Animals, in order to survive, have to be protected by fear responses, in response not only to other animals but to nature itself. They had to see the real relationship of their limited powers to the dangerous world in which they were immersed. Reality and fear go together naturally.
Only humans, and no other creature in this planet, can understand the concept of its own existence. Consequently, no other creature can conceive of its nonexistence, mortality, death.
We are the only ones that can project ourselves mentally into the future and anticipate our own decease.
The knowledge of impending death makes us stand metaphorically face to face with a mountain lion from which there is no escape. Whereas a rabbit can escape from the object of its fear, humans, however, can’t.
Shakespeare wrote: ” He that cuts off twenty years of life cuts off so many years of fearing death.” - Julius Caesar, Act III
Religion is argued to be an evolutionary defence response to men’s knowledge of impending death. According to Freud, “God is the exalted father, and the longing for the father is the root of all religion”.
Aware that death was not only inevitable, but it could come at any moment, human beings were reduced to a state of infantile helplessness, as vulnerable as the day they were born. We look innately for protection from our parents. But we eventually come to realise that not even our parents can protect us from death.
We turn, therefore, to a transcendental guardian.
With the emergence of spiritual consciousness, our cognitive functioning had been stabilised to the extent that we could now go on living in a state of relative calm. This, I believe, is the purpose of religion.
If all this is true, however, it suggests that God isn’t a transcendental force or entity that actually exists “out there”, beyond and independent of us, but rather represents the manifestation of an inherited human perception, a coping mechanism that compels us to believe in an illusory reality so as to help us survive our unique awareness of death.