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"See Value: Religion" • Chapter 3 • Religion - the psychological value

The existential questions

The fact that religion has been present in our lives since the beginning of history is no accident. Of all the creatures on earth, existential questions characterize only humans. Religion provides an answer to basic existential questions, which humans have asked themselves since the dawn of time.

Here are some of them:

1. The world

What is the world I live in? How was it created? Who controls it? What are its limits?

The End of the World • Palmerion engraving (1888) • Public domain
The End of the World • Palmerion engraving (1888) • Public domain

2. Meaning

Does my life have any meaning? If so, what is it? Do I have a role to play in the world?

Significance • Creation of AI
Significance • Creation of AI

Man is probably the only creature on earth who is bothered by this question. For all other forms of life known to us, the meaning of life is survival and life itself. On the other hand, humans find it difficult, for some reason, to exist, without telling themselves a story in which they play some significant role in the world.

In many cases, this story is more important to people than life itself, and they are ready to sacrifice their lives for it. History is full of cases where people chose certain death to sanctify or promote what they considered a story that gave them meaning.

People will give their lives for the people, the country, for one idea or another, and certainly in the name of religion. In Judaism, for example, "death for the sanctification of Hashem" is a familiar concept. In Islam, they took the idea a step further with the "shahid", whose holy name can go as far as suicide, to murder others in the name of religion.

3. Death

Fear of death is the most primal fear of every person.

Angel of Death • Creation of AI
Angel of Death • Creation of AI

The knowledge of the certainty of death is very disturbing, and there is a great psychological difficulty in accepting it and living with the helplessness that accompanies it. People hope to find answers that will free them from the difficulty and anxiety involved.

4. Dealing with the world

The world presents us with challenges all the time. There are disasters, there are personal and national crises and there are threats of various kinds. Is there a good set of tools to deal with all of these?

5. Justice, values ​​and morality

In the human world there are many opposing forces at work. What is the right thing to do and how is it right to behave? How do you deal with the dilemma "righteous and bad for him, wicked and good for him"?

The psychological benefits of religion

One can, of course, argue with the nature of the answers given by religion, and we will do so later, but religion has ready answers for all these questions. Those who are willing to adopt the answers offered by religion gain a number of advantages on a psychological level:

A sense of meaning and purpose

Religion offers stories, values ​​and goals that give meaning to a person's life, and define their role in the world.


Religion provides a framework story that helps a person understand his world and his place in it. Identifying with religious stories makes it easier for him to analyze his personal experiences.

System of values

Religion provides a fixed and clear set of values, with criteria for morality, with do's and don'ts, and with distinctions between good and bad, which bring order and stability to the lives of believers.

social support

The community of believers provides a safety net and support even in difficult times.

Disaster and Support • Creation of AI
Disaster and Support • Creation of AI

Dealing with the fear of death and the unknown

Religion offers an answer to existential philosophical questions, and alleviates the inherent human fear of death and the uncertainty of life and its afterlife.

Existential crisis • Creation of AI
Existential crisis • Creation of AI

Dealing with suffering and difficulty

Religion provides a spiritual platform to deal with suffering and difficulty through prayer, faith and repentance. It facilitates dealing with crises by using determinism and attributing the crisis to God's will ("God gave and God took away").

For example, it is sometimes easier for religious families to accept the loss of a beloved relative, since it can be attributed to some plan of God, which has some purpose, even though it is hidden from humans.

Decision Making

Religion helps the believer to make decisions in many areas of his life. In many cases, the religious framework provides a spiritual father who can make decisions for the believer, freeing him from the difficulty of making decisions himself.

Decision making • Creating AI
Decision making • Creating AI

The psychological damages of religion

For many, religion is a source of support, inspiration and perseverance in life, but not all people receive these benefits from religion. There are people who can feel a sense of discomfort or even difficulties with faith and religion. Along with the psychological benefits listed above, religion may also cause considerable psychological damage.

Examples of such damages:

Feeling of guilt and shame

Religion can create a sense of guilt or shame in its believers in cases of non-compliance with mitzvot or religious requirements. This may cause feelings of irritability, anxiety and feelings of low self-esteem.

Imprisonment in an inappropriate setting

When it comes to people who do not fit the accepted pattern in the community (homosexuals for example), or people who have lost their faith and are unable to escape from their social and family environment, the religious framework becomes a prison from which it is difficult to escape.

The Prayer Cage • Creation of AI
The Prayer Cage • Creation of AI

Loss of autonomy and limitation of freedom of choice

Religion often limits man's freedom of choice, and his ability to freely determine his path.

Excessive dependence on religious institutions, and dependence on delegating decisions to the religious mentor also in personal matters, may harm the sense of personal freedom and self-confidence, as well as the individual's ability to make decisions.

Puppets on a wire • Creating AI
Puppets on a wire • Creating AI

These limitations can also prevent people from self-fulfillment in areas to which they have a tendency that is less acceptable to the authorities (art for example), and be a source of frustration and feelings of being missed.

Conflict with personal values

Cases of conflict between religious values ​​and personal values ​​can cause great depression and frustration.

Difficulty dealing with the outside world

Irrationality is built into the foundation of religion, and is a necessary condition required to accept its truths without question. Copying this way of thinking to the outside world, where rational thinking is required to succeed, could cause many difficulties for believers.


One of the most difficult problems related to religion is surfing the inevitable of some of the believers to extremism. We will return to this in the chapter dealing with the value of the truth of religion.

The belief in one or another absolute religious "truth" may cause the believer to produce a distorted perception of reality, which exacts a high price from him and his surroundings. A tangible example of this is radical Islam in its various shades.

Contact Chai here: At watsapBy email

Yoram Katz
Yoram Katz
Graduate of the Israeli hi-tech industry, journalist, writer and blogger. Link to my website and to purchase the books Born in Haifa (1954), studied at Geulah School and Harieli School. Graduated in philosophy and psychology (Hebrew University) and computer engineering (Technion). Books: • "Lethal Scripture" (English) – a historical suspense novel • “Days of Redemption” – childhood stories from the neighborhood of "Redemption"

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