Religion has been called "the opiate of the masses," and despite the fact that the quote comes from Karl Marx who was wrong about everything else, he got this one right.
You see, when monkeys developed sufficiently large enough braincases, they suddenly were able to grasp the concept that they would one day die. This was not something that the monkeys were very keen on, and so they immediately set about imagining scenarios in which this evident truth would be anything but. Religion is, therefore, a way for monkeys to deal with the pain of knowing that they will die, much like other monkeys use drugs and alcohol to accomplish the same task.
The problem with all this is that not all monkeys get along equally well, and they could not accept that everyone would get to have a glorious afterlife, so they invented everlasting punishment for the monkeys they didn't like, referring to them as sinners. Sinners are in Satan's grasp.
The problem with this, of course, is that the monkeys consigned to everlasting punishment by their brethren were busy creating their own schemes of eternal bliss and damnation to inflict upon the other monkeys, and thus was war born.
Another reason religion was invented was to control the behavior of stupid people. For instance, if an old and fat guy told you you couldn't have lots and lots of sex with whoever you wanted because he was jealous of your youthful vibrance, you'd probably laugh him off (and maybe punch him in the face). But if he convinces you there's an invisible, omnipotent deity who agrees with him and who will punish you, then he can control you completely. Seriously, priests are just creepy manipulative old people. Religion, encyclopedia of stupid.
May 11 2006, 1:45 am