BY SOFO ARCHON
Note: The term religion is used here for simplicity reasons to refer only to the dominant, especially Western, dogmatic, organized religions, and doesn’t imply the esoteric religious traditions that do have positive things to contribute to the world.
In all cultures throughout history we can spot two basic reasons why people believe in religion: the fear of hell and the desire for heaven.
According to the world’s dominant religious traditions, god has ordered people to take appropriate action in order to attain to heaven after they die, or else they will be condemned to hell.
Earth is only seen as a place where sinners live in order to learn the lessons necessary for allowing them to achieve a better place in the afterlife. If, however, they fail to do so, they will fall into the worst imaginable place–hellfire.
Naturally, being afraid of the possibility that they will end up in hell, people desire for heaven, and for this very reason they follow the “word of god,” claimed to be found in religious scriptures.
Fear of Hell
The first and foremost reason why people believe in religion is fear.
Humans are the most fearful animals. They fear many things–old age, disease, natural disasters, poverty–but most importantly, death. Perhaps no other animals can foresee their death, except humans. And the fact that humans know they will eventually die to this life causes tremendous amount of fear in them–fear of the unknown.
Priests became aware of this very early and grabbed the opportunity to exploit it. How? Firstly, by propounding the idea of hell in the afterlife. By making people afraid of the possibility that they might end up in hell, they were able to emotionally control them. That’s the reason why they continuously insist that we are born sinners: their purpose is to instill a deep fear of hell into us.
Secondly, priests offered a solution to the problem of hell. They created the idea of god–an almighty judge who will either send you to heaven or condemn you to hell, according to how you have chosen to live your life. They claimed that if you did certain things, you needn’t be afraid of hell. In this way people were made to follow religious dogmas, believing that if they didn’t, they might end up experiencing eternal suffering.
Desire for Heaven
Earth is the place where you have to prove to god that you are worthy of going to heaven. And who does not want experience everlasting bliss and avoid eternal suffering?
Once you are convinced that happiness cannot be found in this earthly, filled-with-sin life, and you see death approaching closer and closer to you, moment to moment, you become thirsty for happiness in the afterlife, where you can fulfill all the desires that you couldn’t do so here. Heaven, therefore, is nothing but the projection of human greed.
So the desire for heaven is the second main reason why people believe in religion. It’s what motivates them to believe in and act according to religious dogmas. So they waste their lives, living in constant suffering in order to attain to a higher plane of existence after they die, where they think they’ll be rewarded for all the pain they had to go through. By sacrificing life on Earth, they are trying to prove to god that they are worthy of life in heaven.