Why people are religious
It is possible for science to question the fundamentals of each and every religion but while science has a right to do it…the state doesn’t.
Religion is very important to people and this is putting it mildly. Why it is important is very complex. An answer has been given here:
Religion — whether we are theists, deists, atheists, gnostics, agnostics, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucians, Shintoists, Zoroastrians, animists, polytheists, Wiccans, secular humanists, Marxists, or cult devotees — is a matter of ultimate concern….the basic human need that probably exists for some sort of salvation, deliverance, release, liberation, pacification, or whatever it may be called, seems to be among the main foundations of all religion. There may also be a basic human need for mystery, wonder, fear of the sacred, romantic worship of the inexplicable, awe in the presence of the completely different, or emotional response to the “numinous”…
Another site it explains it briefly:
Religion is important as a way for people to come to terms with questions like “Why should I lead a good life?” “What is my purpose?”
Is it any wonder then that most people in the world feel that religion is essential to their lives? In fact, a Pew Global survey of 38,000 people in 44 different countries shows this clearly. The survey measured how important religion was to people and the percentages show the number of people who thought religion was very important in their life.
A look at the chart shows on the left shows that most of the countries in Africa, from Senegal and Nigeria to Tanzania and Angola are exceedingly religious…well over 80 percent of people are religious.
It is a similar story in Asia. India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Philippines have huge numbers of very religious people. The better-off countries have fewer religious people and this makes us feel that perhaps money can be a compensation for faith. Perhaps people with money feel more secure and struggle less…and therefore do not need faith…
But this could be too simplistic an answer as inspite of the United States being a rich country, almost 60 percent of Americans are religious! A real contrast even with their immediate neighbor Canada, where only 30 percent of people are religious. At the other end of the spectrum, Vietnam stands out as a poor country which has fewer religious people than other poor countries. Does this mean that the state is interfering, or does it mean that Vietnamese are happy without religion, for unknown reasons? China did not allow this question to be asked of its people.
I think perhaps it is not just money that is important to give a feeling of security and contentment to a person…it is also the question of whether society is providing a human being with the necessary things to make him or her feel fulfilled. Factors like relationships, community feelings and prevalence of crime must play a part. Could it be that the more lonely a person, the more likely that he or she will turn to some sort of belief system?
Another site, Gadling, gives a list of the least religious countries of the world:
1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
6. Czech Republic
9. South Korea
10. Estonia (up to 49% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
It will indeed take a detailed understanding of these countries to find out why exactly the populations are religious or non-religious. I am sure that each country has its own unique reason and the nature of their religion will also play a part. Some religions are more demanding…
Where India is concerned I can say that almost everyone around is religious, some extraordinarily religious. I don’t see too much difference between the rich and the poor in this regard…in fact the rich may be far more flamboyant in celebrating their religion than the poor, because of their wealth. Some actually believe, some make a show, some find rituals healing…and this includes the rich and the poor. Whether it is because spiritualism is in our blood, or because we are a superstitious people, or because we are conscious of the transient nature of life, or because our lives are a hard struggle, the fact is that the majority of Indians are religious. And atheism is not something that people wear on their sleeve.
(The first picture is linked to the original, and the stats from Pew Global)
Related Reading: True faith in God can be confused with rituals
Believers do not need proof to believe – about Ram Setu
Inter-religious marriages frowned upon in India
Is a dress code required in a temple or a church or any other place of worship?
Book countering the Hinduphobia of the west
What role do “Gurus” play in our life?
Can one become a Hindu?
The future of religion looks very good!