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Is religious belief always motivated by fear? (SO of Heaven)

Posted by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 3:47 PM
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This is a spin-off of the Heaven thread, where a few people have said that they think people believe in God and/or an afterlife because they are afraid of the unknown and so, basically, they make up answers for themselves to relieve them of that burden.

Do you think that is always the case?

For me, personally, God's existence was never an "unknown" and I never really aknowledged any fear of what it would be life if there was no God. I've been a theist my whole life (of varying types throughout my life), not because I was afraid of the alternative, but because the presence of God, an impossible to describe sense of "otherness", has always been something that I can feel palpably in my heart and all around me. 

Anyway, I just thought this might be an interesting topic and didn't want to hijack the other thread.


"True joy does not come from owning something, it comes from the encounter in relations with others, in feeling loved and understood. Because joy comes from the gratefulness of an encounter. The joy of "the encounter with Jesus" and in "feeling loved by God. " Pope Francis                                                    My Blog

by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 3:47 PM
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by Platinum Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 3:50 PM

 Not in my case.  I knew that God was there when I was a child, and I've had personal experiences that were unmistakable since.  It has nothing to do with fear. It has to do with experience and knowledge. 

by Silver Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 3:58 PM

I witnessed my family using the idea of an afterlife to cope with the death of my grandpa. Immediately after he died, my uncle was telling my grandma that he was now healthy and young and strong and playing with my other uncle who died of cancer at age three. Of course I didn't say anything, that would have been the biggest dick move imaginable on my part. But I just remember that. I grieved in my own way and they grieved in theirs.

But I do think the afterlife is a coping mechanism for a lot of people. They use it to deal with their own mortality. Perhaps this goes more for the people who might be secretly questioning their beliefs and are afraid of an alternative. Those who are completely secure in their beliefs probably won't feel this way.

by Ruby Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:12 PM
I've always been raised with the "believe or burn" doctrine. I really resent it, and struggle with it. Although I do believe in God, I have a hard time in the believing that He would send anyone to burn for eternity because they didn't believe as other Christians.

Before anyone makes the tired argument that I've heard here and IRL that "God doesn't send anyone to hell, you send yourself", save it. If hell exists, and someone in fact goes to hell, they are not willingly there. God makes the rules. He can reserve hell for the evil-est of the evil.

I'm still a little raw on this topic. My 28 year old cousin, committed suicide 10 days ago. It was 12 years after his older brother did the same. All I heard was how awesome it was that was saved just 4 days before, and is therefore not burning for eternity. So, in many opinions, if Jeremy hadn't gotten "saved", God would have sent his bipolar ass to hell, and he would have deserved it.
by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:21 PM

I don't think that fear of death is the sole motivator of religious belief at all, but I do believe that the human awareness that we will die someday gives rise naturally to the questions that religions answer.   

by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:24 PM
For me, it wasn't that way for a long time. I truly believed, fear free. Towards the end of my time as a Christian, yes. I would have officially cut ties long before I did if fear hadn't kept me "believing".
by Roma on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:25 PM

I think the fear of the unknown fuels more religion than anything else.  

In the Heaven thread another poster said the only question is where you will be after death, not "if" you will be after death, and if not heaven, you'll be burning for eternity in a lake of fire.

I can't imagine how that isn't fear motivated.

by Sevrsaxhtharxxa on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:27 PM
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I have been told many times (on here mostly) that I should believe in the christian god just in case. Which leaves me wondering if they believe out of fear of being wrong. 

Personally, I never felt that deity's presence... what I felt was more real, I guess. He pulled me around for a few years before finally telling me who he is. (my patron deity)

 ~~~~      ~~~~         ~~~~        ~~~~~~          ~~~~~~

"Can you hear them? All these people who lived in terror of you and your judgement. All these people who's ancestors devoted themselves, sacrificed themselves to you. Can you hear them singing? Oh, you like to think you're a god. You're not a god, you're just a parasite, eaten out with jealousy and envy and longing for the lives of other." ~ The Doctor

by Whoopie on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Always? No

Much of the time, yes.

by Christy on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:36 PM

I believe in reincarnation as a change of matter. I do not do this because I fear death. In fact, it seems the simplest explanation that it ends when you die, but experience gives me reason not to believe. That does not mean I think there is heaven as set up in the bible, although I could definitely see it as an alternate dimension possibility but not exactly the same. I think that various realms put as the afterlife are simply other dimensions that people may travel.  I do not find the afterlife to place people at peace or rest. I do think that some people believe in various afterlife scenarios out of fear or for comfort. I find death a part of universal balance for continued progression.

by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 4:42 PM
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I am with you OP. I do not believe in God out of fear, I believe out of faith. I have never really given a whole lot of thought to the afterlife. It is what it is I guess.
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