The purpose of religion
I was told that my grandma was never a believer during her youth but I remember in her old age she was as religious as most older people in the area. In the younger generations, there was hardly a believer to be found. I remember wondering how the church would survive when our generations become adults.
As a child, I had a feeling that religion brings comfort to people who fear death. Over the years I refined this into the following hypothesis:
As children, our parents/caregivers are the alpha and omega for us. They know everything, are almighty, can solve all our problems – all we need to do is ask/cry. As we grow older and our horizons expand, we realize that our parents are just slightly more advanced humans. Eventually, we reach their level and even surpass them. In our minds though, we still keep this innately built-in position for an “almighty” caregiver. When our parents lose this position in our eyes, we find ourselves “all alone” in this scary world. There are really two ways of dealing with it. Either you become self-relying or you fill the void by finding a replacement caregiver – an almighty someone/something to continue watching over you. Whether you create one yourself or go along with any of the well-established gods depends on your environment and experience.
In old age, we become frail and reliant on others. It feels familiar, almost like we’ve been through this before… It sure would be nice to have almighty parents again. Some people find religion to keep them strong during the long good-bye from this world.
Where else do we often find religion? In prison, in war, during disease – generally in situations when we desperately need someone to come and save us – as our parents used to when they were almighty.