Religion and Fear, Bullworks of the Dark Ages

For centuries my European ancestors lived in a world where no thought that contradicted the church's dogma was allowed, where people were condemned to hell for looking in a mirror, and it was the death sentence for believing that the earth wasn't at the center of the universe. Down through history every culture has been vulnerable to being commandeered by a belief system that promises a repreive from death.

From the earliest cities uncovered in central Asia to the present day divinings of the bishops, rabbis and imams, the many have been controlled by the few through their fear of death. Real power lies in becoming the interpreter of a culture's belief system, a religious authority. Once any culture comes up with a story/mythology that ameliorates the existential fear, that's it, no questioning of the dogma is allowed, everything has to fit in that jar, no matter what.

Here comes the important part, one of the grand illusions of our shared reality is that we assume 'seeing is believing' when actually it's the opposite. Once you really believe something to be true, every fact, every bit of evidence encountered will corroborate it. We see the world and everything in it through the filter our belief system. Beliefs come first, experience second.

These religious belief structures our ancestors evolved can be calming and useful, but still just a tool. If we drop our vigilance and forget that we're looking through the self-imposed veil of our beliefs it can appear that all world around us is validating this worldview we believe in, when in reality as the Sufi saying goes "the sea will be the sea, no matter the drop's philosophy".

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression.
In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains
seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we
must be aware of change in the air, however slight,
lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
- Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas