"Man is kind enough when he's not excited by religion,

but once the holy holies have got a grip on him he's capable of almost anything. When a disciple from the wildcat religious asylum comes marching forth, get under the bed. It doesn't matter whether he's a Christian, Hindu, Jew or Muslim. If he's made up his mind that you need reforming, he will do it with anything handy - an ax, 800 years of witch burning or, if necessary, he'll blow you up."           
- Mark Twain 

     The fundamental fact of life is EVERY living organism with a sense for survival has religion.  Survival is a trait that evolved from the randomness of existence.  Those species that predominate are those that have a proclivity for excelling in competition with others and have an ability to pass on advantages to its progeny. Advantages are hardwired into the genetic code or in those species with a more advanced nervous system that are flexible enough to adapt and override genetic predisposition are learned.  That advantage is the species' religion -- evolved rules for survival accepted solely on faith.
     Religion is the autonomic nervous system of all creatures and necessary to its survival. When one is about to get eaten, the correct response to flee without analysis.  Organisms with the best methods for escape live to pass on that information. It's tradition one needs not question. Continuity of life filters out bad alternatives.
     The urge to survive becomes the most dominant drive of all living creatures.  Those with the best techniques propagate; those with weak traditions die out.  It kind of depends where an organism is in the food chain as to the type of survival methods it evolves.  Most beings in the middle of the food chain prefer social practices.  It maximizes the opportunity to procreate while leveraging group traditions, i.e. its religion, and resources for survival.
      Whereas, groups provide synergism, they also create opportunities for conflict in that some survival methods are better than others or even opposed to others.  Resolution is often simple as sub-groups forming.  Those with the best approach survive and those with the weaker approach die.  Resolution in human groups is more complex and complicated by its ability to remember and to analyze.  Nevertheless, having that ability does not insure the competence to use it. Most human groups abide by a basic animal trait -- they delegate that activity to its most able member and then follow en mass. 
      Religion accepts without the need for verification.  In its most innocent form it directs a child to follow the instructions of a parent.  In its most corruptible form it demands a populace accept directions from an authority figure.  Religion does not imply absence of evidence and qualified examination.  It is most often a willingness to accept without justification based solely on the assumed credibility of the parent or leader.  As an example, it frequently follows the notorious parental explanation as to why a child must obey, "You have to do it because I say so."
      Religion has dogma and "truth" that must never be questioned and that is frequently claimed to be derived from higher authority, such as god.  To assure obedience these gods are claimed to be omniscient, all-knowing, and powerful.
      Generally, the gods to not communicate directly with the masses. Religion has leaders and prophets that profess the ability to speak or record rules on behalf of this ultimate authority.  Most are delusional and often psychotic. They attempt to demonstration their qualification through demonstrations of feats provided by the god, that a naive flock accepts as miracles.
      In primitive societies these emissaries served a very necessary purpose.  Often they had special and guarded knowledge or insight that helped a tribe excel over its competition.  These prophets knew history, either through bards or by being literate, and had the facilities to utilize it effectively by leveraging of an inspired populace.  Legends often followed accidental successes.  Armies routinely engaged in battles assuming they had the support of gods.  If not, few were around to argue.
      The printing press changed religion forever.  Privileged knowledge became available and widespread. No longer was the authority of religion limited to a clergy to dispense. Even worse, with the written word rules could be examined, analyzed, and challenged.
      Not to fear! The clergy didn't loose its job.  Life's experiences are complex and too difficult for the average person to decipher.  Most don't even want to make the effort.  It's much too simple to continue accept guidance from ministers of the faith -- no need for evidence.  These congregations want simple rules and prefer being told what to do. Taking personal responsibility is just too much work. 
      Furthermore, being a member of the accepted orthodoxy provides solace, especially when the group thinks it has special privilege or uniquely entitled.  They are the master race or they are the only ones to earn eternal rewards.  Eventually, this mentality leads to political and religious fascism and intolerance (see )
      The ultimate congregation is "god fearing" and never questions dogma.  Heresy and apostasy brings eternal damnation. True believers often are on a mission as Mark Twain's warned, "Eight hundred years of witch burning or he'll blow you up."
     Unfortunately, the survival of the species demands intolerance to competition and militant missionary efforts, as a history continues to demonstrate for the three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Eventually, humankind should evolve to a higher order, but for now, under the guise of "truth," it remains subjected to these barbarians and their proselytizing of primitive practices.
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     Click on the following icons to go to two other excellent websites for studying religious beliefs.

The following links focus on "non-belief. " With radio and TV station blasting out 24/7 arguments for "belief," that thought hardly needs additional comment.   
    The Bible is the most read book of any kind and in varying degrees of acceptance is the basis of the most popular religion on earth, Christianity. Some denominations consider it to be primarily inspirational and a moral guideline. Others consider it as the literal unerring word of God. The History of the Bible: How it Came to Us provides one of the best summaries of its 3000 year history.
     The Skeptics Annotated Bible (SAB) provides a very thorough reading of the Bible with a quite different perspective. According to SAB, "Anyone who has struggled through the Bible knows it is not an easy book to read. Those that begin reading at Genesis seldom make it through Leviticus and the few that survive to the bitter end of Revelation must continually face a disturbing dilemma: their faith tells them they should read the Bible, but by reading the Bible they endanger their faith."
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Although an ex-Catholic nun and distinguished scholar of Islam, Karen Armstrong's belief in God in not mainstream. "I believe in holiness and sacredness in other people. It doesn’t mean that the clouds part and I see God. That’s a juvenile way of thinking about it. We need to rediscover what is in our religions, which has gotten overlaid with generations of egotistical and lazy theology. The current thinking – my God is better than your God is highly irreligious."
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Fanaticism is the subversion of a belief structure for personal advantage and to the detriment of another. No magic "lines in the sand" mark one's steps before evangelical becomes fanatical.  Promote beliefs so as to diminish the worth or value of another is fanaticism. A free expression of ideas assumes all participants have equal credulity.
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Does God or do Gods exist? This question has be hypothesized for millennia.  The answer usually depends on who is asking the question and what he or she wants the answer to be.  Initially, the the effort was to prove the existence of a god and more recently the search has been broaden to accept that god may not exist.
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Robert G Ingersoll (1833 – 1899) was an orator during the Golden Age of Freethought and is noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. He was nicknamed "The Great Agnostic."
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Raising Kids Without Religion is a soft way to ease into the concept that morality should be based on doing what feels good and just rather out of fear of some higher authority. Deborah Mitchell was raised Catholic but moved away from religion in her early 20s. She says that she doesn't go to church and doesn’t even really believe in God. She's a mother of two teenagers in Texas who feels “immersed in Christianity,” and started a her blog because she felt frustrated and marginalized. She didn’t want to feel so alone.
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The Trinity of God is a fundamental belief of Catholics, Protestants, and derivative Christian sects. It was never a religious teaching.  It was established by political edict by Emperor Theodosius—who himself had been baptized only a year before convening the Council of Constantine in 381AD. Theodosius, who had no theological background of his own, put it in place to silence a huge debate. He proclaimed 
Let us believe the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since,in our judgement, they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. 

It got written into the Bible thanks to the New Testament of Erasmus. Its appearance in late Greek manuscripts is based on the fact that Erasmus was placed under ecclesiastical pressure to include it in his Greek New Testament of 1522, having omitted it in his two earlier editions of 1516 and 1519 because he could not find any Greek manuscripts which contained it”

Did Jesus exist?  Almost everyone would say yes he did.  However, these same people would also be ignorant of the fact that no independent evidence exists for Jesus. Check out what religious historian Richard Carrier suggests.