Why Religion?

noreligion

Earlier today I read a post by the Spartan Atheist related to the development of religion over the centuries, including the role the Winter Solstice played (which we just experienced) … and it got me to thinking.

Why religion?

Let’s look at some definitions for the word “religion” … but first, let’s consider this entry from Wikipedia:

The definition of religion is a controversial and complicated subject in religious studies with scholars failing to agree on any one definition.

Now, let’s review a couple of the more “standard” definitions:

A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. (WordWeb.info)

A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. (Dictionary.com)

A body of beliefs and practices regarding the supernatural and the worship of one or more deities. (Merriam-Webster.com)

And this, from Britannica.com:

Human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It is also commonly regarded as consisting of the way people deal with ultimate concerns about their lives and their fate after death.

So now we have an idea of what “religion” is from the more academic side. From the more “practical” side, it seems to involve belief in and actions related to “something” outside of ourselves. 

For me, the question then becomes … WHY?

Why do so many humans feel they must look beyond themselves to ensure they will live a happy and productive life? Aren’t their personal abilities, personal experiences, and personal decisions enough? Why must they turn to some sort of external assistance to direct their lives? Why must happiness and contentment come from an external source?

It’s understandable why the very early humans needed to latch onto something beyond themselves. They had no concept of the workings of nature. Much of what took place — thunder, lightning, earthquakes — was upsetting and frightening to them. So, according to scientists, over time the people developed “causal narratives;” that is, they would “tell stories” to explain the unexplainable. 

The question then becomes … why do so many modern humans feel the need to rely on (one of) those  “stories” to explain today’s world?  Have we not advanced beyond the need to appease forces we do not understand? Hasn’t our level of intelligence reached the point where we are able to direct our own lives? Do we really need to depend on some “superhuman agency” to live a full and happy life?

IMO, the answer is yes. We have reached the point in human development where we no longer need supernatural assistance. I fully believe we are totally capable of doing and becoming all that we want to be. All. By. Ourselves.

So I ask again … WHY RELIGION?

87 thoughts on “Why Religion?

  1. Why do so many humans feel they must look beyond themselves to ensure they will live a happy and productive life?

    Answer? Hope when feeling or thinking one is without any self-determination (and thus hope) in this life and in a supposed afterlife.

    Why must happiness and contentment come from an external source?

    Answer? Because in this never-ending plural, diverse, ever-changing life & planet we live in/on, a very trying sometimes traumatic life, is much too hard to go it alone without any above mentioned hope in an omniscient, omnipresent “higher power” controlling events for a higher purpose—a Grand Wizard of Oz. if you will. 😉

    Furthermore, every single human being on Earth NEEDS a family or community (tribe) of allied same-mindedness—or something close to self to identify with. So…

    WHY RELIGION?

    Answer? It is absolutely NOT a requirement one must possess or proclaim to do good RIGHT NOW! To be compassionate RIGHT NOW! To be kind RIGHT NOW! To collaborate & care for others RIGHT NOW—which in turn benefits the happiness and purposefulness of the person doing, giving, sharing, helping… RIGHT NOW, and no fictitious mythological unprovable “group-think/act” is required to do these simple acts of kindness, collaboration, care, compassion, and simple good. Period.

    Hell, start with making one’s dinner, lunch, or breakfast table BIGGER with more & more chairs! Then someone else do the same. That’s all it takes. Period. 🙂

    Liked by 9 people

  2. I Like PT’s tribe answer. But I’m sure it is more differentiated and complex than we can handle here.

    My sample size is one: me. I never “needed” religion. I wanted it and usually, I liked it. I’m currently reading Anne Rice’s memoir, “Called Out of Darkness.” So far, I am enjoying it and I relate to so much of what she says about her youthful religions experiences. I will write about it more when I finish.

    In my opinion, religion is mostly about the belonging and the tribe. When it gets stupid or focusses too much on God (and knowing his will and what he wants, etc., etc.), people start to doubt and to leave.

    What religion could not do and never did for me was make me a believer. They tried, I tried, and mama tried. 🙂 Oh, well.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I would break the “why religion” question into two parts. The first is “Why are people inclined to believe weird things? Why are we so naturally superstitious?” But then a separate question is “Why do those beliefs coalesce into organized religions, and why do those religions persist?” Your post seems to be more concerned with the second question.

    Fothat question, the best analysis I have read is from Jared Diamond’s book The World Until Yesterday”. His definition of a religion is that it has most of the following features, and must contain the second one:
    Belief in the supernatural
    Shared membership in a social movement
    Costly and visible proofs of commitment
    Practical rules for one’s behavior (“morality”)
    Belief that supernatural beings and forces can be induced to intervene in worldly life.

