There was once a time when I endorsed religious belief, though not being a believer myself on the premise that as Karl Marx said “Religion is the opiate of the people”. Whereas he indicated that it was an expression of an oppressed people my meaning was different in that it kept people somewhat quiescent. This was a mistaken outlook on my part. Instead belief has caused massive miseries in all societies.
Many people these days simply endorse belief for purposes other than actual acceptance of religious doctrine. While not believing themselves, many simply think that belief will instill moral values as well as establish common reference points in social communication. These common reference points ,they hope, will allow them to have an inroad when trying to relate to others, especially their children. Witness the many adults that urge their children to attend Sunday services yet they themselves rarely attend except during major holidays like Easter or Christmas, or during major events like marriage or deaths in the family. Meanwhile these same adults live nearly religion free lives, drinking, smoking, hurling blasphemous epitaphs at those who annoy them. Yes, belief does not need churches, but belief does require moral behavior.
Moral values can be instilled within children without resorting to religious belief. Simply directing them in the behavior desired and setting the proper examples for the young will accomplish the same task. Some think that without the threat of an ever present deity figure that morality might evaporate. People prove each and every day that even with an ever present sky-daddy that immorality still exists. Do they really believe if they can do immoral deeds while being observed by an ever present, ever knowing, all-powerful supernatural being? I don’t think so.
Today, more and more, people are simply promoting belief in belief. Belief has become a tradition, something done simply because it has always been done.
How can this be changed?
“skeptics must always appreciate how hard it is for people to have their beliefs challenged. It is, quite literally, a threat to their brain’s sense of survival. It is entirely normal for people to be defensive in such situations. The brain feels it is fighting for its life. It is unfortunate that this can produce behavior that is provocative, hostile, and even vicious, but it is understandable as well.”
When challenging the believer it is important to emphasize how the new information is relevant to the societies’ and their personal survival. Equally important is to recognize that religious belief is tied closely to an individuals survival instincts and will not be easily relinquished.