I attended the screening for “The Nature of Existence” tonight. Since I blogged about the film last week, I wanted to follow up with my thoughts and reactions.

Director Roger Nygard interviewed over 100 people of different nationalities and beliefs. I heard the views of scientists in the same minute as Jainists, Native Americans, and New Age gurus.

Everyone answered the same 85 questions. Much of the insight I’ve heard or read before,  but the most striking part of this documentary was the cacophony of thought and theory made up by all of these radically diverse groups. At first, It just felt like a  mess of  totally unrelated beliefs.  I laughed quite a bit–both at the absurdly delusional and the fabulously comedic. Not until the very end when I had a time to reflect did I see the larger point.

It may seem simplistic, but I came away from The Nature of Existence with a renewed compassion for spiritual and religious people. My curiosity about world religions and the individuals that follow them has ballooned once again. Becoming an atheist may have brought a new realization that religion is based on delusion and  unnecessary, but hearing people of all different philosophies ponder why we exist and what it means to live a good life just makes me want to be kinder and more open to those who are on the same journey as I am. The difference between us is which path we choose to get there.

There may be a larger truth, but no one religion has it. Even science doesn’t fully understand yet. We search for meaning because it’s part of our natures. Let’s just be kind to one another  along the way, ok?

P.S. Go see the movie! Support independent film makers!

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6 thoughts on “The Nature of Existence and World Religions”

Andrew Hall · August 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

Religion is a fascinating phenomenom. I studied quite a bit of it while an undergraduate/graduate student in psych.

Whore of All the Earth · August 16, 2010 at 7:25 am

I don’t believe in God, but I still have a soft spot for religion. I don’t think any of them has The Answer, but I think they all have interesting ways of approaching the answers to life’s big questions, some of them more useful than others.

The film sounds great. Thanks for recommending it!

Richard Alexander · August 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I really enjoyed the film. Religious people I think are also on the same journey as we are, however, we are skeptical about answers and use the scientific and philosophical arena to discuss them. The religious think they have most of the answers based on their own faith/doctrines or a spiritual guru (Sri Sri Ravi Shanker, Aha, etc).

Hitchens said it best:

“Philosophy begins where religion ends, just as by analogy chemistry begins where alchemy runs out, and astronomy takes the place of astrology.” – God is Not Great

My soft spot for religion is in the mythology of it. Reading Comparative Mythology like Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces made me realize why belief persists. They’re all fictitious but like reading a good Fantasy book or watching a Sci-Fi film you still get something out of it. Somehow the journey of the characters (The Hero) applies to your hero’s journey.

BibleName · June 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

I *really* want to see the fifteen hour director’s cut version of this.

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The Nature of Existence – Now Streaming! | Godless Girl · July 1, 2011 at 1:43 am

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