I have a problem with the way religion is practiced for several reasons. The following is one of them:
The definition of religion: (from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion)
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
7. religions, Archaic . religious rites.
8. Archaic . strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one’s vow.
9. get religion, Informal .
a. to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.
b. to resolve to mend one’s errant ways: The company got religion and stopped making dangerous products.
1150–1200; ME religioun (< OF religion ) < L religiōn- (s. of religiō ) conscientiousness, piety, equiv. to relig ( āre ) to tie, fasten ( re- re- + ligāre to bind, tie; cf. ligament) + -iōn- -ion; cf. rely
“Religion”, by definition, is what happens when a set of beliefs, specifically beliefs concerning moral and ethical issues, as well as an explanation of the unknown, becomes organized into a system. This system binds followers to itself. It is certainly not THE God or Gods to which humans are bound, as “religion” does not necessarily have to include a superhuman being—such as in the case of Buddhism. So, “religion” per say, is not a real problem. It is the definition of the superhuman power that becomes a problem. And, at least in the Abrahamic traditions, the people who define the set of beliefs concerning moral and ethical issues, as well as provide an explanation of the unknown, also become the people who define the superhuman power. In this case, God (or Gods, in the case of those who believe in two). So, do the followers of each belief system worship THE God (or Gods)? Or, do they worship A god (or gods) constructed by man? Since THE God(s) in the three basic Abrahamic systems are so different, each belonging to the ONE and ONLY self-defined true belief system, which one is the true God? All of these “gods” are quite different, with the possible exception in that He (or they) are all powerful. He, or they. even have different sets of instructions. Some of the instructions in one Holy Book, for example, consider the followers of another Holy Book to be infidels. Some of the instructions in yet another Holy Book call for the followers of, again, another Holy Book to be punished for not believing in one of the gods. One Holy Book even makes up part of another Holy Book. All three share commonalities, certainly. But, each one also refers to a specific group of people as “the chosen” group. Each one, individually, is supposed to have been given to each separate group by the God(s) of that group. Each one is supposed to be representative of the True God. But, since the God (or Gods) of all three of the Abrahamic religions has different instructions, which is correct? All of them? None of them? One of them? And, if that is the case, which one? If one, then which one of the many subgroups to be found under each branch is correct in their interpretation of that “voice” of God(s)? Can it be proven? How? By whom? Because, according to all of them, there is but one God, or a God and a Son of God who are considered to be, together, part of the God Being. And, to use a specific Holy Book or interpretation of that Holy Book, to prove which God (or two Gods) is THE God(s), boils down to the same questions–and we keep going around in circles.
According to each system, “He” stays the same. Forever. In perpetuity Yet, each group has continued, throughout the history of the Abrahamic religions, to kill those of one or more of the other groups– through war, persecution, terrorism, or other means. This killing in the name of “righteousness” even occurs between groups under the same branch–forms of Islam vs. another form; denominations of Christianity vs. other denominations. Not with Judaism, so much–although there is certainly some very strained relationships about which form of Judaism is THE true form, as well as accusations about one or the other not being “true” Jews. All of this killing and persecution and hatred occurs, it seems, with the assumed “blessing” of each group’s individual God(s), because, each group considers at least one of the other groups to be false, and because each group believes their Holy Book to be the last say so for God(s). How does this mesh with “forever”?
It seems to me that each group worships a man-defined God, because– if there is but one (or two) gods– God would not make war upon Himself. And, in Christianity, it would seem that the god who is Jesus would not make war on the God who is the Father. I mean, they ARE on the same team, right? Therefore, the followers of all three religions and the subsets of those religions commit what is, in all three Holy Books, a sin: Idolatry. Because they have all created God(s) in the image of themselves; thus, they worship a “graven image”.