Many people write a lot against religion, but most of the time the same thing is repeated. In fact, if we cannot find the cause of the origin of religion, then it is not possible to win the fight against religion even if we write hundreds of pages explaining the scriptures by simply lifting the lines of the scriptures. Hence the need for a materialist analysis of religion.
Materialism is to look at the world realistically, not to analyze the world with any kind of miraculous and unrealistic thing. And idealism is a distorted representation of reality. Different scriptures look at the world through the eyes of prophecy.
Religion emerged in historical development in the opposite direction from thematic or realist knowledge. Religion was an impossible, absurd and distorted reflection of reality, a distorted interpretation of reality. Despite such great advances in science, that religion has survived for the time being.
To understand the meaning of religion, it is necessary to clarify why religion originated, and what is its role in the development of society and life.
Religion does not originate from any divine revelation, nor is it a reflection of a miraculous world. People have different kinds of consciousness, religion is also a reflection of reality in the consciousness of social people, and religion is not a heavenly but an earthly object. In no sense is religion innate. Primitive man never had any inherent religious consciousness or religious or spiritual attitude. Gabriel Motirle, a leading French scholar of primitive history in the last century, proved that there were no religious elements at all in the early Paleolithic age. (Mortillet, 1883)
Some materialists before Karl Marx have said very simply, that a handful of deceivers, in order to deceive ignorant and naive people, have cleverly erected religion, which is partially true but not entirely true. Ignorance is an ally of religion and deception is an important element of religion, but the real origin of religion is elsewhere.
Religion came into being when man became detached from the external nature through labour but still relied on the natural physical forces for a total of about sixteen years.
Religion occurs at a lower stage in the development of the productive forces – religion cannot originate at any other stage, including the lowest stage of the development of the productive forces. The productive forces are directly related to the origin of religion. The level of development of productive forces at any given time indicates not only the extent of human domination over nature, but also the degree of human dependence on nature. Karl Marx wrote: ‘Technology reveals the way man deals with nature – the process of production. People make their living through this process of production, and thus the process of production opens up the social structure of man. ‘(Marx, 1965)
Engels says, “All religions are nothing but bizarre reflections of the external forces that control the way people think in their daily lives – the earthly forces in the human mind take the form of miraculous powers” (Engels, 1969).
In the beginning, people did not think of natural forces as miracles. Natural things, especially those that are especially important in human life, were imagined to have a conscious effect on human life.
The mysterious natural forces that man could not comprehend, against which man was utterly helpless, were transformed in his imagination by man into good or evil, ghosts, demons, gods, angels, devils, and so on.
So primitive religious consciousness is a reflection of the barbaric man’s inability to fight against nature.
Basically, the dominance of natural and social forces was the main source of religion at that time. People choose religion to deal with the social forces that stand against them. Religion is a reflection of the incapacity of hardworking people.
Religion regulates human behaviour and actions in society, family, etc. by various laws and restrictions such as taboos, religious fatwas and sharia, scriptural provisions, etc., and these are presented by the God, so they are considered inviolable.
The exploiting classes use this religious system to secure their dominance over human activities.
Many materialist writers of the past have written many militant and talented atheist works in the fight against religion, but due to their prophetic views on history, they have not seen the social origins of religion, so they have not shown any way to defeat religion.
Mortillet, G. (1883). Le Prehistorique. Paris.
Marx, K. (1965). Capital (p. 372). Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Engels, F. (1969). Anti-Duhring (p. 374). Moscow: Progress Publishers.