With the sudden surge of militant atheist groups I believe many may have asked themselves this very same question, do we really need religion? Those who crusade against religion will argue that you don't need religion to have morals, if you can't determine right from wrong then you lack empathy not religion and they might have a point.
Even for an ex-altar boy with a strong catholic upbringing, the story of a man being tortured to death then resurrecting after three long days does seem a tad preposterous. Additionally the concept of heaven and hell doesn’t seem quite realistic either, even though it does have a certain allure to it.
What also does seem rather preposterous is how people can so easily dismiss creationist theories and blindly adhere to Darwin’s theory of evolution when in my opinion both equally depend upon faith. My secular colleagues will instantly argue that such a statement is factually incorrect and that evolution is based on science whilst religion is based on myth. I beg to differ though as science is defined as being the “practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”. The two key words here to take note of are observation and experiment.
How can someone correctly ascertain what happened 65 million years ago, or 50 thousand years ago or even 2 thousand years ago for that matter? Was any conclusive observation or experimentation carried out during these time frames? I think not, therefore those who believe in the concept of evolution must have faith. They must have faith in Darwin’s theories and believe in something which cannot be proven, experienced or even seen and an idea that seems as farfetched and ludicrous to some as the existence of a divine being to them.
As for Darwin’s theory that evolution can turn dinosaurs into birds, apes into humans and amphibious mammals into whales, has humanity ever witnessed such a thing? Is there any scientific proof to back this up? Is there any observable evidence for Darwin’s theory of change of kinds? Those are questions that in my opinion all those who mock believers and stereotype them as imbecilic should ask themselves because faith in equal measures is required in both instances.
Some people do not have the emotional stability or inner strength to be able to live adequately without this sense of hope, without this dependency on the divine. If a person sleeps better at night or is happier because he/she believes that they will be reunited with their loved ones when they perish, who are we to tell them otherwise? How can anybody deny them this right?
Religion like anything taken to extremes can lead to very dark places. For example very recently a friend of mine had a predicament with a group of self-proclaimed atheist’s. These people turned out to be as nasty and blinkered as the ‘standard’ religious extremist, yet their drug of choice was not religion but rather politics. They started spreading nasty rumours about him and even sent the local law enforcement agency to his household under false pretences, just because he saw fit to disagree with them on a number of issues. I do know my fair share of pleasant and reasonable atheists though.
My late father once told me that political party fanaticism is a kind of religion it is the egg from which wars are hatched and the older I get the more I realise that it is fanaticism in general that is dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether the reason is football, religion, politics or even your high school crush. When your fondness for someone or something becomes an obsession you might find yourself doing things that you never thought yourself capable of doing. The notion that an individual is either radical or not is a common misconception in my opinion, because people are susceptible to circumstances can be indoctrinated or a situation can simply escalate.
So do we need religion? The answer is I really don’t know, I don’t think I am capable of answering such a question. What I do know though is that what we don’t need are extremists and that some people do indeed need religion. Live and let live should be our motto, over and out.