So, if the naysayers can leave out answers like “superstition” or “because they’re mindless followers” or “a 2,000 year old fairy tale tells them so,” why do people go to church?
There are a multitude of spiritual and/or religious (the two do not always overlap but of course often do) reasons why people attend Sunday services, of Mass, or Saturday night musical services or whatever else. It can be habit, it can be fear of damnation, it can be validation for their beliefs, a desire to be with like-minded people in a communal setting, or a lot of other things.
For me, it is about lifting my Spirit. Note the big “S.” It will be important later.
There once was a time I went to church to be edified and to learn more about faith and service in God’s name. Not so much anymore. I still get bits of new information here and there, particularly when the reverend knows ancient Greek and/or Hebrew and can actually put the passages into their real meaning and context instead of what they’ve been twisted into via a multitude of translations (and dulled meanings often lead leaders of congregations astray or allow them to lead congregants astray, but I’m getting off track).
Anyway, education isn’t my primary reason for church and hasn’t been for a long time. I’ve moved on to spiritual exploration and contemplation of the divine nature more than worrying about Bible specifics.
And so the reason I go to church, and I know many faithful have the same goal, is to lift up my Spirit.
There are many ways I can lift my spirits, but there are very few ways I can lift up and nourish my Spirit.
My Spirit, that divinely attuned part of me (or any of us, if we choose to nourish and listen to it) needs stimulation. Church services are the best way to do that in a community setting, so that I can connect with people, have group companionship and celebration, and lift my Spirit.
Certainly, other things can lift my Spirit (or my little “S” spirits for that matter): being out in nature, listening to good music, meditation/prayer, or viewing art.
(And I can’t help but note that such things are those that most closely align to unique human characteristics like abstract creativity and/or things that put one closer to the treasures of the Earth.)
These things don’t always move me to the point where they will lift my Spirit. Frankly, going to church doesn’t always do the job either. But it’s the best place to do so among other people in an atmosphere of celebration.
And yes, I know that many churches are more interested in pointing fingers, or finding scapegoats, or preaching the damnation of heathen, or fleecing people to get their money. But many churches are interested in lifting the Spirit, and I go to one of them.
It is, I think, one of the best reasons to go to church, and it would be my hope that fewer of the faithful will deal in legalisms of the Bible, or judgments of others, and find that path that leads toward encouraging people’s nourishment of their Spirit.