In the beginning, man created gods. That idea of a supreme power has fucked the world for centuries, and there is no end in sight. It must have been a way for the ancient people to explain their existence, why there were terrible storms, famines, and why their mothers and fathers died. Where do we go after we die? Imagining that an all-knowing savior (or group of saviors) was there to pick up after the mess of life was more comforting than accepting that (1) nobody knows or will ever know what happens after death, and (2) that is a scary fucking prospect to face on a daily basis, given it is the one thing every living soul on the planet has in common.
Of course, back in the day, there was not just one civilization asking these questions. Peoples the world over had the same concerns, so they made up their own assuaging bedtime stories to pass down through the generations. Some of the more practical groups worshipped ethereal bodies that they could actually see in the sky. Constellations, the Sun, and I’m pretty sure the moon as well.
The Greeks had their gods, and the Romans followed suit. The Hindus have their millions, the Jews have the one, and so on. So many of these stories are intertwined, or have similar themes. Which deity was born to a virgin? How many creation stories are there? Exactly how many floods were there? Which book is the holiest?
So then there was some stuff that happened after that, but the bottom line is that the more egomaniacal religions waged wars on foreign religions. And the funny, or I guess ironic, thing is that peace and tolerance seem to be an important tenet of the major religions.
Given that the only people who were taught to read were living/working within the religion and that the literate have a higher influential standing than do the illiterate, the religious zealots were more capable of controlling the masses. It should be no surprise that they used their ideology of choice to do so. Religion is a very useful tool in that sense.
That power the literate had over the ignorant still stands today. We all can’t be educated and self-actualized, just like we all can’t be astronauts. I’m not so sure why this is. The leaders are too greedy? There are too many to teach? Religion is so imbedded in the masses’ minds that they couldn’t depart from it, even in the face of reason?
Maybe it’s all of these things. It would be too time-consuming, too dangerous, too fruitless to open, or try to open, the eyes of the ignorant to knowledge.
And that’s a damn shame.