“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”
Frederick Douglass, Author
Pros and Cons of Religion
Many religions had been around for thousands of years. Billions of people all over the world rely on the value systems that are proposed by those religious movements.
Even though believing in religion can have numerous advantages, it also implies serious problems.
In this article, the pros and cons of religion are examined in detail.
Advantages of Religion
- Religion may help people to overcome insecurities
- Can help in hard times in life
- May give people trust in life after death
- Can help to promote reasonable values
- People may find meaning in life
- May give people a reason to get up in the morning
- Religion may help to overcome anxiety
- Religion and art are closely connected
- May prevent people from behaving in an animal-like manner
- Religion as anchor of stability
- Promotion of common social values
- People may help each other
- Opportunity to socialize
- May give people hope
Religion may help people to overcome insecurities
One important advantage of religion is that it can help people to overcome their insecurities. Especially people who have quite low confidence levels are attracted to religion since they can get a feeling of community out of it.
While society will often not value them too much, they may play an important role in their religious community and may get plenty of confirmation out of it.
In turn, this may help those people to overcome their insecurities and to become a valuable member of a bigger picture.
Can help in hard times in life
Everyone of us faces quite hard times in our lives sooner or later. While some people just push through those times and become stronger, others struggle quite a lot and may suffer from serious mental problems. In such a case, religion can help people to get back on track since religions often promote values that give people stability in their lives.
Therefore, if you have a rather unstable personality and are not good at dealing with emotional pain, religion may help you to overcome difficult periods and horrible events in your life.
May give people trust in life after death
Many people are also quite afraid of death. We as humans are often not able to accept the fact that we will not be on this planet forever and that we have to go after a certain period of time. Therefore, many people struggle to deal with death since they are afraid of what’s coming afterward.
Many people are also not willing to accept that their parents or other loved ones will have to leave this planet sooner or later. In all those cases, religion may help people since religions often propose the concept of life after death and people may be more willing to accept their death if they have a perspective afterward.
Can help to promote reasonable values
If religion is practiced in a non-radical manner, chances are that some of the values that are spread by priests and other religious people may actually benefit our society.
For instance, altruism is one core value that is common amongst most religions and this may actually be a core value that is important for a peaceful life all around the world. Therefore, there are also some important social values that are proposed by religions.
People may find meaning in life
Some people also struggle with finding true meaning in their lives. They get up in the morning, work in a job, come home, sleep and so on. However, even though this might be necessary for many people to make a living, it is not really fulfilling for most of us. This routine does not give us any sort of higher meaning in life and is therefore quite unsatisfying for a high fraction of the general public.
Many of us search for true meaning in life and religion is one way to find it since religions often propose that we live for a certain purpose and that we should live our lives in order to be rewarded later on. Thus, if you miss true meaning in your life, religion may be able to help you in this regard.
May give people a reason to get up in the morning
Some people are also quite unsatisfied with their daily life. They have to work in a shitty job for quite long hours and come home tired on a regular basis. Over time, this may become a real pain and many people may lose all their motivation to get up in the morning.
Religion can help in such cases since it may give people a higher purpose in life and people may therefore stay motivated, even if they don’t like what they are doing.
Religion may help to overcome anxiety
Another advantage of religion is that it can help people to overcome their anxieties. We all have things that we are afraid of. Yet, it is crucial to overcome our fears in order to develop our personal character and to succeed in life. Some people are able to overcome their fears on their own.
However, if you are not able to deal with your fears alone, religion can help you to do so since if you believe in a higher power that is on your side, you might have the courage to do things you would never do without having this belief that a higher power supports you.
Religion and art are closely connected
History shows that art and religion are closely connected and that many artists got their inspiration from religious or spiritual practices. In fact, even in our nowadays age, many artists are also quite spiritual persons and religion often plays a major role in their lives.
Hence, if we want to continue to see brilliant masterpieces of art, religious beliefs may be crucial to get the necessary inspiration for artists.
May prevent people from behaving in an animal-like manner
Another benefit of religion is that it may prevent us to act like animals. In fact, we are animals in a certain sense and also have some of the raw and unpleasant traits animals have deep inside them.
Yet, religion can help us to control those negative attributes and may help us to create a society with positive social values.
