Why do people search [for] answers in religion?

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[Well, eight days in and I’m still getting questions on the “ask me anything” discussion.  At least they are keeping things light and trivial! This question was posed by Assamita, who may or may not be a robot. I didn’t specify that these had to be questions from humans.]

Thanks for the question, Assamita!! If English is not your primary language, please let me know and I’ll work to get a better translation for you.

Religion is a very delicate and personal subject. If you are easily offended you may want to stop reading right about now.

pslee999 on flickr
pslee999 on flickr

Or now is fine too.

People turn to religion for a great many reasons, but primarily we have fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of independence, and its companion fear of loneliness.

Because they are facing an unknown, deadly, independent, and lonely mission, I wondered if the Mars One folks had anything to say about religion… and they do.

The curiosity of seeking answers (and conjuring more questions) is our most beautiful human trait. It drives people to explore and question, delving into subjects like soul and meaning and purpose.

Some of that seeking comes from of a painful place. The seeker may be traumatized by an event that sets them off looking for answers. Maybe it’s a loss of someone or something very dear, possibly alongside the loss of some other type of belief.

The intense relief experienced by finding some answers can fuel passionate devotion. It’s not strictly a religious experience, either. I think it works they same way for scientists. When they find a framework that suits them they can choose to bang on it or hang on it and try to work it out; they won’t just shrug and move on, unless of course, they are very bad scientists.

When there’s trouble with religions, it’s not usually the religion itself that causes it. It’s the zeal.

Be very cautious about zeal.

I don’t think that people seek out a particular religion very often. I think people are drawn to religion by experience. (Seconds of research back this up). If it’s not a religion of their family life, they stumble upon it and something captivates them.

They can be drawn in by the music or the ceremony. It could be awe-inspiring temple architecture, but I think the most compelling thing for most people is an inclusive community and/or a sense of power.

Looking for answers in religion can be very comforting, but I don’t recommend that we accept what we find and camp there. Keep asking instead.

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