I give religion a hard time, not because of the general supernatural claims but for the socio-political inferences which they imply/impose. Obviously, there is no god or heaven and, no, you don’t have a soul. Sorry, but it’s self-evident. And I think that truth makes this life all the more special, whereas a ‘life beyond this life’ cheapens the whole thing.
However, when making these points I sometimes get “help” from a neo-atheist of the Dawkins/Harris persuasion: which means, dipshits who haven't learned to reason on their own so they just spit out flat, non-sequenced, memes. They are the equivalent of those irritating weirdos who show up to every public gathering (including religious ones) holding a John 3:16 sign.
A prime example of this kind of dipshitery is the ill-thought-out zinger, “all religions are man made.”
What, the f**k, is that even supposed to mean?
Really, come on. Of course all religions are man made. So are clothes, light bulbs, engineering, airplanes, electrical grids, rockets and earth-orbiting satellites.
Legal systems, cities, languages and the toothbrush are also man made.
Religions are not only man made, but they are made by the best -highest educated- men in societies.
Do you new-atheists even understand that the pejorative, “pagan”, was applied, by the educated, to the uneducated redneck rubes that resided outside of the great cities within the Roman Empire because they refused to become Christians?
Do you understand that Christianity was the social system embraced by the urbane, highly educated, well traveled cosmopolitan, circa Late Antiquity?
Religions don’t simply try to makes sense of the world. They are an attempt to make *applicable* sense of the world. Because societies are highly complex, infinitely fragile, ever moving, organic systems. They can swing from paradise to hell with the slightest shift in the wind. And they can collapse with a lightning speed that leaves the most astute and perceptive seer frozen like a deer in the headlights of a rapidly approaching semi tractor trailer.
“Because God”, is an attempt to defer chaos and collapse. Just stop and consider: a major social issue divides a society. Each side rages. One side or the other rejects the authority of the local courts, then the congress, then the president (or king), then the supreme court.
The theologian’s pontifications are rejected. The philosophers fail to persuade all. Ditto scientists, professors, politicians and street sages.
There is no arbiter. No final authority with the universally recognized authenticity to say yea or nay.
So the society collapses into anarchy and chaos. Rivers of blood and mountains of fire follow.
The only preventative solution is a tyrant.
And the necessarily perfunctory choice then is, a human tyrant or a divine one.
Most go with the human tyrant in the short term, then choose the divine one after decades of exhaustive war and bondage.
And the historical record tends towards the conclusion that the human tyrant draws more blood and extracts more tears than the divine one. Or, at the least, the divine tyrant tends to hold sway during more harmonious and productive phases of civilization, while the human tyrant tends to rule during times of chaos and greater misery
Fundamental societal crises are ALWAYS driven by raw emotions, not calm, reflective, reasoning. Add to it the fuel of hunger, cold, resentment and basic necessity and see how far snarky commentary or “expert consensus” gets you.
Human societies are like an ocean. Civilizations are ships. Religions argue to the crew that there is a harbor, somewhere, to encourage sobriety among the crew, alertness to the danger of pirates and a sense of duty among the officers to prevent the ship from drifting into reefs.
You can argue the details (doctrines), but to dismiss the fundamental structure in its purpose is base ignorance. It's there, and always will be.
Today, "social justice", "equality" and "democracy" are preached with fundamentalist zeal by radical ideologues who fan out across the globe like self-righteous crusaders and witch-burners of old. The road to paradise is called "progress", "sin" is racism or discrimination, heaven is tomorrow and hell is the past.
I suspect that what makes new-atheists, new atheists, is a lack of classical education or even a basic reflective impulse. They take the comfort and safety of the civilization they’ve known for granted. They never consider how and why this society works and when it will collapse and what will be the trigger. Actually, a lot of modern christians suffer the same deficiency.
So yes, religions are man made. They represent one of the greatest achievements of man, alongside the splitting of the atom.
And yes, that final comparison carries with it appropriate implications. But that’s a topic for another day.