Sure, love sounds great. It’s all warm and fuzzy. It’s puppy dogs and LOL kittays. But it will never, ever be able to compete with it’s hulking twin brother, fear. And we can blame our biology for that.
Consider this: when we need to prioritize decisions, which tendency would lead to a better chance of survival? Responding immediately to fear or responding immediately to promises of love? It’s not a no brainer. It’s a reptilian brainer. It’s easy to see how natural selection favored the survival of primates (and plenty of other organisms) that ran first and asked questions later.
Which brings us to where we are today. Atheists, agnostics, pacifists, Jainists and any other “new age” spiritualists trying to win over theists by preaching peace, love and balancing your chakras are on the wrong side of evolution. Yes, love should be our primary motivator. And hate should make you break out in boils. But until our peace activists start realizing the nature of their enemy, they’re going to keep losing.
The only way to beat fear is to replace it with a bigger one. Religions have done this masterfully. At first, we humans witnessed death. And that was scary. “Oh, crap. So we just turn off? Man, that sucks.” And for tens of thousands of years, that was as scary as it got. But then along came religion, which made that old fear sound like paradise. “Turn off? Oh, no, my brother. Your entrails are ripped from your flesh every day and gnawed on by syphilitic demons with bad breath. For e-fucking-ternity.”
Old fear loses to new-and-improved fear. Religion wins.
Today, the best ammunition that nontheists have is social fear – the fear that, if I happen to say something ridiculous, I will become a social outcast. It’s a good tool, and it helps shut people up about saying all sorts of things out of fear of losing their jobs, friends, spouses, etc. But the fear of becoming a pariah may not be strong enough to fight the fear of eternal torment.
The Dalai Lama is going to have to do more than be the Richard Simmons of the peace movement to overcome the power of fear. He, and those who admire him, are going to have to find another rose with sharper thorns.