Actually I believe the way my oh-so-suave governor of Minnesota, the great wrestler Jesse the body Ventura put it in Playboy, was "Religion is a crutch for weak-minded people." But it's just semantics.

Regardless of the actual quote, I can go both ways on this issue. I am more or less an existentialist, and agree that religion is possibly completely bunk, but if the rapture were to begin tomorrow, I'd be pretty well screwed. Either way, I see religion as something that is best left alone. Same goes for the religious of the world. It's okay to share your beliefs, like I'm doing right now, but to cram it down each person's throat that I meet, and base my relationships with others upon their religion is wrong in my book.

And how does one define weak and weak-minded? Obviously we're talking about mental weakness; but can we narrow it down from there? How about "unable to think for themselves"? But what does this mean - unable to make any decisions other than the most basic that are necessary for life? Being uncreative? Being a conformist? Unwilling to think critically about issues? I'm guessing that it's some combination of those.

For a definition of religion, please see that node, or just read this shortened version: a set of beliefs based on faith, not empiracal evidence, about the supernatural. Is not the same as witchcraft, sorcery, or magic.

One obvious reason to think that religion is a crutch for the weak-minded is because religion answers questions that we mortals are unable to answer on our own: things like "what is the meaning of life?" and "what happens to us after we die?" Having these questions go unanswered causes varying degrees of anxiety in people. Trying to set aside other factors such as the fact that the religion you are taught in childhood will have a profound impact on your religious views later in life, presumably the people who cannot cope with this anxiety will be religious, and the people who can cope with it will be atheistic.

Now, let me ask you this: shall we consider all forms of anxiety to be equal? In other words, if someone has another cause of anxiety (any number of reasons: acrophobia, depression, bipolar disorder, the loss of a loved one), and they rely on prescription drugs to quell this anxiety, does that make them as weak-minded as people who are religious? Are their drugs a "crutch"?
I will let other noders elaborate upon this - I put it forth to make people consider just what exactly they're thinking.

On to the other definitions of weak-minded: the conformists, the people unwilling to think for themselves. It follows that people unwilling to think for themselves wish other people to do this thinking for them. Wham-O, that automatically eliminates religious people who are either not part of an organized religion; or who are part of an organized religion, but hold some beliefs that differ from the doctrine and/or dogma of said organized religion. Such people are obviously willing to think for themselves, at least in some cases.

Moving right along to the yahoos who could not even conceive of the idea of questioning religion: we all know these people. They are the smiley-faced "John 3:16" bliss-pests asking Have you found Jesus?, they are the people who hang out on college campuses with big signs that say repent or you're going to hell! Not necessarily Christian, but it is an example that most of us are farmiliar with.

So, do these particular induhviduals think that religion is such a good thing because it is easier for them to accept a pre-packedged set of morals and ethics than it is to debate on the question of life, the universe, and everything? Yes, it is entirely possible. Is "fitting in" more important to these people than free thought, and organized religion is just one more way to conform to their society? Yes, it is entirely possible.

Thus, a more accurate statement might be, "Organized Religion can be used as a moral, ethical, and/or social crutch by people for whom independent thought is difficult or undesirable." But so can political ideologies.

Often this phrase is used, with the implication that this is a bad thing. Yes, religion can be (among other things) a crutch for weak people. However, there is no shame in using a crutch when your leg has been broken.

"A single human lifetime is far too short a period in which to discover how to live a life."
--D. Stephenson Bond

In practically all of the arts and sciences, we learn what other people have learned and go forward from there. Even in everyday life, we do not have to reinvent the wheel to drive a car. Why then should the deeper meanings of the universe be the only discipline in which we have to "think for ourselves" and not learn from the experiences of others, discarding the knowledge gained in the past?

If you think the religion is true, then don't hesitate to use it. That's what it's there for.


Side rant: Yes, I know some people do go without any religion after having studied and thought about it on their own. It's also entirely true some people merely discard it because they don't like what it teaches--as though they think their opinion affects what would be a fundamental truth about the universe!--or because of purely superficial reasons such as not liking the other adherents. And yes, the previous two sentences can equally apply to people taking up or changing religion also.

Religion is a crutch for the weak in the same way that mcdonalds is a crutch for the hungry. Generally, religion supplies two things to its devotees: meaning and morality. The reason these are so important is because they are so hard to find otherwise. If anyone can come up with a good logical argument as to why people should follow a moral code that doesn't neccesarily benefeit that person, I'll be very impressed. Likewise, what would you say if someone asked you, "what am I suppposed to do with my life and what makes my life worthwhile?" Really it all boils down to the pursuit of long life and happiness, not some greater purpose.

So for those who can't invent their own reasons, there's always religion. I know people, seriously depressed, who have turned to religion to give their lives an artificial value. Religion is, unfortunately, a necessary crutch for some people. It allows them to live their lives happily, if not meaningfully.

Personally, I stay away from religion. I value intellectual integrity over happiness.

The statement "religion is a crutch for weak people" may be interesting to discuss but it's not exactly what Ventura said. The exact quote is:
Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business.

Ventura is asserting that "organized religion" is intrusive. That's a pretty broad statement. I'll guess that it's a matter of attention: the churches that aren't intrusive don't get your attention, therefore it probably seems (at least to him) that they all are intrusive. I'll also guess that the religious groups that a state governor deals with are even more annoying that the ones I run into in airports and malls.

See? People can use bad survey data without using statistics!

Organized religion mostly likely came about to fill a void in human societies. The void was most likely a workable paradigm for daily life and human interaction. This, as I see it, is the base level.

The way to enforce the life and interaction paradigms, to me, seems to be dragging one's spirit or soul into the mix. "This is what your spirit is and this is where you came from and this is where your spirit is going when you die so this is how you have to live" seems to be the most common feature in religions. As soon as a person first loses someone in their life to the reaper, the religion is put to the test. The individual's level of comfort with the prescribed afterlife will forever alter their relationship with the religion. In the vast majority of religious texts I've read, or religious ideas I've been exposed to superficially, the bait seems to be the promise of the afterlife spent in paradise, whether or not you have to go through several incarnations to get to that point.

It is slightly ironic to think that one of the key factors in the social evolution of our species (that is, the idea that you must behave yourself or your spirit will suffer long after your corpse has expired), has gotten us to the point where we can contemplate what exactly it is, and to deny it should we see fit.

Thusly, religion can be perceived as a crutch for the entire human species. Whatever your position is on the subject of religion, the fact is that your forebearers most likely subscribed to the ideas they were presented by their local clergy. This altered their standing in their communities, influenced their migration patterns, and has by and large built the wonderful fucked up patchwork quilt that is humanity today.

As an aside, I choose to walk my own path and let my spirit figure it out. I believe each holy book is a piece of the overall puzzle. But it is important to note that each of us, after our puzzles are all put together, will see a different picture. Just food for thought.

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