People Around The World Debate Whether Or Not We Still Need Religion.

It seems like every day you turn on the news and someone is doing something negative in the name of their religion or belief system; similarly there are demonstrations or just general anger from other theisms and atheists arguing about what just happened. It's a never ending circle of religions not getting along or seeing eye-to-eye, which begs the question, "Should we just stop?"

People on Reddit were asked: "Do we need religion?" These are some of the best answers.

1. Fear: Majority of the people are afraid of the unknown. Questions like "who made us?", "what happens to us after death?", "how do we make good use of our life?" scare these people so much that they want some kind of theory to hold on to. They sub-consciously see a lot of flaws in the dogmas they follow, but to them the alternative of having no theory and no answers, is so devastating that they hold on to it.

2. Hope: History shows that whenever a new religion is introduced, the first ones to adopt are the weakest socio-economic demographic of that society. (Christianity in Japan, Islam in Arabia are good examples). These people, who are going through an awe-full life, are promised to have a better life and/or a better after-life by organized religions. Thats the only hope they see in their lives and they cling on to it like a 6 month old clings to his mother.

3. System: A lot of us want to have answers and rules. We want to be told whats good vs bad, right vs wrong etc. Religions answer these for most of people. This is subjective, hence you see some people totally immersed in religion because their default moral compass is not too assertive, and you see some who don't need religion at all because even without religion, they have a good grasp on how they want to spend their life. In short, religion is a system, one of many, to live an apparently meaningful life. Most of the people, however, are introduced to religion as soon as they are born, so they believe the religion they follow is the only system.

Tehseen Baweja

Religion is a tag for a number of beliefs that is commonly held by a population. We will always create a religion tag for a group of beliefs if there is no such tag already.  For instance, common beliefs of ancient Indians are collectively tagged "Hinduism" although the practitioners themselves had no such name. Since beliefs are so fundamental to our existence ipso facto, religions are fundamental & unavoidable aspects of our life. 

Humans believe in a number of things. For instance, many of us believe that we should not lie or kill or steal. This is not something got to us in nature. It is something we just invented as a survival mechanism. It guides our worldview. For instance, Americans talk about equality as "truths that are self evident". Some of those beliefs eventually became "laws" - used to govern people. Violating laws can bring really unpleasant consequences. For instance, a recent court ruling allowed gays be allowed equal marriage rights that has now become a law in the US.

To enforce these beliefs and laws, there come the institutions. Churches, governments, missions were all such institutions. Then there are other elements of culture. For instance, we celebrate a variety of festivals that provides a population common ways to celebration. 

Then there are leaders who bring out ideas. For instance, Francis Bacon and Voltaire brought ideas during European enlightenment that molded people's worldview. Jefferson, Franklin and Adams did for the US, just as Gandhi, Nehru and Patel did for India. 

These beliefs + laws + institutions + leaders + cultural traditions are collectively called religion.

 1000 years from now some group of French could form a society called Voltairism to implement his ideas broadly and a few Englishmen could compete to form a Baconistsociety. Give it another 1000 years and these societies could form government connections and involve in making laws. They could have their own festivals to celebrate various events of enlightenment. Give it another 1000 years they could rigidify these views to be called a religion. In fact, by then people would see Baconist society would be seen as a religion however ironical the followers would see such a tag.This is what happened in case of Buddha, Confucius and others. 

In the same way, in another 4000 years, Americans could go significantly move away from rest of the world in ideas that their combined belief system could be so unique to be termed the Americanism. This is what happened to what is now called Hinduism. It had its own set of laws, institutions, leaders and moral codes not too different from what we have in modern societies.

 Sometimes your beliefs are so important that you will go any length to defend it. Let's assume your culture doesn't allow rape and another culture does. If that culture tries to take over yours and you feel so strongly about the different, you might fight. Different groups of people have different core ideas that are so self-evident that they cannot live to see without. 

Lots of people mistakenly see religious fight as those done for the gods or God. It is ignorant. People never really fight for gods. Shias and Sunnis don't have two different Allahs. The concept of God is not really that different between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The difference lies in belief systems and culture and that is the one that is behind acrimony. Beliefs are fundamentally important. If you think men and women are fundamentally equal, would you defend that idea against a group that thinks different? Beliefs and culture are worth fighting for and worth dying for.

