I think an important question we must ask is, why do we need "a" religion? I'm not specifying which religion, feel welcome to insert your version. What's the point of religion? What does it really serve?
If I was born and raised on an island never exposed to any religion would I be happier or worse off? My guess would be either. My life would be filled with the activities on the island, family and friends, the normal trials and tribulations of being alive. I would have happy days, sad moments, life and death, such is living. My values and morals would be taught to me by my relatives, by my society, I would know right from wrong, according to the traditions of my society.
I imagine that's what life must have been like pre organised religion times. Before we made up gods, before we made up superstitions to explain our fears, before we worried about what was out there and up there, before we had the time to imagine and try and explain the unknown by making up gods.
And there have been many gods, millions in fact, most now discarded but at one time forming as vital a role to those people and those societies as the religions of today.
Who's to say today's religions won't meet the same fate? Already, in the UK, those who describe themselves as non-religious have risen from 31% to 50% between 1983 and 2009 according to the British Social Attitudes Survey’s 28th report issued in 2011. Among people aged between 18-24, the incidence of religious affiliation is only 36%.
Today's version of religion is on the wane and with any luck, won't be replaced with others.
Back to the opening question; why do we need a religion? Besides the biological tendencies of individuals to "need" to believe in something and the indoctrination of children by religious societies, why is it that some of us can snap out of it and see religion for the rubbish that it is whilst others cannot, and grasp onto it like a drowning man in an ocean watching a straw floating by?
Perhaps I can offer an answer; my mother lost her husband almost 25 years ago. If you remember my first posting on N24, I gave you an account of my personal journey away from religion. Well, the force behind drumming religion into me was my mother. A devout Catholic, she has pictures of Jesus and crucifixes all over her bedroom walls even today. She attends bible readings weekly, she goes to church weekly, she believes in angels, she is all in.
And it may shock you religibots out there, it does not bother me that she does that because her faith has sustained and helped her cope with the tribulations of her life. It's a false belief of course but for her it's as real as the sun rising in the morning. She has had a hard life and her faith in what is a fictitious entity to me has helped her and as much as I would love to kick that crutch from under her and shake her beliefs, it's not for me to change it because that would be cruel. In this context, where it's a personal relationship someone has with an invisible friend, where her invisible buddy seems to comfort her, best to leave it be. I imagine single old ladies living with cats derive a similar comfort from their cats.
I wonder how many people need the same crutch to fill a void in their lives, or need it to give meaning to their lives, or to help them cope, that to imagine the crutch of religion being removed would cause them to tumble into a heap, hence their resistance to entertain that the crutch they hold onto so dearly may actually be made of lies and of poor construction. What would happen if the crutch was gone? Nothing, you'd learn to stand on your own to feet, think for yourself, face the world without magic and fairies, much like the growing set of humanity who've thrown their crutches away. Maybe it's time to try it.
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