    And his reason for why they persist is that they serve functions for the people that have them. The functions he identified are:
    Explanation
    Defusing anxiety
    Providing comfort
    Standardized organization
    Political obedience
    Codes of behavior towards strangers
    Justifying wars

    And these different functions may be more or less important depending on the type and advancement of the society involved. I wrote up a long discussion of Diamond’s analysis some time ago, and instead of trying to copy the whole thing here, I’ll just link to it. https://boldquestions.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/jared-diamond-on-religion/

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    • In this way, religions provide a sense of belonging to a greater whole, a common ground upon which one is sharing experiences, life, and, I believe, hedging their bets against fear, the unknown, and failure. One becomes part of “us” and not “them.”

      I think the same applies to the question as to why people join cults as I see religions & cults very similarly. Religion is nothing more than a socially acceptable cult; they all have the same attributes.

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      • I’m not convinced that all the functions benefit the elites more than they benefit the rest of the people. But the “Political obedience” and “justifying wars” certainly do. But having a code of behavior that says “the gods say you may not kill another member of your tribe without cause” certainly benefits everybody.

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  4. ….. IMO, the answer is yes. We have reached the point in human development where we no longer need supernatural assistance. I fully believe we are totally capable of doing and becoming all that we want to be. All. By. Ourselves …..

    Nicely summarized, Nan! Yes, we have indeed reached that point in human development. but the continued need for supernatural (= infinitely powerful) assistance invoked everywhere; is a fact.
    Is this reflection too primitive? – in my opinion the answer is no.
    Regards.+

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  5. Apparently we haven’t reached beyond the need for religion, or we would have done just that. Most people need to belong to something. Leaving religion, so many take up another sword and follow that dogma. Tildebs sciencism is a good example, or becoming anti religious (the other side of the religion coin) can be quite aggressive. The problem as I see it is ghat even without religion we’re still stuck in belief mode, and until we find a cure for that we are doomed to fight.

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    • Apparently we haven’t reached beyond the need for religion

      I reckon we have and it is the religious institutions that keep it going.
      Breaking the cycle is never easy – ask any addict – but all it takes is skip one generation and religious belief will fall away, naturally.

      I would also venture that I agree with Dan Dennett whereby most supposed religious people of our current generation merely believe they believe.

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    • Although I am encouraged that “non-affiliated” is the fastest growing segment of demographics in the US. Right now it is up to 29% of people that responded this way to a recent poll.

      We can build on that….

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  6. Now for my 4 cents worth. (Please note the doubled value of the usual price of someone’s opinion!)
    In my mind, people are not ready to leave religions behind because they are not truly adults, they are children in adult bodies. Why? Because they were taught as children to believe in whatever religion was being force-fed into them, and they never grew up enough to question those “truths” they were given by their parents, teachers, preaches, and other authorities. Using my own childhood as reference, everyone told me there was a God! And NO ONE TOLD ME THERE WASN’T! “Ipso facto,” God was real, and ruled the universe with a very strict hand. I believed because I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO BELIEVE. Obviously, that changed. Once I discovered that I did not have to believe, and given my abused background continually asking that God to save myself and my sisters from my complete bastard of a sperm donor, AND GETTING NO SIGN FROM ABOVE THAT HE GAVE ONE SHIT ABOUT ANY OF US, I saw the utter ridiculousness of believing what I was told had to be believed.
    How or why other people made the move away from religion, if they were brainwashed like I was as a child, I cannot really say, but obviously they (most of your readers) found their own motivations. Mine was very experiential.
    Talking to people now who are still religious, it is easy to see how their early childhood did not prepare them to become adults. In fact, ask them pointed questions, and they automatically revert to the answers they were given as children.
    This is not to say there are “no” persons who achieved adulthood and still believe, but you can tell the difference between them and eternal children by the quality of their answers. They have examined their own beliefs, and have chosen to to continue to believe, but they know why.
    That is only part of my thinking, but I have already taken up too much space here. Tata!

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  7. For me, religion isn’t about *needing* the supernatural as a crutch or anything like that.

    It’s about the fact that science doesn’t explain. It explains the “how,” perhaps, but what science explains is something completely differently & largely unrelated to what religion is about. For me.

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      • To me?

        More than one thing, but I’m not sure how to describe all of it. Or maybe one thing with more than one form. But, I might be able to do this better with an illustration. I’ve seen a tree, looked at a tree. That has seemed as if it were a face, barely concealed, or had a face. Face isn’t quite the right word, but I can’t shake the impression. That a tree, or trees, or some trees, have something like a personality or a spirit. Not necessarily a personality or a spirit I could ever have more than an impression of. It might be too far different from me for that. But something.

        I don’t *need* to believe this for moral support or anything like that. I do believe there’s *something* to it. I hold to things that would be considered religion (though I’m long & far outside any organized religion) because I just do. Because it seems right to me. It’s something similar, I suppose, to my personal ‘morality’ though I hate that term, but to my sense of what is, for me personally, right & wrong. Right & wrong aren’t wholly relative. Some things are just wrong, & some things are always good. But a lot of what I understand to be right & wrong – I wouldn’t even suggest that all other human beings are like me in it.

