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Is religion the opium of the masses?

Religion may literally be the opium of the masses

Written by in Educational at January 30, 2012

A 2010 Psychology Today article resurfaced on the popular news site reddit.com, exploring the correlation between social and economic security and atheism.

The correlation between a lack of religion and an abundance of social security has been known to researchers for decades:

In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (Zuckerman, 2007). Belief in God declines in more developed countries and is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.

Author Nigel Barber continues:

It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives. In social democracies, there is less fear and uncertainty about the future because social welfare programs provide a safety net and better health care means that fewer people can expect to die young. People who are less vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature feel more in control of their lives and less in need of religion.

Perhaps the reason for the correlation is obvious to many readers, but the importance of statistical evidence must not be understated.

 

 
IhartU

Asked by IhartU at 10:04 AM on Jan. 31, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 27 (31,412 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (25)
  • No, it is closer to being the marijuana of the people. More talk of love than effective action.

    If people didn't think there was an afterlife to mete out justice, they might be more concerned about improving the world we live in now.
    Clairwil

    Answer by Clairwil at 7:14 PM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • It's an unfair generalization. Has religion been used to pacify the people? By all means. Is religion as a concept something that exists only to calm people down when there are difficulties? Hardly.
    Furthermore, if society needs an opium, then removing religion doesn't end that need. Many modem societies have their own non-religious opiums: consumerism, entertainment, technology, even sports. Anything that distracts the population from their problems and gives them a sense of contentment can be considered a modern opium.

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 10:50 AM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • People believe or not for many different reasons. Reducing them to fear is an incomplete assessment
    adnilm

    Answer by adnilm at 10:53 AM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives.

    What's so wrong with that?
    popzaroo

    Answer by popzaroo at 2:24 PM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • "It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives.

    What's so wrong with that?"

    Beats me. I would love to know how the crutches of others are any better

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 2:48 PM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • No. The opium of the masses is tv.

    Farmlady09

    Answer by Farmlady09 at 11:03 AM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • "We don't take it on 'faith' that a teaching is correct- we look at it from all angels, way the evidence and then make a decision based on that."

    And what makes you think that's not what religious people do? I have. And ultimately it does end in "faith", or faith's cousin, "what makes sense to me". But at the end neither I or you have absolute proof of our beliefs, so standing by them is faith.

    "Remember, I once was a believer and I can count on one hand the number of other believers I came across who actually did personal research into what was being said in church- most accepted what was said as truth and that was that."

    Remember ivess once an Atheist (or agnostic, rather), so I'm also aware of the mind tricks that eventually shape those beliefs and they're really not more factual, independent or realistic than religious beliefs.

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 11:36 AM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • "Believers and Atheists are more alike than most think"

    Absolutely agree.

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 12:20 PM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • No, that's a generalization. However, I did have a religion professor in college that said the Southeast US is the only area in the world that as socioeconomic status rises, so does church attendance. Since I live in the South, the wealthiest people I know also are regular church attendees.
    missanc

    Answer by missanc at 12:58 PM on Jan. 31, 2012

  • The mistake we make is to think the upper class needs no metaphorical opium. We live in a money-centered society and so assume that those who have no money problems have no "real" problems. And OMG, do they have problems. Maybe that's why they go for real opium...
    But ultimately wealth, independent thought, development have nothing to do with the need of distraction.we can marvel at how Sweden is mostly Atheists, they don't need fantasies and delusions to distract them from their troubles and yet... They have one of the highest rates of suicide in the world.

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 1:32 PM on Jan. 31, 2012

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