The world is scary. It's especially scary to little kids and those who don't understand the capriciousness of natural phenomena -- like our primitive primate ancestors. When one feels vulnerable and powerless, it's easy to feel terror.
What's out there in the dark, thinking I look delicious? What's under the bed or out there in the darkness where I can't see it? Is that mean person who used to give me the willy's really dead, or is he/she still out there invisibly, waiting to pounce on me? What was that noise?
I remember one time when our parents were gone for part of the evening -- the only time I remember when they briefly left us alone in the house at night for some reason I don't recall. The night was cold, and the old house started creaking and popping as the timbers adjusted to the cold. I was terrified at those strange noises and didn't rest until my parents came back. Then, I slept soundly, content that my protectors were there.
Primitive peoples were a lot like little kids surrounded by a dangerous and awe-inspiring world that was hard to fathom. They just knew they were vulnerable and they sought any source of comfort and assurance they could find.
Nothing was totally secure, whether the stone cave or the somewhat secure hut they lived in. There was the "big bad wolf" -- or worse -- the storm and the flood, any number of disastrous possibilities.
The simplest mistake could have disastrous implications. That's never totally changed, but most rational people don't see supernatural implications in every mishap. Our superstitious ancestors did. Their world was filled with fairies, nymphs, trolls, gods and demi-gods. Everything had supernatural overtones and it didn't take long for the shamans to capitalize on that fact. Frightened people are easy to manipulate and the protection rackets were quick to manifest. Just a little prognostication and fear mongering with magic spells, amulets, etc. added kept them in an exalted state among the population.
Imagination ran wild and was soon orally codified and later written down to make it seem even more authoritative. "The book," whatever it was called, became the final authority to which the priests could refer and the supertitious populace would fall in line. Whatever the book said, or was interpreted to say, became the infallible guide and the older it got, the more authority it accumulated.
If the book promised life after death, that was accepted as reality. If it promised punishment for not falling in line with what the priests demanded, everybody trembled at the assurance that such would surely come to pass if they didn't toe the line.
Fear is a great motivator, and there was one thing everybody had experienced in some way -- the terrible pain of burns. Fire had been a great tool ever since people figured out how to create and use it but it had two faces. Out of control, it was horrific in its effects. It could cause unimaginable pain and scars and a screaming, terrible death.
It didn't take long for the religious authorities to capitalize on that fear. They assured everybody that if they thought getting physically burned was bad, it was nothing compared with the horrible flames their god had in store for them in the coming afterlife if they didn't kiss his and their behinds properly.
We recoil in horror when we hear stories of how people sometimes torture other people. We want to see such human monsters punished and locked away or executed so they can't inflict such terrible suffering on anyone else.
The disconnect is this: how can anyone who recoils in horror over such things worship a god they claim will punish someone who doesn't believe in him or never even heard of him for a spiritiual eternity in a lake of fire that burns forever? Even the sun and other stars don't burn forever, but we are assured that "hell" does, and if you don't get saved by whatever formula is put forth, that's where you are headed. FOR ETERNITY!
Eternity. Can anyone really fathom what that is? The universe has been around now for something over thirteen billion years. I can't begin to comprehend such an expanse of time. Yet, that is a finite peiod. Eternity? That's not finite. It is even more incomprehensible. And, we're supposed to accept in faith such incomprehensiveness? We're supposed to love a deity who would do such a horrible thing to anything or anyone?
That would be the ultimate cosmic monster! A monster that could not exist in reality. That monster was created to generate fear and keep people under the thumb of those who manufactured him out of whole cloth.
The universe is real. We can see it all around us. Humans are real also, and some of them aren't very nice. We label them criminals and monsters. Yet, we worship monsters conmen have created to scare us into line and cling to that travesty as our "faith."
Let's have done with monster gods and reject the nonsense that champions them.