She feels that many people would be unable to cope in a world without god. God is a stabiliser, a comfort, an assurance that somehow we matter and that our lives are being overseen. When feel lost and we despair ever knowing the point of it all, we can trust that there is one who knows. When those we love die, we can trust that they are not gone for all time. We can trust that they have received heavenly compensation for their suffering.
In a world without god, there is no safety net. We are not being watched, at any rate not by anyone who cares. We are not guaranteed our just desserts, and there may not be any absolute purpose to our lives. My friend believes that even if this were the definite truth, most people could not handle it.
I actually find this notion insulting and sad. It makes the assumption that, while we (she and I and anyone else living without religion) are strong enough to travel without a crutch, the vast majority of people on this planet are too weak. What snobbery. Or perhaps even we nonbelievers are crippled by our lack of faith?
Yes, life is hard. Yeah, death is terrifying and sometimes senseless. And faith is a great coping mechanism, right? Except that I don't think it is. The faithful are just as fearful of death as the infidels. Nobody wants to go to heaven yet. And when a man is starving, he might pray for food but he must still beg too, because at least begging gets some direct results. Most of us understand that "God helps those who help themselves", and we conduct ourselves accordingly. Faith or no faith, we must rely on ourselves and on each other to navigate life and death.
Religion - in my view, at least - actually seems to discourage people from trusting in humanity. God is powerful and wonderful and we are dirty and weak. We must recognise our own depravity and submit ourselves to god's will. Some hastily located verses from the Bible:
Jerusalem 17:5I don't think many Christians actually believe these things. From what I have seen during my life so far, I think most of us know we must have faith in ourselves and in the goodness of others. We know good things can be done through our honest effort and fleshly labour. People without faith can and do lead full, admirable lives.
Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes flesh his strength and turns his heart away from the Lord.
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool.
Millions of people experience religious doubt. All the time, all over the world. I hope that they are able to see that "losing faith" doesn't have to be a negative act. Though I might not trust in god, I am learning to trust in humanity. And that's something that can change my life for the better. If I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst - if I ask for help, but I don't permit myself to be helpless - I can make it through. I think my love is best reserved for real people who can feel it and return it. Sometimes I will give more than I get, and sometimes I will fail to give. Humanity is imperfect, but it is all we have. We can trust in ourselves. We can be amazing.