Religion as anchor of stability
In an ever-changing world, religion can also serve as an anchor of stability for many people. Especially old people often have difficulties to adapt to technological changes and may feel increasingly lost in an age where technological progress is quite rapid.
For those people, religion can be an anchor of stability since religion does not change too much and for people who do not like change at all, believing in religion instead of dealing with reality may be quite tempting.
Promotion of common social values
Religion can also be helpful when it comes to inventing or changing certain social value systems. Since religions often propose values that foster social cohesion, the promotion of those values through religious practices may lead to a strong feeling of community for the general public.
People may help each other
Another upside of religion is that people may be more eager to help each other. Especially people who have the same religious beliefs will help each other on a frequent basis since sharing the same values and world views can lead to strong social bonds.
Moreover, if your religion claims that you should help each other, chances are that you will also be more willing to help other people, even if you don’t know them at all.
Opportunity to socialize
Religion can also help you to socialize. If you go to church, you will have the opportunity to sit next to many different people over the years and you might be able to make many new connections.
Additionally, you can also join the church choir or participate in other activities that are organized by your church. Through all those things, you can further socialize and find really good friends over time.
May give people hope
In difficult times of their lives, many people also lose all their hope for a better future. Life can be tough and some people will not be able to deal with all that happens to them in a healthy manner.
Therefore, religion can greatly help people who lost their hope to get back on track and to continue to live their lives instead of just giving up in those situations.
Disadvantages of Religious Beliefs
- Religion is often misused by fundamentalists
- Can lead to serious discrimination of minorities
- Religious arguments are often flawed
- May be used to keep people under control
- Suppression of freedom
- Religion often claims to know too much
- Other spiritual views are often belittled
- Religious books are often hard to understand
- Can contribute to serious conflicts
- May contradict with science
- Opponents often claim that religions are man-made nonsense
- Religion may take away responsibility from people
- Often prevents people from things they want to do
- Religion may slow down technological progress
- May decrease the overall quality of life of people
- Can lead to bad decisions
Religion is often misused by fundamentalists
Apart from the many important advantages of religion, there are also some issues related to this. One problem of religion is that it is often misused by fundamentalists.
Even though the majority of believers have moderate attitudes and want to practice their religion in a peaceful manner, there are small radical groups which try to use religion for their purposes in order to start radical movements and organizations, which in turn can lead to the death of many people all over the globe.
Therefore, if religious beliefs are misused by fundamentalists, this can lead to quite unpleasant outcomes.
Can lead to serious discrimination of minorities
While many religions propose social acceptance amongst their members, they often also claim that everyone who behaves not in line with the values of those religions should be socially excluded or even discriminated against.
In human history, there are plenty of examples where minorities with different belief systems greatly suffered and even in the present, there are still people who are discriminated against due to different religious attitudes.
Religious arguments are often flawed
Another issue of religion is that the arguments made by priests or other religious people are often flawed and can be disproved by rather simple arguments. However, especially people who are not that smart often believe in those arguments, which may turn out in rather unpleasant outcomes for their future life.
Thus, you should always make sure to stay rather critical towards religious arguments in order not to believe in flawed arguments that may potentially lead to bad outcomes for your life.
May be used to keep people under control
Throughout the history of mankind, religions had also been used to keep the general public under control. In fact, it was the perfect tool for political leaders to point to different religious aspects in order to keep people under control and to sustain their power.
Hence, religion has been used to control people over the course of human history and is still used to make people do certain things, even those things may not be in their own best interest.
Suppression of freedom
In general, religion often takes away a great level of freedom of people. People are often confined in their way of life since they have to make sure not to violate any rules that are proclaimed by their religion.
Moreover, believing in certain religions prevent people from believing the opposite, which leads to a quite narrow world view.
Thus, believing in religion may greatly reduce your overall level of freedom, which is almost never a good thing.
Religion often claims to know too much
Many religions claim to have all the answers to life. They often claim that if you act in a certain manner, you will be rewarded later on in your life or even after death since there is only one good way to live. However, nobody knows exactly what’s the right way to live and if religious movements claim to know this, they are for sure not the thing you want to rely on.
Religion often claims way too much in terms of how the world works and also about life and death. Therefore, I am personally quite skeptical about religions since in my opinion, nobody has a clue what’s waiting for us after we die.
