Dependence on religion arises from the spiritual needs of man, such as his need to believe in or to worship transcendent beings. Religion is a means to satisfy these needs within a structured orthodoxy, as apposed to mysticism which is abstract and unstructured, and even condemned by certain religious. Also, because of the inadequacy of pure materialism to satisfy man's need for spirituality and his idea of a 'better life', many people depend on religion as on a device whereby the injustice of the existing materialist social order is made tolerable to them.
Religion can also be a process addiction, with particular stress on the "quick fix" religions, those that avoid thoughtful prayer, meditation and dialogue, and claim to have all the answers. The religious addict is very different, inside and out, from the person who is involved in spiritual growth. The religious addict loses touch with personal values and develops behaviours that are the same as those of the alcoholic or drug addict – judgmentalism, dishonesty and control. Use moves into abuse.
The worldwide Islamic fundamentalist revival demonstrates more powerfully than any other trend in today's world the overwhelming power of religion to mobilize masses of people. No nonreligious movement in modern history has demonstrated its strength or ability to change mass behaviour. There is no parallel experience in contemporary Western civilization.
Religious and other beliefs, such as witchcraft, contribute to the apparent conservatism of rural dwellers and often put a brake on progress. It is in religion that most farmers seek explanation for non-rational and rational behaviour. Apart from these, religious observances, such as not working on certain days and aversion to certain meats and types of food, impede productivity, production of cash-yielding products and use of nutritious foods.
The most fundamental modern error is that of imagining that man's natural sense of religion is nothing more than the outcome of feeling or fantasy, to be eradicated from his soul as an anachronism and an obstacle to human progress. And yet this very need for religion reveals a man for what he is: a being created by God and tending always toward God. As we read in St. Augustine: "Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts can find no rest until they rest in you." The most perniciously typical aspect of the modern era consists in the absurd attempt to reconstruct a solid and fruitful temporal order divorced from God, who is, in fact, the only foundation on which it can endure. In seeking to enhance man's greatness, men fondly imagine that they can do so by drying up the source from which that greatness springs and from which it is nourished. They want, that is, to restrain and, if possible, to eliminate the soul's upward surge toward God. But today's experience of so much disillusionment and bloodshed only goes to confirm those words of Scripture: "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." (Papal Encyclical, Mater et Magistra, 15 May 1961).