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Did The Fear Of Death Create Religion Or Did Religion Create The Fear Of Death?

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.

By ThomasMeador
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I must agree. Same thing happened with me! There is no way anybody living can tell me what happens when you die!

Tsnow70 Level 1 Nov 15, 2017
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They tell me that lots of things happen after I die, they just don't involve me.
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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.

BucketlistBob Level 4 Nov 15, 2017
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No need to apologize Bob, we all have our moments. Actually I welcome all comments. I was also not well served by my upbringing. I hated my dad. I was finally able to let go of that hate when I realized that all he had done was the best that could have been done with what he had to work with at the time. Thanks for both your comments.
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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.

hrichardson8 Level 2 Nov 15, 2017
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I think the fear of death is primarily responsible for religion. Without that fear I doubt seriously we'd have nearly as much religion.

Harleyman Level 6 Nov 14, 2017
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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.

BucketlistBob Level 4 Nov 14, 2017
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Fear obviously existed before the invention of religion. Religion likely only compounded it with silly beliefs like hell, perhaps the most inhumane teaching of the founder of Christianity.

Benelailax Level 2 Nov 14, 2017
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Christianity borrowed the concept of hell from the pharacee, who borrowed the teachings of Zoroster from the Persians, and enlarged upon his teaching of an afterlife to include the punishment of hell.
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RELIGION created the fear of death...BECAUSE death in ancient times was a welcomed time..people knew it was natural and apart of the balance of nature...

Ravenwolfcasey Level 5 Nov 14, 2017
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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.

jodyfine Level 6 Nov 13, 2017
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Good question! Both I think, they are certainly self-reinforcing of each other. It's the same as 'which came first, the chicken or the egg' - does it really matter, probably not, we just have to deal with both things regardless.

Hugene2002 Level 7 Nov 7, 2017
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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.

Hominid Level 4 Nov 4, 2017
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Yeah, I had pretty much the same idea. Thanks.
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I think the fear of death helped create religion as an explanation as to why there is a fear of death.

SamL Level 7 Nov 2, 2017
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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".

Woland Level 3 Nov 2, 2017
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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.

MichaelBaribeau Level 4 Nov 2, 2017
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@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!

tsjames Level 6 Nov 1, 2017
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Hey, this is the first time I got tagged here! But just for the record, the eternal torment thing is a very johnny-come-lately deal. We've probably had about 90,000 years of happy hunting ground but only 2,000 years of fire and brimstone, and that is in no way ubiquitous.
andygee --- I think that Zoroster started the fire and brimstone thing about 2600 years ago. If not, it was a spin-off by the Pharacees of his teaching.
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Both.

Paul Level 5 Nov 1, 2017
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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.

Lucas20520 Level 4 Nov 1, 2017
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It is the sickest part of religion in my opinion. --- Agreed !
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death is scary. we all know its the end. religion just used that fear of the end to gain more power over us

markdevenish Level 5 Nov 1, 2017
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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.

andygee Level 5 Nov 1, 2017
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Personally I feel that the fear of death was likely the cause of early religions, but once established then it became a self reinforcing loop.

Squirrellglider Level 7 Nov 1, 2017
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My vote is on the former.

MikeInBatonRouge Level 5 Nov 1, 2017
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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.

silvereyes Level 7 Nov 1, 2017
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Now you have stopped looking for a way to escape death & have accepted it as a natural part of the process which every living thing will experience.

atheist Level 7 Nov 1, 2017
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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.

davtim68 Level 5 Nov 1, 2017
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you should fear some things . that's what makes you danger adverse
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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.

https://www.inverse.com/article/29490-religious-atheist-god-fear-of-death-science-terror-management

VictoriaNotes Level 7 Nov 1, 2017
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That's rather surprising. Thanks for sharing that. See, I ain't too old to learn.
Thanks, @Victorianeuronotes. I am coming to a new appreciation (! not the right word, surely!) of the importance of the fear of death.
@ThomasMeador and @tsjames -- my thanks to you both for your feedback.
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I'm pretty sure privilege was the motivation behind the creation of religion. Someone wanted to take advantage of others and sold them on the fact that they'd be rewarded after death.

mt49er Level 5 Nov 1, 2017
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Agreed
but it did manage to get us to perform wonderful acts of craftsmanship and music plus keep us from acting out our base desires when we really knew nothing of the world around us so kudos to those who lead us out of the darkness
markdevenish --- You don't think we would have done those things naturally?
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