If someone were to ask you to name the various kinds of religious beliefs and affiliations that exist today, you might be able to name a few. On the adherents.com website, 22 major religions of the world are ranked by number of adherents as follows:
1. Christianity: 2.1 billion
2. Islam: 1.5 billion
3. Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
4. Hinduism: 900 million
5. Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
6. Buddhism: 376 million
7. Primal-indigenous: 300 million
8. African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
9. Sikhism: 23 million
10. Juche: 19 million
11. Spiritism: 15 million
12. Judaism: 14 million
13. Baha'i: 7 million
14. Jainism: 4.2 million
15. Shinto: 4 million
16. Cao Dai: 4 million
17. Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
18. Tenrikyo: 2 million
19. Neo-Paganism: 1 million
20. Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
21. Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
22. Scientology: 500 thousand
Within these major groups, there are various sects and denominations. Even as we speak, the number is growing as new ones are being formed by individuals who claim to have gained new awakenings or insights. There is a maddening frenzy of futile spiritual pursuits. Thus, as a way of alerting us to this frenzy, chapter 7 of Vital Truth and Precepts uses the analogy of experiences around a spiritual mountain to depict the confusion in the religious arena.
Here is a quote from page 107:
"Irrespective of what this (peaceful) mountaintop is perceived to be, all humans intuitively know about its reality. Many look for it in the wrong places. Others try to create and climb their own mountains in a futile pursuit of peace and happiness. Different false religions and practices of mysticism have evolved as part of the futile human efforts to have the mountaintop experience. Even professing Christians engage in empty religious activities, hoping to find fulfillment.
A false and short-lived feeling of fulfillment may be gained from an empty religious zeal. There may be a counterfeit spiritual ascent. This lasts only as long as the fleeting emotions stirring it up. All practitioners of false religions are bound to slide back down the slopes of idiocy. Sometimes the ride is not very enjoyable."
There are proponents of various forms of religion. There are contenders or combatants, and there are those who prefer a smorgasbord approach to religion. All of these viewpoints and standpoints have been represented in various discussion forums. I suppose, one has to make up his or her mind as to which viewpoint or stance to take. But how does one do this? Herein lies the dilemma posed by the confusion of ideas out there. Without the infusion of some orderliness into how we ought to be thinking about religion, the confusion will at least continue, if not grow worse.
This is where this book - Vital Truth and Precepts provides its contribution. There are thoughts presented that should lead to reasonable conclusions about the true religion. The following questions are addressed:
What is the truth and how do we arrive at it?
What are the benefits or dangers of having a proliferation of "truths", particularly where some of these "truths" are opposed?
Who is in charge or should be in charge of our lives, who is fully dependable and truly has the power or ability to take care of things that we cannot take care of for ourselves?
Is there really a purpose to life?
Do I or should I care about what, if anything, follows after my death?
Is there ultimate stock-taking and are there ultimate consequences?
To whom or what are we ultimately accountable?
Does or can anyone stand exempt from these considerations?
Is it possible that I could be deceived or deluded in these matters without knowing it?