I think our species needs the idea that something knows what is going on.
We have some scary dudes in our midst who act out murderous behaviours in the name of their idea of a God, and with the full-throated support and encouragement of their religious leaders. Behaviours such as these are just that: behaviours. Human behaviours. Some humans are drawn to violence and dominance. They find kindred spirits and they form groups; give their groups a name; create a God in their own image. This seems to lead to the idea that they are no longer responsible for what they do. Religion is thus used to satisfy the need to be violent.
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Not unlike a facet of the scary God I was taught about as an impressionable child. Maybe there should be another study: one that looks at what might happen if all religions were phased out. Life is chaos. We would still form groups of like-minded people. There would still be those who want to maim and kill. There would still be people who are gentle and kind.
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But now I know it is because being close to someone who loves me, is one of the best things about being alive. It brings out the best in me. I know this is a very old thread, but thank you Lita for your insight! I agree with most of what you said, everything from loving being loved by Jesus to being afraid of God as a child. It makes me wonder if it was created to handle both of those who respond to negative and positive reinforcement. I still believe in a higher power, because I am not capable of letting it go.
However, logically- I believe that religion was and is ultimately a way to control the masses.
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Rules are enforced by the agreed leaders. Many rules are for control, power etc. The only proof was the stake, stones, banishment or shunning. Actually all sentient beings have a religion. Maybe plants too, but let us keep it simple!
Religion is an extension of a moral code; maybe science will discover the gene responsible. An example is the drone bee, holding tight with his little feet to the entrance to the hive, while his wings fan cooling wind inside. Parents of all species have an overwhelming urge to look after offspring, again because it is an inbuilt desire. There are countless examples of sentient beings acting not for self interest, but for the greater good and in some cases the survival of the species.
The world does need religion, as each family group is usually too small to provide the guidance needed to instill children with a sound moral code. This is especially true when grandparents are no longer part of the communities.
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An omoeba has a far more knowledge of how to land an F16 jet plane on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier in a force 10 gale, than we can ever have of God. David, your comment that all sentient beings have religion is hogwash. There is no evidence to support this statement. Religion is a human construct for humans. Much of it is accounted for by post-death conversion of dead people no matter their religion in life to Mormonism—which is an insanity glommed on top of an insanity the faith came out of a con man with a hat!
In the U. I do not find any atheist around me. I feel people believe in religion because they are weak. There is lot of unpleasant surprises in life, and when there is no solution for the problems, people need some consolation in the form of faith in god or spiritual leader.
May be when the concept of relegion ws started, it was for good cause, but today it has taken a bad shape. Religion today is power show, money, slavery and flattery. Not quite sure what your analogy involving an amoeba was meant to show? Can you clarify that for me a little? I am now very old and I have had plenty of time to reflect on the obsession with religion that torments so many people. The reason behind it is quite simple — people desperately want to believe in magic.
Even intelligent and sophisticated people succumb to the infantile wish to control the uncontrollable by mouthing a magical incantation. Had Catholicism beaten into me as a child. Not sure I have gotten over that — totally. But, I have spent many years studying religions and they are all basically the same. To me it seems that religion is a classic confidence trick. It promises the most wonderful and desirable reward that is impossible to to achieve without making large sacrifices of treasure and time.
The prize is so desirable that critical thought is suspended.
To further deter critical thought, cruel penalties are periodically inflicted on critics by the believers who claim to be carrying out the demands of the deity, thus demonstrating the that the deity does not exist. So the religion industry grinds on and on. The commands in Numbers 30 and 31, when entering the broken city to kill all the men, boys and male babies and women that have been with a man but the young virgin women you may keep for yourselves, clearly illustrates the tribal nature of Abrahmic religions as do the laws on homosexuality and marrying outside the tribe.
I believe religion became a creation of man in the early stages of evolving from just another forest animal to a thinking human being. With the growth of deeper emotion which also includes concern ,surely man would have started wondering why where and how. With these mixed emotions going without something solid or evident to answer the questions man then formed ideas to compensate. Even though the basis of religion is simple minded ideas it does have its attributes that I see as imperative to evolution itself. Confidence has to be the 1 religious attribute on my list.
Until man could create some sort of reason to exist there would nothing more than disillusion. There was no inspiration to excel , there would be nothing to enjoy. It would be the everyday survival of the species. Ideas of a creator gave the ability to accomplish, and the hope and faith to pursue. Religion from those very ideas has become what it is today. To Safin Guli, You did not mention that Jesus is going to come back and kill all the goats so the meek and mild is backed up by terror.
Ref: last book in the Holy Bible. I enjoyed your summary of eternity although the bible starts some thousand years BC. My view: religion has failed. Note China and Cuba Vietnam are even abandoning slowly tight state control not just the worship of dictators. I consider myself scientific, and atheistic so I feel religion must be a symptom of something, some say fear.
Perhaps prolonged psychological fear as opposed to the fear of basic animals.