By Brian Bellflower, TSB Contributor
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Why does religion exist? Why did religion even come into being?”
Religion was born out of a human need to explain the inexplicable mixed with the knowledge that some events are undeniable. In the ancient world, events occurred that were clearly evident and could not be denied because everyone experienced them. At the same time, these events could not adequately be explained by the current paradigm. In that gap between the obvious event and the inexplicable, religion came to be. For instance, the seasons change. Winter turns into spring and spring into summer and so on. But why does that happen? Why does the weather move from cold to warm to hot? Why do crops grow then die? Why do certain insects come out at certain times? Religion arose
to explain all of the clear data with no clear explanation in the ancient world. In that gap, religion was born.
Religion was an attempt to explain the unexplainable. Later on, science came along and began to dismantle religious beliefs about why things happen as they do. “So you mean that the lightning flashing in the night sky isn’t Zeus?” “No in fact the lightning in the sky isn’t Zeus. It’s actually frozen water particles colliding with unfrozen water particles in an updraft. When those collide in the sky, that creates lightning.” “That’s not Zeus?” “No, that’s just a weather system.” Over years and centuries, we discovered through science what high pressure, low pressure, and other weather patterns were. Religion was an attempt to explain the unplainable.
Later on we discovered germs. Before germs were discovered, people explained sickness away as being daemon possession. “You mean that she’s not daemon possessed?” “No, she has a germ.” “So do we need to take her to the witch doctor to have him lift the curse?” “No, you just need to get her an antibiotic. She’ll be fine.” When a child would get sick, it would be very clear that the child was sick. Coughing, sneezing, fever, or aching were obvious, real symptoms that could be denied. Everyone could observe these symptoms. They were facts. But why did they occur? Religion arose in that gap between clearly observable facts and an inability to explain why they occur. Religion became the attempt to explain the unexplainable.
Religion also arose out of a need to answer the unanswerable. People had big questions about existence, life, and philosophy. What happens when we die? Will I ever see my loved one again? What is the purpose of our lives? How are the body and soul related? These are just huge, seemingly unanswerable questions that everyone asks. They are the fertile ground from which religion sprang. Since no one had a clear undeniable answer, everyone began answering the questions the best way they knew how. In that space between asking the question and having no clarity on the answer religion was born.
Humans do not like the answer, “Nobody knows.” That is just an unacceptable, unsatisfactory answer to us. None of us like the answer, “That’s just a mystery. I guess there is no real explanation.” This is the entire reason that we have experts like doctors, professors, financial advisors, pastors, and attorneys. For instance, if you have a legal question, you will find an attorney to answer that question, right? Let’s suppose you go to the attorney with your list of important legal questions in hand, and the attorney says, “It’s a mystery. Nobody knows the answer to this legal situation.” You and I won’t stop searching. We will find another attorney who knows the answer. We will do this because we want to know. Do you know what most of us will do? We will find an attorney with at least some sort of an answer. Then
guess what we will do next? We will go home to our spouse or friends and tell them that we have finally found the answer even if it’s a completely weird, strange answer. And…. We will begin to do what the advice is!
You and I will do this because in us is a deep needed to know, and we have great difficulty not knowing. Therefore, we seek the answers to the unanswerable through religion. Isn’t it true? We want answers. Some of our religious beliefs are so weird, and we believe them because we want answers. We want explanations. We can’t stand it if someone tells us “I don’t know.” And…. That’s what religion does. It offers answers to the questions that are otherwise unanswerable.
That is why Easter is so non-religious. Easter is not about trying to explain the inplicable. And….. It’s not about trying to answer the questions that no one can seem to answer. It’s about something that truly happened. It’s about a historical event. Therefore, there is nothing really religious about Easter.
Whether you are a Christian, a skeptic, a person who believes a religion, or an earnest seeker of truth, you need to know something very important about Christianity. Christianity wasn’t born out of a movement from a prophet’s teaching. It wasn’t birthed from a group who collectively decided to tell the world a corroborated story. It didn’t come from people deciding to finally explain the things otherwise never explained by others. And…. It didn’t originate from a great philosopher trying to give the answers to the big questions of life. Their message did not focus on the teachings of Jesus, the moral model that Jesus set, or the miracles Jesus performed. There is none of that in Christianity.
Christianity was born out of a historical event that happened on Easter not on religion. Christianity hangs on the historicity of the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s about a real, historical event on a date known by historians. It’s an event that occurred in a city you can visit today. It’s an event corroborated by eye witnesses who all tell the same story. It’s about a stone covering a tomb usually requiring a team of horses to remove it. And…. It’s about a real person who predicted his own death and resurrection and then had the power to pull it off. It’s about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only person in history able to do this. Yes….. Easter and the celebration of the resurrection is much, much, much more than mere religion.
Brian Belflower serves as the Lead Pastor of Intersect Church. He graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia in 1996 and Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas in 2002 graduating with hisnMasters of Theology degree with a focus in Pastoral Leadership. While in graduate school, Brian was active and on staff at Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas and Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton. Brian has served as a teaching pastor, outreach pastor, small group’s pastor, and college pastor in Florida and here in McKinney before becoming the Lead Pastor of Intersect.
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