I’ve been wondering about this for a while but now I think I’ve worked it out. Why do otherwise reasonable people get down on their knees and promise to worship and obey something that probably does not exist – or at least cannot be proven to exist, which is very close to the same thing, if you ask me. Why are we encouraged to kneel and mumble and ask for forgiveness and show how unworthy we are? Are there any useful, practical reason why religions exists, other than for squeezing money out of gullible people?
The answer is simple: we are being trained to accept power. Religion is easy to sell to people—life after death, your dreams coming true, miracles and all the rest of it—and once people get used to the idea of obeying and worshipping something that isn’t there, then it is so much easier to get them to worship something that is there. And what usually is there is a man, a leader, a king, a priest; anybody that stands in for God, somebody you should obey and respect just because they say so.
If we are trained in obeying without thought, then we will do as we are told more easily. It is no coincidence that most religions were, at one time or another, against education—they know that people who think for themselves are harder to control. I remember going to church in Ireland in the 80s, and the priest explained that people should not send their kids to university because then they start to question God. And few people raised an eyebrow(and neither did I, but didn’t give a shit what the old fart said because I only went to Church to buy comics afterwards).
So then, God is a surrogate for whatever leader comes along and claims to do things in his name. Leaders take this fear and respect and transfer it to themselves. To this very day the more brutal the leader, the more he claims to do things because God wants him to (communist countries aside, where the leader tend to become Gods themselves).
Great, now I’ve solved one of the great mysteries, I can sleep easy. And I must say that I am very glad to live in a society where I can simply go online and voice my opinion in this way without fear of getting arrested by the secret police and having my fingernails extracted with a pliers. But then again, Sweden is a secular society, and that is definitely one of the best things about it.
Figure 1 – From http://www.atheists-online.com