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Religious Philosophy
Lesson 4 ~ Organized Religions
By:  Trent Murman
If those zoo keepers are right in thinking that gorillas "get something" out of a wake when one dies, what does that say about religion? Does it diminish faith and make it "just biological" if we were to discover that the great apes do it also? What do you think: are these gorillas expressing some type of proto-faith, or are the zoo keepers 'anthropomorphizing' (assigning human attributes to animal behavior) the gorilla behavior? 
I do not believe it diminishes faith.  I believe in the animal world even the most primitive or simplistic species mourns over the loss of a member of their own "nest or higher family or group structure".  You can certainly tell by the look in a gorillas eyes that he or she is hurting when a member of the group dies we call this empathy….it doesn't have to be about religion.  I believe in the religious aspect the wake is used to help along with the grieving process ultimately ending in closure for the people who lost their loved one.
 If Karl Marx was correct, and religion is only useful in maintaining the political and economic status quo, does it really matter whether that religion believes in Heaven and Hell or whether it accepts reincarnation? How could religion work as this "opium of the people" in each type of society?
I believe religion acts as an opium for the masses because usually it does play an important part in "calming" the masses.  Not too often have I ever heard of fighting going on during a mass or church service.  It is up to the people to make up their own minds regarding Heaven or Hell.  As you are aware there are some that believe death if final and there is nothing after the body ceases to function it is just a baron vessel, lifeless.  Reincarnation is a huge part of some religions and I feel it is necessary to have different beliefs and we need the right to form our own opinions and to choose what we want to believe. 
Finally, what if Sir Frazer and Sir Tylor were correct (being American, it does sound strange to refer to people as "Sir" and mean knighthood)? They considered religion to be the end result of enough people accepting the "answers" offered by some savage philosopher – someone who had thought about the 'great questions of life' and had come to some conclusions. Can you think of anyone from the 20th century who might be thought of in this way? You don't need to agree with them; but, they would need to be someone who had pondered these questions, come to conclusions, and then had others follow their teachings – eventually organizing into a structured religion. Anyone come to mind? If not, how about the 19th century (1800s)?
Jim Jones could certainly fit into this category…I believe he attempted to create his own society, religion and following.  However, some would call this brain washing of the masses.  They were definitely influenced by his power or persuasion even going as far as referring to himself as the savior…..this following did end up in mass suicide.  The power of one person over a group is definitely wrong and the bible does caution us against false gods and prophets.  He built a temple and with his actions shocked the world. 

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