Why do people turn to religion? One of the most convincing explanations is that humans turn to religion out of the fear of nature
Expository Writing I
February 22, 2012
The year 1095, men with gleaming swords and a red cross upon their chest raided the city of Jerusalem with fiery eyes of lust.Their trampling boots stormed through houses and monuments, farms and fields, men and women, old men and infants. These men called this event the crusade, a holly war fought to reclaim the lost christian territory of Jerusalem from the “ devilish” muslims who inhabited the area. Raiding and killing the muslims were justified because it was fought in the name of religion. In the name of religion, the crusaders were supposedly establishing a selfless act. Religion is the belief and worship of superhuman controlling power and had taken a significant role in the soul of mankind ever since its existence. Religion is resulted from humans’s 1) fear of nature 2) need of reliance and 3) need of explanation for the natural world. There are many kinds of religions such as Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism yet they all lead us to the central question: Why do people turn to religion?
Why do people turn to religion? One of the most convincing explanations is that humans turn to religion out of the fear of nature. Nature, is a source of power that could be benign one second and spiteful the next. It is a force that we humans were just beginning to understand. Fear for the unknown is a common one. Humans eased their fear by worshipping a subject with more enhance power. They hoped that by doing so, they will no longer be harmed by the things in nature they failed to comprehend entirely. Lord of the flies served as an excellent example for people worshipping out of the fear of nature and environment. During an unnamed time of warfare, a crashed plane carried a group of British schoolboys onto an unknown island. There, the boys functioned democracy as they have seen it back in England and law and order was put into firm hold. The law and order, however, began to crumble when the younger boys rumored there to be an enormous beast on the island. Fear pervaded and quickly divided the boys among each other as they turned to two opposite leaders for the best strategy of survival. Jack, a radical leader, established then established a brand new religion worshipping the beast of the island. At the top of the hill he set the head of a sow they hunted on a stick and ordered his subjects to extol the beast. The admiration and respect eventually turned fanatic and the boys eventually worshipped the invisible beast as if a God and formed a whole new religion based upon it. This is a classic example of how fear of nature causes religion. The fear of the beast, or the environment and nature has pushed the boys into worshipping a new God. They worshipped out of fear, and not of love or comfort. Terrorism can be a key driving force to religion. Another fear that was rooted in ever culture is death and many religions had been created out of the fear of death and eternal poverty. Buddhism serves as an excellent example. The central message of Buddhism is to decrease people’s fear of the unpleasantness of nature. Buddhism centers around the concept of re-carnation and how diligence and good deeds in one life leads to the great well-being in the next. A utopia like this not only reflects people’s deepest desire, but also people’s deepest fear of nature and its never changing law of death and poverty. People were afraid of death, which is why they established the concept of re-carnation where a soul never truly dies, where life never ends. People were afraid to wave farewell to the world they know so well, which is why the concept of Buddhism which revolves around the ideas of re-carnation was created. Buddhism itself symbolizes re-carnation and a never dying soul and continuous life even after death. It is something the people desire to escape death due to their own fear of it, and that, is why Buddhism was originated.
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Men are curious creatures, always have been and always will be. It is only a matter of time before an infant start to question many things about the world he or she lives in. Yet the power and intelligence of men is limited and there are only so many phenomena that could be explained. In order to seek an explanation to the phenomena in nature, men turns to a figure more supreme than themselves, and that is God, or more simply religion. People turn to religion to seek explanations for events happening in nature. An excellent example will be from the great book Bible where it explained how God created the Earth and human beings. There was not a single moment when humans does not question their own existence. Who are we? And how did we came to be? To see these explanations, they formed a more supreme self to explain such concept. In the christian bible, it took seven days for God to create Earth. From heaven and earth, to sky and ground, to light, to the ocean, to land, to animals, and eventually to humans. This explanation answers the question that humans were unable to resolve on their own until thousands and billions of years later, and the creation of a more supreme being such as the christian God simply answers the question. Religion gave them something to believe in, an explanation of how the world came to be. Religion also gave humans a sense of purpose as each explained humans to be the treasure of whichever god or goddess it was originated. Another example of how religion was originated due to the people’s lack of explanation is the concept of death in the ancient egyptian religion. The egyptians wondered about the phenomenas of death and what exactly happens after the body of a person went limp cold. This is an event that cannot be explained. So they too turned to a higher supreme being that was more intelligent and powerful then humans for an answer. After death, a person’s ka or life-force was believed to have to go through Duat, or a series of obstacle before it could be weighed by the final judgement that decides whether if the soul qualifies to enter the pleasant land or not. The religion explained death and afterlife, a concept humans ourselves cannot quite grasp.
Lastly, religion was resulted due to the fact the humans’s need of reliance. When a human felt overpowered and vulnerable, it seeks a force more extreme than itself to rely on to preserve an emotional well-being. In the short story Disguises by Jean Fong Kwok, Mrs. Chen, a chinese factory worker who lives in the United States yet spoke only little broken english was lost on the train on her way back home. During her devastation, she took out her little statue of the buddhist goddess Guan-ing and prayed to it. This example showed how humans turned to a force more supreme then itself whenever it encountered a difficult situation which left him or her vulnerable and bare. The center purpose of religion is to create an emotional well-being for people during a time of distress. Only during misfortunes, do people ever look up to religions. Just like Mrs. Chen in the story, the time of distress forced her to open herself to a more powerful force to rely on. The same thing must have happened thousands of years ago when humans endure much more difficult situations. They needed something larger than them so they can rely on. One cannot be strong all the time. Another example is in the infamous Shakespeare play Hamlet when Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle, turned to religion to seek emotional reliance. Hamlet’s father died mysteriously one day while taking his daily nap in the royal court’s Garden. His successor and brother Claudius claimed it to be a poisonous snake wound but Hamlet always had a sense of doubt. One night, Hamlet visited the tower where it was rumored that the old king’s ghost presented each night. The ghost spoke that he was in fact murdered by Claudius and urged Hamlet to seek vengeance for him. In order to testify the ghost’s sayings, Hamlet pulled on a play featuring the plot which the ghost told him. The story started out with an old man resting in a beautiful garden with his eyes closed. Suddenly from behind leaped another man who then dipped poison into the old man’s ear. This moment, Claudius leaped from his chair his face aghast and bolted out of the court with guilt. He turned to the royal’s church and prayed for forgiveness. Now was the time when he was most vulnerable, and so was the time he prayed to a force higher and more supreme then him to seek emotional well-being. The same goes for humans. During a time of great despair or emotional distress, they often choose to seek reliance on God since it possesses a strong shoulder to lean on.
Religion is resulted from human’s 1) fear of nature 2) need of reliance and 3) need of explanation for the natural world. It is an extremely important aspect in human culture throughout the ages. It will not be an exaggeration to say that almost all cultures has had worshipped a religion at at least some point in their history. Religion, as stated previously, reflected our deepest desire and fear. In truth, religion is like the sides of a coin. It can either be an utopia or hell. Most importantly, religion is the single point where humans learned to be humble, timid, and reserved. If the feeling lasts long enough, the world would be a much better place.