If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last little while, it’s that very little is actually what it seems. Often something that seems like a random detail is actually there to distract us from something bigger (or something huge will be staged to create support for something that people would otherwise protest). Of course everyone knows that this happens all the time in politics, but I believe that it happens just as much so in religion (actually the political and religious illusions often seem to distract us from the same things, just using their own unique methods). There are various sorts of distractions in religion. One major type is “true doctrine,” beliefs that aren’t allowed to be questioned. Of course they are questioned, and debates occur and new denominations are formed (and heretics are persecuted in various ways). Meanwhile, in all the fighting for doctrinal purity, people miss out on what is really real and actually happening and not bothering to help change the things in the world that need changing.
Along the same lines, religious leaders (and certain scriptures) will often teach conflicting and contradictory beliefs (and often absurd stories and doctrines that logically can’t be true) and insist that we must believe all of them. This creates cognitive dissonance in a religion’s followers and induces compliance in them. Deep down they realize that what they have been told doesn’t seem to make sense, but they trust that their leaders (or the writers of their scriptures) must know what they are talking about and decide that if these things don’t make perfect sense then they must not be smart enough to think for themselves and that they’d better just continue blindly doing and believing what they’ve been told.
Another type of religious distraction is “morality.” Religious people are led to believe that God actually cares about things like what sorts of clothing you’re wearing or what you’re eating or drinking or whether certain synonyms come out of your mouth or whether you’ve watched a certain TV show or movie or read a certain book or had sex with a certain person or seen images of someone without clothing or whether you’re working on a particular day of the week or whether you’ve attended a particular religious service or participated in a particular religious practice, to name just a few of the many hundreds of examples I could give. Religious “morality” is particularly insidious because it causes those who live (or try to live) “moral” lives to think that they’re actually doing a good thing while keeping them distracted from what really matters.
Ultimately, religion is one of the biggest smoke and mirror games played by the powers that be (human or otherwise). It keeps people so distracted from reality that they end up thinking harmless things are evil and harmful actions are good. It asks people to persecute heretics, apostates and other infidels in the name of their religion or deity (sometimes just in small ways like marginalizing them, but all too often with more violent methods as well), and to ignore (and sometimes even look down upon) those who are hurting and need assistance. I don’t believe that any deity who was actually good would ask these things of us. Instead, I believe that any religion asking us to take these illusions seriously is a lie and should be carefully avoided.