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        • Reading your comment, it seems to me that what you’re describing is not necessarily “religion,” but your personal outlook on the more “spiritual” side of life. You may or may not actually believe in some “external entity” … but from your description, I think you do seem to feel there is “something” guiding you.

          I suppose there is good and bad in this, but based on my own personal outlook, relying or leaning on anything outside of yourself is an effort in futility.

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        • Don’t anyone take this response wrong please … it’s meant to be taken lightly … friendly … maybe almost like a jest …

          You can’t help but rely on something outside yourself. Air … water … even the most basic physical necessities of life are outside ourselves. And I don’t know how anyone could succeed at having no emotional reliance on anything outside ourselves, whether that’s family or friends or the circumstances or something else. Minimal compared to some others yes, but none?

          It can, of course, be somewhat scary at times…

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        • Raina, since this post was about Religion, this is what I meant when I talked about relying on something outside of ourselves. Certainly as you pointed out, we need the basic physical necessities and yes, friends and families. But to my way of seeing things, we do NOT need the trappings of Religion. In fact for many, I believe Religion (and all that goes with it) is more of a detriment than it is a benefit.

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        • I know! I know! I was hoping to come across in a very friendly, almost jest-like way! At the same time, I was also serious. The way I necessarily rely on and am affected in an emotional/psychological sphere by other people and my spirituality isn’t something that I can draw a dividing line between. In my experience, and to my way of thinking, there’s no sharp differentiation. I can sort of see the differentiation when the contrast is with the basic physical necessities, but when it comes to the emotional, for me at least, trying to not rely on the spiritual would be like trying to not be emotionally affected by the people around me.

          Then again, most of the ‘trappings of religion’ I’ve long since discarded … I’ve no religious community or tradition, no set beliefs I adhere to for any reason except because, in whatever way, I do find that I believe them, and no religious rituals or practices that I feel compelled to observe because the tradition of the elders or the community demands it. I suppose if one contrasts religion with the spiritual, I might say that I am not religious.

          That may be. I think very few people can actually succeed at being entirely unspiritual, but I do think a lot of religion is detrimental. I’ve found aspects of religion or environments to be detrimental in my own life, and I try to discard them.

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  8. As most of you who read my comments already know, I was raised Roman Catholic & I left the Church to explore other religions & spiritual options & experiences.

    Part of me misses the Church because I miss belonging to something.

    But I can’t … I just can’t.

    I was having a conversation with my sister (I can’t remember when but sometime in the last two years) & we were talking about being Catholic. She said that there’s “no way” that I can identify as a “Catholic” since I don’t “believe” in most of what Catholics “are supposed to believe in” (she was referring to papal infallibilty & the abortion issue) & that “you can’t belong to a club if you’re not going to adhere to the rules of the club”.

    My answer to that was that I “didn’t know that the Catholic Church was a club, I thought it was a religion” & that was the end of the conversation.

    I have a book by Charlotte Davis Kasl called “Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps” & in Chapter Two, “The Fear of Questioning”, she outlines the “Stages of Faith” & their approximate ages. Most people never get beyond stage three, “The Loyalist”, which is ages 11-16. However, there are three stages beyond this! I think this is true when it comes to political thinking or almost any kind of thinking whatsoever nowadays.

    She writes, “In stages one, two and three, people have difficulty realizing that what they believe are simply learned beliefs, as opposed to concrete truths… It is from this sense of rightness that they may come to feel convinced that they have a right to impose their beliefs on others, who are obviously wrong if they disagree.” (Kasl, 30).

    Kasl, Charlotte Davis, Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the Twelve Steps. NY: Harper Perennial, 1992.

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    • Part of me misses the Church because I miss belonging to something.

      I think this statement pretty much sums up the so-called “need” for religion. Most humans do have a tendency to want to be around like-minded individuals. It’s just unfortunate that so many choose “religion” (and all that comes with it) as their gathering point.

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        • Whoops I was not finished. In a religious home, but I feel the desire and need to be around like minded people, not only in religion, but politics as well. It can make you feel less alone to have “your” tribe. I think that has a lot to do with it and since so many people are raised in a religious home, it’s natural that religion has more adherents than atheism. Hopefully that is changing and people can become good and caring and less judgemental because they know it’s right and will benefit them as well. No need for religion to do that.

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  9. Well, I’m a Muslim cause the Quran says within itself that IT is a book NOT to be doubted. Now, unless you’re going to try to convince me that PEOPLE simply made that up and wrote it down into a religious book, you’re gonna have’ta admit the Quran is a mic drop for the proof of Allah and Islam. ‘Nuff said!

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  10. Nan, good post that makes people think. A lot of good has come out of religion when focused in the right way, but a lot of bad has as well. Many charities designed to help people in need have arisen out of efforts of community minded outreach from houses of worship. On the flip side, too many wars and persecutions have been caused by religion.

