I would like to know some views as to what the religious really want to achieve, and what drives them. It is easy to assume that the flock is caught up in group-think (or no thinking at all), but can it really be that simple? I have basically two concerns about the religious, and these essentially relate to their embracing of ignorance and bad science. First, I don't want them to implement a theocracy and influence laws which limit my freedoms or impose their views on secular society. A theocray would also be a disaster because there are so many competing religions, and all but one would be losers in that game. Second, I feel they are damaging those within their own camp who might otherwise become productive citizens. There might be a very sharp boy or girl out there with the potential to solve some real problems in this world, and if that child is effectively locked into a repressive cage, that is abuse of the child, society at large, and me as an individual.

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The 'church' was developed to do only two things: amass wealth, and control people. That's all it does. There is, as you know, absolutely no evidence of a supernatural anything, much less a, jealous, hateful, dictatorial, inept, incompetent god. How horrible would it be (quoting Christopher Hitchens) to have a celestial dictator watching your every move, every thought, who cared what you ate, went to bed with, and how, etc. and when you died, the real fun began". "We all are Atheists about Zeus, Isis, etc. lets just take it one God further and be done with it". The only way out of this mental abyss is education. That is an infinitely slow process, but it can be done. A first step is Dawkin's push to "Come out of the closet", along with other Gays and Atheists. Stop being ashamed to say who you are, be proud, speak out.
What you say makes a lot of sense, and perhaps it could be reduced to just your first reason. I say that under the assumption that having control over people would not be a very satisfying end in itself. In the case of the church, the controlling supports and perpetuates the wealth-amassing. But I am obviously over-simplifying, as no doubt there are other motives around controlling behavior that I don't understand. My personal theory is that the leaders of the churches are themselves nonbelievers and incredibly good opportunists. A relative of mine once asked a nun about her beliefs and her doubts, and the nun honestly stated that she as well as many others in the church hierarchy didn't really believe in a god, but that acknowledging that fact would bring down the whole house of cards.

"My personal theory is that the leaders of the churches are themselves nonbelievers and incredibly good opportunists."

How eerie. That's exactly my suspicion as well. I doubt that all of them can be painted with the same brush. Some may well be deluded, some may be Macchiavelian nontheists who care only about power. Some may have a cynical thought process that, even if there is no god, "the people" need rules to follow.

I am not as certain as FOD about the simplicity. Religion is also a form of mass intoxication. Marx (opiate of the people) had a point about religion (regardless of the political part).

Psycologically, religion reinforces beleif systems, so people don't have to think. It gives them security, community, family. It makes them feel special. It maintains a childish state of dependency, on a priests, ministers, popes, whatever.

I think that human beings have a genetic predisposition to religion. It's probably related to our tendency for socialization, nurturing, survival, and aspects of temperament. I'm not saying that there is a 'religion gene', but rather a collection of genetic traits that supports the development of religion. That collection of traits was reinforced by thousands of years of killing off renegade nonbeleivers. Just as we genetically domesticated animals, we also domesticated humans. Also, these are not absolute traits, otherwise we would not change from beleiver to nonbeleiver.

Them's my WAGs (wild-assed guesses).




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