At the dawn of humanity, mankind worshiped celestial bodies and natural phenomenon. Tree Gods and River Goddesses can be found in almost every ancient mythology. As civilisation advanced, so did these sects of faith, and we found amongst us organised religions. Religion is nothing but a way for the simple men and women to make sense of the world. When things get beyond our comprehension, it is always easier to blame them on an all powerful, all knowing, all seeing being who will make sure that we will be alright.
For centuries, religion has provided answers to the common people when they were clueless. Why were they plagued with an epidemic- God wanted to cleanse their numbers. Why are the young taken so soon- God has shown mercy to them. So on and so forth. But ever since the advent of science, religion has slowly, but surely begun its decline. The clash between science and religion has been evident since the age of enlightenment, when the church started persecuting scientists for their ‘Blasphemous discoveries’. One can imagine what shaky grounds an organisation stands on if it reverts to killing people for saying that the earth is not flat.
But to say Religion is completely obsolete in our time would be taking it too far. Organised religion does exist, and even thrives today. The reason why so many flock to it, even while knowing better is the same as why it found its roots in the first place- Faith. In the world that we live in, having faith is an absolute minimum requirement if you wish to survive. Without faith in something, anything for that matter, one could not hope to wake up every day and go face the same old doomed world of ruthless consumerism, ever degrading environment and overall loss of the humane in humanity. Faith gives us a reason, and strength too to face this world every day and hope that one day this would all change. For as many people who have found faith in Science, there are even today as many who still have faith in their religion.
Personally, I don’t see any harm in religion itself. However it does get problematic when the believers can’t distinguish between the teachings of the religion and its superstitions. Take it to the next level of religious fanaticism and we have a very grievous problem at hand.
The negative effects aside, Religion in itself is neither harmful, nor does it seem to be going away so soon. Humans have an inherent need to believe in SOMETHING, at first it was the trees and the earth and the rivers, then it became Zeus on a mountain, and now more popularly a white clad man with a beard upstairs. Religious sentiments have never been able to be suppressed, they might have been perverted- replacing one God with another or a regime, but never extinguished. Religion also provides a sense of belonging, a community, which we need now more than any other time so that we can have something to hold onto in our extremely isolated lives.