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  • Writer's pictureCynthia P. Goldstein

The Role of Religion and Existentialism in Unifying Society: A Complex Relationship

The topic of religion has always been a controversial one, with some people viewing it as a mess and evil for most of the population. While religion provides solace and meaning to some, it can also be a source of confusion and division for others. In this article, we will explore the connection between religion and existentialism, the role of religion in unifying society, and the need for a belief in a higher authority to curtail our natural predatory nature.

Existentialism is a philosophy that deals with the questions of human existence and the meaning of life. It emphasizes individual freedom and choice and argues that we are responsible for creating our own meaning in life. Existentialism arose in response to the crisis of meaning brought on by the rise of secularism and the decline of religion. As people began to question traditional religious beliefs, they found themselves adrift, without a clear sense of purpose or direction.

Religion, on the other hand, provides structure and meaning, a set of beliefs and practices that help people connect with the divine or spiritual realm. It offers a way of understanding the world and our place in it and provides a sense of community and belonging. However, when religion becomes dogmatic and rigid, it can lead to intolerance, discrimination, and even violence.

The natural predatory nature of humans, coupled with the lack of a higher authority to guide our behavior, can lead to chaos and disunity. We need a belief in a higher authority to curtail our baser instincts and promote the common good. Religion, when practiced in a responsible and respectful manner, can provide a framework for ethical behavior and social cohesion. It can help us to overcome our differences and unite us in a shared vision of the world.

It is important to recognize that no one religion can ever fit the needs of everyone. Religious needs differ geographically and culturally, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. According to the Pew Research Center, countries with high levels of religious affiliation have lower levels of income inequality and higher levels of social welfare spending. Additionally, countries with higher levels of religious affiliation tend to have higher rates of volunteerism and charitable giving.

While it is certainly possible to live without religion, it takes an intense love of life and fellow humankind to not need it. For the average person, religion may be needed to provide a sense of community and meaning. People who are less philosophical and intellectual may need religion to ensure social cohesion. However, it is important to recognize that religion is not always necessary, and many people are able to lead fulfilling lives without it.

In conclusion, religion can be a source of confusion and division, but it can also provide meaning, structure, and community. The decline of religion has created a crisis of meaning, and existentialism has emerged as a response to this crisis. We need a belief in a higher authority to promote the common good and curtail our natural predatory nature. While no one religion can ever fit the needs of everyone, it is important to embrace the diversity of human experience and recognize the role that religion can play in promoting social cohesion and ethical behavior.

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