Why do people believe in religion?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of religion and its purpose in society. Some believe that religion gives humans a sense of meaning and purpose, while others argue that it is a result of our evolutionary genes compelling us to believe in a higher power. It is also suggested that religion serves as a way to cope with unfair social systems and provides a set of moral rules. However, others argue that throughout history, religion has caused wars and oppression.
  • #1
Microburst
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I have not seen anything in any holly book including (Bible & Quran) that bears any evidence of a super being’s writing , secretes of the universe or even a plausible reason for creation, other then things like worship me for I am your lord (medieval kings like attitudes) … I am not saying that there is no creator or GOD of laws, but religion what’s up with religion/s? And why would GOD even create religions when he can just give us a self judging ever evolving brain?
 
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  • #2
I've done a lot of thinking and speaking to other people asking them why they believe in their religion and really digging deep to see if I can find the root cause. I've come to the conclusion that most people who believe in some sort of God that they pray to, etc. think fundamentally different than I do. They have some extra feeling or some way of thinking that makes them believe which I don't possess. Whether they were born thinking this way or it was caused by their upbringing I've yet to determine.
 
  • #3
The question often arising is whether the rationalization of belief & faith is overall the way to go, and if we choose to do so, do people (myself included) really act rationally by arriving at a negative result concerning the existence of some higher entity by using 'simple' logic. Good arguments do exist both ways but for the individual that is all there is (if we let some of the worst "fairytales" go at least).
 
  • #4
Biologists say that our genes compels us to believe, in one for or another, of the supernatual (according to TIME). We are the only species that are aware of our inevitable death. To adapt, we've evolved to be spiritually inclined, i.e. believe in a God and afterlife. Makes sense to me.
 
  • #5
A sense of meaning

In most cases, religion gives a human a sense of meaning. People who are very scientific by nature might believe we are just spontaneous cases of entropy doing what it does, and we have no soul or exterior meaning. People who choose to be religious, or just believe in some type of creator, are seeking meaning. they would not be able to accept being without purpose or importance.
 
  • #6
Icebreaker said:
Biologists say that our genes compels us to believe, in one for or another, of the supernatual (according to TIME). We are the only species that are aware of our inevitable death. To adapt, we've evolved to be spiritually inclined, i.e. believe in a God and afterlife. Makes sense to me.
Oh, really?
So I haven't got any genes, or what?
Or possibly, I'm not human.

In most cases, religion gives a human a sense of meaning. People who are very scientific by nature might believe we are just spontaneous cases of entropy doing what it does, and we have no soul or exterior meaning. People who choose to be religious, or just believe in some type of creator, are seeking meaning. they would not be able to accept being without purpose or importance.
Or perhaps, religiously inclined individuals are so conceited that they can't bear the thought that the universe couldn't care less about their existence.
 
  • #7
"Or perhaps, religiously inclined individuals are so conceited that they can't bear the thought that the universe couldn't care less about their existence."

These are the exact words that i was thinking, i just did not know how to say it.

i think some people just need religion to be able to carry on with their lives. if they had no strong belief, they would always be inquiring to the meaning of their existence, and would never get anything done. would you want a lawyer who is constantly wondering why they exist,and why their even defending you? In some ways religion just holds society together. the scientific community exists for this purpose. not everyone can be a scientist.
 
  • #8
arildno said:
Oh, really?
So I haven't got any genes, or what?
Or possibly, I'm not human.

No, it's called supression and choice. Just like the fact that your genes compels you to have sex, whether you choose to, capable of, or not to.
 
  • #9
This is a science forum, so let's go with the evolutionary response:

Some form of morality is necessary for any society to survive, prosper, and grow, but many societies fail to provide equitable morality for all of their citizens. This is a void that can lead to revolution and the violent overthrow of a government, or to the growth of religion, which is typically more peaceful. Religion is a different form of structure, a set of moral rules that tends to grow where individuals reject an unfair social system. It commonly tells individuals that justice will come in an afterlife, and tends to fill any void in a social structures' rules. It seeks to change an unfair system to a more equitable one, at least for the people it represents.
In evolutionary terms, it appears to be a reaction to unacceptable social pressures.

Please note that I am not judging the ethics or morality of any particular society.
 
