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What are the underlying, universal fears present in humanity?

I believe that a lot or arguably all of our actions are dictated by fear in one sense or another. I want to better understand this and find a way to address and minimize those fears instilled in people. What do you think the underlying fears across all demographics and cultures are? For example, fear, loss, death, pain, the unknown?


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    Feb 26 2012: Hello Jordan! What a GREAT question! You know, every now & then (and sometimes even rarer than that) you run into a person that seems to give you the answer to questions no one else could. Well I ran into this person for a short time and he gave me an answer to your question that I will never forget. I fought the answer in my mind, but I lost. He said to me (and a bunch of other students) at the root of all fear for mankind is the reality of our unknown death (when/where/how/why). In addition to that, I also believe our fears come from the reality of knowing we are NOT in control of the "bigger picture" which includes death, but also the external occurrences (other people's issues, attitudes, responses that cause wars, deaths, job losses, hate and the likes) and internal occurrences (physical & mental ailments beyond our control) that render us helpless in our own lives as well as in the lives of those we love and care for.

    On a cultural level, I did a lot of studying of other civilizations during my undergraduate degree and found the anxieties about death and the reality of how in control we "really" are to be the same but expressed quite differently. I found religion (or a belief system) to be the most effective way, throughout all these civilizations and societies, to buffer these anxieties and fears in a way that helped people cope and continue.

    Sometimes I wonder how long humanity would have been here if we did not have the cognitive abilities to allow for belief systems?
    • Feb 26 2012: Hello Maranda! What a GREAT answer! That really ties together what I've been trying to get my head around. The idea of our unknown death has an integral role in developing all fears. All fearful actions and response are moving towards self preservation, which is something that would be innate.

      It could be argued that a huge pull for religion is its ability to help people deal with this fear. Seeing as there are so many people all looking for relief from these fears and belief systems have a way of relieving that fear. You're right as well, without the cognitive ability that allows to belief systems I don't think the humans would have been a very memorable species.
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      Feb 26 2012: Hi Maranda.
      I think you nailed it. The cure ?

      John 3:16-17 (NIV)
      [16] For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him

      Simple really

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        Feb 26 2012: Good afternoon Peter! During my focused study on the many wonderful civilizations and societies that have walked this beautiful Earth throughout time, I learned a lot about what was at the root of the whole of mankind in relation to fears, anxieties, desires, and needs. The motivations that kept that "root" alive were intricately constructed belief systems that were created in a way that “fit” each civilization and society. It is really amazing and wonderful to see how creative mankind is in his ability to “survive” something he knows so little about and has very little control of.

        Our belief systems give us a sense of control over the unknown (not necessarily our own control of a situation, but a sense that something is in control), whether it is science or religion, they both assist man overcome anxieties and fears and they are both needed for such.

        The measure of what we don't know, will ALWAYS outweigh the measure of what we think we know. If that doesn't humble us, what will?
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      Feb 26 2012: That´s why I say that every man (even an atheist man) has a little faith inside. Because faith, hope is what's left in the middle of our fears

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