He is right, of course!
In a similar vein…
People often justify ‘religion’ by saying that ‘it brings people comfort’. Quite aside from the validity of the justification, I am begining to doubt the truth of the statement.
Let me explain…
Many of my friends are religious – and yes, they do claim that their religious beliefs bring them ‘comfort’ and make them ‘feel better’. Not being religious myself, I have simply accepted this assertion at face value. While I never bought in to the claim that it is ‘good’ to promote/accept things simply because they make you ‘feel good’, I had never questioned the assertion itself.
Until, that is…
A friend of mine got hit by a truck while riding her motorcycle. She was really lucky – not only did she survive, thanks to medical advances, she did not loose the leg that was so badly injured in the crash.
This friend also happens to be deeply Catholic.
One day, her (then very pregnant) daughter and I visited her in the hospital. My friend had already had one surgery to screw the bones of her leg back together, but was still waiting for more surgeries, including the one that would use a skin graft to try to close some of the biggest wounds. (Sorry to go into this much detail – it goes to ‘state of mind’… My friend was hurting, afraid, and had almost died in a crash before her first grandchild was to be born.)
While we were putting on a brave pretense of lighearted banter to relieve my friend’s discomfort, a volunteer had come into her room. This woman offered to pray with us – which my friend and her daughter gladly accepted. At the end of the prayer, whe did some sort of a blessing and handed each of them a consecrated host. Both my friend and her daughter said they were greatly comforted, we thanked the woman, and she left.
The thing is – I don’t think that it did make them feel better!
No, I am not accusing them of lying – I think they truly believed they ‘felt better’. But their behaviour betrayed their actual state of mind.
Both their demeanours changed – for the worse. Instead of talking about how lucky my friend was, that she survived the crash, she was tearful, saying things like that since her soul has been cleansed, it would be OK for her to die now…which brought hysterical crying from her daughter, and then it spiralled downwards from there.
They were certainly not ‘feeling better’!
There was a disconnect between how they believed religion made them feel and how it actually did make them feel. Sure, it can make some people feel better at some times – but, we need to treat self-reporting in this area in the same way as we treat self-reporting in other fields…with a very healthy dose of skepticism.
By constantly focusing the mind on physical death and ‘fear of God’, ‘religion’ brings terror, not comfort, to the people who fall for it. And they don’t even realize it themselves…
Thunderf00t compares ‘religion’ to ‘spiritual masturbation’ – and I can certainly understand his point. But, having thought about it, I am wondering if it would not be more accurate to see ‘religion’ as ‘picking on a spiritual scab’: it is hard to stop doing it, even when you know it is bad for you!