Sigmund Freud once speculated that "God" is nothing more than a father figure. I want to take that notion further. I hereby hypothesize that religion -- and in particular, fundamentalist Christianity -- is an excuse for people to remain juvenile even after they've entered adulthood: God is a benevolent father figure. He watches over you, keeping you from getting hurt by the big, mean outside world. Daddy will protect you. God is a judgemental father figure. He scrutinizes your every action and punishes you for your mistakes. Daddy'll get you if you don't behave. Jesus is your imaginary friend. He's someone for you to talk to when you don't have any real-life friends around. Back when you were a kid living with your parents, they tried to be "fair" with you at all times. If you got an "A" in math, they took you out for ice cream; if you stole a cookie, they sent you to your room without supper. You came to expect parental fairness in response to your every action. Unfortunately for you, the real world is not "fair" -- good is not always rewarded and evil is not always punished. Heaven and Hell, then, are an attempt to make the world "fair," just like it was when your parents were in charge. The good guys get to go to heaven when they die, and the bad guys get sent to hell. So there. When you first found out about sex, it probably sounded "icky" to you. The usual Fundamentalist attitude against sex allows you to carry that "sex is icky" feeling with you, even after you've started having sexual desires of your own. It also acts as the perfect vehicle for the feelings of resentment you might still be harboring toward people who, in your early adolescent years, had better sexual success than you did. (I've singled out Fundamentalist Christian beliefs in the above points because, hey, it's my hypothesis, and I can pick on any group I darned well please. ) There. Now, let the counter-arguments (and inevitable flames) begin!