Through observation of those around me who hold strong, emotional, but at the same time quite irrational and ungrounded spiritual or religious views, I have come to the conclusion that emotional attachment holds as much, if not more, sway over the followers of the organized religions than the strong armed efforts of the actual churches themselves. Whereas the religious organizations who have large numbers of followers keep their members by instilling a sense of fear of spiritual retribution, their ability to physically threaten their members has been essentially stripped from them in the western world (barring some of the more extreme cases). This means that people who remain under the sway of organized or dogmatic religious groups, despite their dislike of or disagreement with said organizations, are being held by some other force.
I would propose that people are held by a sense of emotional attraction to their old and established ways of thinking. It is a matter of comfort and social acceptance rather than fear of death. Those of us who have delved into philosophical thinking and skepticism beyond the teachings of organized religion have decided to move away from our old ways of thinking regardless of our sense of attachment to those thought processes. In combination with the fear of death and the unknown I discussed in my short essay last month, this strong, often familial attachment tends to cloud people’s view of the world and prevent them from gaining new knowledge, wisdom, or insight into the true nature of God, existence, and the self. I do not of course claim to have reached any sort of personal revelation or greater philosophical enlightenment by taking the course which I have, but by doing what some might say is “over-thinking” religion, or rejecting accepted truths, I have been allowed to learn more than ever before and to tackle issues which I have always had with the approach of religions to the greater questions of existence.
Even if someone chooses to “stick with what they know” as one may say, I would recommend at least looking into philosophy. To really understand our place in the universe, I think it is necessary to look clearly through the lens of free thinking discourse and contemplation rather than one clouded by dogmatic thinking and blind acceptance of truths. Even those who are not theists in the traditional sense may find themselves, as I have in the past, clinging to the mentality of absolute truths and group thought. This is, of course, human nature, however it is important to maintain an open mind and to accept the input of those outside of your group without too much prejudice.