Atheism and religion are separated by the protection religious belief provides against a largely unknown other or cosmos.
Religion is more than words in a book; it is an entire way of life and therefore becomes indispensable to its adherents. So when skeptics question or attack religion, believers feel as if their way of living, thinking and feeling is also being questioned or attacked.
Religion and the Family Unit
Over time, a person’s religion becomes an extension of his or her being. But the seed is usually sown in childhood. A child entering the new world has to learn boundaries by trial, error, and by parental guidance. A bad fall shows a child where his or her body ends and the outside world begins, as does a hot surface.
Parents teach their children right from wrong and provide them with a worldview from which to judge and navigate life. But more importantly, parents are a buffer against the outside world. The family unit acts as a protector of its members from an indifferent and sometimes hostile environment. The initial pain is soothed by the promise of protection.
Religion as the Eternal Guardian
In a similar fashion, religion protects the individual from an unintelligible, indifferent or hostile universe. It is needed as a buffer against what could be lurking in the cosmos, or in the alley, or even in the person sitting a few feet away.
As the eternal guardian, religion gives believers a suit of armor that is hard against the outside world, but soft and malleable against the skin, so that it can be altered internally as long as the outer boundaries are maintained. This is why there are various interpretations or sects within religions.
Why Atheism Won’t Work for Most Religious People
The problem that often eludes atheists or skeptics who would like to convert believers is that they are threatening the promised guardianship and tearing at the boundaries, which will – if successful –expose religious defenders to an indifferent, hostile universe that their religion was created to ward off in the first place.
If humanity were able to deal with the naked cosmos, there wouldn’t have been a need for belief systems to begin with. But religions thrive and multiply because humans need to believe that they are special, secure and worthy of life.
What will replace the security of religion? Atheism can’t because it takes away a guardian without replacing it.
Atheist activists think that there is power for their movement in numbers and that atheism will, in turn, give potential converts new freedom. They do not realize that once religion is accepted, it becomes an intricate part of an individual, a part that the person is willing to defend at all cost because it is the part that holds the rest of their person together.