What Psychological Purposes Does Religion Serve?

Revision 5
© 2012-2018 by Zack Smith. All rights reserved.

What is religion used for? A list.

False superiority, false pride

We have the special god-connection and prophet, not you, so we are better.

This is equivalent to a sports nut claiming that his team has the special superstar player, but in the case of religion it's an evidence-free boast about an imaginary god and charlatan (and possibly schizophrenic) prophet.

False authority

We have the right information and interpretation, not you.

Emphasis is placed on the importance of having the right beliefs, down to the tiniest detail, about the imaginary god and the World of Make-Believe that the religion constructs. This is at best mental masturbation but it can be used to wield fraudulent authority and therefore power over others.

It also also a claim that serves to distract followers away form the lack of proof that the god exists and to distract them from how irresponsible it is embrace the religion's make-believe worldview. Some people are natural followers and will follow anyone who claims to be an authority.

False wisdom

We read the special book, so we don't have to think any deeper.

Every religion must sprinkle its holy book with a little folksy wisdom. It is a requirement, in the way that every car must have four tires and seats -- because it won't sell well without it. Religion is largely an exercise in selling a bogus product, and the appearance of folksy wisdom give a believer the impression that there is more wisdom. But there is no there there.

It's a sham. The sheer bogosity of everything but the folksy wisdom else evaporates any whisp of wisdom.

Is it wise to believe made-up nonsense without asking for proof? No. Is it wise to believe fantastical claims made by long-dead total strangers who lived long ago? No.

False secret knowledge

We have the special knowledge, and everybody else is ignorant and stupid.

Religions give people a reason to think they have an inside secret about something important, and therefore they are somehow in the know or more insightful as a result. But it is an illusion built on air. It's a con.

A great many devious religious organizations train their believers to lie, cheat, and manipulate in order to spread the religion's baseless beliefs, because they believe that helping the religion and its leaders win is somehow important enough to lie and cheat for.

Hookwinking people can give religious liars a feeling of being empowered, important, and influential.

False history

Religions ask the religious person to learn detailed knowledge about his god(s) and prophet(s) that is typically either