Religion: God Exists, But You Won't Like Him
I reckon that any God worth their salt who created a bunch of bald apes with question marks in their eyes should have imbued them with the ability to reach the right conclusion when left to their own devices, so reference books written by said apes are out.
But how could I reach such a conclusion? Simple enough: we (the species) have had scads and scads of deities, but the ones that remain with us are the ones we've declared "perfect", what with the whole omnipitent/onmiscient thing the God Botherers are always on about. So the remaining Gods being actively worshipped today in any serious numbers are all perfect beings. And that means that anything they make, us included, is also perfect.
Unless they screwed up on purpose.
But that's just my heresy talking. Why would something all-powerful and all-knowing bother making something that is, most of us would agree, somewhat less than perfect? I mean, seriously now: God loves us, right? Everyone who has a God of their own says so. If we behave properly, we get a cookie; if we're bad, we get our noses rubbed in it and thrown outside.
If God loves us so much, why didn't he create us already in Paradise? Some folks think we started there, and got booted. (Love: even amongst the immortal, it's a fickle thing, eh?) Others think we're already here, and this is our reward. I'm not exactly convinced. In any case, everyone diety-enabled seems to reach the opinion that, for some reason, we ended up with free will or a variant thereof. So we should spend it stroking Gods ego as much as possible by giving thanks for, well, everything. If God is that egotistical, well, we've seen what happens to Gods that show human frailties...
But if God created us to worship him, then all of us would worship Him, right? You build a toaster to toast things, not to wander the kitchen discussing metaphysics. (Actually, that sounds pretty cool - but I digress.) But the same job would be performed by all of us, what with us being created by a perfect entity and all.
Unless God was bored.
What would you do, if you were all-powerful AND all-knowing? The end of the imagination, I should think. So why not play a little? Create a cognisant species, then deny yourself the knowledge of its reactions to the world around it will be. You could do it, being omnipotent, and it would certainly be more fun that sitting around knowing everything. Unfortunately, this reduces God to a purchaser of Sea Monkeys. Hardly a flattering description, for God or for us; but it is better than the alternative:
God's a sadist.
Bit of an odd conclusion, sure, but hear me out:
1) The Gods that have survived this far with us are those that are "perfect", and are singular (accuracy hates company?);
2) God created us;
3) We're imperfect, and have been promised Paradise should we fight through those imperfections;
4) God delights in our attaining Paradise;
5) If God created both us and Paradise, then He could have created us there directly;
6) He didn't;
7) If we get to Paradise, the experiment is over for us and we're "taken out of circulation", so to speak, that is we go to Heaven and stop there;
8) Whether existence is linear or not, we live it in a linear fashion through time (yesterday led to today will lead to tomorrow);
9) There are more of us around now than ever before.
Conclusion: God not only doesn't want the experiment to end, he enjoys our struggles to reach Heaven. We call people who enjoy watching others struggle Sadists, for better of worse.
So why, if God is malicious, create a Heaven at all? Why not just put sentient beings on whatever the spiritual equivalent of a rack is for all eternity? A simple and slightly repulsive answer: have you ever heard some mediocre parent tell their child that because they misbehaved, they won't be allowed to go to the circus, which the child didn't even know was in town? Or that the family was going to have ice cream for dessert, if the kid had just behaved himself, but no more? It's a psychic stick to beat your child with that they can never tell is coming, making it all the more effective a threat: they have to keep it in their own minds to behave, or some nebulous prize might at some undetermined future time be taken away from them.
I think I'll stick with atheism, thanks.