It’s no secret that religious tendencies, in the traditional non-philosophy sense, have been in sharp decline. In a trend likely exacerbated through the internet enabled spread of ideas, the traditional religion (Christianity, Judaism, and Islamism) is not nearly as popular or prevalent in the public’s lives as it was even 40 years ago. And while this can certainly be seen as a bad thing, what with religion’s role in informing a substantial portion of the atrocities that have taken place over the course of mankind’s inhabitance of planet Earth (i.e: the crusades, the Holocaust, 9/11, and everything in between), there is an oft overlooked danger in this trend.
If the role that religion played in human society could be vanquished along with its holder, then such an evolution could be seen as just that. However, such is not human nature. When we take something away, we must, naturally, balance that removal by putting something else in its place, like in the Ancient Greek tale of the Hydra. And like in that tale, where, upon one of the mythical beast’s heads removal, two more took its place, the substitutions for religion pose the possibilities of graver consequences than what is being substituted.
The most common supporting argument for this ideology is that religion was largely what kept man in check, and, in its absence, the world will largely devolve in to a realm of chaos. But this is not the motivation for my ideology. I don’t see religion, any flavor of it, as something that kept man in check, but something that, in turn, kept him occupied. Our history books tell us that, at the beginning of time, life was nothing if not for religion, it gave our ancestors some false sense of meaning and importance then, and it continues to do so now. But now, with the gradual evolutions of our society, we have more things to give us meaning than ever before, and thus, the abstract, intangible meaning found in religion pales in comparison to the meaning found elsewhere, like the money found in work, sexual intercourse in romantic relationships, or experiences from drugs. Like religion, all of these meanings are false, and entirely projected, and, congruently, have the potential to damage society, or help it. In this sense, the replacement of religion is a neutral one, with no benefit but at the same time, no detraction to society.
But the danger of this replacement comes not in any given substitution for religion, but the shear amount of those substitutions. Religion was the driving force for man for most of his history. But now, in its absence we have a multitude of merchants of false meaning. Money, sex, temporary, drug induced enlightenment, and, perhaps most dangerous to this day and age, the false sense of validation through politics, all in light of salvation. Before, it was easy to brush off religion and create your own meaning for life, as I fundamentally believe we should all do, but now, the world seems to force you to swallow one of this religion-substitutes and center your lives around it, making you incredibly unhappy in the process.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, the death of religion is like mankind being thrown of a ship, and all of these religion-substitutes: money, false politically driven validation, falsely productive drug experiences, etc. are like sinking rocks that we foolishly cling to for a false sense of meaning, a false sense of security, which will only cause us to sink (to be unhappy), when the only way to survive (to be happy) is to swim and hope for the best, freeing yourself of all these false senses of meaning, that may very well have helped other people, and in turn finding your own.