Religion provides hope

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One common apologetic is the argument that religion provides hope, or meaning, or the assurance of the love of God, and that taking away a person's religion would be cruel.



Red herring

Whether or not religion provides hope or meaning has nothing to do with whether it is true.

Is this desirable?

This argument is comparable to the statement, "It would be cruel to take away someone's antidepressants, since that person would succumb to depression". This may be true in some (perhaps even many) cases, but in general it is better to raise people not to require drugs to be happy. Similarly, it is better to be able to find hope and meaning without having to resort to religion.

Religion also provides despair

This argument also ignores the fact that for many people, religion brings unhappiness: in many forms of religion, people are told that having sexual thoughts is a sin; homosexuals are told that they are vile and wicked; and some denominations preach that all humans, no matter how much good they do, are miserable sinners who deserve to be tortured for all eternity.

The hope that such religions provide is not the uplifting hope of improving one's future, but rather the hope of evading just punishment.

Many forms of Christianity teach that the majority of mankind will go to Hell. The fear of this may cause great distress. If you are on death's door and were raised to believe that you may be going to hell, it can create great stress and energy that could have been spent better possibly saying goodbye to loved ones. It causes friends and relatives stress to think that perhaps a recent loved one that died could be in hell. It is difficult to estimate how much stress and unhappiness is caused by the fear of hell and the suffering that one is supposed to have while in hell. Many people may be reluctant to admit how much they fear that they are sinners and could be destined to go to hell as well as the fear they hold that loved ones were sinners and are in hell. The fact that hell is forever, its hard to even imagine. Many may be uncomfortable outside on a hot day or sitting in a boring meeting, yet hell is portrayed far, far worse than these daily annoyances that many may try to avoid.

See also

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