All of us are born into a religion. A lot of us spend our whole lives defending a dogma that was associated to us just by a matter of consequence. Come to think of it, I had myself not tried seeing the bigger picture and had largely procrastinated investigating the central idea of religion. The question was posed while going through Sapiens which is a de-facto outer view of the history of human existence. Understanding the idea of religion from a historical perspective gives you invaluable insights.
The first thing I deem mentioning when I think about religion is : Live and let live. I believe the biggest social contract is the concept of “humanity”. If we internalize our belief system, all of human society can co-exist without locking horns about which is the superior one. The brusque way to say it would be to go about minding your own business and be open to making compromises and find mutual grounds of understanding.
Another contention I have is our affinity for symbolism. Symbolizing abstract concepts help us be coherent in life. All religions decree comprehensive rules that one must follow. What troubles me although is our penchant to stick with symbolism and stop questioning. Evolution is so fundamental to nature, yet we constantly seem to be lost in our core beliefs and stop listening. Staying contemporary to public discourse is vital to our continued advancement yet we shy away from critiquing existing norms and accept change for the greater good.
An informed belief system always has space and scope for modifications. A good heuristic is to listen to all ends of the belief spectrum. This gives you the benefit of understanding constructs that have stood the test of time so that you can apply some or the other to all small and big questions. Belief systems are by design meant to plug gaps in our understanding of the universe. Would it not make sense then to be open to other approaches to the problem and at the least agree to disagree?
The way I see it, all popular religions have a pacifist and non-invasive core. A pure concept gets layered by a host of misinterpretations and ends up being radically different than what it was supposed to be. It is thus the responsibility of the one who practices a belief to keep asking themselves uncomfortable questions.
It has been quite some time since I went through the book but I can vouch for the authenticity of the material if you are mining your next good non-fiction read.