Religion closes the eye of reason, impairs the circuit of logic and creases the fabric of thought – that much is true, especially after one develops an understanding of human fallacies, irrationality, indoctrination and reinforced dogmatism.
Yet there’s no denying the universality of some kind of religion: from the dark ages to modern societies, wherever you tread, primitive or forefront, Aztecs or Mormonism, cults or North Korea’s celestial dictatorship, people want to believe in something. Even tribes isolated from the frontier of modernity are yoked to their own tribal religions.
What then, aside from our tendency to conform and inability to critically think at the best of times, could be the reason for religion’s mass appeal?
Religion offers an intimacy we crave deeply but rarely acquire in our life – through prayer or worship, such beliefs liberate venal desires, grant forgiveness for inappropriate thoughts, and provide communion with a divine being who’s considered non-judgemental.
While the bulk of it is often convenient, fabricated, self-serving justifications (and erroneous attributions to common patterns), the faithful nonetheless feel a powerful catharsis.
Outside of religion, how many of us have a relationship of such intensity, intimacy and intricacy?
In the mundane reality, our dirtiest, darkest secrets and thoughts are concealments we never reveal. We might have lascivious fantasies, entertain violent, vengeful thoughts, or have deep insecurities. And we will rarely voice these out.
It’s only in either therapy or religion where one can express freely without fear of judgements.
What we want then, is not so different from what religion offers.
We want so very much, so very dearly, for someone to listen intently to us as if our existence really mattered; we want someone we can relate our deepest worries, our greatest inadequacies without a hint of condemnation.
We want to drop pretenses and be absolutely vulnerable, fragile as glass, to merge the public and the private; we want to love and be loved, unconditionally, with no restrictions. We want to be regulated by this person, to be made better, to be made an imperfect whole.
For those who drink at the jewelled cup of such bliss, life is laughably bearable even at its worst, and always worth living for. For them, Envy, is itself, in thrall.
But because most of us do not understand the essential constituents of a friendship or romantic pursuit, or are perhaps marred by insufficiency in communication, or as is sometimes the case, harmed by others, we fail to develop our capacity to be a better person.
And so, as long as we are splintered at the core, left incomplete, unsatisfied and uncertain, religion continues its hold over us. Religion provides false comfort, that’s true but it addresses a psychological yearning we have. And when the storm comes crashing down, some comfort is better than no comfort.
So Have You Thought About (HYTA) what is vitally important to the human condition?