Benefits of the various Religion memes
One great use for religiosity memes, whether you personally believe in them or not, is the pacification of the populace.
If it weren't for religiosity, perhaps we'd have far more violent crimes, far more stealing and looting, far more infidelity and abortion, abandonment, abuse ... far fewer living grandmothers stretching their Social Security checks from month to month.
There definitely are people for whom religion is an upgrade, people who would otherwise be heartless predators, or just plain lost. If we didn't have religion, we'd have to invent it.
And it seems like people differ in the nature of their religion-receptors. Some people cry out for a One True Faith to lead them and guide them, something to put them at ease and replace despair with faith. Other people are more comfortable with ambiguity. Still other people couldn't care less about spirituality, regardless of the form.
So, maybe religions use visions of Heaven & Hell and One True Faith to keep their people in line ... but most of these people are thereby made harmless and somewhat altruistic. It benefits the powers-that-be to make most people more like non-violent sheep who render unto Caesar and render unto the Church.
Buddhism as it is typically interpreted in the United States doesn't bother with visions of an afterlife, it offers a life with less suffering right here, right now. And it also benefits the powers-that-be by producing people who are more accepting.
The various religions have been evolving for hundreds or thousands of years, and the most successful ones provide some sort of social contract -- happier lives for the little people, and less interference for the big people.
Occasionally, unfortunately, religions are also used as motivations for war.
It irks me when I see signs saying, "God Bless Our Troops" ... as though the enemy's troops are not worthy of a blessing. So much for Thou Shalt Not Kill, and Turn the Other Cheek. Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed, but the citizens of the dominant nations are not so willing to sacrifice themselves for any sort of international greater good ...
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