Nope,. i don't buy any of it. To me they are myths meant to answer questions that folks asked when they didn't understand their world. Organized religion was/is a tool to keep people in line. It comforts the old, scares the young, and in between gives answers to things that don't seem to have answers. All you have to do is have faith that this totally implausible answer IS the answer.
Since Christianity is most prevalent here and the religion to which i have most been exposed, my opinions stem from that.
Life sucks. It's hard. Bad things happen all the time. It gives comfort to believe that there is some sort of benevolent master plan to answer the unanswerable. Why did this baby have to die? Why are kids murdered? Why did this terrible catastrophe happen? Well, God has a plan, and you just have to trust it. What is it? Well, that isn't for us to know, but everything that happens is part of it. So take comfort that your child died of cancer at the age of 4. God has a plan.
This I cannot accept. there is no reason behind it, no logic, no thought, And the faithful would say that that's right, that is because we don't / can't know the plan.
Again, i can't accept that.
In the past a largely ignorant and barbaric population was given morals, and something of an education via religion. As a group people don't respond to "do this because it is the right thing to do." Human beings by and large don't give a **** what the right thing to do is, because the less we know, the more we are guided by instinct, and instinct leads animals to do things that are violent or otherwise anti-social in the name of survival. In the animal world, even social animals are social only in small groups and for the most part, VERY anti-social to outsiders. As are we. Territorial, and wary of those outside our clan (country, town, race, gender,, any number of ways to split the community. Right now in the world, most conflicts are occurring over religious differences. Clan vs Clan. )
Like most animals, to learn something big on a species-wide scale, we must be threatened. Threats force behavior change and are one of the primary reasons for any evolution. But threatening humans? Good luck. They've already seen it... as we climbed down from the trees and spread out across the earth humans saw death and horrors like being hunted, captured and eaten by other animals, all manner of hardship. As we began to band together for protection and became 'civilized' we brought war after war.. human history is extremely violent, and we are very creative in the ways we can inflict horror onto others,, often for no other reason than to do it., or to steal, or to conquer.. so as far as threats go, what can you threaten ancient humans with that they aren't already experiencing?
well, you need something that no one understands, and can't be proven in any way.. like, what happens after you die?
Now you can control people. Behave, and you get a reward that answers the most frightening and unknowable question of all. You live in the most wonderful paradise forever, surrounded by all those you love who passed before you.
Conversely, if you don't get in line, you go to a place that is the worst thing that can be imagined. Now in those days, what was more frightening than fire? Fire destroyed everything, could not be contained. It killed horribly, and those who survived could look like monsters to the eyes that saw their scars. It was used as a weapon but also occurred naturally without warning.
So hell is the most frightening thing, forever. (If we invented hell now, i don't know that it would be so elemental. we've conquered fire, we've conquered cold.)
No matter what the overall impression may be, as written, Hell can be interpreted to be the worst thing any person can imagine.
So this threat starts to civilize people, get them to behave somewhat, brings about morality. Then of course it is abused, and that is a whole other kettle of fish.
the whole thing seems very predictable, completely implausible. So, I don't buy it. Life is a natural phenomenon, where that 'spark of life' comes from, I don't know. But, "I don't know" does not mean there must be a God. It just means we haven't learned it yet.
Human beings have a desperate need to "mean something". As above, Life sucks.. it is hard to find purpose in many things that happen. To be meaningless, for none of it to be anything at all on a grand scale,, it's hard to comprehend. Your life and my life are a speck, a flash of an instant, on a little dot of rock and water that is inconsequential. that is hard for people to swallow. Vanity says we MUST mean something somewhere.. LIFE itself must mean something.. and in a way it does, but only to ourselves. But people need deeper meaning, because the thought of this life this entirety of being just IS and nothing else.. it's too much o bear. I MUST mean something. I am SO IMPORTANT to myself, that i must have importance beyond myself. (Think of life before you were born. It didn't exist for you. Literal oblivion. You only know it through stories. Now that you are alive, the thought of returning to that oblivion is VERY hard to accept. Life will go on, and you will miss it. In fact "YOU" won't exist at all. So we invent a soul, which is all of that which makes us an individual in a nice little package... and it won't have to go back to that oblivion. Very comforting. We no longer have to be frightened of non-existence.
Religion provides that for them. We're only children, after all, and because we don't understand the answers to life's great question "Why are we here".. we take faith and gain solace in the belief that the powerful being who guides all DOES have the answer.
I have to go to work.. may add on later.