Why is there Religion?

I can believe that there is a god that only knows me, or I could believe there is a no god at all, but whats the point in saying what you believe- your not going to change your mind or the mind of the other person. Religion is just a way to say"Okay you people believe in God, you people also believe that Jesus was a savior, and you people don’t believe in a god at all."

Religion stems from Mans need to understand his surroundings, to explain the universe. Before written history, men lived in small tribes. Mythology sprang forth to explain the life cycles, focusing mainly on fertility and hunting. When societies first developed (based on agriculture, by the way) people had more time to dwell on these things and their theories became more developed. Religion served to pool people together in a common belief. It’s ironic that now it is the major cause of division between people, it and economics, the two are closely tied.

As our scientific knowledge of the universe grows, hopefully Man will outgrow his need for religion. Funny thing about belief systems though, they seem to have an instinct for survival. As you said in the OP, “your(you’re) not going to change your mind or the mind of the other person”. Those who believe in the scientific method are more likely to adapt their belief systems based on new evidence, those who rely on faith are more likely to adapt the evidence to fit their belief systems. IMHO

Oh yeah, welcome to the Straight Dope.:slight_smile:

Have you studied Mythology or World History JustWondering? You’ll get a much better understanding of religion if you do. May I suggest you go to the library (or search on google.com) and find anything written by Joseph Campbell. My local community college had a great video course by him called “Transformations of Myth Through Time”, which is also a book. It was fantastic. If you’re seriously interested in the questions you have posted recently, you’ll thoroughly enjoy his work.

How did you come to that conclusion? History is replete with examples of people who changed their religious views. In fact, I am one such person.

That’s all it is? Nothing but a classification system? Surely you’re not serious.

the Jesuits have a saying:

Give me a child until he is seven years old and he is mine for life.

Religion is a POWER GAME. it goes on generation after generation. brainwash children who grow up to brainwash their children. psychologists refer to it as the socialization process.

now, as to whether there is any REAL SIGNIFICANCE to any religion? that is another question.

there are Economic power games, Political power games, Military power games, Religious power games and Sexual power games. all of the POWER GAMES interact.

if you lived a thousnad years ago going into religion was a good way to avoid backbreaking work if you were not a member of royalty or born into a wealthy family. but you would have to keep the ignorant peasants donating to the church to feed you. probably the brainier people gravitated to religion before the development of science and technology. that might mean most of the people playing the religious power games today aren’t the brightest bulbs around.

Dal Timgar

Do you mean religion in general, or certain religious sects? If the former, that’s a rather broad claim. What research methodology did you use to determine its veracity?

I would say religion in general, with the certain religious sects being the exception, are a power-game basic system. Indoctrination at an early age, teaching that the church is not to be questioned, the gathering of funds being an actual part of the church services-these are standard in a large percentage of churches, are they not? Pointing to sects that do not do this does not disprove the idea, because I already said that there are sects that do not do this.

Well then, let me ask you a different question from the one that I posed to dal_timgar.

Are you saying that the clear majority of religious sects are power-game systems? That sounds like a quantifiable claim. What kind of research methodology did you use to establish its veracity? Also, can you summarize the data compiled during this research?

While I was only giving my personal opinion, it is indeed a reasonable question. would you be willing to conceed that the Catholic Church, coupled with the different sects of the Baptist Church, along with the all of the different evangelical denominations make up a large chunk o’ people? I’ll work on the exact numbers overnight.

I’ll agree that they’re a large chuck of people, but I don’t think we can claim that they represent religion in general.

Also, please note that I asked for your methodology, not just numbers. For example, I’d like to know how you would determine that a religious sect is driven by the need for power. That strikes me as an overly simplistic view of the denominations that you cited… and obviously, the validity of your methodology hinges on the validity of your procedure for identifying a church as one that’s motivated by power.

That claim strikes me as both very specific and very broad – specific in the nature of its accusation, and broad in the manner in which it’s applied. Can you support your statement with specific historical research?

Do remember, BTW, that we are talking about religion in general, not just a sect here or there.

