“Fear is the mother of all Gods.”

This quote is attributed to Titus Lucretius Carus in 60 BCE.

I recall the first time I ever heard of a relationship between fear/uncertainty and religion.  An economics professor explained religion has flourished more in rural areas than urban.  This is because, he said, there is more uncertainty in farming than in the commerce of cities. This may have been the first time I had ever heard religion referred to in this abstract way.

The contemporary writer/theologian Bishop Shelby Spong wrote, “Religion is not about truth, it’s about security.”  The relationship of uncertain and ritual/superstition/religion can be found in many places.

In baseball, pitchers deal with more uncertainty than outfielders. It’s more common for pitchers to have superstitious ritual, wearing the same socks, etc., than it is for outfielders.  Ancient fishermen who had to fish in deep and unprotected water tended to be more religious than those who fished near the shore.  Countries that are the poorest are more religious than those that are richer.

One always has to be careful at attributing causation to circumstances where things happen at the same time.  The causation argument is attractive to me because no other explanation for the whole package of world religions has come forward.  Since their “truths” are cancelled out by other religions, we are left with the big question for all of them, why are people attracted?

When there does not seem to be enough fear in the indigenous setting, religions have their ways of introducing fear: I forewarn you…Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell…Fear him. Luke 12:5

[My thanks to Prof. Charles Sawicki of the Red River Freethinkers for the topic of this blog.]

P. S. The conference, Zeteticon, will be held in Fargo, Sept 13-14.  GreatPlainsAtheists.org

 

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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6 Responses to “Fear is the mother of all Gods.”

  1. Michael Ross says:

    “religion has flourished more in rural areas than urban.”

    “The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.”(Revelation 16:19)

    “Countries that are the poorest are more religious than those that are richer.”

    “…when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them… when your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God. … you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’… Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods… you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:12-14, 17, 19-20)

    • Michael Ross says:

      Good insight Jon. You are agreeing with the God you reject.

      • entech says:

        You are right again Michael. Your quotes confirm it, especially when they add the threats to try and maintain their control.

        One point I would argue with their is a huge difference between rejection and denial. Once you deny existence, take a position of non-belief, then there is nothing to reject. The o so common cry of reject, reject, reject can only come from people who cannot accept the possibility of simply not believing. For so many, I think you are better, the hatred of the the non-believer is not so much a rejection of their belief in God as the perceived rejection as something more personal, a denial of their self image as a personal and special creation of a personal creator.

  2. Michael Ross says:

    “Fear is the mother of all Gods.”

    “I recall the first time I ever heard of a relationship between fear/uncertainty and religion”

    Wall Streeters recognize two most powerful forces that drive the market: Fear and greed. We have been in a greed mode since 1913, the founding of the Fed, with fear interludes during the Great Depression and “Great Recession” (which is actually the Greater {Greatest} Depression}. That is part and parcel of the secularization of history’s most Christian-founded civilization. When this greed finally turns to fear what will we see?

    Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

    Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    Matthew 10:28 – And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Proverbs 14:26 – In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

    Ecclesiastes 12:13 – Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.

    1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    Luke 1:50 – And his mercy [is] on them that fear him from generation to generation.

    Psalms 33:8 – Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

    Proverbs 14:27 – The fear of the LORD [is] a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

    Psalms 111:10 – The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever.

    Exodus 20:20 – And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

    Psalms 25:14 – The secret of the LORD [is] with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

    Job 28:28 – And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding.

    Deuteronomy 10:12 – And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

    1 Peter 2:17 – Honour all [men]. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

    Philippians 2:12-13 – Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    • Adam Heckathorn says:

      Are You suggesting All should live Their Lives in constant intimidation By The God You believe in. I read all the Scriptures And the picture They present is One of a Bully. I don’t really believe God is a Bully because I believe He is a creation in The minds of Men. God is held up as a model for Rulers of all sorts Patriarchs of Tribes, and Fathers of Families. It seems to Me Bullying is what People do when They don’t possess reasoning or negotiating skills to resolve conflicts. My Wife used to say “Adam You are a horrible lecturer”. (I prefer to think of Myself as a Wonderful Reasoner!) When My Wife’s Eldest Brother suggested that instead of continuing to drag Me into court “Why don’t You just sit down and talk to Adam” My other Brother in Law The Elder among JW’s and My Sister in Law at that time a full time Volunteer Minister among JW’s said “We’re not talking to Adam He can talk any One into anything”. Often to the religious Reasoning=Magic powers a sort of Satanic Voodoo. Many use the Bible to claim authority over others “Because God said so!”

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 4:42 Thanks for posting all those passages that refer to fear. I had no idea.

      To me, scaring people with imaginary concepts is what cult leaders do. It is a dishonest and unhealthy characteristic of religions, including Christianity.

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