    My thesis is simple. When houses of worship are inclusive, they are at their finest. When they are exclusive, they are at their absolute worst. My pet peeve is when I see bigotry from the pulpit, as I see that as a gross dereliction of duty. I say this often – even for those who are not religious. The baby whose birth many will honor in a couple of days, said as an adult, treat others like you want to be treated. Similar words show up in other religious texts. If we just did that, the world would be a better place, whether we are religious or not.

    Keith

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    • I would take issue with something you said, “When houses of worship are inclusive, they are at their finest”. The problem is that religions are *always* exclusive and never inclusive. By its very nature religion has to be exclusionary. Anyone who does not adhere to a particular religion’s doctrines are automatically excluded. Religions pretend, emphasis on pretend, to be inclusionary only to attempt to draw outsiders into their religion.

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      • Thanks for your response. I recognize your point. My comment related to welcoming people. I have seen churches open their arms to the LGBTQ+ community, to immigrants from around the world, to people of different faiths. I have also seen churches that are so exclusive and antagonistic to others who think differently they have caused their own demise with declining attendance. Keith

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        • you do have a point but, alas, it seems there are very few such churches around here. The Catholic church especially seems to have taken a hard right turn and has dove into extremism head first around here.

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      • I think it depends what you mean by exclusionary and “to draw outsiders into their religion.” As a non-Christian, I’ve been to my friends’ houses for Christmas and Easter as a guest and to church a few times for practical reasons and never once did I feel like I was being asked to convert.

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    • A lot of good has come out of religion

      Really? Would you please enlighten us what specific good religion has done (especially that which could not or has not been done by non religious means?)
      Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your question. The number of organizations that have been spawned to help people in need are countless, on the local, national and global levels. Are they perfect? – absolutely not. Do they improve people’s situations or are they benevolent band aids? – some do, others need to improve their model. Would the need be supported by a non-religious entity? – maybe, maybe not, but altruism has to start somewhere.

        In my volunteer board work, I have worked with some wonderful people from churches and synagogues to help homeless working families get and remain housed. What churches and other non-religious groups must be helped with is to not disproportionately help people doing for them what they should do for themselves. We must help people climb ladders and not climb it for them. This is a little off subject, for that I apologize, but we should appreciate groups of folks who are trying to help regardless if it is religious or non-religious. That is my two cents.

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        • I think you misunderstood my question, Keith and got a bit carried away there.
          Or perhaps I phrased it poorly?
          I was after specific benefits / deeds that religion had accomplished that the non religious had not?
          Correct me I’m wrong but does not any sort of religiously motivated intervention come with the tacit understanding that the believer is obliged to bring along The Lord?

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        • Ark, one of the agencies I waa involved used to require our volunteers to sign an ageeement not to proselytize, except by deed. Interestingly, we did not need to do so, as the volunteers were amazed at how pious our homeless families tended to be. All they had was their faith. Yet, I do agree with you that the volunteers should not proselytize.

          I have spoken in front of many religious and non-religious groups to thank them for their help and educate them on the plight of various types of homeless people and how the help they need varies. I have seen churches, synagogues, rotary groups, businesses, et al give money, time and goods to help. If we did not have these religious entities and their outreach, the people in need would not get as much help, especially with downward funding pressures that local governments, United Way, and local busnisses have.

          The faith community provides a key role and impetus to help. Their outreach is important. Just as one example of many, the organzation I was imvolved is the product of a three way merger, of which two organizations were started by churches and one of which still had heavy involvement with several churches.

          Thanks again for your queries. I have taken up too much of Nan’s space, so I will leave it at that. Be safe over the holidays. Keith

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        • *Sigh* …
          Once again the question was not answered.
          It is frustrating and disappointing, though not entirely unexpected, when a (religious) commenter makes an assertions but when asked to support it they tend to veer off on a tangent, and the sign off with a lukewarm excuse / apology to the host,

          The faith community provides a key role and impetus to help.

          There are two aspects to this statement. 1.The tacit implication that without the ”faith community” such help would not materialise.
          2. The motivation to help is driven primarily by religious belief.

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  11. The basic premise for all religions is belief that a supernatural realm called heaven exists and that humans have knowledge of and access to it. Children are taught to believe in heaven and that they are special. The great failing of religion is it gives false narrative as to our place in the universe. Cheers. GROG

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  12. So many who commented looked at religion from an adult standpoint. Instead I think of religion from a child’s standpoint. Children are subjects to their parent’s authority, whims, and ideologies. They are also supported by their parents who supply shelter, food, companionship, etc. It is not all fun and games but children can feel protected, provided for, etc. That there exist supernatural beings who seem very powerful who care for them is really just one step above “parent.” This is why many religions use the title of Father (and Sister, and Mother . . .) even though the Bible forbids it. (There is only one “father,” get it?).

