To recap, we are exploring my compiled list of the seven reasons for each and every person's acceptance of religion into their lives and subsequent dismissal of science and reason. Trust me, everyone around you with a belief in 'a God' can be put into one (at least one) of these categories. Today we are discussing number one the list: Guilt.
This, in my opinion, is the most obvious reason. This can be something as simple as a personal pact made between the individual and God in a time of extreme desperation. ie. "God, if you get me out of this situation, I'll devote my life to serving in your image." This can also be something as deep seeded as a peace offering made between someone and "their maker" over something that they did or happened to them. For example, a child who accidently caused the demise of a sibling (or just feels responsible for their siblings passing), holds that guilt for their entire life, turning to religion to fill the void.
I believe most of the priests with pedophile tendencies or behavior most likely fall into this category as well. They have lived with the knowledge that their desires are wrong, so in a valiant effort to mask or subdue the behavior, they turn their sights on God. The problem with this scenario is too often the distraction of religion only leads them to a more accessible batch of impressionable victims. At least they turned to religion with good intentions right?
Another common example of "guilt" as a trigger for religion is in the form of infidelity. A spouse cheats and doesn't get caught. Most of the time, getting caught is the point or the exciter. When they don't get caught, the guilt of the situation eats at them until they turn to the shoulder of religion to wipe the slate clean.
If "guilt" is a trigger, why do so many people stick with it once the guilt subsides? This is what bothers me more than anything. In some circumstances, the guilt may never fade. In others, it should fade quickly for most people able to participate in the act that caused the guilt in the first place. Some people who are able to use religion to overcome the guilt may like the results and decide to stay in order to use it for future use? Honestly, I am unable to fathom this, but it does seem viable.
Next up on the list is "Redemption". Stay tuned, I will hopefully elaborate sooner rather than later.