“Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelation of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends,” wrote Albert Einstein while contemplating the irreconcilable dichotomy of science of religion. “To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations, and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to perform in the social life of man.”
We were born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, Nature, the Sacred, or whatever word we used to denote that which lied beyond our sense-perceived reality. Confident that we knew everything, we were lulled into a false sense of security. But how quickly that illusion shattered when the events of last year forced us to stay locked up in our own homes, unable to go outside, afraid for our own health and those close to us. It was at that time that many of us started to question everything we did up until that point. What was it all for? We might have forgotten the essential questions of human existence, but the TED-Ed video below makes it clear that since time immemorial our ancestors always wondered about the purpose of their life on this planet and asked, “Why am I here and what is my purpose?” These are exactly the type of questions that religions are meant to answer. Please enjoy this video overview of the five major world religions which covers their origin and their main message.
THE FIVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS
by John Bellaimey and TED-Ed
In all times and places in our history, human beings have wondered, “Where did we come from? What’s our place in the world? What happens to us after we die?” Religions are systems of belief that have developed and evolved over time in response to these and other eternal mysteries, driven by the feeling that some questions can only be answered by faith, and based on an intuition that there’s something greater than ourselves, a higher power we must answer to, or some source we all spring from and to which we must return. … Religion has been an aspect of culture for as long as it has existed, and there are countless variations of its practice. But common to all religions is an appeal for meaning beyond the empty vanities and lowly realities of existence, beyond sin, suffering, and death, beyond fear, and beyond ourselves.
For a more in-depth study, you can’t go wrong with the classic in the field titled The World’s Religions by Huston Smith, which remains a common introduction to comparative religion. This book explores essential elements of the world’s predominant faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the native traditions of Australia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.