Just musing, but I've recently got to wondering how religions start up, and I've asked myself if it was because its difficult to get young men to allow themselves to die in battle for their leaders, without an afterlife/deity safety net in place. Of course, we all know there are plenty of atheists in foxholes nowadays, but in early society, we wouldn't have had the values-driven reasons for fighting eachother that we have today.

Haven't thought about it too much, just throwing it up for discussion really...

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My opinion is that belief in gods initially started with the same impulse that drives science--the desire to understand how the world works. Only after they had been established in the collective psyche did some slick proto-con artists figure out how to manipulate the belief to their advantage.

I could be completely incorrect there, but that's how I've always figured it.
Hope you don't mind but I'm going to link to a fable I once wrote...
I threw together a hypothesis about this. In my opinion it relates to the human tendency to personify our environment. I just started a thread about it; I'd love to get everyone's thoughts on the matter.

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