Religion: Most Used drug

Unraveling the Mystery: Why do people believe (or think they believe) in completely different things, find love in their convictions, and even kill for them?


Avi Shore

6 min read

The next period of my life was one of the most challenging. As my disbelief in religion became official, I no longer felt the presence of a loving father figure. I was alone, without any higher power to follow, especially not the creator of the world who was supposedly preparing a beautiful afterlife for me.

All I had to do was be a good servant for about 90 years compared to an eternity. and now I didn't have that. now I had to work hard to enjoy the present and the knowledge of death was indeed depressing after 18 years of believing in immortality.

a similarity I observed between heavy religious reliance and drug dependency was the tendency to avoid dealing with emotions healthily. When one believes that everything is a divine signal, they might ignore their fears or life challenges (which can usually teach you a useful lesson or two) because they are labeling the problems with the wrong label, much like a drug addict who can label some feelings with the wrong label: they might call a high they experience as "truly happy" but in the grand scheme that is not happiness .

In a religious perspective, financial struggles can be explained away as a lack of devotion or spiritual shortcomings. Instead of critically examining their situation and taking practical steps to improve it, believers may attribute their financial difficulties to insufficient prayer or not adhering strictly to religious rules. This mindset can lead to avoiding the true problem by labeling it as a spiritual issue rather than seeking help from other sources.

These behaviors can seep into every aspect of life, varying with the intensity of belief, just as the severity of drug use varies among individuals. In extreme cases, the devout may lean heavily on religious practices, neglecting other life aspects. They may believe that spending more time in worship will somehow solve their problems, much like a drug user who believes that the next high will fix everything.

This mindset of relying on religion can lead to detrimental consequences. Believers may miss out on opportunities for personal growth and self-improvement. Instead of actively seeking solutions and taking responsibility for their lives, they passively wait for divine intervention or rely on religious rituals to bring about change. This can result in stagnation and a lack of personal agency.

The influence of religion extends beyond individual lives and into society as a whole. The power wielded by religious institutions and their leaders can be used to manipulate and control people. Critical thinking and questioning are discouraged, as blind obedience becomes the norm. This can lead to a society that is easily swayed by dogma and susceptible to misinformation. Rather than encouraging open dialogue and diverse perspectives, religion can foster narrow-mindedness and intolerance.

Religious beliefs often come with a set of moral guidelines that are considered absolute and unchanging. While some of these principles promote kindness, compassion, and ethical behavior-usually within the religious community , others can be restrictive and discriminatory. People may feel compelled to adhere to these principles without question, even if they contradict their own values or harm others. This can lead to the suppression of individual autonomy and the perpetuation of harmful societal norms.

Furthermore, the focus on an afterlife and the promise of eternal rewards can divert attention and resources from the present. Instead of addressing pressing issues in the world, believers may prioritize religious rituals some they think they'll get eternal pleasure if only they fit another minute of it. This can hinder progress in areas such as scientific research, social justice, and environmental conservation.

It's crucial to acknowledge that religion, like any belief system or substance, has both positive and negative aspects. But when misused or over-relied upon, it can inhibit personal growth, foster ignorance, and hinder societal progress.

Religion stifles innovation. When people think they already know everything because of their religious beliefs, they lack the mindset to explore and change. For instance, if people believe that rain comes from god, they would never consider the possibility of weather forecast. Thankfully, some non-believers questioned such assumptions and discovered Meteorology. Many important inventions would not exist if we solely relied on religious teachings.

There are many examples that show how Religious understanding and practices have thrown at huam problems with hope that it will help. One interesting example I can think of is mold or skin irritation also known as צרעת.

Long ago, when jews saw mold on their walls or bodies, they would panic and think it was because they had spoken ill of a friend, which was a common belief. If confirmed by any priest of the time, you would be considered shameful and suffered Consequences. Over time, however, people learned that good housekeeping and personal hygiene could prevent mold and keep skin healthy. Nowadays, Believers don't pay much attention to the numerous mentions of this issue in the Torah. This is also an example of how people have looked for answers to things they didn't understand at the time, but as we've grown and learned, our interpretations and practices have changed.

By embracing critical thinking, open-mindedness, and empathy, individuals can navigate life's challenges more effectively. They can seek knowledge from a variety of sources, engage in constructive dialogue, and make informed decisions that align with their own values and the well-being of others. Embracing personal agency and taking responsibility for one's own life can lead to a more fulfilling and empowered existence.

When I stopped practicing religion, I discovered many aspects of life, not only in the physical aspect but also emotionally. Before that, I used to believe that everything happened for a reason, and it was always a positive one. Whenever I faced frustration or encountered something wrong or annoying, I would suppress those feelings and convince myself that it was for the better. I never really used logic to understand the situation.

For example, if I missed the bus, I would simply assume that it was for the better. Who knows, maybe there was a dangerous situation on that bus that I narrowly avoided because I was busy with my religious practices. These stories were popular at the time, especially after events like the intifada and the World Trade Center disaster. They highlighted how someone who was late or absent from a place attacked by terrorists was miraculously spared.

Such stories, however comforting, turned out to be unreliable, and everything usually turned out fine. I couldn't really comprehend what was so good about it all, but I held on to my belief. Even during my journey of leaving religion, I still believed that everything was ultimately for the better. But upon further reflection, I realized that it was merely a hopeful perspective, not grounded in reality.

Many believers may not truly believe what they claim to believe because their actions contradict their words. This is quite interesting. Similar to drug users who manipulate any situation to justify the dosage they desire, the same can be said for religion. People unconsciously perceive what they want to see in order to "believe" in God and enjoy the benefits, such as immortality and having an all-powerful father and many more. However, when it becomes inconvenient, their actions do not reflect their beliefs.

Personally, I know someone who does not believe in God, yet he outwardly appears to be devoutly Hasidic Jew. They engage in religious practices based on their own desires and still participate in prayers and ceremonies to find some spiritual heroin. Like this person, I'm sure there are many others who don't genuinely believe but go along with it either out of indifference or because they lack the courage to make such a drastic change in their lives.

In conclusion, my journey away from religious belief has allowed me to explore various aspects of life and question the limitations imposed by religious dogma. While religion can provide comfort and guidance, it also has the potential to hinder personal growth, promote ignorance, and stifle progress. By fostering critical thinking, embracing individual agency, and valuing diverse perspectives, we can navigate life more effectively and create a more inclusive and compassionate society.