Monday, February 21, 2011

The role of organized religion

In 2009 when I was thinking a lot about religion and our place in the world, I wrote these

Following a religion gives us hope, faith and confidence about problems which we cannot solve ourselves...and a sense of humility which is very necessary in this random world.It also is used to give some sort of stability, checks and balances in the society so that it will not degrade..

All these things (castes and rules)  make me feel these things were only created for manipulation and power-grabbing. 
After that I argued that I didn't need someone else to set the rules and that we ourselves can make our own rules for life. 

I found a different perspective regarding organized religion in Sebastian's blog. 

because people attribute things like discrimination or war to religion, but I think that’s mistaken. We naturally draw lines as humans, and support the people on our side of the line. Sure, religious groups often promote themselves at the expense of other groups. But so do trade organizations, national organizations, race-based organizations, and so on, and so on. Humans naturally divide themselves into groups, support people in their group, and oppose people outside of it.
So I’d say, even the worst implementations of religion tend to get 80% of things correct. They all pretty much say don’t steal, don’t kill, do charitable and good deeds, be hospitable, purify and master yourself, serve and do good works…
If you belong to an organized religion, you know how people are generally expected to act, you know it’s pretty good, and you know everyone’s consistent about it. You have some people that you know are going to back you up if times get tough, and you’ve got common ground to connect on and work together, socialize together, and build families together.
Y’know, a hardcore athiest that focuses on the mystical side of religion and says it’s ridiculous is kind of missing the point. Organized religion greatly simplifies people’s lives by giving them a reasonably good belief structure and standardizing a large group of people’s customs, culture, and expected conduct. It makes life easier and allows for strong connections and alliances and agreements.

 So he says, religion has made life easier by giving us a culture and standard beliefs. This helps in creating and maintaining relations and being together amicably. Though I argue that if we are all intelligent, we can think about and form our own beliefs and understand that our well-being lies in live and let living, I will not.  Because, 

guy that can research, strive, examine, think, brainstorm, and scratch and claw your way towards having a uniquely developed, cohesive, powerful set of ethics.
Most people can’t, and don’t want to do that. It’s a lot of work, and it leads to a lot of doubt and confusion and then no one understands you. Having your own ethics is lonely. Very lonely.

Hence religions have spread and established with the help of the charisma of the people spreading them. But I think his perspective is very useful to understand religions influence in the world. His blog is very good and he writes really interesting stuff. You can read it here

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