Other spiritual views are often belittled
Another downside of religious beliefs is that other religions are often belittled. While the own religion is the gold standard regarding how to live in a proper manner, religions that state opposite values will often be belittled or even discriminated against.
Thus, this way of exclusive and narrow thinking will not benefit our society at all since through this way of thinking, we will lose many different ideas and valuable attitudes towards life.
Religious books are often hard to understand
Since they had been written thousands of years ago, religious books are often also quite hard to understand since the language that had been used is so different from the language style we use today.
Therefore, it is quite hard for many of us to verify what had been written in those holy books since we have to rely on translations instead of being able to read the original book.
Yet, those translations may often be incorrect or misleading and the true message of those holy scripts may be lost to a certain extent.
Can contribute to serious conflicts
Religion often also leads to serious conflicts inside countries or even across country borders. In fact, many people fight each other on a regular basis since they feel that they have to defend their religion against other people who do not believe in those religions at all.
Therefore, religion can also be a major factor for conflict and from an ethical perspective, this can never be regarded to be a good thing.
May contradict with science
The arguments that are made by religious leaders can often be disproved by scientists. Yet, religious leaders still often claim that their religion is much more important and insightful than scientific research and that people should rather rely on religion instead of science in order to understand life.
This can lead to quite dangerous outcomes since many concepts of science had been proven to work while many religious concepts will not work at all. Thus, it might be better to rely on scientific research instead of religion when it comes to important decisions in your life.
Opponents often claim that religions are man-made nonsense
While many people strictly believe in the values that are proposed by religion, opponents of religious practices often claim that religion is just man-made nonsense and that there is no reason to believe in those holy books at all.
In fact, quite little is known about the authors of those books and we should take the arguments made in those scripts with great care instead of just relying on them blindly.
Religion may take away responsibility from people
Another problem of religion is that it generally takes away plenty of responsibility from people. For instance, if the holy book says that we should act in a certain manner, people may just point out this fact to justify their actions, even if those actions might be quite harmful to our society.
Thus, taking away the responsibility for their actions from people is never a good thing since it will quite often lead to detrimental social outcomes.
Often prevents people from things they want to do
Many religions also take all the fun out of our lives. Many of the things that really create joy in our lives are forbidden and everyone of us should as themselves whether they really want to live their only life in a way that prevents them from having as much fun as possible.
Religion may slow down technological progress
Many religions are also against the invention of new technologies since they fear that their traditional values become eroded sooner or later. This attitude towards life may significantly slow down our technological progress since there will be less subsidies for research and development due to religious concerns.
In turn, without enough technology and technological progress, humanity may not be able to solve our environmental problems and we may be doomed at one point in time.
May decrease the overall quality of life of people
Since a big fraction of individual freedom is taken away from people due to religious beliefs, religion may also greatly lower the overall quality of life of billions of people on our planet.
Freedom is one of the most valuable goods we have as humanity and everything that confines our level of freedom should be critically evaluated.
Can lead to bad decisions
Another downside of religion is that it can lead to quite bad decisions for people who believe in those religious arguments. For instance, in many religions, you are obliged to marry at some point in time. Therefore, people decide to marry only for the purpose to be in line with their religious beliefs and not since they truly believe in this concept.
However, this may lead to a great level of unhappiness in the long run since it will lead to plenty of unhappy marriages and to family conflicts on a large scale.
Therefore, you should make important decisions based on your own preferences and not due to religious aspects since you might get in trouble otherwise in the long run.
Top 10 Religion Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Religion Pros||Religion Cons|
|Can help you overcome your insecurities||Religion confines our levels of freedom|
|Religion can help you in difficult times||Flawed arguments|
|May increase your level of confidence||Relying on religion may lead to poor outcomes|
|Religion may take away fear of death||May be used by fundamentalists|
|Some people find meaning in religion||Religion often contradicts with science|
|May motivate people||Man-made claims|
|Anchor of stability||May lead to bad decisions|
|May help to socialize||Overall quality of life may suffer|
|Religion can give people hope||Takes away responsibility from people|
|May promote reasonable values||Serious global conflicts|
From the previous discussion, we can conclude that there are many advantages and disadvantages of religion. In the end, you have to decide for yourself whether you want to be part of a religious movement or not.
However, in my opinion, you should never believe anything but rather evaluate every religious argument in a critical manner so that you can spot flawed arguments that may get you in trouble sooner or later.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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