So that’s the question in mind. What is religion? What does it do?
Is religion a belief in God?
The quick and simple answer is “no”. A belief in God is theism or deism, not religion.
The long and complicated answer is that religion is a combination of dogma, beliefs, ideas, misconceptions, prejudices, heresies, love, hate, rage, intolerance, darkness, light, personal inadequacies. It is a human creation, from start to finish, and its purpose is nothing less than the mental control of human beings. Literally.
What does religion do?
Religion attaches, parasite-like, to the theism and deism.
It tells not only adherents how to believe and behave, but also those who don’t ascribe to its dogma.
It trivalizes life on the basis of a magical fantasy land no one knows anything about.
It locks down modes of thought and substitutes fantasy for reality.
It claims special access to the Almighty and then sets man-made limits on the universal infinite.
It claims to know the mind of God and then declares said mind off-limits to all others.
It creates guilt and fear and claims that only it knows the one and only way in an infinite universe to alleviate that guilt and fear.
It infantalizes adults by keeping them in a child-like state, unable to form their own morality.
It claims progress in learning more about the mind of God, but everything remains mired in two thousand year-old(and older) theology.
It makes adherents susceptible to absurdity by showing them it’s easy to believe in other absurdities.
It substitutes cartoonish fantasy evil for true evil.
It makes an a priori assumption about heaven and hell and then makes wild, unsubstantiated claims about them.
It says that it’s bad to kill, and then proceed to inform the adherent exactly who and under what circumstances can be killed, and how.
It makes perfectly testable claims that the end of the world of nigh and when the world keeps going without anything happening, it convinces its adherents that the calculation was off and the end of world is really just about nigh.
It convinces adherents that God owes them a direct intervention in their disease to be followed by an immediate cure. This despite the fact that God had, in their worldview, already endowed humans with the ability to effect said cure.
It convinces people that whatever they feel in their hearts must be so because the Universe is attuned specially to them.
I’m sure there are other aspects of religion.