For thousands of years, religion has been a dominant force in human society. History does not record anywhere and at any time of a religion that has any rational basis. The greatest vicissitude of things among men is the vicissitude of sects and religions. All religions, with their gods, demigods, prophets, messiahs and saints, are the product of the fancy and credulity of men who had not reached the full development and complete possession of their intellectual powers. They focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which resulted in a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
Record of exploitations
Religion encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience. Religious persecution down the ages has been done under what is claimed to be the command of God. God is always associated with those things that we do not understand. Criticism of religion is discouraged and stifled. It remains socially unacceptable to point out the main objections which sceptics and freethinkers have about religion.
History is replete with recorded abuses and savageries of organised religion when it comes to power. Live burials, beatings, burnings, cannibalism, buying and selling of human beings, and the chopping off of heads, hands, feet, ears and plucking out of eyes all fill the pages of the Holy Books. Human sacrifices to appease the gods. The Crusades. The Inquisition. The suppression and the execution of millions of women. Pogroms against Jews. The Holocaust. Jonestown, Guyana.
Believers are indoctrinated to ignore the bloody history of religion, and to pay effusive lip service to belief in God and God's holy representatives on earth. Ordained ministers and priests are “men of God,” “God's holy instruments,” a race apart, anointed. It is no wonder that these men who wish to misuse power and betray trust are in a unique position to do so. Newspapers are full of reports of financial exploitation, sexual transgressions, the criminal and sexual abuse of children, and women by these ordained men.
Havelock Ellis wrote: “In all countries, religion or superstition is closely related with crime.” Religious doctrine encourages power inequities toward women and children, and such inequities invariably lead to abuse. “The primary epiphenomena of any religion's foundation are the production and flourishment of hypocrisy, megalomania and psychopathy, and the first casualties of a religion's establishment are the intentions of its founder.”- Emily Brontë.
It is reason not imagination, that determines what is probable and what is not. A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary.
We no longer need to be threatened with eternal torture or tempted by eternal bliss in order to form a civilised society.
Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. Like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.