Questions Any Religion Ought to be able to Answer (For You)

Having taken part in a rather extensive discussion about the very definition of Paganism and who we are as a movement (and generally getting nowhere), I came to the realization that it might be profitable for me to pose a list of questions that ought to be answered by any legitimate religion. As I worked on this list of questions I easily made the observation that Paganism, for the most part, fails to even try to answer most of these questions, and that became a concern to me. I am not saying that the answers are not found within Paganism; I am saying that most of today’s Pagan movements fail to offer answers directly to these questions, leaving the individual to try to answer them on his/her own. That, frankly, is a sad statement and one that should cause any serious Pagan to contemplate his/her place within the Pagan movement.

Equally sad was the overall fluff I found on the internet when this query was typed into search engines, actually coming from well-established religious movements, mostly Christian. It’s not that the various Christian denominations fail to answer these questions (for they do); it’s that, on the internet, at least, they fail to do so unless one looks specifically at their denominational doctrines, which takes more effort than most people are willing to put forth. Thus, their fundamental questions are also left unanswered. Personally, I was glad I had formulated my own questions before I did any internet research on the subject. But, please keep in mind that these questions, substantive as they are, are not all of the questions that could be posed. But, I think, these questions should be answered by any legitimate religion at a minimum.

I am also no tat this time posing answers here. That will come at a later time. The questions are as follows:

  1. Who are we? Who am I?
  2. What is our/my place in the universe?
  3. Was the world/universe created or did it simply come into being? Or, did it always exist?
  4. Who do we hope to be?
  5. What do we strive to accomplish?
  6. What is our hope/our purpose for existing? What is our place in nature/the universe?
  7. Is there something/anything beyond me/us?
  8. What is existence? Why do I/we exist? What is our purpose? What is the meaning of life?
  9. Does deity exist? If so, in what form? What is deity like?
  10. What governs the universe/nature, deity or scientific/natural laws? Does deity influence or control cosmic/natural events (does deity control the weather and/or other natural forces) or do universal/natural laws? Can/does deity override the cosmos/nature on occasion?
  11. Does deity care about me/us? If so, how do we recognize this?
  12. How do I/we relate to deity? How does deity relate to me/us?
  13. How/why do we pray? Is there a right/wrong way? What constitutes prayer?
  14. Is there life after death? If so, what form does it take?
  15. Does my/our life/death matter? If so, in what way?
  16. What happens to us when we die?
  17. Is there a place of eternal bliss? Of eternal suffering?
  18. What is our standard of ethics? How is it codified? From whence do our ethics come?
  19. What is our moral authority? What are the rules of the game of life?
  20. Do we adhere to a doctrine “set in stone” or is it more fluid?
  21. How/to what extent is personal inspiration (or UPG) taken into account?
  22. Which is more important – belief or conduct? How should they interact with one another in my/our daily walk?
  23. What constitutes salvation (enlightenment)? Why do we need salvation (enlightenment)? What must one do to be saved (enlightened)?
  24. Does salvation (enlightenment) require a savior or can one reach it on one’s own? Is there only one way to reach salvation (enlightenment) or might there be multiple ways/paths? If multiple, are all ways/paths equally valid? If not, why not? How do we determine this?
  25. Is there such a thing as “damnation”? If so, in what form might it take? If not, what happens to the souls of those who were evil?
  26. What is the relationship between soul and flesh/spirit and matter? Is the flesh/matter sinful/evil? If so, what must I/we do about it? If not, why is it good?
  27. How should I/we relate to humanity? Is there a point at which I/we should reject/withdraw from overall society? For whom/what am I/are we responsible and to what extent? To whom am I/are we accountable? How are responsibilities to be carried out?
  28. What is right and what is wrong? How do we define each? How do we determine right from wrong?
  29. Why do good and evil exist? What form might good and evil take? From whence do good and evil come?
  30. Is there an end of things or do we go on forever? Is time linear or cyclical? Is there a beginning and an ending or does everything simply repeat?
  31. What is true and what is false? How do we determine that?
  32. To what extent do we, as an organization, interact with society? Where might boundaries be drawn?
  33. What is the acceptable method for attracting adherents? Do we proselytize? If so, to what extent?
  34. What incentives exist for members? Will becoming a member better me or my life? What’s in it for me?
  35. Are there rites, rites of passage, or initiations that one must/should go through? If so, what are they and what form do they take? If not, why not?
  36. What is the standard of conduct/belief for lay members/for leadership?
  37. What sort of hierarchy exists within this movement?
  38. How are we organized? Is there authority? If so, what credentials are necessary for authority?
  39. What is the method by which one becomes a credentialed authority? What credentials must leaders have?
  40. How much authority do leaders have over me/us and my/our conduct?
  41. To what standard must leaders adhere in order to remain in authority? Is there an appeals process for those who fail to uphold said standards and what form might it take?
  42. How do we know that anyone’s authority is in any way sanctioned by deity?
  43. Who decides in matters of religious disputes? How does this process work?
  44. Who is/should be excluded/outcast? How do we determine this?
  45. Why reject anyone? Why not accept everyone regardless of belief or practice?
  46. What are the punishments, if any, for improper conduct/belief? How might they be carried out?
  47. Is there an appeal process? If so, what form does it take?
  48. What is the history of our movement? Is it new or old and well-established? Is it based on new concepts or old precepts? How much history/what history can we claim as our own?
  49. What historical personages do/should we venerate? Are there role-models whom we do/should look up to as standards for our conduct. If so, who are/were they?
  50. Do we have a holy book? If not, what do we rely on as a guide? Do we think literally or allegorically when seeking guidance?

The above questions having been posed (without answers) it seemed equally important to me, given current trends in our modern society, to pose just a few questions that should by no means be answered by religion. These questions should be outside of the realm of religious authority at all times.

  1. What form of politics is right? What form of government is best?
  2. For whom should I vote? What leader should I support?
  3. What political party should I adhere to?
  4. What economic system is right?
  5. Is any nation, including our own, “special”?
  6. Has/does god/the gods punish us as a nation or a people?
  7. What animals are good/not good?
  8. What race or ethnicity is superior/inferior? Are there superior/inferior ethnicities/races?
  9. What is one allowed to eat/drink?
  10. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? (Those who have studied religion will relish the poetic irony here. And I always wondered if the number would be different if they were talking about demons as opposed to angels, but I digress).

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