Death & Religion

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While studying today’s priesthood lesson on death and resurrection by Wilford Woodruff, a thought came to me. Is death (or rather after-death prospects) the main motivator for the creation of or attraction to religion?

6 thoughts on “Death & Religion

  1. Yes, I have thought about this question as well. I think this is often the case, although I don’t think it should be, nor does it have to be. Interestingly, it seems a sincere pursuit of truth can land people on either side of the religion vs no religion debate, but at least pursuit of truth (regardless of whether it appeals to us or not) is better than choosing to believe what we WANT to believe based on fear of the unknown.

  2. This is related to some topics previously discussed. On the Atheism thread, Rick opined that those who aren’t exposed to religious ideas of others never form any of their own. If that is true, then how could religion be created at all?

  3. This was emailed to me about a week ago. What do you think about this? Do you think there might be some truth in it?

    What’s Religion’s Role?
    Baumeister (1991), in an impressive psychological and historical analysis, says that four basic needs push us to find meaning in our lives. If all four are satisfied, we feel life is meaningful; otherwise, we feel somewhat dissatisfied. These needs are (1) to have purpose– striving for something in the future. You may seek goals (good job, children, retirement) or fulfillment (happiness, pride, how we imagine we will feel when we reach our worthy goals). (2) A need to have value –wanting to be seen as good and justified in our actions. Moral systems, like the Golden Rule, originally enabled us to live together with some degree of harmony. (3) A need for efficacy –feeling effective, capable, in control, and that we have made or will make a difference. Humans even need and strive for illusions of control; a myth reduces distress. (4) A need for self-worth– finding a basis for feeling positive about their lives. The more of these sources of self-esteem we have, the more secure we are. (But, excessive demands on the “self” for meaning causes depression.) Unfortunately, self-worth often involves trying to feel superior to someone or groups of others, thus, for example, the poor southern white male in 1860 felt superior to the black slave and fought, in part, to maintain his status (see chapters 7 and 9 for many examples of chauvinism). These four needs (and their causes) combine with our life experiences (our culture, our family rules, our religion, and our friends’ views) to produce our personal value system and the meaning attached to our life.

    Baumeister contends that humans, pushed by these four needs and aided by an enormously imaginative brain, have for thousands of years created beliefs
    (myths) in a “higher power” which will protect and provide for us, make sense of natural events, and give purpose or meaning to our lives. That is, human needs and fears motivated the development of religions which embodied and reinforced our values. Moreover, he says that many of the promises religions have made, such as lasting marriages (with the male in charge), help avoiding or handling misfortunes, the answering of prayers, eternal salvation, etc. are very comforting ideas but pretty much illusory.

  4. what I would like to know rather then whether or not death is a factor for religion would be rather or not death aka fear of death and the unknown the reason for death bed confessions??

  5. Bill, interesting quote. Rick, I can see why you view religion that way since it all comes down to the interpretations of feelings and evidences, and those interpretations are not always universally reliable.

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