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“Common-Sense Religion” Article by D. Dennett Essay

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Updated: Nov 26th, 2021

Religion is a set of beliefs as well as practices shared by people. There are diverse religions worldwide with dissimilar beliefs and practices. The beliefs and practices give practitioners of religion meaning in their reference to a deity, deities or truth. People believe in religion because it gives some answers about life. This consoles people because life is a big maze. In addition, religion dictates the way of life and some people appreciate the guidance they get about how to live from their religion. This paper will respond to an essay “Common sense Religion by Daniel C. Dennett.

Many people belong to a certain religion and say, “religion is very important in their lives” (Dennett B6). Some of those who believe in religion would say that if they did not have religion their lives would be empty and meaningless. People have claimed to find meaning in life after they got into a certain religion. They claim that they had lost hope in life but after finding, a new life everything changed and they are now optimistic and very happy. Religion helps people to make sense of life. This sense enables one to be at peace with oneself and the world around. This is through performing religious acts or practices as outlined in ones religion. On the other hand, there are people who have meaningful lives yet they do not subscribe to any religion. They do what they feel is right because they do no believe in things that cannot be proofed scientifically. They lead similar lives to those who subscribe to religion facing similar successes and challenges. Do all religions give meaning to life? This is because some people fall into the hands of dishonest leaders. Does this kind of religion still make meaning into such people’s lives?

Some of these acts are collective worship, which gives one an opportunity to belong to a community. This gives one a sense of belonging. One interacts with others who have common beliefs. Studies have shown that belonging to a community has value due to the support one gets. It is has both mental and physical health benefits. It reduces the likelihood of alcoholism, mental illness, blood pressure and other health problems. In addition, religious communities offer opportunities for social interactions, such as groups. Through these interactions and shared values, one achieves a sense of support and this helps one to fill their human needs because they can find someone to talk to in confidence. Does one really need to join a religious group to find support? One can enroll without necessarily belonging to any religion in many social interactions. For instance, one can join a sports group, or meet with friends in a social place. Meaningful relationships can be established and one can get the support they may need.

Other practices such as yoga as practiced in the Buddhist religion helps one to relax and this helps to improve one’s health. Other practices such as eating healthy foods are good because they help one to take care of ones body. For example, in the Christian religion, followers are taught that their bodies are the body of the Holy Spirit. This teaching encourages them to take care of their bodies. Thus, religion not only helps human beings spiritually but also physically. On the contrary, even without religion some people practice healthy lifestyles. Therefore, does not have to go to a religious group to be taught how to live healthy because information oh healthy living is readily available in books, magazines or the internet.

Religion also encourages acts of charity. People are encouraged to give their wealth or time to help those in need. In Islam, there is the pillar of Zakat that requires able Muslims to give money for charity to help those who are need. In Christianity, people are encouraged to give to the poor without expecting anything in return. In so doing, some of the money is used for noble causes such as feeding the hungry providing clean water and medication to the poor. Some religious organizations also put aside money to educate the poor thus giving them an opportunity to compete with the rest of the people who can afford an education. This ensures that in future they will have a better life. Giving to charity is both beneficial to those who give because they feel they have fulfilled a religious teaching or the will of God and those in need have some of their needs met.

Conversely, phony people to con people out of their hard-earned money the name of charity have used religion. Dennett asks if religion can really give meaning to a person’s life. This is because religious con artists have duped some people who lost all their life savings. When this people discover the fraud committed against them do they still go in believing in that religion? If they do, are they being rational? Does life become meaningless for such people? Religion sometimes seems to blind people and they do irrational things in the name of god. For example, people will give offerings in church yet they cannot meet their needs yet the value they get from such giving is so remote or none at all. This is because more often than not some phony religious leaders embezzle that money anyway. The same people would not give willingly to secular charitable organizations that are genuine because religion promises a reward later in heaven. In this case, religion acts immorally by conning people whereas it is supposed to be an example of morality.

Religions of the world lack congruency. This puts one religion against another. People kill those who have different religious beliefs. People from different religions think that those who are from a different one are wrong. Sometimes they may not say it loud but certainly believe that own religion is the only true religion. It is important to note that most of these people would not give a sound argument about their beliefs. They simply believe because their leaders say so or because they grew up in homes that followed whatever faith they subscribe. Moreover, not all who follow religion practice it. In all religions, compassion for all human beings is preached. In Christianity there is the teaching about love “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…” (Jesus, Matthew 5:43-55). However, not all Christians practice this teaching. A good example is the killings the Crusade in Europe. One may wonder why there is much hatred and prejudice in the world today yet many people belong to religions that preach compassion (Polinska 1). “Research shows that people who are more religious are not necessarily more loving or tolerant than those who are less religious in fact, there is some evidence that non-religious people might be less prejudiced” (Altemeyer and Hunsberger 124).

Religion has made a positive impact in the lives of some people in the world. People have led meaningful lives because they have a sense of security in a god who loves them. Religion has also stopped people from doing evil because of the fear of punishment in the afterlife. Even though this is not a good reason for doing well at least it reduces evil in the world. However, just as Dennett says people should not use religion to fulfill personal interests. Religion should not be a means to fuel hatred and divisions in the society. People need to question the religious practices so that they can make rational decisions. If people approach religion with a clear mind and be not afraid of asking questions and look for answers, we will have religions that are actually useful to humankind. People will not follow the teachings of their religions blindly and hurt innocent people in the name of fighting a cause for their god. A loving god, as most religion say is should not have people kill in his name. To quote Dennett “It is time for the reasonable adherents of all faiths to find the courage and stamina to reverse the tradition that honors helpless love of God — in any tradition (Dennett B6).

Works Cited

Altemeyer, Bob, and Bruce Hunsberger “Authoritarianism, Religious Fundamentalism, Quest and Prejudice.” The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 21, (1992), 113-33.

Dennett, Daniel. ”Common-Sense Religion.” The Chronicle Review. 52 (2006), 20: B6. Jesus. New International King James Bible. Matthew 5:43-55.

Polinska, Wioleta. “The Making and Unmaking of Prejudice. “Journal of Religion and Society 11(2009).

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