  • #10
Syncline said:
Some form of morality is necessary for any society to survive, prosper, and grow, but many societies fail to provide equitable morality for all of their citizens. This is a void that can lead to revolution and the violent overthrow of a government, or to the growth of religion, which is typically more peaceful. Religion is a different form of structure, a set of moral rules that tends to grow where individuals reject an unfair social system. It commonly tells individuals that justice will come in an afterlife, and tends to fill any void in a social structures' rules. It seeks to change an unfair system to a more equitable one, at least for the people it represents.
In evolutionary terms, it appears to be a reaction to unacceptable social pressures.
But religion, throughout history, is what usually caused the unfair social system, that caused wars, that caused oppression, that created hatred of anyone that didn't agree to "conform" to the religious beliefs and practices.
 
  • #11
People with strong religion tend to band together and help each other. People without that religion can be elbowed out of the community. To avoid becoming a pariah, you had to adopt a mainstream religion. So people who were more amenable to adopting a religion tended to survive and produce more offspring. It's about social networking.
 
  • #12
Bartholomew said:
People with strong religion tend to band together and help each other. People without that religion can be elbowed out of the community. To avoid becoming a pariah, you had to adopt a mainstream religion. So people who were more amenable to adopting a religion tended to survive and produce more offspring. It's about social networking.
and the fear of being killed off by the religious group if you don't conform.
 
  • #13
We sense the energies of the Universe as we can, as we have evolved. Before there was Science, there was only us and the natural world. We, as a species were, and still are, incredibly inclined to project our needs, fears, desires, onto others. In the case of religion, we projected them onto the Universe at large. Clever and unscrupulous humans made whole societies out of these anthropomorphisms. I think the more we understand about how the Universe works, the closer we will be to a reasonable understanding of how we came to be, and how we will be. I think that until we learn to comfort and sustain each other, because it is how we choose to be; we will lean on these mythic identities to threaten and cajole us into proper actions, that are seemingly improper in many cases. There may come some comfort from what we learn about the Universe. Until we start being better conservators as a whole, we will only attract from the Universe, the worst of our own tendencies.
 
  • #14
I know a middle-aged professional man who suffered from chronic depression. He "tried God," and he claims the salvation experience lifted him out of depression. I think I still can see some signs when our paths happen to cross that he still has some depression, though I never bring the subject up with him.
 
  • #15
Dayle Record said:
We sense the energies of the Universe as we can, as we have evolved. Before there was Science, there was only us and the natural world. We, as a species were, and still are, incredibly inclined to project our needs, fears, desires, onto others. In the case of religion, we projected them onto the Universe at large. Clever and unscrupulous humans made whole societies out of these anthropomorphisms. I think the more we understand about how the Universe works, the closer we will be to a reasonable understanding of how we came to be, and how we will be. I think that until we learn to comfort and sustain each other, because it is how we choose to be; we will lean on these mythic identities to threaten and cajole us into proper actions, that are seemingly improper in many cases. There may come some comfort from what we learn about the Universe. Until we start being better conservators as a whole, we will only attract from the Universe, the worst of our own tendencies.
Dayle, you always have great posts.
 
  • #16
Janitor said:
I know a middle-aged professional man who suffered from chronic depression. He "tried God," and he claims the salvation experience lifted him out of depression. I think I still can see some signs when our paths happen to cross that he still has some depression, though I never bring the subject up with him.


Hope is a powerful thing! ~The placebo effect~



EVO: A picture is worth thousand words :smile:


One of the most potent tools of religions happens to be “ fear”, fear of unknown and infinite (whoever came up with this 1st was a genius) . It may be, that religions start out as social revolutions to escape the terrene and ignorance of the time but then itself mutates to same terrene and ignorance …. I have found a pattern in religion, it starts out with a powerful tone at 1st then it gives hope/justice/belonging (the hook) to people while injecting extreme fear (the detainment) at the same time,….. now try and think differently and you will always have that incertitude of hell bind. Notice how all the hapless & socio-economically challenged country have the most religious people.

Is religion the best ideology to overcome social , moral and spiritual demons?
 
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  • #17
arildno said:
Oh, really?
So I haven't got any genes, or what?
Or possibly, I'm not human.


Or perhaps, religiously inclined individuals are so conceited that they can't bear the thought that the universe couldn't care less about their existence.

