Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Happiness Delusion?

[Karl Marx, 19th century German economist]

It’s interesting to note that even the greatest skeptics seem to agree that religion does have the capacity to make people happy. Karl Marx famously commented that “Religion is the opium of the people.” One of my fellow bloggers heads his blog with the title “Ignorance is Bliss”, meaning that ignorance of the alleged scientific proof against religion is blissful. Scientific studies tend to support this conclusion.

In addition to this, anthropologists tell us that religion is universal in human societies. Other than eating and sex, religion seems to be one of the most persistent of human needs. The question is, why? After all, animals, from goldfish to mice, cows, dolphins and gorillas seem to manage very well without it.

Harvard psychology professor Dr. Steven Pinker has taken a stab at answering this from an atheistic point of view, however he admits that the answer is “a genuine scientific puzzle”.

In my humble opinion, there is only one reasonable answer. God created us for the purpose of recognizing Him and therefore He created within us a natural desire for religion. See for example the Ramban’s commentary to Exodus 13:16 toward the end of his comments.


Oberon said...

......this is fabulous......god is something alright.....i have felt the touch.....i continue to search.

Mis-nagid said...

> gorillas seem to manage very well without it.

Wrong. Don't forget that humans and gorillas are very closely related. It shouldn't be a surprise that they share some of our flaws.

Baal Habos said...

There you go, another God of the gaps. So here's my theory. God created a sense of religion to test us and see if we would succumb to the temptation of abdicating responsibility of our life choices to rabbis & priests.

Those who give in, go to hell.

How's that for a theory?

jewish philosopher said...

Mis-nagid, thank you for the link, however I think you must be mis-sing something. The article actually supports my opinion. Anthropologist Barbara J. King states clearly "I'm not suggesting that apes are religious." Also, by the way, I like her closing remarks "If you can avoid being a biblical literalist, and if you can avoid being an arrogant scientist who tells everyone else what to think, you can think on multiple levels at once. There's a lot of beauty in seeing that religion and science are really about the same things. They can be perfectly compatible." That is exactly my own philosophy. Bravo!

Dear Bos, "God of the gaps" what exactly is that supposed to mean? Any proof of God is just another "gap" in your atheistic philosophy, but sooner or later you'll surely have a solution? How about this: Any question you have about Judaism is a "skepticism of the gaps". Just like the rabbis through the centuries have found answers to many questions, they will find someday an answer to your questions as well. How about accepting that idea?

Now about your theory, the need for religion can certainly be perverted and it often is. So is the need for sex (witness rape) and the need for food (witness obesity). However human needs always have a positive side as well. Our job is find that.

Anonymous said...

The need for religion is because people want to know things and far too often people are impatient.

But if you can be comfortable knowing that you know of possibilities rather than having to pretend you are infallible then you don't really need religion.

"God" can exist depending on one's semantic appraisal of religious text.

All energy in existence is clearly connected in some way. If it wasn't then it wouldn't be relevant to us. If you want you could call that system of energy "God" though I doubt the system of energy cares what you call it. Whatever it is it's good to be mindful of it.

jewish philosopher said...

But God has already appeared at Mt Sinai and told us what he wants.