Shocker of the century: I, the most outspoken atheist I know, thinks that the human species needs religion.
Don’t assume you know where I’m going with this. I’d bet money there’s a 99% chance you don’t, so keep reading.
Yes, I’m an atheist and anti-theist. Yes, I believe that when we all die, there is nothing on the other side and we aren’t even aware that we’re dead. Yes, I think religion is just an industry that sells an invisible product and its teachings are hilariously stupid.
Yet, we need it.
Mostly, but not entirely, I’m saying this because most people are just naturally built to need religion. Most human beings cannot behave, or even have a purpose to their lives, without religion. But, in the grand scale of things, we all need it. For about half of humanity, the established major religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism) are good enough to fill that hole. But for the other half of humanity, the established religions do not suffice, and so they fill that hole with other ‘religions.’
I’m looking at you, fucking vegans.
When referring to the other half, I don’t necessarily mean theism. Don’t misquote me, actual-religious people. What I’m referring to is the fact that everybody needs something to believe in with all their heart. Something to devote their life to, whether it makes sense or not.
When God, or gods are completely absent from one’s life, they fill it with something. A principle. A goal. An ideology. A group, or a single person. On an individual basis, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m an atheist and I’ve devoted my life to both a person (my daughter) and an ideology (liberalism; genuine liberalism). But, I don’t think this works for the general population. Many non-theists need theism whether they desire it or not. And most of them are leftist progressives who create/join radical terrorist groups like Antifa.
Obviously, you can be radical whether you’re religious or not. But I do believe many of these ultra-Left radicals would not be that way if they had belief in a higher authority that tells them how to behave. Instead of laws, we’d have mob rule, if our society didn’t have a strong foundation.
Whether true or laughably false, religion has the farthest reach of any other type of belief system. From the dumbest to the smartest among us, religion draws in more people than any other belief system could. That alone makes religion the best foundation for any society.
Religion ruins things, sure, but not if it’s either the right religion, or a bad religion altered for the better. Like Christianity, a religion with arguably worse teachings than Islam, with a long history of genocide and imperialism, got a reformation. Now, Christians don’t even take their religion seriously, they just cherry-pick the teachings they like and ignore the rest. If only Islam would do the same already. And, no sarcasm, it’s the most wonderful thing for humanity that a major religion like Christianity changed like this. Keep the religion, lose the bad parts.
At some point a few centuries back, England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, for freedom. And then centuries after that, the founding fathers of America broke the American colonies away from England, for freedom. Two steps to creating a perfect society. Running Christianity through the wash a couple times, and then bam, you have yourself a damn near perfect society. Well, as perfect as a society made up of humans can get.
Remove religion entirely from a society, either through outlawing it or because the people themselves have strayed from it, and you’ll have what is essentially millions of primates running around searching for their own meaning to their lives. That’s only not disastrous when it happens to one person at a time, and it happens on their own time in their own lives. Doesn’t work at all if that’s how your entire society was. That would be millions of lost souls figuratively running in the dark and latching onto whatever light they find first. Not only is that asking for chaos, it’s also a recipe for lots of miserable people and a society that doesn’t even know it’s own identity.
I may believe Christianity is as true as the rest of them (which is: not at all), but I’m glad it’s the foundation of my society, in its reformed, uh … form.
Religion itself is the best foundation for a society for this reason. It’s a foundation. True or not, it is the ultimate source of stability. Even take Saudi Arabia; years behind America when it comes to civil rights and freedom, but it’s still a stable nation in a region known for being unstable. But when you look at Iraq, for one example, where there are multiple warring tribes (the Sunnis, the Shiites, the Kurds, the Islamic State….), there is no foundation and therefore hardly any peace.
Or, as a slight twist here, take the Soviet Union, which outlawed religion altogether. They didn’t fall into chaos, but they most certainly did fall into a land of fear. What took religion’s place in the USSR? The state. The government became the people’s religion. Instead of worshiping God, multiple gods, or some prophet, or some figurehead, they worship Stalin himself. You know, the guy who killed more people than anyone else in history, including Hitler. Even staunch atheists like myself should never strive to rid the world, or anyone at all, of religion, because it will inevitably get replaced by something. Usually, that something is bad.
Mere ideologies, namely political ideologies, don’t make for solid foundations because ideologies themselves don’t have rules. Ideologies also don’t tell you answers to the big questions like why you’re here on Earth, why the universe exists, etc. (Religion’s answers for these questions are always bullshit, but hey, as long as they have something to say for people to latch on to.) Unfortunately, human beings need rules. We need answers. Religions are virtually nothing but rules and explanations, so they work best. That’s basically what a religion is: an ideology with strict rules. Another reason I think Christianity (in its modern form) is so wonderful: It’s been transformed from merely a religion, to a religion merged with an ideology, the best ideology of all, liberalism.