Balaji Viswanathan

I think its an unfortunate choice of words, because need sort of implies that without it you cannot live, and of course we all know that people live without religion, no matter how you define that. It might be, like books or friends, nice to have, but not really essential.

Without access to all sorts of books, I think life is not very enjoyable for me, but I know many people (e.g., the current President) who have no real connection with books and place no value in them, so obviously you can say we do not NEED books; nor do we need religion, in that sense. People do just fine without them. You may say Yes, but… til the cows come home, but if they do not need them*, we dont get to second guess them. I can change my own behaviors, with some effort, but I cant change anyone else, and I might not even know the first thing about what their needs are anyway.

*They determine whether they need something.

In addition, religion can mean a lot of things. Some assume it means Christianity, Judaism, Islam or something like that, but religion can be many other things, such as baseball or music or atheism. Obviously, a person need not use those things as their religion, but they certainly could as well. Another good reason, perhaps, for just not trying to say whether anyone other than yourself needs religion.

James Oppenheimer-Crawford

No we dont need religion. But we do need spirituality. Why?

Because we dont know the answer of the ultimate question and science cannot give us the answer. Science has hit the glass ceiling of exploration.

Consider this, science says the observable universe is merely 5% of the actual universe. Which means we may never even have a glimpse of more than 5% of universe. So the question is this, when we dont know the size of universe how did they come to the number of 5% as what is observable universe? craziness…

Similarly the higgs boson experiment has not helped much in any breakthrough discovery. They have just opened a pandoras box and discovering new elements to confuse even further.

Hence we need something that can explain more about our own truth. And knowing our truth must be the insatiable desire within a man or any being that has attained a certain level of awareness of its own existence.

Sanjeev Singh

You can certainly not have it. I think you have to ask the question "necessary for what?"

Because perhaps in the strictest sense, food, water, shelter, and air is all that is necessary for human life that lasts more than 2 weeks (and in some cases 24 hours). There are certainly other things that are incredibly helpful and fulfilling like friends and family, which add meaning, richness, and value to the human experience.

Faith is about relationships--our relationships with others and how we treat them and our relationship with God. Our being and existence is bathed in existence. 

We need each other. Others need us. We need to treat others with respect, care, and community. Others need to treat us with respect, care, and community. We need to build up positive relationships and community in love and service in a way that broadens the human community and shares love rather than hoarding it.

Nathan Ketsdever

Barring artificial pressure like the state enforcing a position regarding religion -- a terrible injustice and infringement of rights of conscience and expression -- one very strong predictor of religiosity in a country is economic inequality. If inequality increases, religiosity will increase, with a lag time of about a year. If inequality is ameliorated, religiosity will soon decrease.

I've read different interpretations. One is that when the gulf between ordinary people and the elite widens, those in power use religion to justify their position (to themselves?) or perhaps as a means of control. My pet conjecture is that when power becomes thus skewed, those who perceive that there is no earthly way to better their lot and enjoy lives anything like those of the rich, will instead turn to unearthly hopes: when reality is hopeless, turn to socially condoned fantasy.

Be that as it may, the statistical trends look pretty persuasive even if the interpretations above are all bollocks.

Why do we need religion? We don't.

Why do some people seem to need religion? I don't think they do, I'm not so condescending as to think that only we elite atheists can handle reality as it is. I see this attitude sometimes and deplore it.

But it seems that whatever the mechanism, people turn to religion in reaction to increased unfairness in society.

I am no communist advocating perfect equality, but I do think that the huge gulf between rich and poor seen in third world dictatorships and the United States needs to shrink. When that happens, secularisation will follow.

Petter Hggholm

The thing is, the concept of 'religion' is a relatively new invention.

No ancient Indo-European language had a specific word for religion. Latin (religio/relegere) was the first to make the distinction for activities that pertained to the imperial cult. It denoted the proper way to practice, well... religion. It was a civil duty based on tradition (Mos maiorum) which ensured the Pax Romana - the peace of Rome.

For everyone else there was just superstitio, otherwise known as 'you're doing it wrong'. Neglecting the proper ways of honouring Caesar and/or the gods was irreligious, a dangerous sedition, and denying their divinity was atheism. That is what Jews, Christians, and Epicureans were charged with.

