Religion Is The Parenting of Civilization
Why throwing away all religious belief is a denial of where we come from
I grew up without religion — to be more precise, I had an indirect relationship with it.
My parents went to church most of their early life. My mother is Lutheran, and my Father went to Catholic school. I never spent time in a church or had access to any religious writings or teachings as a child.
My Father resented his religious upbringing. He has been a self-identified Atheist for as long as I can remember. His logical and nihilistic thinking about religion was something I took to heart and accepted as my perspective throughout most of my life.
Recently, I’ve changed my position on being an Atheist. I now consider myself Agnostic. Not because I found Jesus or had some mystical experience. It is more complicated than that.
I believe parts of religion can be explained in terms of evolutionary and phycological circumstances. Some of my views stem from research by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung on the collective unconscious. His research indicates there is a much deeper meaning to be explored than the common polarizing opinions about humans and spirituality. I will save this discussion for a later article.
We require religion the same way we rely upon our parents
From an evolutionary perspective, humans have needed religion to help organize themselves. Early societies were especially chaotic and had no concrete structure or moral foundation. Religion was a way to have rules and accountability for certain behaviors and lifestyles.
The same is true regarding our need for parents as children. They provide us a foundation of morals and responsibilities.
Early human societies are no different than children. Ignorant and in need of being taught right from wrong.
Of course, there will be a day when you don’t need your parents anymore. You’ll grow up and move out, buy your own house, and teach your children the values you’ve learned from your parents and what life has taught you.
As a society, we are the results of our religious history and foundation. We may not need religion in the same way a responsible adult doesn’t require their parents anymore. But that does not mean we should throw away religion or our parents for that matter. We must respect what they have taught us and remember their teachings and sacrifices.
Most people still have relationships with their parents, even though they don’t need them anymore. We’re able to value the relationship and embrace our independence while appreciating who we’ve become.
There are plenty of lessons my parents taught me I resent or will never use. However, most of the moral fabric of what I know is because of them. Religion has provided civilization the same luxury.
Sometimes I think society is experiencing a rebellious teenage stage — rejecting all things associated with religion. Maybe we’re still growing up waiting for the day to be the wise adult appreciating our parents.
Sure, you can argue all the harmful elements of religion. There are plenty of examples to cite. However, if you step back from the nihilistic perspective, it’s possible to appreciate what religion has given us — morals, community, faith, and much more.
I think trowing away religion as some blemish of humankind’s history is a huge mistake. I also don’t believe going to church or hanging pictures of Jesus is a requirement for valuing religion.
We must recognize that religion is not just a bunch of mythical fairytales and blind worship. It’s more significant and fundamental, a core part of us all. Once we acknowledge and appreciate religion’s positive impact on our culture, we’ll find peace in letting it go.
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