Survival is predicated on Prejudice. Free thought is risky.
In the diversity of creation, where there are natural foes and neutral entities, every being seeks safety of the known. Known ally is that which conforms.
Deviance is enmity. When society seeks order – it really seeks a “conformity” in a set of prejudices (which are pre-determined result-to-action rules). Enforcing “a” set of rules is predicated on power of the core of the group.
Groups and herds help in creating strength through numbers. Tenacity of the herd is brought about by “purpose”. Purpose requires rules, morals and laws. Laws of a group, which provide cohesion, however temporary. Actions outside of those laws – deviance – are punished. Crime is deviation from the collective edict.
Strength of laws come from legitimacy. Legitimacy comes from power. Power of a Tyrant. Power of an Elder. Power of a “Higher” being. Tyrant can be defeated. Elder may not be respected. But an invisible power of folk-lore brooks little revolt. God, therefore, is a perfect insurance against deviance and for conformity.
God fulfilled the role of a Higher “legitimate” power that could be installed on the pedestal from which certain group members could create laws on “His” behalf. Claims were made. Visions promised. Stories weaved of magic and miracle arousing wonder and awe. Once the picture of the Power of law was larger than life, it became an instrument of perpetuating prejudice.
Instinct for survival created the need for a God in man’s own image. Then God became the source of rules of “opting in and out” of a group. Opt-in rules were morals. Opt-out rules became crimes.
God was man’s mirror – schizophrenic, short tempered, benevolent, loving the way humans loved. Just more powerful, invisible and legitimate.
God’s morals are implemented through the power of majority. Majority is defined by conformity. If those in majority can be “converted” over to the minority by some initiation methodology and allowed to be felt “special” and thus use that power to discriminate against those who remain “different”, then conformity and thus survival could be “bought” or worse “won”! Religious legitimacy by power of majority became a political game at best and abuse of vanquished at its worse!
The business of majority creation through forced conformity is an especially successful venture. Nation-hood, citizenship, conversion, initiation, memberships, test and exams, are some of the tools in this business. The run to change and bring in new conformists goes on…
“until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
whether this one was that one or that one was this one
or which one was what one… or what one was who.”
Humans would have been lucky if our scale of differentiation and conformity were only one-dimensional like the Sneetches [The Sneetches and Other Stories is by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)].
Dealing with the leagues of Sylvester McMonkey McBean would have been easier. But the humans, unlike Sneetches, were multi-dimensional and multi-intentional. Power over a group of complex creatures is far more satisfying than over simple ones.
To enforce conformity and eschew social deviance, vocabulary was used to segregate one action from another. Conforming actions were “Good”, Deviance was “Bad”. On the foundation of this duality, an edifice of Religion, Morals and God thrived.
God thus became the Legislator (creates law), Executive (enforces law) and the Judiciary (interprets law) ….. doing all in absentia!
Since an imaginary entity cannot award tangible and instant judgments and sentences, innovative ways to link actions to their consequences were created. Moral equations were constructed.
God thus became the power to oversee of the Good and Bad actions, an absentee one nevertheless, and pronounce judgments based on esoteric laws. Laws, that were mere extension of a group’s collective prejudice.
First, God was a “He”, since men held power. Then, this He was not only the “Original Creator” but also fantastically an all knowing, all powerful, all watching, all present but somehow for some strange reason prejudiced in favor of ONLY the group which conjured it up. Farce was mind-boggling, but a rather successful franchise.
Books were written on how a set of actions could be undertaken to ensure positive outcomes. Attempts to decide the entire destiny / future of mankind were undertaken using few, static and prejudiced moral maps. Generations have spent their entire lives waiting to be judged by a God, that was a man-made entity.