Is religion just wish-fulfillment?

Let’s simplify: if you were to invent a system by which people would be able to justifying positing the most blatant of wish-fulfillments, wouldn’t you have to invent something that looked an awful lot like religion?

We don’t really die, and there’s ways to live forever in much better surroundings than this crap.

Even bad shit is just part of an unseen and unknowable Master Plan.

The Most Powerful Force is looking out after your best interests, and he cares deeply about your well-being.

That Powerful Force, who can do anything, is a little short on communication skills, so if any part of this incomprehensible system is unclear to you, that’s also part of the Master Plan, but all contradictions will be resolved someday–just wait.

If you were desparate to invent some whacked-out way of thinking that fulfilled your deepest wishes, isn’t this exactly what you’d come up with?

No way. Mine would *have *to involve giant killer robots from Mars somehow.

OK, more serious answer : still no. My wish fulfilment fantasies tend to centre around me, myself and I. If it involves some external Most Powerful Force doing things for me or lobbing things over my head, I ain’t interested.

I don’t know if I can give a yes or no answer to the OP. But I do believe that religion is a natural reaction to the very nature of being human and sentient. We have an innate *need *to theorize on the unknowable. To not do so would be somehow sub-human.

I don’t think that I am making an argument either for or against the *validity *of religion. Merely an argument in favor of the *inevitability *of religion…TRM

If religion is just wish-fulfillment, why don’t any religions teach salvation by gluttony, intoxication & getting blow jobs?

Because since part of the function of religion is to control people, it defers the fulfillment part of the wish until after death. Obey orders - then you get your wishes fulfilled.

Actually, some have. Rasputin’s a famous case, he believed (and preached, and practised his creed) that the way to divine grace was sinning as much as possible. The more you sin, the more you have to atone for, and since God smiles on the prodigal, penitent son, the more God likes you. So get busy sinnin’. Then repent. Then sin some more !

Hey, it made sense to him. Besides, it’s religion - remotely making sense is a plus, but it’s not required :stuck_out_tongue:

ETA : one could also mention the cults of Dionysos, the sacred prostitutes of Babylon… not all religions are about denying one’s nature.
ETA2 : or salvation, for that matter.

All hail the Omnissiah!

Not “wish fulfillment” in the way the term is commonly used, but just a systematic way to mentally gloss over all the stuff that, if you really sat and thought about it, would scare the crap out of you, or at least leave you perplexed. A nice foggy “ahh don’t worry about the meaning of stuff, it’s all in God’s plan and everything will be good” is a lot easier than “holy shit, wait, this is all just random and meaningless and one day I cease to exist? Lame.”

It is a tool of the elite to keep people in line. Be good, say your prayers and just ignore the man behind the curtain.

And it is also wish fulfillment. Life is tough and painful. Religion gives you something to look forward to. You may be or feel you are suffering now, but when you die, you go to paradise where you can eat candy canes all day and be reunited with your loved ones. Much more appealing than just becoming worm food.

But first you have to teach people that there’s such a thing as “unknowable.” A secular, scientific philosophy merely deals with the “unknown.”

And, for what it’s worth, keeping people in line is not an unworthy goal in itself. One can identify governments that are probably worse to live under than anarchy would be - the Nazi regime, periods of (though not all of) the Soviet era, Pol Pot in Cambodia, North Korea. But as a general rule, even fairly harsh autocracy is better than absolutely no government at all - and way back in the day, that was pretty much the only choice most places had, most of the time. (Democracy is hard to sustain today even with hundreds of years of modern history to draw upon - how could it have worked on any sustained scale 3,000 years ago?)

Of course, the problem today is that we do have choices between hard-line autocracy and anarchy, and I believe that religion sometimes keeps those choices from functioning as well as they might.

If you’re not already familiar with it, you might want to check out Terror Management Theory:

The way I think of it is this: If a person would find the prospect of a universe without God (e.g., if somehow it were proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that God did not exist) intolerable, then for that person, God must exist… even if it is necessary to invent Him.

Personally – and this would probably infuriate some of you – I’d invent atheism. Religious beliefs are often inconvenient in the extreme, and I’d take comfort from knowing that I could dispense with them as I see fit. I don’t believe as a matter of convenience, though.

What wish is fulfilled by atheism? What inconveniences do you think it avoids?

Satanism does.

We’ve been over this before. There’s the desire to be unencumbered by religious restrictions. There’s the belief that you won’t be ultimately be held accountable for your choices on earth, and so forth. I’d say that these are pretty obvious.

As I said in a previous discussion, it’s common for people here to declare, “Look at those theists! People choose to believe in God because they find comfort in that belief. What a terrible, terrible shame.” This completely ignores the fact that atheists can likewise take comfort in the belief that there is no God. Heck, even if you insist that atheism is merely a “lack of belief” (in keeping with the less traditional usage), one can still take comfort in feeling unencumbered by religious observances.

As I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, religious belief is often VERY inconvenient. That’s why so many people fall away. There’s nothing convenient about serving as an impoverished missionary, for example, or about being martyred for one’s faith. To say that this is merely a matter of seeking comfort and solace is to paint a gross caricature of religious belief.

Less traditional? It’s the very definition of atheism. Atheism as a concept is incoherent until someone asserts the existence of a god.

What percentage of religious people are missionaries or martyrs? I can’t imagine that one in a hundred thousand qualify. It may well be much less than that. Hardly a figure to hang your hat on when claiming that religion is inconvenient.

I think this is more wishful thinking on the part of some theists. I don’t believe because I flat don’t believe, not because of any perceived inconvenience.

Ethical and moral obligations are also not any less keenly felt just because we don’t think there’s a big, invisible daddy looking down on us.

If you’re only good because you fear punishment or want reward, you’re not really good anyway.

Obviously wrong, that is. Whereas a large percentage of religionists believe(without verifiable evidence) that they will be held accountable by an invisible being after they are dead, a lot of us atheists know from a lifetime of verifiable evidence that we can be held accountable for our actions every day of our lives.

No, it isn’t. Atheism has been traditionally defined as the active belief that there is NO God. In more recent times, people have been wont to use it to mean a mere lack of belief, but that is not the traditional definition. (Cites: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy and any number of dictionaries.)