Many grow up within a stifling religious atmosphere and reject religion out of anger or protest. Many reject religion based on observation of adherents and their unappealing behavior or practices. Many view “God” through a pop-culture characterization (such as a Zeus-like man draped in white on a throne atop a bed of clouds), and find the concept bizarre and therefore reject religion.
If religion is so rejectable, why should it exist at all? What religion does is provide answers to unanswerable questions. Although these answers don’t represent absolute truth, we can believe them anyway in order to stop our minds from incessantly searching. If every time something troubling occurs, we search the world for why, we’d never move on, we’d be stuck in an endless loop of anxious inquiry. Religion simply provides the mind with a way to stop this loop by providing simplistic finite answers to potentially infinite questions.
So the problem is not religion itself, as it’s a useful tool for coping with life. The problem lies with the institutionalization of religion, when it’s formalized and incorporated into society. To be meaningful, religion cannot be forced upon people, it must be discovered from within, and applied personally. Another problem with institutionalization, is how it locks religion into a specific time and setting, with old-fashioned symbolism, not allowing it to progress with the age it’s in.
For instance, we might think of God as the force underlying existence. What created all this? God. Why is life the way it is? God. God can be a comforting idea, providing relief during a chaotic life. We might be relived to believe something is in charge, directing our lives in an ultimately positive way. Because we don’t understand the mechanism of existence, and because we simply want to get on with our day, we can end the debate in our head by accepting that “God did this for a good reason that will be appreciated in the long-term”.
What about worshipping God? Worshipping God is simply the appreciation of life. It’s a sentiment such as, “I’m thankful for existing in this realm rather than not existing in a void of nothingness.” Or, “Hey it looks like a lot of work went into creating this place, nice job!” It’s also having the courtesy not to denigrate life when things don’t go as expected. It’s viewing life as a gift given personally to us, something best accepted graciously, whether wanted or not.
Again, religion itself is not an evil force in the world, but merely a tool that can be misunderstood and misused. From early on I had rejected religion in its entirety, failing to perceive its underlying utility. It wasn’t until the stressors of life added up that I sought an end to the constant anxiety. I came to realize that a satisfied mind requires a pleasant interpretation of the world. In that way, religion is just a pre-packaged story we feed to our restlessly questioning mind so it can rest.