Religion creates some interesting contrasts with the idea that people should use their own reasoning abilities to determine their course in life. Let’s take a look at a few issues briefly.
Faith: The very definition is that you stop using reasoning and instead believe in something or accept someone’s word simply because they said so. An example: If I told you I could fly, I wouldn’t have any proof to show you and instead would tell you that you have to have faith in me and believe it because I said so. Similarly, you have to have faith that a book written thousands of years ago was written and translated accurately, that the original authors were not lying, that they weren’t tricked into seeing miracles in the way that street magicians can do in the modern world, and instead were really told by God that this is how you need to live your life.
You have to have faith that there is something after death, and that the particular religion you follow is the correct one, just as all of the other religions believe they are the correct one.
Knowing all of this, you can see how an educated and intelligent person has trouble believing that faith in an ancient religion is a good idea. Moreover, one can see why religion is fading in areas of the world with high standards of living and education, namely western Europe.
At the same time, faith has positive impacts on many people’s lives. Sometimes when a person is going through a very difficult time in their life, and they have no one to help them, they ask for God’s help. It’s a desperate bargain with a higher power when it seems like life’s burdens are too much to bear. Many people turn to religion because they believe that a prayer was answered by some sort of problem in their life getting resolved.
Faith also urges people to do good works and volunteer their time to help others. Whether they do this because they are hoping for a reward in the afterlife, or simply because it feels good, churches and those who believe in God volunteer a ton of their time and money to helping those less fortunate. Yet, many who don’t believe also volunteer or donate, such as this company that donated a competition kettlebell to help benefit someone who got paralyzed while competing in a CrossFit competition.
In the end, whether you choose to have faith or not, a wise person once said: “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”