Who among us would like to survive their own death? The design of charismatic rituals and rites that enthrall the senses, inhibit doubt and appeal to ambrosial aspirations in people give them — albeit unsatisfying — an answer to this question. Religions around the world, although steeped in logical fallacy, convince millions that they correctly interpret God's word. This sort of blind faith fosters racism, fanaticism, sexual aversion and most importantly, intellectual stagnation. What's there to consider when divinity defines ethics for us? Does this institution assist in the progression of morality? I tend to doubt it.
How many religious individuals do you know who continually question their faith? Not to say there aren't any, but in my experience, not enough take the time to re-examine whether their presupposed beliefs stand up to logical reasoning. For example: If God is omnipotent then can he, by the power of his own will, change his future mind? This classic argument shows the implausibility of a conceptually perfect entity. Why would God need to create a universe in the first place? If defined by Abrahamic terms as a soul-sorting construction, the earlier postulation of God's omniscience again fails, as he already knows good souls from bad.
Such reason seems lost on theistic ears, dejected in favor of text written thousands of years ago. Despite having different contextual and historical significance, there exist avid religious fundamentalists who use the Bible and Quran to justify anti-semitism, homophobia and prolific ethical superiority. Make no mistake; I'm not painting all religious people with a fundamentalist brush. I do, however, believe that an institution so critically flawed in logic transforms already unintelligent individuals into demagogues. Death and suffering around the world carried out in the name of God fails to justify religion as a viable enterprise, especially when it deludes and detracts from otherwise intuitive persons.
Karl Marx's description of religion as an opiate of the masses' is profoundly appropriate. Religion has continued to hold a grip over human affairs since society began. After the fall of god(s) and its civilized support system came the rise of yet another. Just as the caveman worshipped fire, the Greeks honored to Zeus and Christians deify Jesus; time creates and destroys theological identity. Should the human race survive another millennium, what new beliefs will arise? Perhaps as technology continues to advance, we will adulate our own ingenious pursuit of pragmatic perfectionism, whatever that may be.
If religion weren't counterproductive enough, it also serves to substantiate dangerous moral claims on the basis of some higher 'authority.' It is quite typical for religious institutions to claim special knowledge of absolute morality, generally hindering their brethren from debates regarding stem-cell research, voluntary euthanasia and abortion. Deontological moral reasoning, notably that of the Christian persuasion, unintentionally create weak moral fiber in its practitioners. Confession and prayer allow a seemingly infinite opportunity to claim pardon for moral egregiousness. Should the weight of a bad conscience and a few Hail Maries dilute personal responsibility? As a humanist and an atheist, I see this method as critically flawed.
Perhaps the existence of God, on which all religions base their foundation, isn't a question of some metaphysical being. As our genes evolved and natural selection took its course, human beings became sentient beings. With this consciousness, this ability to reflect and think critically came a myriad of potential choices which we all exercise every second of our lives. In quantum theory, any physical system remains in a superposed state of endless possibility until it interacts with the mind of an observer. As contact is made, all of these possibilities collapse into one actuality. If one takes this view of God, then God is indefinable. She is pregnant with possibility and the freedom whereby sentient choice dictates the actualization of a singular potential. Free will. A more human construction could not exist.
Religion, pure and simple, is groupthink at its worst. The mass monopolization of people's hopes and fears coagulate into different indoctrinate directives. It doesn't matter what you believe, you're being swindled; robbed of rationality, precluded from choice, and contracted by apparition. Another soul saved, another mind lost.