    When we leave childhood, it becomes a bit more scary. You have to provide your own shelter, food, seek out a mate, have children of your own, provide for them, etc.) Thus many people can look back to their very dependent childhoods and feel warm about them. They can even yearn for a parent-like figure to do for them now that their parents did for them then.

    A supernatural protector, rule setter, etc. is just not that far from the experiences we all feel in childhood. Then having a strong indoctrination program for the kids kind of seals the deal.

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  13. I think the problem is there is no one single explanation for religion, which also explains why it’s so hard to define. Individual people identify with their religion for different reasons. If it helped ancient peoples come to explanations of nature, it also fulfilled many other purposes ( creating group cohesion and identity within a society, providing laws and expressing values for that society, functioning as literature to both express the feelings, angst, and ideas of the culture and individual writers about the past, present, and future, a relief of death anxiety, etc.) The major point is religion doesn’t just fulfill one need or do one thing, it fulfills a multitude of needs.

    Religion is strongly analogous to culture; it performs many of the same functions. In many cases, like with Hinduism, Judaism, etc. it’s not really clear where one should draw the line between the two.

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    • I offered definitions for “religion” in my post. They all say essentially the same thing, so I’m not sure why you seem to think it’s hard to define.

      If you’re speaking of the multitude of religion beliefs, that is an entirely different subject.

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      • My main point was about the different functions and different potential reasons why people may identify with a religion: that it fulfills multiple human needs and desires, not one thing or another.

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        • Religious affiliation is primarily about cultural identity, or the need/desire for it.(to belong) One only has to consider Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles, for example. In this instance it was often a matter of life or death.
          Need? No sir. This is a false notion and thus to maintain such an erroneous belief indoctrination in one form or another has to be implemented.

          Much like the business maxim of seeing a need and fulfilling and if no need is apparent thencreate one.

          This is religion to a T

          I am curious as to why you often seem to defend religion? ( If this is not the case I apologise)

          .

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        • What I am trying to say about fulfilling multiple needs and functions is pretty much exactly what Ubi said above when she quoted Jared Diamond. Ubi wrote:

          “ And his reason for why they persist is that they serve functions for the people that have them. The functions he identified are:
          Explanation
          Defusing anxiety
          Providing comfort
          Standardized organization
          Political obedience
          Codes of behavior towards strangers
          Justifying wars

          And these different functions may be more or less important depending on the type and advancement of the society involved.”

          Religion doesn’t just do one thing. There is no one single explanation that can explain why people continue to identity with a religion.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Again, this is all linked to culture, and if religion were not initially indoctrinated in one form or another religious belief would simply fade away – as can be witnessed in many countries around the globe.

          Do you feel the need to defend religion or am I misreading you?

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        • I don’t see myself as defending religion, I just don’t feel any need to slander people for having a religion. Basically I don’t see religion as being bad and I also don’t see it as being good. I view religion as both a positive and negative force that is capable of bringing the best out of people and the worst.

          So with Keith who is advocating for churches to be more inclusive and even criticizing the many churches that are exclusionary, I support all that. I want churches to be more inclusive, I want Christians to call out exclusionary churches, why would I then look for reasons to give him a hard time about that? I want people, Christian, Jews, atheists, etc. to help other people and do their best as humans.

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        • But religion isn’t good as at its core it is based on supernatural clap trap that has to be indoctrinated in order to perpetuate itself.
          Its history is built upon violence to the point of genocide and rather than inclusive is notoriously divisive.
          Therefore by not calling it out you are tacitly approving it.

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        • By mentioning that I think religion can bring out bad in people—which I did indeed do in the post above—I don’t think anyone who is actually thinking about what I said fairly and not jumping to knee-jerk reactions can conclude I am saying we should never call out bad behavior related to religion or the bad parts of religion.

          And if that wasn’t clear, then let me clarify it now. I am fine with criticisms of religion if they are fair and accurate criticisms. I have criticized religious people and some aspects of religion before when I felt it was warranted. I just don’t feel a need to defend religion or attack it, but rather I call it like I see it based on my own experiences and research. For the most part, I don’t see myself on Side A or Side B.

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        • I don’t think anyone who is actually thinking about what I said fairly and not jumping to knee-jerk reactions can conclude I am saying we should never call out bad behavior related to religion or the bad parts of religion.

          Yet another weak-tea response to avoid addressing the reality of how revolting and damaging religion is and what is has done and continues to do.
          So, yes, by not calling it out specifically you are tacitly saying: ”Yeah, it’s fine to be religious if it gives you comfort etc, but please nice and just don’t blow shit up, of kill people or abuse kids, or rape children or evangelize, or go on missions to spread the word to the Natives or try to wheedle it into my secular society.”

          Did I miss anything? Probably.

