I have heard many people say that man created religion because of ignorance and the fear of death. But when I was religious I feared death and now that I am not religious, I have no fear of death.
Dear Sir, I apologize for my last answer. I wish I could remove it. I had a moment.
I beleive religion has made man to fear death if certain restrictions were not met. I'm sure not all of them created the fear of death. I personally don't know this answer. I feel superstition has a way of being passed down from generation to generation. Early centuries had different demands of their culture and they may of had to burn a body or place coins on the dead persons eyes or even build platform's to place the dead. I didn't have a father that would help me understand my fears. It could be that he didn't understand his. I was scared by the movie
The exorcist. Not today though. I did beleive this could be real by the church I attended that spoke in tongues. I know their game now. It all about fear to control. With a little love thrown in as a feel good. These types of churches make an impression on young people. It can really screw your head up. I watched my dad rock back and forth saying oh god, oh god as he set in a recliner as he was dying. He was out of it with the fear of hell. I couldnt help him. He was so rotten in his life and he knew he was in some kind of trouble.
I would wager the most accurate response to this question is 'yes'.
Seriously, though -- I imagine a thorough investigation into the true history of humanity's religions would reveal it happened both ways, and varied based on the local structure of society, government, economy, law, etc.
The real fear as a child was the back of my fathers hand. I know his game today. He wanted us out of the house so he could tackle mom. Us outside to molest my sister. Later on it was my other younger sister. Hmmm... im going to stop right here so I can cool off.
For me self awareness created a fear in my loss of self (death).
My self awareness extended in to my place of self within my own community/family. At a very young age I sensed that religion was in place to ease people's fear of their own death as well as the death of loved ones while simultaneously being in place to control the behavior of the earthly masses!
What a thought provoking question!
I think religion and fear of death feed on each other.
Some human anthropologists suggest that religion developed when speech did... a result of the frontal cortex of the brain growing bigger. So questions about the sun, rain, and yes - death - created superstitions that evolved into religion. They essentially anthropomorphised the elements into gods.
That to me makes the most sense.
It depends - organized religion was created to legitimize the absolute role of monarchs. Spirituality might have many roots - need for continuity, attachment to loved ones that died. I think it is a bit simplistic to put it all under umbrella of "fear" a'la "grave is a cradle of gods".
I think religion started as lessons taught children of their ancestors and the world to learn and cope. The beliefs of the most prominent family in a group were the ones perpetuated. Everyone's different but I know many theists who find comfort in the thought that when they or their loved ones die they will go to heaven. Although history shows people also used religion to control other people and governments.
@andygee said, "...once you have awareness of the self, you also get fear of losing the self." I think this is bang on.
And then, what some religions do, is amplify this by emphasizing how important it is to behave in a certain way, and believe certain things, otherwise your death (which is feared anyway) is going to lead you to everlasting torment. Lovely!
That is a really interesting question. I think its a mixture of both. I would imagine in the beginning religion was mans first attempt to explain unanswered questions and over time became corrupted by the leaders of the groups and as time went on it was discovered that by focusing on death it was possible to get people to follow orders much easier if there was consequences to their actions that are much worse than could be imagined to take place on earth. I view the heaven/hell concept as the carrot and stick that keeps followers in line. It is the sickest part of religion in my opinion.
You may be interested to know that the oldest religious facility ever found (70 KYA) is a cave in Botswana with a big stone python. It was used as a more or less funeral home. The cave even had a little office for the director. But of course, grave goods go back further than that. I'm guessing that once you have awareness of the self, you also get fear of losing the self.
I'm going to say that people use religion to cope with the fear of death. I don't think it causes it.
I definitely don't believe in the Bible, but watch me run from a snake...or a scorpion... or a bear. OK, lots of things instill the fear of death in me. Religion isn't one.
I think it's a survival instinct.
I can't say I ever feared death, I just hope it's painless. Whatever you fear rules you. Fear is one of those emotions that really screws with our brain. The military taught me to fear nothing and I pretty much carried that through my entire life so far. Sure there are still the common fears like I fear the day I loose my puppy to death but, nuked or natural disaster are just names in a hat.
Probably both, but death anxiety is universal. A study was published in the journal Religion, Brain, and Behavior --- a meta-analysis of 100 existing science articles on people’s experience with death anxiety. Researchers analyzed data on over 26,000 people between the years 1961 and 2014. They found that very religious believers were not afraid of death. They also found that to be the case with strong atheists. People who didn't hold a strong worldview experienced death anxiety. Quote:
"What seems to protect atheists and religious people from their crippling fear of dying isn’t what they believe but the fact that they believe in anything at all. The researchers note that this is the central concept in “Terror Management Theory,” which has been proposed to explain how exactly humans deal with the crippling reality of wanting to live but knowing they’re going to die. The theory says that we do so by bolstering our “worldview”: When we’re faced with the terror of death, we try to root ourselves as firmly as possible in what we believe (regardless of what it is), and this staves off our fears of dying. Almost 100 percent of the studies that were robust enough to test this idea supported the theory.”
The researchers did mention that the results can’t be considered definitive because it wasn’t totally inclusive — it counted mostly American beliefs, and dealt only with Abrahamic religions.