A Sublime Supremacy of Being
Religion is as necessary to reason as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the phenomena of Nature, had he not a supreme being to refer to; and well has it been said, thatt if there had been no god, mankind would have been obliged to invent one." George Washington.
Since the dawn of recorded Time, or at least the parts that we know about, Man has encountered things they did not understand. Gifted with curiousity but not, unlike Mr. Stark, either blessed or curséd with knowledge.
A Natural Urge toward Following
As children expect their parents to have the answers for everything, so too do the led expect their leaders to have access to something similar. Afterall, why have a leader who is, when you get down to it, exactly like the rest of us?
See, it is human nature to follow around the biggest one or, at least, the person that has the most big ones in his employ, rather than decide things for themselves. Humans like to delegate responsibility for the big stuff and then complain about how they are doing it. It was eventually called politics.
The crops fail. The leader needs to fix that.
Terrible storms unexpectedly wash away Mister Uga's House. Leader's fault, right?
People from across the river stealing our sheep? Leader needs to do something about that.
Now, with the simple things such as executions and imprisonment, taxes, border security, etc. the Leader has it relatively easy. He collects taxes, he pays soldiers, job pretty much done. The more metaphysical stuff like weather and geographical phenomena though...no amount of soldiers can help there...
So, one day, the Leader of UgUgBurk sits down with a wizened old man who everyone has always considered so crazy he came through the other side and is actually considered stark, raving sane; there's a certain wisdom can be obtained from someone like that. They don't think in straight lines like other people; they get creative.
The leader needs creative because his tribe has been going through a lot and, of course, he's to blame. He would like his future to continue containing him for as long as possible. The old man sucks his gums and wrinkles his face in concentration. He hums and mutters, rocks and moans. He holds up a finger.
"Ever'thin' had to come from somewhere, right?" He finally states rather than asks, nodding to himself wisely; his face so wrinkled that, from this angle, it is impossible to know whether his eyes are open or not. "Man comes from mother, foal from mare, kid from nanny, always been that way."
The leader pulls at his straggly beard in thought and, taking a slug of his fermented goat's milk. He nods slowly.
"So ever'thin had to come from somethin', right?" the old man continued, eying the drink jealously, he hadn't even been offered any, shortages they said. "Yer don' jus' get eggs pop outta nowhere with chickens in 'em, right?"
This was indeed correct and realisation was starting to dawn on the leader's face.
"So, there's this big fella in the sky who makes ever'thin and makes sure it keeps happening. Made the first people coz we don' fall in raindrops or nuffin, right?"
The hand grasping the horn beaker of fermented milk was shaking, knuckles whitening.
"So, like we's responsible fer our own kiddos, and ye's responsible fer all a' them lot," he jerked a ragged-nailed hand to the flap of the tent. "Him or her in't sky be responsible fer us, right?"
"So it is his fault." the leader finally spoke, his word coming out like two bolders grinding together.
The old man beamed, something the leader never wanted to see him do again. He drained his drink and slammed the cup down on the little table beside his chair. "You are the high priest, get started."
And so it began...
The Supreme Being
Now, this is not to say that there is not some supreme being or beings out there. There is about as much evidence for the existence of God, or a god/goddess, as there is for their non-existence; something people call an impasse. I am agnostic in my opinions, more of a spiritual type, much to the suprise of many.
I think people can believe in whoever they like as long as it does no harm to others. Now, of course, those associated with certain religions have, indeed, been using their religion as an excuse to commit or cover for acts decent people consider reprehensible. They rely on the fact that most people like to be led and told what to do rather than think for themselves, and lead the most impressionable of these to their cults which, if one were to be honest, bear no more resemblence to the original message of their supposed prophet than a strawberry does to a banana.
Common sense and logic tells you this; the movement started by a humble Israelite who espoused selling one's possessions to aid the poor, being nice to everyone, and free healthcare would not approve of gigantic churches, presided over by obnoxious bombasts who collect millions of dollars from their followers. He had simpler tastes and would probably do something drastic to such a church were he to personally enter one.
A reasoning being, one would think, would be able to work this out with no trouble but, here's the clincher, it seems that reasoning beings are in rather short supply on this planet. People will believe anything a grinning rich person tells them to believe.
You see, human beings are essentially programmed to believe in something superior to themselves that is without mortal fault and of unimpeachable reputation. Be this being the King, the Queen, The Emperor/Empress, President, Grand Dictator/Benevolent People's Happy Man, god, goddess, or combination of the previous. Be it the rich TV or movie star, the music sensation, the businessperson with more money than people can invent a real number for, it does not matter. What matters is that they're better than you.
Here's a test; British people, can you imagine Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, sitting on watching TV with ol' Phil, leaning to one side of her armchair and unleashing a titanic fart? If you can, well done, for you have passed the test.
The point is, in these supposedly enlightened days, it is still the predominant belief in human societies across the world that there is a 'Ruling Class' of people that have the automatic Right to Rule and are, by dint of this, better and superior to everyone else.
Since the first big bloke with a the biggest stick belted the next biggest one into unconsiousness and looked over at the rest of the group to see if any of them wanted to be the next to develop a headache, this behaviour has been built into us. Since the first social ladder was built, there have always been people prepared to stab others in the feet to get a little higher up it.
When it will occur to people that nobody who cheats, lies, steals, brown-noses, or smarms their way to the top, they are not going to be a nice person. They are going to be a selfish and egocentrical individual, that is the only way they can achieve such heights as it were, in the certain knowledge that they deserve it and others do not.
The New Gods
As Neil Gaiman so accurated represented in his book and TV series, American Gods, the human desire to create gods to believe in is unending. In today's modern world, many have moved from worshipping what we might call the 'Traditional' or ancestral gods to adoring the new gods; the famous, the wealthy, the internet, the things they wish to possess and those that represent them, the glitzy versions of the old gods.
Even apparent atheists or wavering agnostics firmly and passionately believe in something even if that something is that this person in that television series is the sexiest being alive, that this TV show is the best in the existence of television, that this performing artist outperforms all others, that this vehicle is superior to all others, that this sports team embodies the sport like no other, or that this politician is the perfect person to fulfil this political role. They believe, they have faith, they reject dissenting opinion, they have a creed of sorts, they have multiple scripture relating to the subject of their adoration; that equals religion does it not? It fulfils all the criteria.
Create or Created
Of course there are many theories about belief. The previous section touched on an important one which I think Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have explained much better than I ever will.
The competing ideas are these;
Faith in something, belief in it causes it to come into being if there is enough and disappear if there is not.
The existence of something creates belief once it is revealed and any belief in it helps to sustain it.
To simplify that, our belief in concepts either creates personifications of it that we direct our worship towards or our worship of concepts sustains the real force behind everything.