In all cultures throughout history we can spot two basic reasons why people believe in religion: the fear of hell and the desire for heaven.
According to most organized, dogmatic religions, god has ordered people to take appropriate action in order to attain to heaven after they die, or else they will be condemned to hell. Earth is only seen as a place where sinners live in order to learn the lessons necessary for allowing them to achieve a better place in the afterlife. If, however, they fail to do so, they will fall into the worst imaginable place–hellfire.
Naturally, being afraid of the possibility that they will end up in hell, people desire for heaven, and for this very reason they follow the “word of god,” claimed to be found in religious dogmas.
Fear of Hell
The first and foremost reason why people believe in religion is fear. Humans are the most fearful animal. They fear many things–old age, disease, natural disasters, poverty – but most importantly, death. Indeed, humans are unique animals in that they can be aware of their own death. Perhaps no animal can foresee its death, except man. The very fact that man knows he will eventually die to this life causes tremendous amount of fear in him–fear of the unknown.
Priests became aware of this very early and tried to exploit it. How? Firstly, by propounding the idea of hell in the afterlife. By making people afraid of hell, priests were able to control people emotionally. That’s the reason why priests continuously insist that we are born sinners: their purpose is to instill a deep fear of hell into us.
Secondly, priests offered a solution to the problem of hell. They created the idea of god–a judge who will either send you to heaven or condemn you to hell, according to how you have lived your life. They asked that if you did certain things you needn’t be afraid of hell. In this way people were made to follow religious dogmas, afraid that if they don’t, they might end up experiencing eternal suffering.
Desire for Heaven
Earth is the only place where you have to prove to god that you are worthy of going to heaven. And who does not want happiness and eternal life? No one. Once you are convinced that happiness cannot be found in this earthly, filled-with-sin life, you desire for happiness in the afterlife. And when you see death approaching nearer to you, moment to moment, naturally you become thirsty for eternal, heavenly life–a life in which you can fulfill all the desires that you left unfulfilled here. Hence heaven is nothing but the projection of human greed.
The desire for heaven then is the second reason why people believe in religion. The desire for heaven is what motivates people to think and act according to religious dogmas. It is what makes the so-called religious people ready to sacrifice this life–to live in pain and misery–in order to attain to a higher plane of existence in the afterlife, where they will be rewarded for all the sacrifices they have made. By sacrificing their life on Earth, they are trying to prove to god that they are worthy of life in heaven.
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