Monday, October 11, 2010

The Purpose of Religion

Religion does in fact serve multiple purposes in human psychology, thus its continued existence cannot be ascribed to any one cause.  The purposes it serves, however, could all be served more ably and at lower cost to humanity by other means.  The purposes it serves are purely psychological.  In other words, it generally is something needed to assuage the believer's feelings.

How one "feels" about a proposition is not relevant to its truth; but is relevant to discerning one's bias.  Thus it is this very psychological need that reveals the bias of the believer and thus the falsehood of the proposition.

Do people really have a need for religion?

No.  At least not in the sense of a "magic man in the sky" religion.  There have been many cultures in which the population thrived without believing in a god.  Buddhism is an example of this phenomenon.  Classic Buddhists do not believe in a god (though some of the various sects believe in things very like a god).  Taoists, followers of Confucius and many primitive animist societies do not believe in a god as the term is usually understood. 

The one clear universal human need related to this question is the need for a worldview--the human brain requires context.  There is no evidence for the proposition, however, that humans by their nature need a worldview that claims certainty where it is clear none exists--such as the origins of the universe.  In fact, I would suggest that anyone with such a need is suffering from a pathological condition:  A need to pretend to know more than he or she actually does.

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