I have heard it asserted by skeptics that God was a tool invented by someone or a group of someones in an effort to control the masses. I’m not sure this makes much sense to me, it never has. It’s a great ‘what-if’ story, but it’s little more than speculation. That doesn’t make it a false claim, but it doesn’t rise to the level of ‘in the running’ as an explanation, either.
From where I sit, there is no need to concoct a non-corporeal being who may, or may not, have the power to exact justice for wrong doing when there already exists the means to control behavior: the end of a sword, spear, or gun. Each is greatly more behaviorally corrective than a potential future in hell isn’t it? Threats of force: torture, bodily mutilation, and death, are reliable motivating tools to keep the masses in check. As Calogero from A Bronx Tale said, “Your guy may be bigger than my guy up there, but my guy is bigger than your guy down here.” For the most part, people are more motivated by what is immediately confronting them. Threatening a person with future potential punishment is not as effective as an officer of authority standing before you with a weapon. This is real world provable. If you’re ever in the unfortunate predicament of being robbed at knife point, tell the robber he may end up in hell and observe his reaction. When he stops laughing, point a gun in his face and observe his change in behavior.
In the end, inventing a punishing God is an unnecessary cog in the bureaucratic scheme if the desired end is behavioral compliance.
** For bonus points try to come up with something that wholly does not exist now. For example, a unicorn merely combines two existing things and would not qualify because horses exist and horns exist. Personally, I can’t do it, I tried all day yesterday. It should be easy though, right?