By Adam J. Pearson
I was recently struck by the realization that the effectiveness of religious belief–to shape the world and the lives of individuals–does not depend whatsoever on truth. Religious beliefs do not need to be true to produce effects.
Whether there actually is a God or not actually has nothing to do with the ability of a belief in God to impact the world or individual people’s lives. It could very well be the case that God is simply a product of the human imagination, and yet, countless works of art, architecture, music, and literature have been produced as a result of the belief nevertheless. Many people have died for the belief and many others have kept on living because of it; it has taken and sustained lives. All of this remains true whether the belief actually corresponds to anything real or not.
The same is true for the deities of all other religions. Even if they are all pure fictions, even if they are mere imagination and wishful thinking, belief in them still shapes the physical world and changes the way people live and experience. Therefore, I argue that the effectiveness of religious beliefs does not depend on the truth or falsehood of those beliefs. They can still, in many cases, produce their intended effects regardless of whether they are true or false.