • Google
    Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

    E-mail us about errors, etc.  Hot, controversial topics

    FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

    Google Page Translator:

    This page translator works on Firefox,
    Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

    After translating, click on the "show
    original" button at the top of this
    page to restore page to English.


    Sponsored links: