Are there reasons why we don’t need religion? Does religion have a role in modern society?
According to Richard Dawkins, there are several reasons why we don’t need religion. Though religion has been a huge part of human history, Dawkins argues that there are many reasons why humanity should leave religion behind.
Keep reading to find out why we don’t need religion.
Why We Don’t Need Religion
Even if religion is false and provides a justification for immoral behavior, we still can’t deny the fact that religion has been a ubiquitous feature of nearly every human society. If religion has always been with us, doesn’t that say something? Is there perhaps some essential element of the human condition that needs to believe in something without evidence?
We’ll explore why we don’t need religion by examining:
- How religion fails to console us at our darkest moments or inspire to think beyond ourselves
- How scientific discovery opens our eyes to a world of possibility that is far more wonderful and beautiful than anything religion has to offer.
The Case for Science
But doesn’t religion inspire us in some way? Doesn’t it open our eyes to the beauty of our universe and invite us to contemplate the mysteries of existence? This claim also seems dubious when you stack it up against what science offers to the human intellect and is part of why we don’t need religion.
Our brains and sensory organs evolved in such a way as to limit what we can grasp intuitively. We evolved to be able to hunt game, live in relatively small settled communities, trade with neighbors, and grow food. You don’t need a full working order of the universe on either the micro or the macro level to survive as a human.
As such, we “see” only the things we need to see in order to get through ordinary life (or what ordinary life was for our hominid ancestors). But there’s so much more out there in the universe. To take one example, our visual world only represents a tiny sliver of the light spectrum. Beyond the tiny band of visible light, the universe is awash in electromagnetic waves, from X-rays to radio waves to gamma rays. We would never know they were there if we relied solely on our senses.
But there is an extraordinary tool that enables us to truly grapple with the mysteries and complexities of the universe—science. Science enables us to understand the phenomena around us in all their wonder and beauty, from the mind-bending behavior of subatomic particles in quantum theory to the infinite density of black holes to the nature of matter and existence itself. Far from being drab and uninspiring, science uplifts us and expands our intellectual horizons in ways that religion never could.
Ultimately, religion limits the possibilities of human thought and action. You’ll always be constrained by a God who knows more than you and can control every aspect of your life and beyond into eternity. Nothing exists that he doesn’t allow; nothing can be conceived of that he hasn’t already designed.
Meanwhile, science opens us up to a universe without limitations. Quantum mechanics, evolutionary biology, and particle physics provide insights that are far more enriching to the human spirit than simple stories about a creator deity and his rather unsavory band of prophets.
It’s time to accept the reasons why we don’t need religion and free ourselves from the primitive shackles of religion and embrace our true potential as humans.
Exercise: Why We Don’t Need Religion
Explore the main takeaways from The God Delusion
- Do you think science is capable of answering the question of whether or not God exists? Explain why or why not.
- Do you think religion has been a force for good or for evil in the world? Expand upon your answer in a few sentences.
- Do you think the world would be better off without religion? Explain why or why not.
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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion" at Shortform.
Here's what you'll find in our full The God Delusion summary:
- Why Dawkins thinks religion has exerted a harmful influence on human society
- How Dawkins concludes that the existence of God is unlikely
- The 3 arguments that challenge the existence of God