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        • Close! I am saying: it’s fine to be religious or belong to a religion if it gives you comfort, encourages you to be a kind person, gives you connections to cultural traditions that are meaningful to you, gives you a reason to help people. It is not fine to blow stuff up, kill or abuse people, evangelize, etc. for ANY reason. Can’t make it any simpler than that.

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        • You obviously missed the sarcasm.
          The fact is the negative aspects are all part and parcel of what most/many religions are all about, just like accepting the belief that non-believers Christians, will got to Hell.

          So, in truth it isn’t ”fine” to be religious, and you suggesting it is is tacitly giving it the nod.
          Consider: You think it is ”fine” that YECs perpetuate such garbage on their kids?
          Have a one on one chat with someone who went through ”hell” before deconverting and see if they consider your wishy-washy attitude is in any way constructive or productive.

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        • Also, does the Almighty really need or desire to be worshipped? Could not “houses of worship” actually have been meant for the parishioners, divinely intended to be for the soul what health clinics/spas, even hospitals, are for the body and mind? And perhaps the Ten Commandments were/are not meant to obey in order to appease/please God but rather intended for His human creation’s benefit, to keep people safe and healthy. …

          While I don’t believe that God required blood and pain ‘payment’, from Jesus or anyone else, I do know that the creator’s animals have had their blood literally shed and bodies eaten in mindboggling quantities by Man. And maybe the figurative forbidden fruit of Eden eaten by Adam and Eve was actually God’s four-legged creation. I can see that really angering the Almighty, and a lot more than the couple’s eating non-sentient, non-living, non-bloodied fruit. I’ve noticed that mainstream Christianity doesn’t speak up much at all about what we, collectively, have done to animals for so long. (Just to be clear, I’m not vegetarian; though I seldom eat ‘meat’, I do enjoy eating prawns or shrimp pretty much on a weekly basis.) …

          I don’t give much credence to the Biblical books’ writers’ perceptions of the Divine’s nature nor of the afterlife. All scripture was written by human beings who, I believe, unwittingly created God’s nature in their own fallible and often-enough angry, vengeful image. (This may also help explain why those authors’ Maker has to be male.) Too many of today’s institutional Christians believe and/or vocally behave likewise.

          Liked by 2 people

  14. I think that the Buddhists maintain that everyone is a Buddhist, but that a lot of us just haven’t come to recognise ourselves yet. Never mind, they say, there’s no hurry, and we’ll all get there eventually.
    I have the same view of atheism (to which Buddhism is a close relation) in that I believe that everyone is an atheist – that religion is founded upon superstitious claptrap is surely obvious to all of us, but the implications of that self-evident truth are simply too difficult to acknowledge. Not that it really makes much difference one way or the other.

    Science remains the great enemy of God in that it strives to undermine His power. Little by little science snips away at the cloak of protective darkness that our Loving God has wrapped around us. Every now and then we get a glimpse of light through the frayed stitching and what we see terrifies us. The light is more frightening than the dark.

    “Why religion?” you ask.
    Why not? If you can somehow manage to ignore the obvious and remain nestled in your little heaven of darkness, then good luck to you. Because it can be hell out here in the light.

    There is no reason, no purpose.
    This voyage has no destination.
    This ship of fools has no rudder and there is no one at the helm.
    But Bon Voyage, to one and all, nonetheless.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Great post, Nan! I think people want to know how stuff works and why. I think that is very universal among all people in all cultures and throughout the ages. I think religions came forth as explanations for things still outside the ability of humans to investigate. I think religions in a pre-scientific world not only make sense, but would be expected. I think the real question is why to religions linger, long after the various specific claims have been demonstrated wrong? Again, since we know of the human propensity for superstition, culturally and socially reinforced superstitions are to be expected. So what we really need to figure out is why are we so damned superstitious?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve personally been working on the question of why people are superstitious for about the past thirty years. The components I’ve come up with so far are:

      Patternicity (We are always looking for patterns, so much so that we often see them where they don’t actually exist.)
      Agenticity (We default to assuming an unknown cause is a “who” rather than a “what”.)
      Confirmation Bias (We pay more attention to information that agrees with what we already think, and ignore information that conflicts with it.)
      Credulous Childhood (Children have to believe what their parents and other authorities tell them.)
      Theory of Mind (We can think about what other people are thinking, even when they aren’t present. We can project the idea of a “mind” onto inanimate objects and fictional characters.)

      And all of these things appear to be baked into our brains as a result of our being a moderately intelligent, social species. So we’re stuck with these problems, and stuck with people having a natural tendency to form and hang onto weird beliefs.

      Some insightful books I have found on the subject are “Don’t Believe Everything you Think” (Thomas Kida), “Why We Believe in God(s)” (J. Anderson Thomson) and “Why People Believe Weird Things” (Michael Shermer, so buy it used).

