I think there are some very important questions we need to ask about religion in the dominant culture: Why do Western European peoples, and by extension before them the Near Eastern peoples, need a messiah? Why is their appraisal of the physical world a negative one? Why do their societies suffer such perennial and continuing crises? Why do they insist on believing that ultimate reality is contained in another, almost unimaginable realm beyond the senses and beyond the span of a human life?

I don’t understand it. Religion as I have experienced it isn’t the recitation of beliefs but a way of helping us to understand our lives. It must, I think, have an intimate connection with the world in which we live, and any religion that promotes other places—heaven and so on—in favor of what we have in the physical world is a delusion, a mere control device to allow us to be manipulated.

Vine Deloria, in conversation with Derrick Jensen in Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control, pp. 83–4


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