Well, a church not guided by a need for power would not try to recruit young children until they have enough knowlede to decide for themselves, and would not make the collection of money an actual part of the church services, because this both indoctrinates and brings peer pressure.
IMHO, of course.

I think that such arguments display a serious lack of rigor. For example, one could just as easily argue that the churches attempt to teach children while they’re young, so as to prevent them for seeking harmful paths when they’re older. Any developmental psychologist can tell you that the lack of moral teaching at an early age can have disastrous consequences. Besides which, the churches that you mentioned do not typically consider young children to be full-fledged members, and often do not list them in their membership rolls. (In fact, churches which do not practice infant baptism would typically NOT consider young children to be genuine members.)

As for collections, one could just as easily argue that this is done so as to gently remind people of their donations – just as many secular charities will send regular fundraising letters to their support base. I, for one, often forget to give my offerings, and I know several others who have been remiss as well. Besides which, many churches don’t track who gives what amount, especially since many of the offerings are received as cold, hard, anonymous cash.

With all due respect, if these are the standards which you’re using to determine that a church is motivated by power, they seem rather weak to me. Unconvincing, in fact.

I get sick of both sides of the religion issue. I have seen people get A LOT out of religion, but at the same time I have seen people become very mentally unhealthy by their inability to break from it.

Yes religion is a form of socialization. So is nearly everything else in society. You are bombarded with images and words from religion, television, parents, kids, radio, school, etc etc that serve to reinforce society’s ideals. The mere fact that you get up in arms about religion being a form of mind control shows to me that you have been adequately socialized into western society. Welcome to the club!

Is communalism all that bad? We americans get so high and mighty about our individual freedom and independance that we end up driving 5 mpg SUV’s and throwing half eaten big mac’s out the window. In many enlightened nations giving in to the communal will is considered the highest honor. Communal ideals have been in existance throughout Asia for many centuries, and if you’ve seen “A Beautiful Mind” you have to know that everyone looking out for themselves is not nescesarilly always best for the group.

Besides these arguments there are the contributions by very skilled religous philosophers and theologians which contribute much to the field of philosophy. Its not like religion just appeared out of nowhere, these ideas build on the more secular philosopher’s of the past. I recomend that you take some sort of religious humanities course, and you will see these transitions.

Another Jesuit quote:

The argument’s against religion are (for me)
-> (1) Too strict of a belief system inevitably yielding closed mindedness. Even in religions that say ‘everything is correct’! they typically have some framework that ‘everything’ fits into…

For (1) I really dont think people should be razed too religiously. Im not saying dont take your kids to church, I liked going to mine as a kid, but you have to leave their options open in that area. I have friends who really hate themselves for feeling things that ought to be considered normal for any other human being. They beat themselves up over it because they have this southern baptist insanity beaten into their heads.

I think it’s pretty much like the chicken and the egg argument, which came first, a functioning society or a religion?

Look at the basic rules of Christianity (for example) don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife, show respect to your parents. Basic rules for a successful society.

Follow the rules, be eternally blessed in the afterlife. This keeps all the little people in the society functioning in a way that is beneficial to that society (ie, not murdering, not commiting adultery, not stealing).

I also think that the afterlife is the other basis for religion. It’s hard to grasp of a time when I won’t exist. It is easier to cling to an idea that whatever spark that makes me “me” will continue after my death. People are so egotistical (and afraid of a final end) that they must believe they never stop existing in some form or other.

I’ve been an agnostic all my life, but since turning 30, I’ve been very concerned with my own mortality. I have often thought about death and God, and the idea that I should believe in God “just in case.” Of course, I don’t think God would be too pleased with that kind of conversion!

Still, the idea there is no God or heaven, just a cosmic stew pot with an ancient fluke of amino acids and lucky lightning strikes and we’re all just ants in a big old anthill, toiling for nothing, how depressing!

With my recent fascination with mortality, I’ve also wondered about hell. As an agnostic, if I die and show up in hell, will the very fact that there is a hell (and therefore a heaven) be enough to last me throughout eternal torment, the confirmation that there is a God?

Sorry to ramble on!