      Liked by 2 people

      • When you mentioned Michael Shermer, I remembered that I have a book by him — “The Believing Brain.” I came across an excerpt from the book that I think adds to my post topic:

        We form our beliefs for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large; after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify, and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations. Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Very strange … ??? Since this one posted, I’m not sure why the other one didn’t. Probably just a temporary glitch.If you can remember what you said … suggest you try again?

      Like

    • Just a guess. But I sometimes see that if I try a reply at the WordPress READER page. I suspect (but I’m not sure) that it happens when the post has been updated more recently than the version at the READER page.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Deepak! Thank you for joining my blog … and for your comment.

      You are correct that religion gives hope to many. But the question remains. WHY does it take religion to do this? As I asked in my post — WHY do so many humans feel they must look beyond themselves to find the answers to life? Especially when one considers the fact that they are turning to “something” that doesn’t even exist … ???

      Like

        • Awwww … go on, give it a try! For myself I may savage what you say but I appreciate you saying it (and I think most folks here do likewise).

          “Belief system”, you said.
          Sums it up nicely — belief doesn’t mean empirical knowledge (of things provable and demonstrable). Belief isn’t knowledge, it is feelings. I challenge anyone on Earth to demonstrate a God, god, angel, demon … or (beyond ‘belief’) any actual effects of such.

          But with ‘belief’ my challenge is redundant; anyone can believe anything … and they do.

          Hence the various (almost innumerable) religions/cults/creeds/beliefs that coin it to their heart’s content … and they do.

          Religion is simply Big Business, and within each major religion all the little ones are simply franchises of that Big Brand. The local Brand here (UK) is Christianity, and the franchise seems to break down to just two firms (Catholic and Protestant) and they into many minor outlets.
          The vaunted (lusted after) Widow’s Mite flows ever upwards into the Head honcho’s bank accounts … for ‘good works’. Call it what you will—but I call it a huge Confidence Trick played on people who mean well but cannot think.

          Liked by 2 people

  16. “A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. (WordWeb.info) … A body of beliefs and practices regarding the supernatural and the worship of one or more deities. (Merriam-Webster.com)”
    ______

    I believe that if it wasn’t religion/theism, a different form of fanaticism or extremist belief system would take its problematic place. One might look at Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge concept of the righteous society as a scary example of this. Having said that, however, I can see how there could be no greater perceived justification for or the-end-justifies-the-means motivator of inhumane/immoral behavior than ‘the Almighty has willed it!’

    The bitter irony is that some of the best humanitarians I’ve met or heard about were/are atheists or agnostics who’d make better examples of many of Christ’s teachings than too many (whom I refer to as) institutional Christians (i.e. those most resistant to Christ’s fundamental teachings of non-violence, compassion and non-wealth). Conversely, some of the worst human(e) beings I’ve met or heard about are the most devout practitioners of institutional Christian theology.

    I, a believer in Christ’s unmistakable miracles, am not writing this to troll for some agitation; rather, I feel that too many have, unfortunately, created God’s nature in their own angry and vengeful image, especially the part insisting via publicized protest pickets that God hates this or that group of people. Often being the most vocal, they make very bad examples of Christ’s fundamental message, especially to the young and impressionable. …

    Perhaps needless to say, I believe that Christ was/is intended in large part to show humankind what Messiah ought to and needs to be; to prove to people that there really was/is hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — perceiving hopelessness in an otherwise fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator. Fundamentally, of course, that definitely includes resurrection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello fgsjr. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Of course, being a non-believer, I see no purpose in God or his alter ego, Christ. And those who protest against “God” (as in the example you shared) are serving no one but their own deluded selves.

      As you suggest, many of today’s young people experience turmoil, but again, from my POV, believing in Christ and/or a future resurrection serves no purpose. Far better to recognize one’s OWN abilities and strengths and act on them than to lean on some invisible entity who “appears” only in a 2000+ year old book.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I like what you’ve stated and as far as resurrection, I believe in some spiritual beliefs, reincarnation is viewed as the resurrection of the soul. “As I am so ye may be also..” in Christ’s words according the historical Bible.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I awoke from another very bad dream, a reincarnation nightmare / where having died I’m yet again being forced to be reborn back into human form / despite my pleas I be allowed to rest in permanent peace. //
        My bed wet from sweat, I futilely try to convince my own autistic brain / I want to live, the same traumatized dysthymic brain displacing me from the functional world. // Within my nightmare a mob encircles me and insists that life’s a blessing, including mine. // I ask them for the blessed purpose of my continuance. I insist upon a practical purpose. // Give me a real purpose, I cry out, and it’s not enough simply to live
        nor that it’s a beautiful sunny day with colourful fragrant flowers! // I’m tormented hourly by my desire for emotional, material and creative gain / that ultimately matters naught, I explain. My own mind brutalizes me like it has / a sadistic mind of its own. I must have a progressive reason for this harsh endurance! …

        Liked by 1 person

        • I could think of not much worse than to lie in a grave for ever yet be aware. Aware and unable, brrrrr. If ‘peace’ is awareness, no, but thanks for the offer.

