Oct 29, 2007

Rationalizing Religion


If religion, in general, is not founded on truth, then, why is it widely popular? All cultures throughout human generations, from prehistory until today practice one form of religion or another. Does this necessarily entail that there is indeed something that exists that can be considered as divine or at least mystical? Can the widespread belief in the supernatural be considered as direct proof of the existence of the supernatural? Is there really something more than what we can scientifically perceive, measure and speculate? Is there really a spiritual realm that is beyond the physical universe? Is is really true that the physical universe with all its laws, matter and energy is just a subset or subject of a bigger supernatural reality? Are the so-called miraculous and mystical experiences of some people can be considered as proofs of the direct interaction of the divine with us mere mortals? The simple logical answer to all of these questions is NO!

Although there are limits to our intellects and scientific inquiries, we can logically conclude that there is no such thing as supernatural or divine; well, this is at least in the sense of what the different religions claim. The proof for this assertion is actually very simple. Compare and contrast the beliefs and practices of the different religions in the world and you will realize that all of these are mutually contradictory if not totally antagonistic. Even within the same religious systems such as Christianity, there are many factions. How is it possible that contradictory beliefs be simultaneously true? if there is really divine revelation, then, the revelation should be universally applicable regardless of culture, language, ethnic background, time and geographical locations. If the physical laws of the universe are less important than the so-called divine laws, then, the divine laws should be more universally confirmed. There should be no room for any doubts. How come the Newtonian Laws of Motion are more universally applicable than the so-called laws of God found in different scriptures? If you examine these laws, you will realize that they are arbitrary,fallible and culturally-determined. Hence, they are debatable. Are we prepared to accept that the source of these so-called divine laws is also fallible? On the other hand, the basic laws of physics are not debatable. For instance, who in their right mind argue against the existence of gravity?

Generally speaking, religion is arbitrary. Chances are, the religion that you are practicing is imposed upon you by the society where you belong. Then, what could account for the widespread popularity of religion? Well, there are several scientific explanations for this phenomenon that are more logically convincing than the popular divine notion.

One common explanation got to do with the basic psychology of human beings. We, as conscious beings, are generally afraid to die. Death is a mystery to us. Most of us are uncomfortable with the thoughts that we would cease to exist. We are also equally uncomfortable with the thoughts that we will never see our love ones after death. For most people losing a love one is unbearable. Religion is appealing to people simply because of its general message of hope. Religion offers immortality and eternal bliss. However, this does not necessarily prove that the message of hope that religion bring is true. This simply means that religion answers a basic psychological need for comfort. Religion is our way of coping with the reality of death. Furthermore, as a psychological coping mechanism, religion offers a sense of universal justice. The concepts of heaven, hell, karma and reincarnation all fall within this category.

Another more reasonable explanation for the wide-spread popularity of religion is its arrogant but ignorant claim of the ability to explain everything from cosmology to human existence. Pre-scientific humans try to understand the world by means of religion. They resorted to creating legends, myths and deities to explain the forces and phenomena in nature.

Lastly, the popularity of religion can be explained in terms of sociological and political concepts, Religion is culturally-based and socially-enforced. Religion is a means whereby societies are formed and glued together. The ancient theocratic monarchies such as the Egyptian Pharaoh-centric governments are based on religion. Even today, there are nations that try to enforce the theocratic form of government, a government that is beyond question or accountability.

In the final analysis, religion is completely man-made. It has no divine or supernatural origin simply because it is arbitrary. In the beginning, man created God in his own image and not the other way around. The author of Genesis had got it all wrong!


  1. Genesis got it wrong in so many ways. Man is not the ruler on Earth, microbes are. We're simply their unwitting tools.

  2. Blessed are the microbes for they shall inherit the earth.

  3. Religion is quite popular because it provides people with answers that are otherwise impossible to explain before (What are we made of? Clay and God-breath!). So until we have finally explained everything in the universe through science, religion has a foothold on human society. Also, religion is based on that feel-good stuff known as faith. And there's also the fact that with religion, comes religious holidays, which in turn means more time sleeping in the couch. lol

  4. hahaha... i do agree, the holidays are perhaps the best legacies that religion has ever bestowed on human civilization.

    well, religion can be considered as the first attempt of humans to explain reality. but it is not very reliable. well, not unless you still believe that the Copernican heliocentric theory is a heresy.

    on the other hand, have you recently used any gadgets that have been invented by theologians?

    science is reliable because it works and its dogmas are verifiable.

  5. nice post .. the video associated with this post is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R_Q3PrJ2wA


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