This is a generic blog entry to ask a simple question and attempt to get as many responses as possible from interested people. Whatever answers I get later, if they are not comments posted directly to this blog entry, I will try to locate, copy and post them here anyway. All views are welcome, except personal attacks against me or anyone else.
I think for many people, religion isn’t something they “bother” with. That is, it’s not a drudgery, an obligation, or a dreaded chore. Religion can be a celebration of the world and one’s place in it, or a way to help explain the feeling that there’s more to the universe than what we can logically describe. Some people are religious because the tenets of their religion just “feel” right to them, in ways they can’t explain. And some people are attracted to very ritualistic religious practices because they not only derive comfort from whatever message they’re receiving but the rituals themselves have their own attraction. I think there must be hundreds, thousands of reasons that people embrace religion as a part of their lives.
The way your question is worded sounds so negative to me – if I felt like I had to “bother” with practicing a faith, I would have a hard time finding joy in it, I think. And most people who are deeply religious seem to genuinely find both joy and comfort in their spiritual practices.
Short answer: Because religion is a big part of the human experience, always has been, and probably always will be. Religion involves birth and death, rites of passage, social community, ethics and morality, ritual and high theater, storytelling and literature, politics, group identity, personal mystical experience, and intellectual theories about The Unknown. There’s something in religion for everyone. Even opposition to religion(s) is itself an aspect of being involved with religion.
y thnk y r sf, y lttl blsphmng mthr fckr?
(Dale Husband: This person has spammed my blog with several incoherent comments. He is identified as David Mabus, a notorious lunatic from Canada)
y wll b *xctd*, lttl blsphmng fckr…
(Dale Husband: Sorry, but you don’t get to promote outright FRAUD on my blog, you sick and twisted coward!)
For now, this video says it best: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcc2u9_bill-maher-talks-on-religion_fun
Religion, in terms of purpose, is tied to power and control. Like knowledge, it need not be true in order to give the wielder power. And like authority, it need not be right in order to give a person control.
As Stretsonius mentioned above, it is part of the human experience. The human experience is filled with moments when the individual is looking for understandings so that the individual either gains power or gives power to someone/something else (as seen in birth/death, rites of passage, behaviour, and especially coming to grips with the unknown).
So why bother? The struggle for meaning. I’m not really sure why people have such problems living within chaos, but something in our brain-wiring seeks out rationalizations and understandings. Otherwise we don’t know how to deal with the unknown. So, religion, even if it is as simple as “Well, things happen for reasons” (a phrase I personally despise, for what it’s worth) is part of the human push to process what is experienced into meaning.
Have you heard of Jordan Peterson’s “Maps of Meaning”? I haven’t read all of it, just snips. But it might help with the “bothering” question.
Take a look at this as an idea:
I see religion as something to move beyond. As Wright’s book, “Evolution of Religion”, illustrates, improvements in the religious mind are slowly there. To move beyond in a healthy way, it is best to see how religions both serve us and enslave us.
JBear A. said: