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Why am I Writing about Religion on the 4th of July?
... because it came up recently in a comment board, thats why!
Its seems obvious to me and many others that religious belief is a product of societal influence, otherwise there would be a random distribution of different religious faiths. Instead we see exactly what we expect to see of a social phenomenon, people choosing the faith that they are raised with, passed on by parents and supported by their community.
Few people actively research all possible faiths and choose based on their search. And few parents advise their children to hold off defining their religious beliefs until they have had time to see all competing alternatives. Religious teachings begin at the earliest age possible and are heavily maintained with weekly reaffirmations. Many people are openly hostile to learning about competing faiths and some even work to destroy competing faiths altogether. This is because people that experience other faiths and cultures in many instances realize that their beliefs are a cultural product and while they may still respect their upbringing they also realize the validity of others people's beliefs as well. The most fundamentalist believers will work extra hard to shield their children from the outside world in an attempt to guard their faith. This explains the popularity of homeschooling amongst the fundie crowd.
Multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism or liberalism are seen as great evils because they have the power to weaken religious faith in favor of what I see as a more realistic world view of relativism. Relativism is seen as an enemy of tradition who many feel serves as a necessary foundation for society. If conservatives are working to conserve anything they are trying to preserve tradition on the belief that without which society would not function properly and man will fall from his blessed position in God's eyes.
You can make the case that religion is necessary as a means of social control. That without religion man has no capacity to control his most base instincts. But there is hardly enough evidence that suggests that religion is a product of actual divine intervention into human affairs. Unfortunately for those making the case that religion is an effective means of social control, they will have to admit that it only works if they can convince people that it is in fact the product of God's will. This becomes next to impossible in a modern society with access to knowledge from all over the world and the universe. So what we end up with are modern nations with a majority of people claiming some form of religious faith solely out of recognition to its role as a social adhesive, while at the same time accepting that the world has become a much more complicated place.
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