Why are most of the people on our planet religious?
The answer to this question is complex, though some possible reasons are as follows:
Humans have evolved to think of the world in human terms, thus when something happened to a primitive person, it may have seemed most probable that it was caused by the actions of a being similar to themselves. This process occurs in most religions, perhaps with the simplest examples found in forms of animism such as those found in Africa and Australia.
Due to the way our tiny brains process information, once we have a framework with which to manage ideas, such as science or a religion, it will be easiest to sort other ideas into that framework. At any given time, the set of ideas that seems most plausible may be favoured, displacing other ideas. However old ideas are often favoured over new ones for a variety of reasons, which are not necessarily rational.
People can form relationships with imagined beings. A simple such relationship might be the stereotypical 'imaginary friend' of the lonely child, although imagined relationships take many forms, both in religions and in those that are examined through psychology.
As humans are social animals, religions are spread as patterns of cultural information, reinforced by relationships, both with real and imagined beings.
Religious people frequently form tribal groups and kill those who do not share their religions.
Religions tend to displace each other and spread in this way.
Why do so many of us kill each other over differences in opinion as to the realities of religion when there can only be one correct answer?
Humans are able to pursue complex long-term goals, even though these may never be achieved.
If we are attached enough to our goals, we may even kill each other over them.
Religions provide the sorts of goals that people will kill over, such as the perceived potential for eternal life or by defining how one should live.
There are a few possibilities regarding how humans might live without fear of religious conflict.
To me the simplest and most logical however is for everyone to discover which viewpoint is correct and thus to remove any reason for debate or conflict on the topic. While people continue to be religious however, conflict may be unavoidable, as religious beliefs are too dear to them to give up without fighting for.
What is the answer?
There are many obvious, excellent arguments as to why religions are false. The complete lack of causal evidence for the existence of supernatural forces is a favourite of mine.
While an individual is trying to understand the world from within a religious framework however, they may simply be able to bend their perceptions of reality and religion to deal with these arguments.
A detailed understanding of why humans have become religious may thus be necessary to cure many people of their superstitions.
Find out more in my free book Atheism (available as PDF or MP3) at:
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