I’ve been reading a lot about the reasons why every known society seems to have a belief in some kind of supernatural being or beings or spirits or energies or whatever you like to call it. Many theories have been postulated to explain this.
One that I read about recently in Skeptical Inquirer magazine suggested that we are hardwired to believe in the religion for several reasons. I’m not going to cover all the reasons here, but there is one that I do want to cover.
The supposition is that we hold religious beliefs of majority of our social group for the warm emotional stimulus that sharing common interests and beliefs, and social interaction gives us. They gather in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, by sacred rivers, in forest clearings, and meditation centers. The share their belief in whatever god, gods, spirits, or energies they believe in. In the process, they learn about each other and each other’s families, jobs, vacations, pets, hobbies, likes and dislikes. All of this creates powerful emotional responses, feelings of belonging, acceptance, understanding, friendship and love.
My argument against this is that these needs can be fulfilled within any kind of social group. Members of hobbyists groups, fraternal organizations, sports teams, and social clubs all experience the same feelings that members of religious groups do. It is the same sense of belonging, the same sharing of interests, the same learning about each other and the same feelings of acceptance, understand, friendship and love.
My point here is that the positive socializing effect of participating in organized religious gatherings is often held up as a reason why we need religion in our lives and that this simply isn’t the case. Any organized gathering of people with like minded interest will serve the same purpose. We don’t “need” religion; we just need social groups that address our desires for acceptance, understanding, friendship and love. We are perfectly capable of meeting our needs for socialization without having to resort to believing in the supernatural.