Does Religion Free Us From Fear or Cause It?

Religion is based primarily upon fear. .. Fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death.” – Bertrand Russell

If you haven’t read Bertrand Russell, I suggest you do. If you are interested in his views on atheism, start with the essay “Why I am not a Christian.”

Anyways, I  mostly agree with Russell.Of course, if a person believes they are going to heaven that alleviates the fear of dying. Heaven promises that you will live for ever, and no matter how bad a person’s life circumstances are in the end everything will be okay, but this only works if a person doesn’t doubt God, their belief system, or the after life. However, I also believe there are some fear causing agents within religion, and I think people have found various ways to deal with these fear causing agents.

One of these agents is hell. Believers have to worry about living and believing the right way. I remember being 10 years old and having frequent nightmares about going to hell; because, I was slowly losing faith in God.  However, for most hell believing Christians, they believe they will make it to heaven while everyone else they distaste won’t. Hell is not just a source of fear, but it is a source of othering of people who are different. I don’t just mean among Christians and non-Christians, but also there is othering among Christians and other Christians. For example, some Christians believe it’s either baptism or hell, and some just see it as a ritual. The list could go on drinkers vs. non-drinkers etc.  If there were a hell, people should be a lot more worried about exactly which of the Christians are going there considering the variety of Christians.

Another fear causing agent is sin. Some believers have a great deal of anxieties about upsetting God by their sin, and their “sin” can be very small such as a white lie. However for many, this fear is alleviated by the ease at which one can be forgiven. They can pray a few words or go to confession, and they are free of even large sins.

I think religion stepped in at an early age of our existence to rid our fears of the unknown and especially of death. However, there are fear causing agents within them. I think some people can be more fearful with religion than without depending upon the religious institution they attend and their personality. On the other hand, I think many people have found ways to rid their anxieties.





  1. Bertrand Russell has it exactly the opposite of the way it is.

    Religion is based on love, love of the mysterious, love in Christ’s triumph, love that leads to eternal life.

    It’s amazing that people like Russell, who haven’t the foggiest idea what they are talking about, gained such acclaim instead of being laughed to scorn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, and thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Let me expand a little.

      Like I said I mostly agree with Bertrand Russell as fear of dying can be dealt with by introducing heaven. Fear of being alone can be dealt with by introducing God etc. Religion takes away some of the fears us humans have by introducing certain elements. That being said I think modern religion can be more complicated than that, hence the mostly part. The edited quote of Bertrand Russell is a very small part of what Bertrand Russell’s thinking on atheism was. Oddly enough his thoughts on atheism almost ended his college teaching career. During his career, Bertrand Russell thought about many things not solely atheism. For example, he was also very important mathematician in the 20th century.(Russell set, Principica Mathematica ) If you haven’t checked him out already, you might want to.


      • Psycho,

        After having been physically assaulted at gun point I can attest to the natural, horrific and profound fear of death.

        But I also realized at the time, that my intense free of death was the result of an even more profound passion and love for life.

        It is human nature to fear losing that which we hold most dear.

        Christianity is based upon human nature which is based upon love.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for taking the time to respond again. I think it is human nature to fear death, otherwise we’d all be going about doing things that would get us killed. In other words, our species would probably be extinct by now. I think it is this very human fear that heaven satisfies. I have to get ready for an AM class, but I may write another post on this as follow up, or if you comment again, I can respond a little later today.


  2. Pingback: Does Religion Free Us From Fear or Cause It? | Christians Anonymous

  3. I have to agree with the first two commentators about christianity. Before I came to know Christ I was a mean lost soul without empathy for others. Now my life has changed and I cry at the least little hurt I see in others. It’s all about faith, forgiveness and love my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

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