Of course, if you asked the Jews or Christians, they would talk of their own devotion to God simply as "law" - a way of life, as opposed to the way of the idolatrous Roman world.

Christianity broke from the idea of worship as a matter of law or as a duty to the empire, and held that it was a matter of faith (which is not a religious concept in Judaism) - effectively releasing people from the extremes of legalism and Empire[3] dictated by religio.

Christians were to live a life of conscience in a post-religious (or "post-apocalyptic") world, that is, according to the spirit of the law, and in opposition to political or spiritual hegemony. Many Roman Christians renounced violence, and some were executed for refusing military service.

When the Vandals sacked Rome in 410, the citizens thought it was because the new religion had abandoned the traditional religio for an unknown, invisible God. This prompted St Augustine to write the original 'tale of two cities': the City of God vs. the city of the world.

Even without religion in the modern or ancient sense, we will still have the concepts of right or wrong, good and evil, based on law or tradition. Some will search for peace, others will wage war and try to send their enemies to hell.

You might change the definitions, but that will not change the reality.

Johannes Richter

Yes, it is possible to live all united with a single religion of Humanity. It is relatively much simpler, easier, and is devoid all the otherwise religious intolerance issues especially in the wake of the past events.

But the question remains - is it really possible? And even if is it possible, how many of us will be able to stick to it in the long run?

Now, take this for example - you've your 4-year old kid who you plan to get enrolled in a school. Suppose, you have only one school which say is a government school or okay, better take an International School. Fine! So you're happy in that space and so is your kid. And the other parents too happily enroll their kids there. But for how long? How long do you think parents will be happy to have their kids there? There are bound to be feeling that the school isn't sufficient enough to provide good amenities, education system, teaching modules, etc. Sooner or later, few or more pupils will start looking for other options because somehow they are not satisfied with the theories or principles enforced in the school, and so they leave that school and get their children administered in some other school which appeals to their liking.

This, my friend, is the exact scenario with Religion! The government or International School is the singled out religion Humanity; the pupils are the religion followers and those dissatisfied with the school are those who cannot conform to the same religion on the basis of their disparate views from that of the others.

Its very simple to say that having a unanimous Religion for everyone can be very peaceful. But sadly, that is far from possible. Because each and everyone has a different ideology in place. People tend to differ in their thinking pattern and act accordingly. Having a single religion might ,if at all, work for a limited duration of time. But it will not work in the longer run.

Additionally, we must also think about the following:

  • What will happen to the deep-rooted beliefs and ideals people might have that differs from the others?
  • How will be combat those people who will inherently be inclined to hate Humanity like the Misanthropes or the Cynics?

These questions will be raised every often when this concept of following a single Religion comes into the picture.

Religion even though doesn't really unite each and every one of us, but it does have some positives:

  1. It keeps people of at least of similar beliefs, hopes, aspirations, mindsets,  ideals and perspectives together.
  2. It gives us a rule book to follow to be a nice person, and consequently travel to Heaven
  3. It gives us faith and hope to stay strong even in matters of great adversity (no matter even though it may be simply blind faith)
  4. It soothes us by instilling in us a sense of spirituality. Yes, spirituality doesn't require a proper structured religion, but religion gives us proper guidelines and rigid ways to stay spiritual. Hope I am making sense here.

Therefore, a single religion or no religion can exist but it requires an extreme sense of patience and willingness to be peaceful and organized. Which is hands on very difficult to achieve. As I mentioned before, religion helps us to stay disciplined, at least it tries to, but without a religion, it is all unruly and leads to anarchy just like in the absence of a government!

Gulnaaz Afzal

Do you need religion? No. Do "we" need religion? Yes. "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer." and all that.

Think of it this way: religion is like nuclear capability. Nobody needs nuclear capability, but once someone else has it then you have to get on the bus or get run over. 

Think of Charles Martel and the battle of Poitiers, had he been defeated Islamic forces would have taken over Europe. Do you know how he recruited his army? Using funds from churches and a propaganda campaign about saving Christianity from Islam.

Think of the crusades. If the Arabs in the Holy Land did not have Islam to rally around, they would have been crushed by Christianity. Think of Constantine and his in hoc signo vinces. Think of the Soviet Union, the great failed atheist state, and consider the attempted reboot by Putin, once a Godless KGB officer but now somehow a devout Orthodox Christian.

