Religion and Hope

One of the case study presentations this week in class highlighted the differences between a non believer and an active participant in religion’s daily activities and lives. While the man, an “agnostic atheist” millennial in the tech industry with several roommates lives a life without faith, a stay at home  wife and mother of a young daughter incorporates God and her religion into several aspects of her life. One of the more memorable parts of the video was when she claimed that people who are living without faith are not living life to its highest potential, as their lives do not have “as much meaning” as those who believe in a higher power connected somehow to humanity. Quite obviously, the belief that by living a life for God she was doing something meaningful, stuck with her. Another point made by her that jumped out at me was when she described briefly how her religion strengthens her in times of weakness, as heaven and unconditional love could be a comfort to those who might feel grief or distress.

This led me to considering the reasons people turn to religion, as well as the times that people do so, and it is undeniable that in times of grief or tragedy or shortly after, people do turn to their faith more often.  There are numerous reasons why someone may choose to practice a religion, especially more so after a tragic event to cope with it better, but one of the likely leading factors has to do with the situation being out of someone’s own hands and in a higher power–by placing full control of the situation into someone else’s hands, we relieve some stress. The idea that even death, a finite ending, is not the ultimate end, because you will see your beloved deceased relatives in heaven again and they are in a better and spectacular place, is a wonderful and beautiful idea no matter what your personal belief system is, even if for some non believers it is not a reality. Therefore, people do use their faith in religion to comfort themselves about the futures of their own lives as well as the future of others. My question is, what if theoretically God had no current interaction or control over humanity–for example, if Christianity drastically changed its main beliefs and suddenly,  while God did create the world and humans originally, he now has no control over current or future events, and no afterlife is certain, how many people would feel a loss of religion? If praying to God was unnecessary and pointless, there was no life after death, and no concept of “destiny,” and he was strictly the Creator of the world in the beginning and nothing more, then would people stick with their faith?

My personal guess is that many would turn to a more scientific “evolutionary” point of view of creation, and many would reject Christianity. What does this say about the influencing factors of religion and why people turn to it? Is comfort a necessary aspect of religion?