Lesson: Creating Your Own Religions



What factors would make a religion popular?  For a moment, try not to put in your Christian knowledge but use what you know about the human nature to design one based on common sense.  If you are someone who wants to start a religion, either for your own fame or to achieve some sociopolitical goals, what would you put into this religion of yours?  Does your deity have a shape and form?  How should he/she look like?  What is the highest stage of development human beings can achieve?  What kinds of possible afterlives would you create?  If you have different afterlives, what determines who goes where?

Group topics:
1.  Shape and Form of Deity
2.  Perception of Deity & Religion in General
3.  Human Potential
4.  Rules & Guidelines
5.  Conditions of Salvation
 
Finally, compare what you guys make up with Christianity.  Does Christianity make sense from your human-oriented, seemingly logical point of view?  What does this imply about Christianity?

Quote of the Day: "Credo, quia absurdum" (Tertullian, 3rd century A.D.)
Translation: "I believe, because it is absurd."


Shape and Form of Deity

Should your deity have a visible shape and form?
Some possible choices:
     * a visible deity with a definite human or animal looks
     * a visible deity with unnatural or modified forms
     * a visible deity with changeable forms
     * shapeless and formless -- not to be seen by humans

Considerations:
What choice will make the religion more personable, more easily explained, and more acceptable to the people?
What is easier to believe in, a visible entity or an invisible one?
If you want people to be able to become gods, do you want gods to look like them?


Perception of Deity & Religion in General

Some possible choices:
     * a loving deity who extends love to everyone, and everyone lives happily ever after
     * a mean deity who punishes disobedience severely
     * a moderate deity who tolerates some bad things, and maybe makes mistakes once in a while
     * a deity who doesn't care about what's going on and is therefore not responsible for what's happening

Considerations:
What choice will make the religion more personable, more easily explained; more acceptable to the people?  In one sense, what do people like to hear?
What type of deity will make the explanation of human suffering and other conditions easier?
What type of deity will make the enforcement of the rules of your religion easier?
What will make your religion more respectable?


Human Potential

Some possible choices:
     * mankind can become gods by following the rules and do certain things (you get to design these conditions)
     * mankind can not become anything higher than what they are
     * reincarnation -- lives go in circles, and awards and punishments are given in the next reincarnation
     * a person can be given special abilities and/or authority for certain uses

Considerations:
What choice will make the religion more personable, more easily explained; more acceptable to the people?  In one sense, what do people like to hear?  Think about our tendency for self-glorification and pride.
What choice will make the explanation of human suffering and other conditions easier?
What type of deity will make the enforcement of the rules of your religion easier?


Rules & Guidelines

Some possible choices (not mutually exclusive):
     * few or no rules -- let people do what they want and have fun
     * lots of definite and clear rules with strict enforcement (be sure to mention what rules are included in your religion)
     * rules to achieve your sociopolitical goals
     * some strange rules (e.g., formalities, customs) to add to the mystery of your religion

Considerations:
What choice will make the religion more personable, more easily explained; more acceptable to the people?  In one sense, what do people like to hear?
Don't forget the human nature.  Do you like rules?
People tend to look up to a religion for moral guidance.  Does this mean that you should have many rules telling people what to do?  How do you get people to do them?
What type of deity will make the enforcement of the rules of your religion easier?


Conditions of Salvation

Before you proceed, decide whether you want to have "salvation" in your religion.

Salvation implies mankind can be in two categories: lower (unsaved) and higher (saved).  Somehow one can move from the lower to the higher category (reversal is not impossible; this depends on your definition).  If your answer is "yes," then proceed with the question.  If not, carefully explain why there is no distinction.

Some possible choices:
     * everyone goes to heaven
     * everyone goes to hell; amount of suffering dependent on amount of crime committed or laws broken
     * salvation comes from perfect (or near perfect) following of your rules
     * salvation comes from removal of failures through payments, sacrifices... etc.
     * salvation is free if something is done (e.g., believing in something or someone)

Considerations:
What choice will make the religion more personable, more easily explained, more acceptable to the people?  In one sense, what do people like to hear?  Remember people's pride, self-esteem, and the need for a sense of accomplishment.
What kind will make the enforcement of the rules of your religion easier?



This lesson was developed by George Huang.  Got a question or want to publish this lesson?  E-mail me.

Last updated: 2/10/2000