Look at Nigeria today, or any number of terrorist groups (primarily Islamic but there have been Christian terrorists and even scattered cases of Hindu terrorism) and how strongly religion functions as a unifying and motivating force. The word means "to bind together" and that is what it does.

Back to the nuclear analogy, sure, if we could convince everyone to count down from 3 and just not be religious then that might stick. The problem is that absence of one religion just creates a vacuum that another one fills, so if everyone does not do it at once it will not work. If you do not believe me, think about Europe. Just a decade ago everyone was commenting on the secularization and decline of Christianity in Europe. Now? Muslim population growth. Conversions to Islam in France have more than doubled since the 1980s. 

A dozen people died in France because they drew a picture of a religious figure. Sure, free speech activists are passionate, but would a free speech activist ever kill 12 Imams for suggesting a blasphemy law? No. It takes religion to motivate someone to that level of blind aggression. On a related note, when you think about armed opposition to religious extremism worldwide, it usually comes from people who share a different religion. The armed forces of the United States, for example, are overwhelmingly Christian. That is not to say there are not soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardsmen of all religious persuasions, and this is not to say their service is any less appreciated or valuable, but Christianity is an overwhelming motivator for an overwhelming number of those who serve. We can quibble forever about whether Israel is truly religious, but at the end of the day the strongest force opposing radical Islam in the middle east raises a flag with the star of David. 

Additionally it bears noting that the first thing every society has done from the beginning of time is codify their religion. This happened for a reason, and it might be tempting to believe that we are past that need as a species, but we are not. Not only is religion something that people turn to in hard times, but it also has an effect on quality of life ad various personal and psychological benefits. Whether those benefits are a placebo is not important, because they exist. If taking a sugar pill is what helps you sleep at night, the important takeaway is that you are sleeping better.

In conclusion, whether you believe there is any truth to the God or gods thing is not relevant. Religion is a powerful unifying and motivating tool that has shaped the world and societies that we live in. Religion does not need to exist per se, but it does offer some benefits, and more importantly, likely the only force that can stop religious fanaticism is religious fanaticism.

You are welcome to believe whatever you would like about the necessity of religion, but the world will have no religions when and only when the world has no people.

Rick Scheff

Its not necessary at all.

I mean, even though Im religious, many religions did not spread until a few thousand years ago.

People can live happy, fulfilling lives without religion.

However, I believe that finding a religion thats right for you can improve your self-esteem, confidence, and general faith of course. Having something to believe in is always a good source of inspiration and is only going to help those who believe in a religion.

David Wong

There are many reasons why religion is needed for mankind:

(a) We know that man is a social animal. Every man depends upon millions of people for his life and its necessities. Also we know that every society needs some laws to prevent injustice and preserve the rights of every member of the society. But who is the right authority to make the law? One man (be he a monarch or a dictator)? No! Because he, instinctively, will look, first of all, after his own interest. A group of people (be it an aristocracy or democracy)? No! Because every one of them is capable of wrong judgment; and a lot of wrong decisions do not add up to a right decision.

(b) Also, it is apparent that no group of people disengage itself from self-interest. For example, in colonial days the assemblies and councils of colonies were enacting laws to suit the interest of the white rulers. Now, the same institutions (but with different members) are making laws keeping in view the interest of the local population. Self-interest was, and still is, the key word of legislation in the whole world.

(c) Moreover, no man or group of men is in a position to make a comprehensive law based on perfect equity and justice.

So it is necessary that the laws should be made by someone who is superior to man, who has nothing to lose or gain by that law and with whom every man has equal relation. and that one is "Allah". Hence we need the religion

(d) Moreover, all the man-made laws and customs have a very serious defect: they cannot stop crime. This defect makes their existence somewhat superfluous. A thief enters an unoccupied house, in a remote village at dead of night for stealing some valuables. He knows perfectly well that there is no representative of the government for good many miles around the house. He feels perfectly safe from being detected. Is there any law of government which can stop him from committing the crime? The answer is, certainly, "no".

No government can stop the said person from stealing, but Religion can.

