When I talk to people about God, I often hear them say: “I’m not religious!” I wonder what they mean by that. My guess is that they associate the word “religion” with belief in God. But is that what a religion is about? If that’s the case, then Zen Buddhism isn’t a religion since “Buddhists do not believe in a personal God or in a divine being that reign on the Universe.”[1] So what’s a religion? According to Wikipedia, “Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations that relate humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements.”[2] In fact, the word “religion” doesn’t necessarily refer to a belief in God but to particular worldview, “a set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are, and the most important things than human beings should spend their time doing.”[3] In that sense, ironically, even atheists are religious because they firmly believethat there’s no God. That’s what Stephen Hawking’s believed: “We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate (…) We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.”[4] 

So in a way, we’re all religious, we all believe, we all have faith. The question isn’t so much whether we believe but in what we believe (reincarnation, superstitions, astrology, humanity, chance, fate or aliens just to name a few possibilities). It’s interesting to note that, as far as I know, the word “religion” only appears five times in the Bible (Acts 25:19, 26:5; Colossians 2:23; James 1:26, 27). Maybe because Christianity isn’t a religion like any other. Christians believe indeed that God became man in the person of Christ, who loved us so much that he lived the perfect life we could never live and died the death we deserve so we can be forgiven and enjoy an eternal relationship with our creator. Isn’t it worth looking into this kind of religion?


[1]https://www.zen-buddhism.net/faq/zen-faq.html.

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

[3]Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, 2008), p. 15.

[4]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking#Religion_and_atheism

Jonathan Chaintrier

Jonathan Chaintrier

French Minister