Why is Religion Dominated by Fear?

So I started thinking about this the other day, not sure quite why, but it occurred to me that religion is pretty much entirely based on Fear.  The entire underlying concept is that if you “do this” or “don’t do that”, you are going to be punished for all eternity (or most of it anyway, depending on if you believe there is a purgatory where you can eventually move along into paradise).

So despite the way every religion tries to say that they are a religion of peace and/or love, they all seem to be rooted in the fear of offending God somehow and being punished for it.  This despite the premise that Man is born of free will.  So apparently Man can choose what he wants to do, as long as he doesn’t mind being consigned to the fiery depths for all eternity.  Apparently that’s the cost of not being afraid.


7 responses to “Why is Religion Dominated by Fear?

    • Actions always have consequences. My point would be that religion is set up to start with fear of punishment. The entire concept of “original sin” is that you’re already going to be punished from the moment you’re born, through no fault of your own, and so you’d better work your ass off to make up for it. For an institution that is supposed to be based on “love” that seems like a paradox: “God is love, but if you don’t follow our specific tenets, you’re going to be punished for all eternity”.

  1. I can not speak about all religion, so let’s be more specific and look at Christianity.

    Christianity starts with love, God didn’t need to create us but He did. Original Sin is that you have the tendancy to commit sins, at birth you are perfect and sinless but our sin nature inherited from Original Sin gives us the desire to commit sins. We are not punished for someone else’s sin, like Adams, but for our own sin.

    In Christianity there is no punishment if you live a perfect sinless life. An you can not work off your own sins, that is why Jesus died as payment for our sins. You have an incorrect understanding of Christianity, that is why you see it as starting from fear.

    The real question you need to ask yourself though is, have I committed any actions that I would be punished for IF there is a God when I die?

    • But as you say, Original Sin makes us apparently want to sin, and thus be afraid of the reprecussions in the afterlife. It’s all based on the idea that if you screw up, you’re doomed for all eternity so you’d better do what you’re told and follow these instructions written by a bunch of guys thousands of years ago and still clung to today. It’s a foolish proposition. If there was a God who is “love” then wouldn’t he automatically forgive any mistakes made? Of course many religions allow for a deathbed confession where you can absolved of all sin anyway.

      To quote your own message:

      “The real question you need to ask yourself though is, have I committed any actions that I would be punished for IF there is a God when I die?”

      Which can be paraphrased as: should I be afraid of what happens to me when I die?

      My answer is: No. I don’t believe there is some mythological cloud being who judges “immortal souls” and consigns them to hell if they are found wanting. We live our lives and that’s it. There is no afterlife, no robes and sitting around on clouds playing harps. There is no river of damnation where the fires burn the souls of the sinners.

      If you believe in God and the afterlife, you have to admit that you stick to the guidelines handed down by the church because you fear what will happen to you in the afterlife if you don’t.

      • 1st, Original sin does give us a yearning for sin but we still have free will to choose to commit the sin, and thus suffer the consequence, or not.

        2nd, you incorrectly paraphrased my question. try it this way, Have you committed any acts you feel would be punished if a God existed? I am not asking you if you believe a God exists or if you fear the punishment, but have you willfully committed an act that you feel could be seen as sin?

        Lastly, I “stick to the guidelines” handed down to me by God because I appreciate what He has done for me and want to show Him how much I appreciate Him. I do not fear death or judgment because I believe I have God’s propitiation for my sins.

        The bottom line is I worship Jesus for His kindness.

  2. I’ve done a lot of things that would be considered a sin if I believed in the concept. I have lied, I have stolen, I have committed adultery (well, technically she was committing adultery, I was the recipient I suppose). I’m sure I’ve dishonored my father. I haven’t honored the Sabbath. I will say that I haven’t coveted my neighbors ox, so I’ve got that going for me.

    Am I proud of some of the things I’ve done? No. Do I fear reprisal from the Flying Spaghetti Monster? No.

    I should thank you for asking me that though, because I had to look up the 10 Commandments and in doing so found this:

    “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me,”

    Doesn’t exactly sound like the words of a loving and benevolent deity to me.

    • “Doesn’t exactly sound like the words of a loving and benevolent deity to me.”,it wouldn’t. Unless you recognize the sacrifice you can not grasp the price that was paid.

      Now that you have read the ten commandments, do any of them sound unreasonable? I can understand if you object to the first 4 because you do not belief in the existence of a God, but do the other 6 sound fair to you? Have you kept those six? And the standard I want you to use is did you keep them in both thought and deed?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s