Whether it be positive or aversive, religion will always have an impact on human behavior. From the beginning of time humans have been affected by our spiritual nature. Desire for something greater than the natural consumes our world. Everywhere you look you find temples, houses of worship, books on prayer, meditation, supernatural, etc. The western cultures have risen in secularism in the last century, yet those who ascribe to a religion are still the majority.
Atheism may have become popular in western civilization, but it is a fading minority compared to the rise of postmodern spirituality. Pluralism is a more popular way to deal with religious differences than eradication of religion. People desire spirituality enough that they would rather accept all religions than do away with all of them. The eastern and third world cultures are vastly spiritual. The west has sanitized spirituality to make it fit religious molds and marketing to appeal to the modern mind. However, things are in transition to a new spirituality that is more experiential and less formal.
History is replete with religious extremism. The world is still experiencing the after effects of 9/11. We know full well the adverse affects of religion gone awry. Still American churches were full following this tragedy. Yet attendance waned as people are still in confusion about how to fulfill their spiritual desires. Their immediate reaction to find God diminished as time passed and many blamed religion. The dilemma is real in the minds of many. How to overcome the struggle of wanting God and yet not wanting these shocking results of religious extremism. Is pluralism the answer? Is eradicating religion the answer? Is there truth that can be experientially known?
The unfilled desire for something greater than our reality rises within us and, yet we fear to allow it to surface. We push it down, ignore it, strive to fulfill it through entertainment, family, work, money, etc. In those quiet moments, the longing bubbles up inside us as we watch a sunset or listen to a summer rain. Something calls from our spirit something that affects us no matter what we do. The question is: will we stop fighting it? Will we seek truth no matter where it leads? We know religion will always be in our world; maybe it's time to see what it's all about. Maybe there is a place in its story for us. Maybe that longing is designed and the path to the answers is to follow it to its source.