Sorry if this has already been discussed. I looked around but didn't see anything really like this. Anyway, I was having a discussion about religion with my cousin recently, about wether or not religion was anti-scientific. He is an atheist as I am, but he claimed that religion (or spirituality) in and of itself was not anti-scientific. I said that it was, because anytime you use the supernatural to explain the natural you are moving outside of scientific method. No matter how abstract the theory (i.e. many worlds, or string theory) these ideas come about from scientific method and saying "well god made it that way" moves outside of that.
At any rate the debate eventually became more about religion as a way to explain the 'why' questions rather than they 'what' or 'how' questions. I'm sure you've all had this conversation before, so my question is this; Why do people need to use religion as a crutch? I'm am perfectly willing to accept that my life has no meaning except for what I give it. Why are people so afraid to admit as much? Obviously no one here can speak for all religious people, but growing up in an atheist family I never experienced any fear or anxiety about the fact that my life had no universal meaning. Is the idea of justifying ones own existence a cause to create religion, or a symptom of it? Any insight would be awesome!
My opinion on this topic is clear. I used to be anxious about my place in the world and the meaning of my life but once I got to terms on it and drifted towards becoming an atheist, I realized something very closely related to what you are seeing.
The need for a higher meaning is so extremely, deeply rooted in our culture because of religion. You are right, we do not need something like it, but we grow up thinking that we need it. Even the notion that there might be no meaning is terrifying to us because we have grown to assume that the alternative would be loosing the most valuable thing we have. It is just another way of religion to put fear into our minds and to control us. I do not claim that the pope or other religious leaders have this ulterior motive -even though I wouldn't be suprised- but that this just happens to be the case. It is like clutching to a rope, thinking you are above an abyss, even though your feet are just a few inches from the ground.