Religion is the opium of the people
Religious beliefs and practices involve worshiping a supreme being, accordingly, opium was used in medicine as an analgesic, but opium was also an addictive drug from opium poppy. Comparing opium to religious practices is a common argument by atheists who view religious beliefs as giving unrealistic sense of contentment among individuals.
The famous allegation “religion is the opium of the people” was first stated by Karl Marx as a metaphor to discuss the effects of religion among the working class during his period. Marx believed that religion was misused by the ruling class to justify their status. The poor were made to believe that being poor was acceptable because after all, people would find true happiness afterwards. Certain belief does not justify our actions, but simply used to cover up the existing social problems facing humans, religion does not attempt to solve these problems.
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Shared religious beliefs are ideology built by specific individuals to exploit others. The ruling class used religion to shield their injustices. Comparing religion to opium means accepting al the suffering including exploitation by the ruling class. Similarly, people would prefer to take opium to mask their pain and suffering than seek for answers in knowing the source of their pain. People use religion to mask the underlying problems but do not have the courage to speak up simply because according to their religious beliefs suffering comes from God. Therefore, everyone has the moral duty to accept God’s will. Religious beliefs are misleading, poor people are subjected to think that they cannot change their situation.
For instance, Christianity encourages its followers to remain poor using bible quotes to associate richness with bad deeds. Many bible expressions develop false consciousness limiting people from discovering the truth; therefore, poor people feel they are not capable of change their situation, they are meant to be poor and rely on God to provide them with the basic needs.
Comparing religious beliefs to opium is an idea supported by atheists who do not believe in the existence of a supreme being. Atheist dismiss religion using quotes by Karl Marx who argues that the upper class smoked opium to simply escape reality while the working class on the other hand used religion to overcome sadness.
Religion produces false consciousness in many ways. Through its teachings humans believe in afterlife which is bliss and all their troubles ceases to exist. Such notions encourage people throughout their lives to be less concerned considering that they can barely afford the basic needs. People who believe in religion believe that life is a temporary; everything we work hard for remains when we die. Religion also portrays suffering as virtuous, therefore, suffering is acceptable. Religion is compared to opium because it poisons people’s minds with misleading feelings about life without giving them any relief for their situation.
Some people argue that anyone who does not take opium will see the real situation and view life from a realistic perspective. We can only learn to shed off some of the false hopes presented by religion if only we do not believe in the Supreme Being. Arguments about religion have several unstated assumptions which are rarely subjected to serious scrutiny, one wonders if people can lead better lives without religion or does religion simply offer false hope.