I read an interesting blog site that posed this very question from a Hindu perspective. It was thoughtfully worded, so I thought I would include some key excerpts.
For purpose of this discussion, the site was not questioning the existence of God (or in the case of Hinduism, Gods or entities), merely asking what the practical point of religion was, even with the existence of God. Surely God does not require human worship, and humans can judge right and wrong without religious leaders telling them how to behave. Individuals can pray in times of need and can care for one another without a formula telling them how to do so. So, in responding, assume that there is a God, and consider only what the point of religion is.
Blogger Reema poses this scenario: “Imagine just for a minute that if there had been no religion since the time Homo Sapiens became civilized how would have the world turned out to be? By no religion I mean none at all! So the concept of God entered in, but why did it divide into so many different religions which I feel are nothing but different ways to please the same entity? Why did the concept of God get mixed up with the concept of worshiping? If I believe in some entity why is it required that I need to please him with flowers, incense and all the jazz instead of my activities? Why are the right and moral things defined by a code of mythological stories centered around God and in case of Hindus, so many gods? Can’t we humans (being the most superior and intelligent species) behave and act out of our own conscience, judgment and discretion? Do you think if religion wasn’t there we wouldn’t know that it’s bad to kill other living beings or that it’s bad to disrespect one’s elders or that it’s bad to steal or to be greedy or to drink alcohol?
I mean if the right and wrong acts had been simply documented over ages, wouldn’t the result be the same but without the religious angle? What is the necessity of religion to define the code of living for humans? Why should religion dominate the way of living of a person? Why should going to a temple or a mosque or church label me as a good person? What is the necessity to belong to a religion, any religion to remember God, given one believes in the entity? Why should a particular method be specified to worship the entity? Why should there be a need to worship at all?”
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” (Jonathan Swift)
“All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays.” (Cathy Ladman)
“Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven.” (Mark Twain)
“An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” “No,” said the priest, “not if you didn’t know.” “Then why” asked the Inuit earnestly,” did you tell me?” (Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
Is religion just the place where we as human beings have chosen to list the rules for living (the right and wrong acts)? Without religion, would we still know right from wrong and act accordingly? Does religion make us better human beings or merely divide us (or unite us into divisions)? Does God thrive on our worship or is this for us and not for God? What do you think the point of religion is?