What people look for in religion

By willfully and deliberately violating the divine will, people distance themselves from God. By atoning for bad deeds, people can cleanse themselves from the effects of sins and reconcile with God.

Why Do People Believe in God? | Psychology Today

Through the process of atonement, people can reconstruct their relationships with God and those they have sinned against. By teaching people how to forgive others, religion helps people ask forgiveness themselves. In this way, these faiths address the basic human need to admit moral failings and move forward to a better way of living. For most religions, salvation is a lifelong process, aided by both the discipline of ritual and the moral teachings of the faith.

What I learnt from growing up Catholic

Negativity or attachment to material life, Buddhists believe, is the obstacle that holds people back. Within some Buddhist sects, negativity is expressed in the teaching of tahna craving and dukkha suffering or imperfection. Our human desires, illusions, and attachments cause our suffering.


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The reason people are so unhappy is that they want or crave things: love, adventure, and material possessions, chocolate, whatever. The idea is that we are our own source of unhappiness, and we can change how we feel by changing our attitude and desires. Some Buddhist sects teach that life is a constant process of overcoming this suffering by learning why we suffer and giving up our attachments and our illusions. Dukkha, which describes the source of all human suffering, is the first of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. In Hinduism, the nature of human limitation is that we are all trapped in the world of samsara, which forces us to die and be reborn endless numbers of times.

What Does The Future Of Religion Look Like?

Hinduism also offers hope that we can stop the process of rebirth and death. With proper practice, a person can attain release moksha from the suffering of samsara and find freedom and oneness with the infinite, the ultimate goal in most Hindu sects.

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Check out the brand new podcast series that makes learning easy with host Eric Martsolf. Essentially this hypothesis is that religion is a by-product of a number of cognitive and social adaptations which have been extremely important in human development. We are social creatures who interact and communicate with each other in a co-operative and supportive way. In doing so we inevitably have stronger attachments to some individuals more than others.

We continue to rely on these attachments in later life, when falling in love and making friends, and can even form strong attachments to non-human animals and inanimate objects.

Criticism of religion

It is easy to see that these strong attachments could transfer to religious deities and their messengers. Our relationships depend on being able to predict how others will behave across situations and time.

We can imagine what they would do or say. This ability — known as cognitive decoupling — originates in childhood through pretend play. It is a small leap from being able to imagine the mind of someone we know to imagining an omnipotent, omniscient, human-like mind — especially if we have religious texts which tell of their past actions.

Another key adaptation that may help religious belief derives from our ability to to anthropomorphise objects.


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  6. Have you ever seen the outline of a person only to realise that it is actually a coat hung on the door? This capacity to attribute human forms and behaviours to non-human things shows we also readily endow non-human entities, such as gods, with the same qualities that we possess and, as such, make it easier to connect with them. In addition to these psychological aspects, the ritual behaviour seen in collective worship makes us enjoy and want to repeat the experience.

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    Dancing, singing and achieving trance-like states were prominent in many ancestral societies and are still exhibited by some today — including the Sentinelese people , and Australian aborigines. As well as being acts of social unity, even more formal rituals also alter brain chemistry.