I find it very disheartening when it’s so obvious that a religion has been, if not created just for that purpose, at least turned into a sort of therapy without a therapist. And unfortunately most, if not all, are just that, at least if you ask most of their followers and analyze their answers.
I’m not talking about addressing the problem of what happens after we die, that’s normal, it wouldn’t be much of a religion if it wouldn’t profess something beyond the physical realm, which implies some sort of afterlife. I’m talking about those concepts that are meant to make people think of all the bad things that happen as being part of a greater plan that will make something good happen in the end, despite the fact that it rarely does.
It’s not something specific to one religion or even a certain type of religion. Whether it’s phrased as the higher power’s will or plan or as your own choice at the start of your current incarnation, only the words differ, the concepts are the same. It’s disempowering, it’s an external coping mechanism designed to help people accept wrongs instead of doing something about them. I said “help” instead of “make” because people are rarely willing to do something anyway.
According to this, you’re supposed to simply accept everything as it comes and take it as part of your evolution. How is it right not to fight against wrongs? How does twisting everything around in order to accept the intolerable make you better? How is pretending that things are how they should be until you actually convince yourself of it helping you evolve? Yes, it certainly helps you go in a certain direction, but I have a hard time calling that “evolution” because if that’s what it is then it means we’re crawling along the wrong branch!
Religion implies something greater and better than ourselves, and usually also our ability to leave our mortal trappings behind and reach a higher state. That should be empowering, it should rally people to actively fight to reach that goal, not be used as a placebo to swallow when things get sour!
Think about it for a second. If beings that we would consider gods exist, and I believe they do, they must have reached that state at some point, by certain means. The most likely ones I can think of are evolving from lesser beings, like us, or being born as accumulations of energy which have gained consciousness and then learned to affect the physical realm. I think both kinds exist, and perhaps in some cases not even separately. And in that case what we should do is look for ways to communicate with them effectively and strive to become like them eventually, walking that billion-step road one tiny step at a time, one lifetime at a time.
But no, instead of doing that we use them as an excuse to do nothing! Just imagine how disappointed of us they must be if they care and how bored of us if they don’t. How is not trying to figure out what their example truly is so that we can follow it a way to honor them, as religion supposedly is?
Realize that if higher entities would get involved so often in our lives and either put hurdles in our paths or ensure that the troubles we face have a purpose, or if we would choose the tests we will face in the next incarnation before birth, it means fate exists. And if fate exists, then life has no purpose. If fate exists, we’re nothing but pawns in a giant chess game and we should just kill ourselves now to take away their little toys, and keep doing so every time they throw us back until they get it. Or fight them directly one way or the other for putting us through this.
However, if there is no fate then we don’t choose our experiences before birth and we’re not part of a divine plan. That means bad things don’t need to be accepted and there is no greater purpose behind the trials that we face. It means the purpose of life is to rise above our current condition, not accept it. It means we must try to become gods instead of using those who already are as an excuse for not improving ourselves. And yes, that may well start with refusing to go the way life seems to be trying to lead you, regardless of the price paid for such a choice.