Statesboro, GA, USA
As a rule, people need to believe. Religion fulfills that need
Why do you think that is? Is such a need basic and proper, or is it only a form of neurosis? You've said in past threads that you are convinced that there's a God, and that this present life isn't all there is. And though your beliefs are less specific, and deistic, what makes your answer more respectable in regard to your "need"? Does your criticism apply to your own beliefs?
They offer up Heaven, the second coming, or 75 virgins and all for the same reason. Since our imminent death is factual, people need to believe in something non-factual to offset reality.
Does that category (fact / non-fact) really explain this? You say that religious people accept what is non-factual as an answer to that which is factual. But why would mere facts need something to offset them? You seem to assert that religious belief is unreal without exploring the nature of the "facts". Its the nature of human death, psychology, and spirituality which invites belief ... not naked "facts". The only question is whether such belief is warranted by the nature of things as a whole.
Why has humanity always sought that which is spiritual? Why has humanity (including yourself I'll bet) viewed death more like a question demanding an answer than just a bland and unremarkable fact? Why have the ideas of justice, "putting things right", and judgement day run like an intractable thread through the history of thought (even the less religious Greeks)? Why have the existential thinkers (who took atheism seriously) been obsessed with either the search or loss of meaning and purpose? Why did the most notable Nihilists associate such a loss with the loss of God? Why do even the anti-religious decry deplorable behavior and motives (as if it were somehow transcendental and more than just opinion) in their own arguments?
It is a lottery ticket for the soul. People plunk down their dollar, grasp their ticket tightly and think "Wouldn't it be great...?
Blaise Pascal did suggest that things might be a gamble ... but aptly pointed out that the gamble runs in both directions.
If you imagine that believing in Christ may be a form of wish-fulfillment, I have to imagine same possibility is involved in unbelief. At least its reasonable to think that human sin, conscience, and the haunting thought of standing before God as we are, could lead to a kind of desperate gamble as well, in the direction of denial.
The "Wager" of course is no complete answer either way, to justify belief or unbelief. But it is highly suggestive ... since you brought it up as a less sophisticated reversal of Pascal. As the book of Romans describes, we've all been given no small amount of evidence. But if it were just a kind of blind gamble, as Blaise pointed out, belief would be the better and safer bet.
The only way to believe in the Second Coming is to have believed in the first
and to believe that, when it comes, they will be lost if they are not true believers at the time. (another velvet-lined threat in the religious arsenal)
What is wrong with even a "threat" if it is based upon something true and just? Remember though, perdition can be thought of in many ways, not all of which involve threatening retribution ... Another angle (that Ron has mentioned before) is that of self-induced consequences through cause and effect. Our condition being simply relational to God's nature. Someone once said that the Fire of God only burns at the periphery. Personally, I think all the angles of looking at perdition or punishment are valid in their own way. Surely you don't reject law (in principle) simply because it involves threats?
Better keep buying that lottery ticket, just in case because one day your number will indeed be up.
You've got a point. And though there's more than just death as a motivation to believe, it is universally binding.
Well, it's not too hard to get that religion was created as a form of control, even the christion religions (catholicism). A bunch of rich white men wrote the book on it, and they're damn notorious for manipulating people.
White Europeans wrote the Bible? When it becomes fashionable to look down upon a certain population (whose ancestors doubtlessly did some terrible things), its all too easy to skew history during the campaign.
BTW, often religious movements emerged as a means to challenge control, later being misused (contrary to original ideals) to inflict the same kind of oppressive control.