Religion

        This is not about gods. There are no gods. The idea that a single sentient superbeing, or a holy coalition of sentient superbeings created and now supervise(s) the infinite and eternal universe is too absurd to talk about. OK? Forget gods, because there are no gods - PERIOD. If you want to waste your time arguing about how you think you know there is a god, or even about how you know there isn't, you waste your time on your own. I'm not going to help you waste it. This is about religion, not gods.

        Unfortunately, there IS religion, which is probably a genetic denial strategy, as deeply and hopelessly embedded as fear of death.

        About 15-20 years ago, a psychology prof at the University of California at San Diego (the kind of psychologist who studies the brain, not the kind who spins jargon) claimed he'd discovered a real, physical psychological defense mechanism in the human brain which he called a "denial bump" (a metaphor I assume).
        The professor explained that the purpose of the "bump" is to gloss over any unacceptable reality by inventing or embracing a more bearable and at least plausible enough alternative story. The examples he offered were (perhaps unconsciously, perhaps cunningly) perfect examples of his point, since they were all humorously bearable examples like "the dog ate my homework." But it was obvious that the best but most unmentionable (most deniable) example he was glossing over is religious myth, some version of which the denial mechanism in human brains inevitably spins to gloss over the single most unbearable fact in human experience - death.
        I assume that everyone with anything near 20/20 brain vision spends some time wondering how so many people can persuade themselves to believe and keep on believing anything as untenable as the god myth. But since well over 95% of the human race manages to bring off this seemingly impossible anti-intellectual feat, the motivation must be powerful. There's only one possibility, which I assume every respectable thinker has thought of. The motive has to be a probably genetic refusal to accept death. Most religious myths include an afterlife. And, for people too intelligent to swallow any of the silly heaven stories straight out, a delusion is also spun that truth cannot be known, so the silliness of the heaven story or the reincarnation story can't be inconveniently dismissed.
        So, though, to me, the best description of religion is that it's a damned nuisance for people with brains that actually work who are trying get other people to be sensible, since my purpose here is to accurately define a pervasive phenomenon historically uglier and socially more tragic than it is funny, I'll stipulate that:

Religion is:
        (1) a denial strategy
, probably genetically embedded in the human brain, a trait that has survived because it keeps mortal beings with a sense of immortality from going nuts;
       (2) a drug, like cocaine, alcohol, over-eating, loud music, or TV, for escaping reality by dulling the mind; and
       (3) an artificial extension of childhood, including an artificially eternal father (god) who watches over, punishes, and WILL take care of insecure humanity somehow, whether childlike humans can understand how or not.
       But also and maybe more importantly, religion is clearly:
       (4) a trick that insiders use to sucker the saps.

        Egyptian priests were early insiders who turned fact into fiction to strengthen their own reputations as magically all-knowing beings best not messed with or resisted. Having figured out or found out that, by watching the stars and the positions of sunrise and sunset on the horizon, they could tell when the Nile would rise, they made ostentatiously ceremonial predictions, undoubtedly including threats to withhold the event if the gods they represented weren't paid off.

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