          Few folks who wish/hope/pray for ‘eternal life’ ever think it through.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Then again, the human view of what ‘heaven’ is supposed to be like is typically through the heavily blurred lens of our very limited corporeal perceptions, notably time thus boredom and trivial desires.

          Also, I believe Sigmund Freud postulated that due to the general stressful nature of human existence, i.e. anxiety (“stimuli”, I believe he called it), the ultimate aim/goal of our brain/mind is blissful death.

          Like

        • Revisiting your anguish … I suggest, as kindly as I can; that you get up off your arse and go FIND your missing purpose.
          In the meantime, here’s some words, make of ’em what you will—

          Opportunity
          by Edward Rowland Sill

          This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:—
          There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
          And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
          A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
          Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner
          Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
          A craven hung along the battle’s edge,
          And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel—
          That blue blade that the king’s son bears,—but this
          Blunt thing!” he snapped and flung it from his hand,
          And lowering crept away and left the field.
          Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead,
          And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
          Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
          And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
          Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
          And saved a great cause that heroic day.

          —and remember these words from men long dead:

          “Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
          The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
          The Bird of Time has but a little way
          To fly — and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.”

          Liked by 1 person

  17. I agree and have considered this phenomenon often. For those who believe in God and the devil, I really feel it is because they can’t accept responsibility for their own power. It is easier to bow down and pray to an omnipotent source than understand we all have the power to direct our lives. Secondly, if ones wants to avoid responsibility for wrongdoing they can simply blame it on evil or satan. This is not to say I don’t pray or give honor to the force that keeps existence in motion. Just the positive collective prayer as such can bring such good energy to our universe. It is the creation of specific deities, religious dogmas and belief systems that has separated humans and created the need for defense, war, hate and greed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t pray.
      If I prayed to every damned god, goddess, godling spook spirit saint wrath shade ghost phantom divinity (the list is endless) there’d be no time for living. God doesn’t provide: YOU do.

      Hypotheticals time again:

      The ship has sprung a leak and is taking on water badly, who is going to save you? Select from the list:

      (a) God, or

      (b) the shipwright hurrying below with his caulks and hemps and rivets and nails and timbers …

      I vote chippy, but us atheists are like that.)(You know, no respect for the irrelevant and immaterial.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I sometimes wonder whether the general need by humans (including me) for retributive justice is intrinsically linked to the same terribly flawed aspect of humankind that enables the most horrible acts of violent cruelty to readily occur on this planet, perhaps not all of which we learn about. (Also, I can see many institutional Christians even finding inconvenient, if not bothersome, trying to reconcile the conspicuous inconsistency in the fundamental nature of the New Testament’s Jesus with the wrathful, vengeful and even jealous nature of the Old Testament’s Creator.) …

    A few decades ago, I learned from two Latter Day Saints missionaries that their church’s doctrine teaches that the biblical ‘lake of fire’ meant for the truly wicked actually represents an eternal spiritual burning of guilt over one’s corporeal misdeeds. Accordingly, I concluded, upon an atrocity-committing monster’s physical death, not only would he (or she) be 100 percent liberated from the anger and hate that blighted his physical life; also, his spirit or consciousness would be forced to exist with the presumably unwanted awareness of the mindbogglingly immense amount of needless suffering he personally had caused.

    I believe that the human soul may be inherently good, on its own; however, trapped within the physical body, notably the corruptible brain, oftentimes the soul’s purity may not be able to shine through. While the heart may be what keeps the soul grounded in this physical world, I believe that it is the brain and any structural or chemical-imbalance flaws within that, unfortunately, essentially defines one’s character/behavior while the soul is confined within the bodily form. It may be the case that the worst mass-atrocity-committing people throughout history had been thoroughly corrupted by a seriously flawed cerebral structure thus mind (or state of mind). Though, admittedly, that would be, even if true, no consolation to their countless brutalized victims.

    Or, for example, if a recklessly extreme radio-talk-show host dies and his (or her) spirit/consciousness is finally totally free of the purely cerebrally based agitation and contempt that had blighted so much of his life, he, free of his corrupted corporeal shell, could be left wondering, ‘Why was I so angry, and so much of the time? Oh, the things I said and did! I really hope I didn’t do any significant, permanent damage while I was there’ … etcetera, etcetera.

    Like

  19. That isn’t what religion is. Religion is a Theocracy which is a system of government where a Preist rules. The Divine rights of the Priest gives the Preist full control over the people. The people have no say in politics.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Missionaries are either mindless or lack the shills to properly use their minds; or to be more realistic — are dupes gathering funds to feed the hierarchies of their machine.

    (That was ‘skills’, but the typo actually says it better if you invert the meaning—they don’t lack shills, they are the shills. (Thank you God, for your timely intervention and improvement there.)

    Liked by 1 person

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