Last month, I read Alain de Botton’s book: Religion for Atheists. In that book, the author tries to change atheists’ opinion on religion, not to make them believe, but at least to make them stop thinking it’s ridiculous. My roommate happens to be a member of the local Christian communion. So I decided to attend a weekly religious service with him to see what religion is beneath its sacred cloak.
We got up early on a Sunday morning and walked to the place where they prayed to God. Contrary to what I imagined(magnificent church with peaceful looking priest), it was a small room filled up with people of our age. Most of them were girls. They were singing beautiful songs which were full of love. Then the preacher delivered a lengthy sermon thus I just got a chance to scan the Bible. After that, we were divided into several groups to share thoughts. As a newcomer, I told the reason why I came here. A girl shared a negative feeling about her recent life and study……Finally we just prayed.
Though I didn’t accept anything to be my saver, I enjoyed the whole process, when I was listening, reading, singing, speaking, and doing nothing. And I did feel the great power of religion. Religion just gathers people together and provides a media, to which we can look for guidance, consolation and morality. What people are looking for is not important. The important thing is they have a uniform way to show their weakness, in another word, to admit they are incomplete or “guilty”. Religion also prevents people from being weird in the crowd because all the others are doing the same thing: kneeling down and praying. This is why the author uses the word “mechanism” to describe it.
I used to hate formalism, but this book helped me to rediscover it again. Sometimes rules, laws and formal things can kill imagination and personality, but it also brings us the order. When we are designing a complex system(like a nation machine), order can not be ignored.
If you don’t have enough time to read the book, I recommend you to see Alain de Botton’s talk on TED. He explained why religion is more effective than art as a tool to improve the society and why religion still exists since we already have education. It’s more interesting than the book.