Interesting article references at the bottom ...

Hardwired for God

Temporal-lobe-epilepsy (TLE) patients, who suffer from seizures of the brain's frontal lobe, frequently experience intense mystical episodes. Neurologists at the University of California in San Diego have noticed that about 25% of patients with TLE become obsessed with religion.

Researchers believe that the seizures experienced by TLE patients may affect a pathway that connects two areas of the brain: one that takes in sensory information, and another that gives that information emotional context. This could explain why these patients often find exaggerated significance in every small thing that occurs. To test their theory, the scientists hooked up both TLE patients and healthy controls to electrical monitors capable of detecting activity in the brain's temporal lobes. Then, they showed both groups neutral words, sexually evocative words, curses, and religious words.

In healthy volunteers, even the religiously devout, there was no increase in brain activity in response to neutral or religious words. The curses and the sexual words, however, did set off a reaction in their temporal lobes. When TLE patients were given the test, their brains did not react to either the curses or sexual words, but did respond to the religious words.

It seems that the temporal lobes of human beings are naturally hardwired for religious experience, and an individual's potential for religiousity may depend on the genetic predisposition or the health of that area of their brain. What we see in some epileptics is probably a disease-induced exaggeration of a capacity that we may all have to a greater or lesser degree.

A belief in God is found in all societies worldwide and throughout history. Some scientists believe that this capacity may be designed into the brain's circuitry through evolution to facilitate altruism and cooperation between individuals, and bring order and stability to society. Based on information in: Skeptic, Vol 5 #4, 1997; Psychology Today, Mar/Apr 1998
 
  • #18
I don't mean this to offend anyone, but there are some who think from reading of the vision of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus that he in fact had T.L.E. That condition could also have been the unexplained "thorn in the flesh" that he complained about in writing.
 
  • #19
In Islamic tradition prophet Mohammed’s witnesses have stated that every time prophet received a message from GOD, he went in a seizure like state.
 
  • #20
Microburst said:
In Islamic tradition prophet Mohammed’s witnesses have stated that every time prophet received a message from GOD, he went in a seizure like state.

Yeah, but that still doesn't explain how his body flew off into the upper atmosphere. :biggrin:
 
  • #21
Janitor said:
Yeah, but that still doesn't explain how his body flew off into the upper atmosphere. :biggrin:

One thing at a time... :smile:
 
  • #22
Janitor said:
Yeah, but that still doesn't explain how his body flew off into the upper atmosphere. :biggrin:


:smile: Lord will strike you down! :smile: :smile: :smile: :smile: :-p
 
  • #23
fear
fear of death
fear of the unknown
fear of others

all religions are EVIL and based on fear
 
  • #24
I think people choose a religious way for a sense of community and direction. Some need another to give them that, others can find it on their own.
 
  • #25
ray b said:
all religions are EVIL and based on fear

I don't subscribe to this idea. Some look to religion for comfort, others not, you can't use absolutes. Also, religion is very important to the human race. Throughout time, religion and man has gone hand in hand, even back to the stone age. You take away religion and you take away our nature.
 
  • #26
I don’t believe a simple answer explains humanity’s interest in religion. Most of the bad things people say about religion actually have little to do with it.

For example, look at Stalin, a strict atheist. Now, if Stalin had been a pope in the thirteenth century, and been just as evil as he was in the twentieth century, don’t you think he’d have found a way to use religion (just as he used communism) to serve his ends? Religion offers opportunities for self-serving people to take advantage of others. The trust in leaders that’s often involved combined with the “truth” status of doctrine and literature makes believers vulnerable.

But the problem isn’t religion. It is selfishness, blind ambition, greed, ignorance and all the rest that plagues humankind. It certainly isn’t limited to religion! With the reasoning some are using, then we might as well say democracy is bad . . . look at the evil things going on there. Adults molest children, so adulthood is bad. Some scientists are helping terrorists, so science is bad.

I think the most interesting question is, is there any real basis for religion? By “real” I mean, is there something to the so-called mystical side, or is religion at best merely a means for deciding morality, doing charitable work, fellowship, etc. After studying the origin and history of religion extensively, here is what my current opinion is about what might be “real” behind religion (subject to change with new information of course :wink:).

