How the pandemic has reinforced religious beliefs

When you can’t come to terms with a dark reality, looking up to the sky is an instinctive reaction. In the United States, half a million lives have been lost in the COVID-19 pandemic in one year since the virus emerged. A recent investigation by the Pew Research Center reveals that people in economically developed countries say the outbreak of COVID-19 has strengthened their religious beliefs, particularly in the United States where nearly three in ten American adults say the coronavirus plague has strengthened their faith.

We are all in one harmonious natural system, connected in all its parts, and a person, due to his opposite selfish nature, repeatedly cuts the connecting threads between himself and others, thus violating the laws of nature and tearing human society away from the feeling of supreme power that surrounds us. The coronavirus is a reaction to humanity from harmonious nature, a kind of catalyst to close again the gap that has arisen between humanity and nature.

Michel Laitman

The development of civilization has alienated us from nature; therefore, we are unaware of his conduct and feel more vulnerable to it. So, despite our formidable technological capacity, we are powerless in the face of global epidemics, climate change and other crises. We don’t know where to run, how to cope, and certainly don’t see a bright future on the horizon.

The uncertainty of these times, the lack of clear answers and the loss of hope cause people to seek, as they have since time immemorial, a higher power which they hope will guide their destiny. They begin to grope in the dark and ask: where is this power that creates this evil in the world we now see around us, how can we survive the next blow, and in general, what is the meaning of this world? As we hear more and more of people dying from this scourge, our sense of security is undermined, fear for our loved ones grows, and life takes on an unfamiliar and ambiguous gray tone. On the other hand, living conditions have changed dramatically over the past year. Work has moved to the home, children have immersed themselves in distance education and the living environment has shrunk within family boundaries. Our world has shrunk.

With fewer choices in the search for a ray of light that provides security now that people really don’t know what to count on or where to place their hopes, religion becomes an anchor, a source of stability. There isn’t necessarily an answer to every question, but at least it relieves the frightening reality that people are facing.

It is not a sign of a backward movement or a trend towards a more religious and conservative world. On the contrary, it is the sign of a humanity searching, in a time of turmoil and crumbling foundations, for the meaning of life, and a growing desire for a trusting connection to the future in close proximity to the Supreme Force that governs life. But in this quest, those who find religion insufficient to bring lasting calm and fulfillment will continue to seek answers.

Even before the major religions spread throughout the world, many beliefs, rituals and practices of idolatry existed. Human beings have always needed a sense of security and answers to the inexplicable. This notion prompted the controversial Karl Marx to assert that “religion is the opium of the people”, while Voltaire said “if God did not exist, he would have to be invented”. In fact, it is good for a person to seek a connection to a higher power. It manifests itself all along our historical axis of development: tribes danced around bonfires to honor their goddesses, bowed before statues and worshiped the power of nature in various ways until these practices became transform into structured religions and belief systems.

The strengthening of religious belief in the last days of the pandemic, as the latest survey shows, actually points to a broader process of development that humanity is going through. The global plague of COVID-19 teaches us that we are a small global village and that we are all interdependent under a supreme force that controls every detail in reality.

We are all in one harmonious natural system, connected in all its parts, and a person, due to his opposite selfish nature, repeatedly cuts the connecting threads between himself and others, thus violating the laws of nature and tearing human society away from the feeling of supreme power that surrounds us. The coronavirus is a reaction to humanity from harmonious nature, a kind of catalyst to close again the gap that has arisen between humanity and nature. Therefore, what we urgently need are positive bonds between us, in other words, the religion of love.

There is nothing wrong with the temporary tendency to return to the embrace of traditional religion, it contributes to our progress. First, it connects people and hints at the good found in unity. Although in the meantime it is a selfish connection, later it will be corrected to become altruistic. Secondly, religion reveals to believers their weakness in relation to the integral nature and leads to dependence on the Supreme Force.

Such a deep relationship does not conflict with any religious practice, custom or tradition, but accompanies them at once. The first Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, Baal HaSulam, wrote in The writings of the last generation, “In addition to ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’, each nation may pursue its own religion and traditions, and one shall not interfere with the other.” Because when you love, there is a place for everyone, for each and everyone. It is the greatest strength of any society.