Religion is defined as "...a belief binding the spiritual nature of man to a supernatural being..." This seems harmless enough, but why then has so much conflict arisen around religion? The reason lies in some fundamental assumptions about the nature of man and the universe. One is that there is a "self" which is separate from, and independent of, the physical self. This metaphysical "self" is, in most cases, regarded as permanent and eternal. The rpoblem here, than, is one of causation. A permanent and eternal "self" implies causelessness. This, in turn, leads to the epistemological confusion resulting from apparently uncaused events and any relations between these events appear to be meaningless and arbitrary. A supernatural, absolute spiritual and moral authority is used in an attempt to avoid this confusion. Even greater confusion and conflict arises when attempts are made to determine the dictates of this supernatural agency. And, therein lies the rub. Who will be the interpreter of these dictates? How will they be verified? Who wields the power of this agency on earth? It is this last question which is key to understanding the reason for religious conflict..."Who wields the power...?" From its inception, religion has been a tool for control and subjugation. And when this notion of an all-powerful and absolute spritual and moral authority is added to the mix, those who wield the power begin working from an absolutist premise which allows no room for opposing viewpoints. Any who dare stand in opposition, or are simply following a different path, are branded as heretics and blasphemers, and sinners, and so on. This same structure can be observed insecular politics where the state replaces the divine as the absolute moral authority. Once labeled as heretical, blasphemous or sinful, no other justification is needed to suppress any opposition. How then does one know what displeases their favorite deity? Since such an entity is, invariably, beyond human experience, we can only speculate. Reliance on scriptural tradion is, at best, suspect. Religious writings have been retranslated and rewritten so many times that their reliability is questionable. Even those which come to us in original form are often so vague in their language that they can be interpreted in any way one might choose. And, regardless of any claimds of "divine inspiration", these texts are the products of human perception and conception, and are thus subject to their limitations. They cannot be regarded as absolutes. Stripped of their absolutist metaphysics, most of the worlde religious doctrines are strikingly similar in their means and goals of promoting individual and social welfare. It is only when absolutist reasoning and its attendant metaphysics is added to the equation that chaos erupts.