Man's mind is irrational at times and while we are rational in how respond to fear the response to the fear of alienation was the irrational with the manifestation in the mind of man of religion. You are stung by a wasp and what do you do? You swat it with a paper or you avoid it for a few minutes, you do not come after the wasp with a flame thrower and seek to smash the hive and set it on fire. Religion is a lot like that, our fears of alienation played on our minds and the response was to invent religion - the flame thrower on the wasp hive. That is not to say the religion does not have a role to play in society, it can act as a glue to bind those whom are being oppressed. Bedouins being a nomadic people were those often living in the desert and were often people of a modest disposition in contrast to towns people whom would trade and live off the profits they made from trading. Under a prophet the Bedouins were united in their fight against oppression and as such there becomes a vicious cycle with a correlation between religion and economic gain.
Past History however has shown that religion grew too big for its boots and inevitably became a focus for past rulers to seal their rule with an iron fist. An unruly people require great resources in order to be ruled so man power is not exactly available but the next best thing is that of dieties, the rules of the gods that browbeat society into a particular way of thinking and seek out a malleable populace to conform to their way of thinking and via cognitive dissonasance then other people follow likewise influencing others via their peers or their family. Hammurabi of Sumer was the first ancient king to realise the value of religion from researching this topic. Through his codes he ruled with people never questioning his authority lest they be judged by the gods whom they believed in
Modern day Ireland is getting used to the last vestiges of the RCC looking to obtain control via proxy organisations and others acting in the name of god. Recent calls for abortion were met with a reaction from 15,000 pro lifers bussed down by parish churches and money spent by religious organisations to ensure that they are still on control of the country. Having seen their definition of the family undermined by the potential legalisation of same sex marriage, the Iona institute launched a campaign to keep the definition of the famiy as per Bunreacht na h-Eireann arguing that such a change would inevitably impact on the development of the child. The extent of religious control does not extend just to that of social policy and research has touched upon it as a tool for the control of wealth to benefit the bourgoise in society where the vast majority of wealth lays.Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.
Frederick Solt from the University of Illinois looked at the use of religion as a tool to keep the poor as exactly as they are, poor. His research took into account the correlation between religiosity of those whom were rich and those whom were poor. They labelled this theory as the 'Relative Power Theory'. Their conclusions were that religion takes the place of materialism in their lives and the priveleges of the rich are kept intact. Which brings us back to the whole vicious circile that we mentioned earlier in the post.
Research by Pippa Norris, at Harvard University, and Ronald Ingelhart, at the University of Michigan looked at modernisation and its affects and they came to a conclusion which some people will agree with. The less people have the more likely they are to turn to religion as they see financial security as the replacement for this and are turning their backs on religion. Europe has a low level of believers in place of the USA where there is no welfare model as we have in Europe so people will not believe in a god in Ireland but are more likely in America.
Not a comforting thought, you are either financially secure or are more than likely religious but its rare we find both and the poorer you are the more religious you may become, a cog in the machine of that religion . Doing as you are told for fear of ending up in hell which is if you are poor, where you may very well be......