All traditional religions, as well as science, secularism as a movement, and even consumerism have this in common: they are institutions of self-definition.
As a result of consciousness, the human self has one need which eclipses all others, and that is the need for meaningful self-definition. From the time when humans first learned to speak in sentences until relatively recently, this need was primarily met by the world’s religions.
Today, we have the Internet.
Seriously, though, traditional institutions of self-definition are breaking up, morphing, and changing at unprecedented rates, and the function they once served — for better or worse — is being taken up by new entities and less formal “institutions”, increasingly technologically mediated, but not necessarily well-equipped to handle the task, at least not by design.
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