Does Religion Have a Monopoly on Hope?

Is religion the only thing that can inspire feelings of a transcendent hope? Perhaps that is the wrong question. Do we even need hope to live? British philosopher Julian Baggini responds. 

What's the Latest Development?


The modernist French author André Gide once said that man can live forty days without food but only one second without hope. Today, this sentiment is echoed by religious figures and politicians who advance their beliefs on the grounds that they confer hope in a cruel world. The connection between religion and hope typically functions in two distinct ways: "One is that a purely secular worldview cannot provide the same degree of hope that religion can, and that many desire. The second is that we need this kind of hope to live. If both were true, it would be a powerful argument for the necessity of religion, irrespective of its truth."

What's the Big Idea?

To the first claim, that only religion can provide hope, British philosopher Julian Baggini responds that secular atheists do in fact have access to transcendent hope by naturalizing religion. "Our hopes should be based on becoming more 'acutely conscious' of 'the future of this planet after our deaths', in which 'devastating environmental and other catastrophes' could unfold." Baggini also negates the second claim, that hope is necessary for life. Hope, he says, is something people do when action is no longer a viable option. And action, at least some cursory amount, is necessary for life. Perhaps it is as Ben Franklin said: "He that lives upon hope will die fasting."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

A map of London's most toxic breathing spots

Air pollution is up to five times over the EU limit in these Central London hotspots.

Strange Maps
  • Dirty air is an invisible killer, but an effective one.
  • More than 9,000 people die prematurely in London each year due to air pollution, a recent study estimates.
  • This map visualizes the worst places to breathe in Central London.
Keep reading Show less