Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Religion vs. Secularism

Continuation of the previous blog post

Additionally, religion provides an individual: 

  • An escape from fear

    • Most religions assert that there is an afterlife, and that the only life we know is not the only life we will live. Through this, followers are assured that death is not the end of their existence, which relieves a major existential fear. People don't want to believe that when they die their existence ceases, so assurance that this is not the case is calming. Not only do followers of religion free themselves from the fear of death, they free themselves from the fear of injustice. If all actions will be either punished or rewarded in the afterlife, there is no need to fear that people who do evil things will get away with it unharmed.
    • The problem with this is that it solves the problem of existential fear with emotions rather than reason. Rather than taking the evidence we have and tentatively accepting that this is the one life we know we have until further evidence, those who believe in an afterlife allow their fear to blind them.Similarly, the belief that "good" and "evil" must necessarily be vindicated prevents people from considering a system in which justice is limited to earthly actions.
    • My secular solution to the escape from fear of death is similar to that of the Epicureans. Death is inevitable, so it is pointless to fear it.As for justice, all we can do as humans is our best. There will inevitably be failures in the system, but it is our job to try to preemptively prevent tragedies.
  • A sense of fear

    • In addition to relieving people of fear, religions instills a sense of fear in followers. Whether it's through the prospect of divine punishment or being ostracized. Religions provide a source of fear that keeps people organized and under control. Some may argue that a certain degree of fear is necessary to maintain order, although I wouldn't agree.
    • Using fear as a method to control groups is a an effective strategy, but it has some majorly flawed side-effects. Fear of outside "corrupting" influences can lead to xenophobia and even violence.
    • Of course, the secular solution to fear is to avoid it unless absolutely necessary. Fear is the source of many worldly issues, and there are more suitable methods of keeping an orderly society such as incentive. Naturally, there will always be a need for law enforcement, but society should be driven by a desire to improve the future rather than fear of corrupting influences or that which is "sinful."

1 comment:

  1. In class there seemed a reluctance to agree with Russell that reason could conquer fear, but if not that then what? God-fearing people around these parts tend also to be demon-fearing. My objection to Russell is not that he overstated the power of reason but that he under-appreciated the extent to which "hell-fire" persists in the residual child-indoctrinated imaginations of too many people.