Fear, Amygdala and Religion

If we analyze closely, we’ll find that the deep rooted reasons for Humanity are based on Fear. Fear that someone will hurt me or us and in order to save ourselves from getting hurt, we started rolling out some rules and procedures of how to live on this planet. People don’t hurt others because they don’t like to get hurt in return. This very basic Fear became the starting point for the evolution of Humanity.


There must have been time when controlling mankind without any organized set of rules should have been almost next to impossible. Life must have been really tough during those days and the urge to establish rules so that everyone can live happily must have been quite important to people. Somehow, we knew that if there is anything that can be used to control people it has to be the Fear …

Psychologists believe that Religion is a product of Fear, we install the fear of an invisible force living somewhere up there in order to control people and make them answerable for their actions. This fear system could not be completed without the concept of Punishment and Reward, hence we invented the concept of Hell and Heaven. The whole system is based on Fear.

Amygdala is the considered as part of the brain (for all animals and not just humans) that controls our Emotions and Fear. The Amygdala manages connections and responses between several regions of the brain. It’s directly involved with emotional well-being, the fight-or-flight response and fear conditioning. A recent study suggests that the Amygdala also plays a role in the complexity of social life.

Activating the Amygdala in a positive way stimulates higher order mental processes. This can improve creativity and intelligence while elevating positive emotions. I’ll describe some exercises to promote this response in just a bit.

The Amygdala also processes feelings on the opposite end of the spectrum. We receive “bad feedback” whenever we perceive something as negative. It causes a strong emotional response that often leads to instinctual reactions. The emotional feedback is a good thing because it’s quite useful. It lets us know when we are consciously creating a desired outcome or just reacting.

There has been several research studies where we noticed that the behavior of Animals change significantly by stimulating their Amygdala. One particular study noticed a completely Fearless Behavior among some monkeys when their Amygdala was removed.

Apparently, the Fear living inside us can be controlled and we can train our brain to react differently towards certain Fears that we receive as part of the Social Indoctrination since our childhood. We can choose to stimulate the Amygdala forward, turning on the reward centers for positive emotions. When the Amygdala is stimulated forward it’s sending signals to the frontal lobes. This is where the brain handles cognitive functions such as long-term decision making and appropriate social actions. These functions can play a major role in determining levels of success and happiness. When the Amygdala signals backwards it’s inducing a fear response. It is a state handled by the lower level reptilian brain, responsible for base instincts. Needless to say, thinking motivated by this part of the brain is not well suited for modern society.

Question is that can Religion (and more importantly Organized Religion) survive without this Fear System ?


2 thoughts on “Fear, Amygdala and Religion

  1. Succinct. Quite agree that fear is the basis of religion. Atleast organised and sociological religion as we know it today. The problem is that there has to be something to counter the fear. If religion is discarded, a new mechanism that will allow the brain to cope with its primal fears.

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