Of light and Light

"For those who observe Easter and Passover, faith brings confidence that failure is never final, and suffering is temporary, and the pains of the earth will be overcome." (Pres. G. W. Bush, 30 March 2002)
This implies that the best way to deal with a crappy life on earth is to believe that heaven awaits. This might be why Marx claimed that religion was the opiate of the masses ... the promise of heaven can be used to convince people to kowtow to their "betters". The Hindus, with their complex organization of castes and reincarnation have formalized this concept more than even the Christians -- and the Muslims have (in popular misunderstanding) carried it to the extreme, promising instant heaven if you die in the fight for the cause. Certainly one of the central myths of all religious mythologies is that of what happens when one dies ... it is a short step to using that as a control mechanism, especially if you can claim that the reward is contingent on something that you (as the insider) control and that the supplicant (as the outsider) must turn to you for (e.g., absolution).

It takes a true believer indeed to face death without the help of a belief in life after death. One might want to read parts of Dr. Sagan's book, "Billions and Billions : Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium" as an interesting example of how one does this.

Of course, things like Maxwell's Laws could take the same lifetime of study that many devote to scripture.

"Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. ..."

and there was light

The difference is that Maxwell's equations can be, and indeed have been, peer reviewed for validity.