What I love (read: despise) about religion is that it claims to be the only cure for a problem it creates. That’s like stealing everyone’s light bulbs, then “helpfully” selling them flashlights.
Leave it to the Flemish painters of the 16th century to illustrate this idea perfectly. Check out this drawing by Maarten van Heemskerck, entitled “Man Protected By the Shield of Faith.”
As if the devil (whose penis is a forked tongue, and knees are capped with beast heads, because being the devil isn’t enough, apparently you really have to illustrate it with messed up genitalia and patellas) isn’t a fabrication of the very faith that claims to protect man from him. Without religion, faith and the devil disappear, and this illustration becomes a drawing of a man playing a game of “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.”
But then, without the talent of Flemish artists to freak us out, and religion to freak them out, we wouldn’t have paintings like this one by Joos van Cleve, where Jesus is totally ripped and wearing a Superman cape while squashing some poor fat putti (tiny pudgy angel kids). I recall from my art history classes (which I loved) that Jesus is often depicted as physically fit when placed in a Last Judgement scene, which this is. Still hilarious, though. “He died for your sins, then went to Gold’s gym to pump iron and check out the ladies on the treadmills.”