This is not science, but I have often wondered if the length of time it takes to raise a child and launch him or her into adulthood may have something to do with our apparent need for religion. God or gods are often portrayed as father or parent figures. Years and years are spent being taught and fostered by our parents or substitutes. By spending a better part of two decades under this order could it be possible that the need for an authority figure be permanently engrained? Subconsciencely do we want to continue to have parents guide us as they had through all our formative years. Do we wish to have something or someone there when age or loss of influence deprives us of our life's mentors? Or do we want to have that authority continue over us?

  Many aspects of religion seem to have that parental/overseer quality to it. Many of the questions asked of the religious leaders seems to have a credulous and child like flavour to it. Parables and "fairy tales" can be part of the stock answers given to children and adults alike. People through their religions seem to seek out simple and easy answers to life's very complicated questions. 

  So is following religion caused by a path whose arc was determined by our lengthy childhoods?

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Good thinking. Better yet, a path whose arc was determined by our desire of eternal childhood.

Yes Dennis. You are looking at the other "end" of the arc.

My "father" left when I was 5 and my sister was 1.  We were raised in a non-religious home (my Mom and her parents, and even my stepfather are/were Atheists.)  When my sister married an xtian, she became xtian.  Ugh!  I told her I thought she was just looking for a father-figure, and she actually agreed with me.

There is certainly a quality of the desire for childhood in that those people who subscribe to religion sure seem to want to give up their adult responsibility in favor of an all-powerful "father" who will take care of them and love them as when they were children.  I've stated before that there is no mention in the bible whatsoever about self-responsibility, but far more the duties one has to this god they've created and their reliance on true belief in order to attain the desired afterlife.

Shepherd and sheep or father and children, it's the same stunted model.

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