In every tribe, culture, and civilization in recorded history have been individuals who were strong feelers and intuiters. By “feeler” I don’t mean emotions, but people with heightened sensitivity. Some of these people claimed to detect something very subtle that’s present behind apparent reality. Some called it spirit, others gave it different names. Some people decided to try to develop their sensitivity to that “something” to see what more of it they could experience. In my opinion, that practice of learning to feel the background reality, the spiritual realm, is the “realness” at the root of religion.

Now, some people feel it a little and then theorize endlessly; but that contrasts rather sharply with someone like Jesus or the Buddha who seemed to feel it endlessly and theorize little. Some people don’t really feel it, they just like the idea of it. Some have other reasons for getting into religion, as a few of the posters in this thread have pointed out.

But, in my opinion, the real source of it, and the only hope spiritual theory has for anyone ever understanding it, is those who know that it is through developing one’s sensitivity that one discovers the subtle realm.

If religion, or rather spiritual discovery, is not for you, that’s fine. But it is a little disturbing to hear people who’ve not taken the time to understand it speak with such expert-sounding ridicule and contempt. :cool:
 
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  • #27
Greg Bernhardt said:
You take away religion and you take away our nature.

Speak for yourself.
 
  • #28
cragwolf said:
Speak for yourself.

Look at human history and it's relationship with religion.
 
  • #29
Religion is an ideology. People in America believe in the constitution. These are two separate forms of the same ideology. In religion the rules are set down by a supreme being. In the constitution the rules were set down by the founders of the country. In both cases they are sound rules to follow.

Should we ignore the rules set down by religion because we don't believe in the source? Or should we ignore the rules set down by the founders of this country because they were not infallible? I think people tend to loose site of the most important thing about religion. Regardless of who the messenger was, the message is still good advice.

The founders of this country were human and they gave advice that still holds true today in America. And the rules of morality set down on paper thousands of years ago is still good advice wether it came from "god" or from a creative storyteller.

The bottom line is that the messanger isn't nearly as important as the message. If some people want to perceive the message as divine, and it helps them to follow those rules and lead a better life, then it's a useful tool. And it's engrained in society, so people "choose" to believe

As society evolves that may or may not change. Time will tell. I don't need a "god" to tell me it's wrong to kill someone or sleep with someone else's wife.
Some people are more reassured in that.

Of course that's just IMHO
 
  • #30
Mathematics is the ultimate religion. It will answer any question you have with absolute certainly, and the answer will be utterly useless.
 
  • #31
Icebreaker said:
Mathematics is the ultimate religion. It will answer any question you have with absolute certainly, and the answer will be utterly useless.

Religion helps people decide on morals (or that is the genuine goal)...Mathematics cannot do this. I have to agree with Greg that religion is a part of human nature, whether it has been a positive or negative thing. The rituals of religions (whether you are an orthodox catholic, wiccan, or muslim) help people attain whatever connection they are seeking to a some kind of source. Some people do that by just helping others, some through art/music, some do it by meditation. Everyone has their own individual way, and if everyone was able to recognize this, there may be less judgement passed and less violence in the end.
 
  • #32
Greg Bernhardt said:
Look at human history and it's relationship with religion.

All it tells me is that it has been part of human society. Human nature is another thing altogether.
 
  • #33
Religion doesn't necessarily have to help people decide morality. Some religions may teach how to obtain inner peace, or the nature of the universe. Religion is anything in which there is something we must believe in, but the validity of which can not be proven. i.e. Math, and the fundation of.
 
  • #34
Icebreaker said:
Religion doesn't necessarily have to help people decide morality. Some religions may teach how to obtain inner peace, or the nature of the universe. Religion is anything in which there is something we must believe in, but the validity of which can not be proven. i.e. Math, and the fundation of.

You are describing more spirituality then religion...The major religions do have a moral backbone to them, how to live, what to eat, what is wrong/right as far as society standards go, etc. Religion requires faith of different belief systems, whereas math is truly universal. Believe me, I am not promotion religion, I am as anti-religious as one can be, thus I don't think mathematics should be downgraded to it.
 
  • #35
Les Sleeth: I agree with most of what you said, but do religions themselves not introduce conflict and even promote ignorance to an extent?
 

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