Religion, true religion as explained above, teaches that there is a God, who knows everything and sees everything; who is just and virtuous Himself, and wants us to be just and virtuous; that we are responsible for our deeds in His eyes, and we have to give account of our deeds to Him after our death. If a person believes in it, then (and only then) he can restrain himself from committing sins and crimes and inflicting injustice upon other people.Laws of government can control the external affairs of a man and even that only at a time and place where its hands can reach. But the belief in God and religion controls not only the external acts but hidden desires and inner thoughts also.This control is not confined to any particular place or any limited time, because God is omnipresent and omniscient

(e) To realize fully the unquestionable benefits which the society derives from the belief in God and religion, try to think about the chaos and turmoil which the mankind will certainly plunge into if the belief in God is put aside. There will not be any society. Instead, there will be a multitude of people. In such atmosphere every individual is at liberty to do whatever he wishes. He thinks there is no God and no life hereafter, and he has come into being by the chance of a blind nature; and he also knows that the span of life is very short. So he naturally will be overcome by the desire to enjoy this life as much as possible without any regard to anything else. His only consideration will be to avoid being caught red-handed or detected by the government law. And whenever he will feel safe he will not stop at any crime to fulfill his desire, how much heinous that desire may appear to others.

Even an atheist may lead a life which is morally as perfect as that of a follower of religion. So what is the need of religion?

It is a fallacy, to think that the moral life of an atheist is without any obligation to religion. Because those moral thoughts have been bestowed upon him by no other factor but religion. Religious moral teachings have been ingrained in human mind for thousands of years. They have been bestowed from father to son (heredity) and from friend to friend, (environment). These moral values have become inseparable from his conscience. But what is conscience? It is but the religious and moral thoughts which have come to him from his religious forefathers, and now he cannot escape from them. Conscience is based upon the moral teaching of religion. How can the conscience survive, when those teachings of religion are routed out of the humanity as a whole?

Anybody who ponders deeply upon this point will come to the conclusion that no morality can hold is ground, if separated from belief in God and religion.


I think that this is up to you to decide, but only after you can answer the following question "Does religion have a beneficial role in today's society?"

My opinion on the subject is that religious thinking (moral and compassionate thinking) complemented by ethical thinking are the basis of any society. Imagine that governments (think about Nazism and its effect) and corporations (would profit and assigning a monetary value to everything solve world problems) would be the only ones defining what is right and wrong (who would oppose war, who would promote charity and compassion, who would promote human virtues and so on?).

Religion has been used for centuries as a method of self exploring and developing kindness, love and compassion. It has helped people see hope in dire situations and closed the wounds made by suffering. 

Alexander Epsacit

I wish we could, (I, for one, stopped believing in God around the fifth grade and have never been happier), but there seems to be resounding evidence that as a society we do need it.

I'm of the opinion that the threat of hell is what keeps a large population of people from committing truly terrible acts (rape, murder, and the like). However, I don't think that it's a good, let alone the best, way to avoid the problem. Nearly everyreligion has caused large amounts of bloodshed in the name of their God (Crusades, anyone?) and tends to shun/persecute those who hold opposing beliefs or promote societal change.

Finally, people by and large seem to need something beyond, and larger than, themselves to aspire to or work for. Religion is many peoples' reason for living and being a productive member of society. So until people are able to do both just for their own sake, religion appears to be here to stay.

In short: We seem to need it as a society, but only because people as a whole need something more than themselves to work for.

Preston Carlson

Yes, because God wants people to gather for worship. The Bible says: Let us consider one another so as to motivate to love and fine works, not forsaking our meeting together. —Hebrews 10:24-25

Jesus indicated that his followers would form an organized group when he said to them: By this all will know that you are my disciples —if you have love among yourselves. (John 13:35) As a primary way of showing this love, disciples of Christ would associate with fellow believers. They would be organized into congregations that meet regularly for worship. (1 Corinthians 16:19) Collectively, they would form a worldwide brotherhood. —1 Peter 2:17.

More is needed than just belonging to a religion

While the Bible shows that people should gather to worship God, it does not teach that a person can please God by just being a member of a religion. To be approved by God, a persons religion must affect his everyday life. For example, the Bible says: The religion that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world. —James 1:27

Smiley Pencirga


Some of this material has been edited for clarity.

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