Writer John Gray Speculates on Why Religion is So Important to People


Fear of supernatural punishment is more effective than supernatural reward.

Human beings search for patterns which cross the boundaries of cause and effect. It does not matter whether that individual is rational or not; they continue to believe that their lives come under a kind of oversight by a non-human.

Writer John Gray Speculates on Why Religion is So Important to People[/tweetthis]

The consequence of punishment and reward may not originate from any single omnipotent deity, but could be distributed by a large number of gods, demons and angels. Ghosts also come under this purview. In the absence of gods, a cosmic process rewards the good deeds and conversely punishes the one at fault, similar to the conception of karma by Buddhists and Hindus. The human being craves for a moral order which transcends human control. We believe that all our actions are observed and then judged from a place far above the natural world.

This line of thinking serves a particular evolutionary role. Believing in the supernatural punishment and reward process helps in unmatched social co-operation. It is not useless superstition, but actually an evolutionary adaptation which comes with being human. It is seen that the fear of any supernatural punishment is more effective than supernatural reward.

According to Dominic Johnson, an evolutionary biologist who also holds a political science doctorate, a need to find a greater than natural meaning within natural events is almost universal. This performs an important role in the maintenance of societal order. This thinking also extends in polytheistic cultures and is found in all historical periods. It is seen in every culture-from indigenous tribal societies and goes all the way to modern religions. Atheists are also included under this broad umbrella.

To new atheists, such a conclusion is not acceptable. For Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett, religion is a lethal combo of delusion and lies. The new atheists, however, are incapable of deep thought.  Their views are shaped by rationalist philosophy. They believe that the human mind can be described as a faculty which wants the world to be accurately represented. This approach, however, brings with it a couple of problems. The foremost issue is why humans cling to a kind of religion. The possibility is that their minds were bent by devilish power elites. Atheists prefer demonology of this variety. If they cannot, it will be impossible for them to account for the beliefs' persistence, the same they denounce as being irrational. The inclination of humans to veer near religion is, in practicality, the atheist evil problem. 


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