RE: Imagine a world without religion?
It appears from the archeological record that humans have always had a primitive inclination to objectify the unknown. Early humans, when they witnessed a woman bleed but not die, must have been astonished at what they saw. Today, the marketing industry makes a fortune selling deodorant tampons. (If you can smell the perfume, you're too close!)
When a woman stopped bleeding and swelled round and then suffered and later produced a tiny squalling look alike to herself, the astonishment must have turned to awe of female power. Today, having evolved across the centuries, we live in a patriarchal world paradigm. Women, depending upon which cultural view we take on, relegated to the status of chattel, servants, expendable slaves, covered shame walking so many steps behind the male that controls her life in the name of Allah.
Archeologists have unearthed "goddess"figurines, showing women in various stages of being. From slim and shapely, to rotund, to pregnant, to even posed to hold a grooved animal horn in one hand, as if the marks on the bone symbolize the moon cycles her body undergoes. Figurines abound, honoring, copying the female form.
All projection of course, as primitive peoples left no known written account of what was meant by such figurines found in burial pits, who's walls were sometimes covered with red ocher, seeming to signify a recognition of the womb from whence the dead had arrived, and thus perhaps a symbol of rebirth into another world.
Only when we evolved into a consciously social civilization, did it appear we codified the experiential unto the dogmatic. Whereas before when thunder rumbled across the sky and beneath bare feet, it was thought a god must be angry. To the sea churning and drowning those who sought to fish for their dinner, and that a symbol of a sea goddess finding that hapless victim in her disfavor. From such experiences Thor was born, Sedna took shape. Even earth herself, had a name. Gaia.
And almost as a junket in our evolution, so to did our naivety, our superstitions, our ignorance of the natural realm fall away so that as we knew to build homes, cities, roads, governments, rules for living, so to did we codify the natural so that we'd be in control of that too. Suddenly Zeus had a temper, and required sacrifice at the marble temple erected to his honor. Virgins were committed in service, like unto today's Nuns, in Kemet or Egypt, to serve the great goddess Auset (Isis, from the Greek).
Eventually, as we became more and more self aware we became more and more self important. And we carried with us all those natural wonders, that we imagined were especially meaningful toward us, so that we made ourselves especially in control of how they should be attended, placated, appeased and revered for having been there all the time.
One has but to gaze in wide eyed wonder at the Hubble Telescope images, or venture to D.C. and watch Hubble in IMAX to have one's breath taken away by the magnificent awe inspiring beauty light years beyond our reach. To see galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, super nova, universes abound across the vast expanse of a domain we will never touch, and think back here on this tiny spec in a minuscule solar system, in a minor galaxy, our self-absorbed, limited intellects conceived of an invisible being created in our image and likeness, responsible for all of that! And yet, it takes special interest in focusing it's attention upon us especially, so as to serve as parent, police officer, and supreme Jurist. Bent on listening to our prayers, watching our mundane human behaviors, and concerning itself with how we obey it's will, that it inspired limited intelligence to write down and call, it's laws! And if we are found lacking, that power that manifest all that is was or shall be, will take special notice and make us pay for disappointing it!
We call it religion. But really all that is, is human ego stroking itself thinking there's only one way to be human, and we've all got it figured out when we can codify our ego's into ritual, dogma and doctrine. And build temples, churches and halls wherein the infinite is finitely constrained and loves us best.
Would people be better off without religion?
Or would religion be better off without people?