I want to believe in God, but “religion” stops me. I hope God has less to do with religion, and religion with God, than we usually think.
Some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural, that religion, without God, can form and flourish. To others, the claim is blasphemous: God exists and religion is God’s revelation. All agree that religion affects humanity profoundly.
Why is religion a force so powerful? Even those who believe in God should understand how personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.
Philosopher Daniel Dennett’s book Breaking The Spell describes religion as a “natural phenomenon.” No one naturalizes religion better than Dennett, who defines it succinctly as “belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.” He suggests that, “the question of whether God exists is actually of less importance to the modern world than maybe it once was.”
Dennett encourages us “to think not just historically, but biologically or evolutionarily.” He says, “We have to realize thatHomo sapiens—us—descended from earlier hominids; we share a common ancestry with chimpanzees going back about 6 million years. Can we see what religion adds to the mix that makes us so different from all other animals?”