One of the main functions of religion is to provide a support network for people dealing with tough times. Religion does a few things very well, and this is one of them. People have their church they can go to, with friends they can talk to who believe as they do and can provide empathy and support. This is something religion does while atheism really doesn’t so much right now.
But of course atheism can’t do that. I’m an atheist, which means exactly one thing: I lack a belief in any god. But I’m also a Humanist, which means I care about people. While many atheists are caring and empathetic people, some are not, and being an atheist says nothing about whether or not I care about people. Being a Humanist does though.
I think that even though religion is beneficial in certain ways, overall it is harmful to society and individuals. One of the difficulties is that religion has convinced a lot of people that they need their god’s help. In reality, since god never seems to actually do anything, it’s people who are actually doing the helping. That could happen without the fairy tale part, but again, religion convinces people god does all the work instead of just letting them believe in themselves.
There are those who would say that a lot of religious people are weak and could never manage without the crutch of religion. There are those who would say that we should believe in people more than that. I think the real answer lies somewhere in the middle. I think most people are capable of breaking away from religion, however some are so mixed up with the belief they may not be able to cope without it. Christianity, at its core, tells us we’re bad and wicked and can’t possibly ever be good enough. It breaks people down.
I think in the current climate of the church, there are people who would feel lost and abandoned if they suddenly realized their god isn’t real. If we could snap our fingers and make everyone stop believing, it would surely be a disaster for many. Of course, if religion ever goes away, it won’t be with a snapping of our fingers, but a slow and gradual process of people becoming more rational and realizing that belief in god is not rational. That won’t change our human needs for networking and support and things like that.
Again, atheism has nothing to say about this, but Humanism does. Religion is on the decline and I think it will all but disappear one day. Let’s all work toward helping our fellow human beings more, and we can do it without the need to try and make some god happy.