# Why are many religions submissive?

I noticed a general trend in religions. There is always some overlord that creates the universe and that humans must all submit to such an overlord or overlords. Why?

It is not necessarily logical, even without science, that an overlord is needed to spawn reality. I mean, one can just as easily assume that reality came into existence randomly. Why overlords?

I mean think about it. Even without any science, why do we need a conscious creator to create the world? Most of things, mountains, oceans etc are clearly not seen to be created by living beings, so even anecdotally, the whole idea is a failure. So why the psychological tendency to assume a priori that a powerful consciousness resulted in any of that?

Here is a thought experiment. Say you suddenly got teleported into an island with a group of ancient tribes people resembaling conditions of early humanity. Say you don't remember anything from your current life. Clean slate. Would you see anything that your fellow tribe people do that hints that the mountains were created by a thinking being? Not really. And even if so, why would one want to submit to such a being? Fear? Or is there a subconscious desire to be dominated by a more powerful being?

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andrewkirk
Homework Helper
Gold Member
I noticed a general trend in religions. There is always some overlord that creates the universe and that humans must all submit to such an overlord or overlords.
Not all religions are like that. It is mostly just the monotheistic Middle-Eastern religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - that seem to have that structure.

The ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse religions had no single creator.

Buddhism has no creator at all.

Hinduism has many varieties, most of which don't seem to have an overlord. The one I know most about, the Advaita Vedanta branch, hypothesises that the world is the dream of Brahman, so in a sense Brahman is the creator. But there is no notion of being subservient to Brahman because the trick is that we are all Brahman.

Daoism and Confucianism do not have creators. Nor, to my knowledge, does Shinto.

Religions of indigenous peoples often have creation stories, but I don't know any where the creator has to be worshipped or obeyed. Mostly they are polytheistic anyway. Consider the pre-colonisation spiritualities of Native Americans (North or South), Australian Aboriginals, Polynesian or Melanesian islanders, or Africans still living in a rural, tribal setting. Animism is a common feature, where various important objects such as rivers, mountains, trees or rocks are believed to have spirits.

Wicca and maybe ancient Druidism seem to be more focused on an Earth Mother than on an overlord, and are more aimed at harmonising with than obeying.

There are other interesting religions like Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Bahai that I know little about, but I don't get much of a sense of overlordism from what little I've seen of them.

And even for the three big middle-eastern religions, there are branches thereof that seem to reject the Monarchical-seeming feature of some of the mainstream versions. I'm thinking of Sufism in Islam, Kabbalah in Judaism and Christian mystics like Simone Weil or Paul Tillich.

Ryan_m_b, BillTre, Tosh5457 and 5 others
We had the State Atheism in Russia, and it (combined with threats of imprisonment and death) was making people as submissive as no inquisition ever could.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
It is not necessarily logical, even without science, that an overlord is needed to spawn reality. I mean, one can just as easily assume that reality came into existence randomly. Why overlords?
You can't understand how religion came about or why it's the way it is by thinking "logically" (as most people use the term) about the subject and leaving it at that. People are irrational, illogical, and chaotic beings with motives and drives that you can't know and when you throw in the interactions they have with other people and with society as a whole the entire thing becomes far too complex for any single person to analyze. So any time you ask yourself why people do something and you start to say, "well, logically...", just stop. You've almost certainly gotten it wrong already.

Ryan_m_b
andrewkirk
Homework Helper
Gold Member
We had the State Atheism in Russia, and it (combined with threats of imprisonment and death) was making people as submissive as no inquisition ever could.
Wasn't that a religion of Stalin-worship, and then Lenin-worship when Stalin died and people were allowed to say what a #$%^$&* he was?

They have a state religion pretty similar to that in North Korea right now.

I noticed a general trend in religions. There is always some overlord that creates the universe and that humans must all submit to such an overlord or overlords. Why?
Religions are not meant to be logical, nor meant to be reasonable in themselves: they are meant to comfort and/or give/create reason for their believers.
So what you have to ask is: why this was what that specific bunch of people needed?

Staff Emeritus
2019 Award
I noticed a general trend in religions. There is always some overlord that creates the universe and that humans must all submit to such an overlord or overlords. Why?
Before we can ask why something is true, we need to ask if it is true. I don't think you have done your homework here. It is certainly not the case that "There is always some overlord that creates the universe".

russ_watters
Mentor
Not all religions are like that. It is mostly just the monotheistic Middle-Eastern religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - that seem to have that structure.

The ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse religions had no single creator.

Buddhism has no creator at all.
Also, please note that these are actually two different questions (the title doesn't really match the OP):
1. God(s) as creator(s)
2. Gods as (roughly) omnipotent/people submissive.

The second is kind of two sides of the same logical coin; if "God" is omnipotent, then humans can be nothing but submissive, to whatever extent the God desires.

The Greek/Roman Gods were characters from a soap opera and so not totally in control, but, really, if you can't be at least a little omnipotent, is it really worth calling yourself a god?

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pinball1970
Gold Member
I noticed a general trend in religions. There is always some overlord that creates the universe and that humans must all submit to such an overlord or overlords. Why?

It is not necessarily logical, even without science, that an overlord is needed to spawn reality. I mean, one can just as easily assume that reality came into existence randomly. Why overlords?

I mean think about it. Even without any science, why do we need a conscious creator to create the world? Most of things, mountains, oceans etc are clearly not seen to be created by living beings, so even anecdotally, the whole idea is a failure. So why the psychological tendency to assume a priori that a powerful consciousness resulted in any of that?

Here is a thought experiment. Say you suddenly got teleported into an island with a group of ancient tribes people resembaling conditions of early humanity. Say you don't remember anything from your current life. Clean slate. Would you see anything that your fellow tribe people do that hints that the mountains were created by a thinking being? Not really. And even if so, why would one want to submit to such a being? Fear? Or is there a subconscious desire to be dominated by a more powerful being?

Human tend to anthropomorphise things animals, noises, trees, patterns, situations.
So a lightning strike is loud frightening and destructive but also could be angry, someone in the sky is angry?
People in the village call you superstitious for suggesting this .
Perhaps if you leave some food in the place the lightning struck this will appease the angry man in the sky. Every month should do it. They now call you ritualistic.

The plan worked and the tree bore succulent fruit, the villagers saw the fruit and joined in the ritual every month. You have a Religion.

One guy says that it may be best looking into this further before wasting good food, there seems to be a connection to the storms and wind rather than food placed by the tree.

He is promptly taken out of his hut and hurled off the cliff by the other villagers.
It’s an extrapolation, a thought experiment but not an impossible scenario. We have evolved to be suspicious and try and make sense of things we do not have an explanation for.
Every creak in the forest is something just sitting there waiting to eat us.
All the guys who walked through the forest whistling not bothered by noises and shapes in the dark got eaten by a bear.
Again a simplified way of looking at it but if you look at some of the cargo cult religions and how they came about you will see how easy it is for primitive societies to make patters and come to outlandish conclusions. Each generation building on the myths of previous one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult

Evo
Mentor
Before someone becomes upset that the thread is putting down all religions and the people that believe in them, I am closing. Thanks to the participants so far that kept the thread from becoming a downright bashing.

Bystander