I've heard this phrase discussed on a spectrum, from the unintentionally patronising "People are religious because they have nowhere else to turn" to the downright insulting "religion is a crutch for emotionally immature people."
Let me ask this, why do people think this?
I'll admit that there are comforting aspects too religion, such as being able to pray to someone who always listens, and know there is someone who always has your best interests at heart etc, but religion isn't some love in with God. It runs a lot deeper than that.
To know all the time, every day of your life, that there is a moral code that you must do you utmost to adhere to, a code that is both positive and negative, and demands of you so so very much of your life, that's a challenging thing. That's not comforting. That's deeply and profoundly challenging.
I personally would see the non religious viewpoint as much more comforting. The idea that you can trust in yourself to do your best to find the "right" path for you etc, and you don't have to worry about always trying your hardest etc unless you yourself want to. To me, that seems like a much simpler existence.
So let me ask, do you seriously regard religion as "comforting"? Because from a Christian POV, I don't see figures in our history who are celebrated who had "comfortable" experiences, or who were just looking for a way to make some peace with oblivion. Because if you do, have you ever thought about religion seriously as anything more than a means to confront the end of your life. Because while what comes after death is important in religious circles, it's not all that's important by a long long stretch.
All very well, but I believe my parents created me and my interaction with my genetic deletion syndrome has supported that evidence. I don't want to 'believe' a fictional tale is real either (to a degree which I believe is much more consuming than what the HPA does with HP, and I really do not want to start making a comparison conversation here) .
Maybe I should describe myself as a 'Christian Agnostic', if we can create such a term, in that I could therefore believe in the values of being Christian and at the same time put the God Theory on hold? Does that make sense at all?
I'd highly recommend reading Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity for what might be a more palatable explanation of the Christian faith for you.
Because, Christianity is an umbrella term covering lots and lots of different theologies.
One thing with this discussion is that hell is a misdirection. One of the primary focuses of religion in this day and age is the all-loving god.
Did you murder, lie, cheat, steal? Can that send you to eternal torment? etc.
But what are you told about it? You can beg forgiveness BECAUSE god loves unconditionally.
The moment you accept a religion, you are immediately not alone. There is always something out there that loves you, regardless of whether or not you, or anyone else does.
Well, to be fair, hell wasn't really a central theme or even a broadly accepted idea for the first few hundred years of Christian history. Universalism/universal reconciliation has always been a part of Christianity, more popular during some times than others, and many would argue that it was the dominant view of the early church until about the 5th or 6th century.
So it's not like Christians today went, "OMG, hell is unpalatable! Let's change what everybody has always believed!" It's just that, probably due to becoming a more pluralistic society (when you have more contact with people of other faiths, it becomes harder to believe that a loving God would punish them for that), we're seeing a new resurgence of universalist thought, particularly among people who might not have previously inclined to think that way (i.e., there's always been universalists among Catholics and mainline Protestants, but we're starting to see more evangelicals espouse certain forms of universal reconciliation, as well).
Absolutely, though, the idea that there is a loving God makes people feel not alone. (I'd disagree, though, that somehow "accepting a religion" makes that happen. In the Christian view, God's love is the foundation, not the result. You don't accept the religion and then God loves you; God's love always comes first.) I don't think that's a bad thing. If there is a God who is love, then people aren't alone. People are truly, genuinely, infinitely, always, entirely loved, just as they are, at every single moment. That within which they live and move and have their being isn't indifferent; they are known and they are loved. And that would be a beautiful thing. That would be a thing so beautiful that I personally think it's worth believing in, because it's worth being wrong about.
Well, to be fair, hell wasn't really a central theme or even a broadly accepted idea for the first few hundred years of Christian history.
Erm... Then what was Jesus talking about when he refered to the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth etc. Jesus may not have used the word hell, but the descriptions are definitively there.
Universalism/universal reconciliation has always been a part of Christianity, more popular during some times than others, and many would argue that it was the dominant view of the early church until about the 5th or 6th century.
Okay, please show me a single quote from the Gospels to support universalism.
In my experience with religion, which is pretty limited, people think religion is comforting because it is an outlet for all their stress and worries. they can pray and god will answer their prayers and help them along with the other members of the church. They don't find the moral code they have to follow restricting, they find it to be more like a guideline that isn't enforced with threats like the worldly laws are. The also , of course, have the promise of heaven or everlasting life or whatever they believe in to look forward to.
I personally don't believe in any of this. i think that trying to communicate with "god" in anyway is one sided, you're basically talking to yourself, and i don't think the people should need any kind of motivation to have morals and be awesome...but anyway that's what I've found other people think and also what i think.