What if religions marketed themselves as experiences, rather than truth claims? Like what if, instead of describing reality in terms of an interventionist monotheistic god, christianity was all, “churches are pretty, singing hymns is fun, and thinking about this idea will make you feel transcendent and loved?”
At no point do they have to claim that the love is true, or that the worshipper really transcended anything. Just sell the experience. Make bible stories (myths) parables for how to reach that experience. If any stories don’t work, get rid of them. If you think of a sweet new one, make it canonical.
If you can’t tell, I’ve been reading lots of bataille.
Imagine if Martin Luther, instead of posting 95 theses, went to the catholic church and said, “I have a new business model for you?” If they rejected it, he would just set himself up, like he did anyway, but there’d be no need to fight a war. Well maybe an advertising war. “Catholicism: The original God-high!”
Really, this is what people believe anyway when they come up with little personal religions. I don’t think too many people are so arrogant as to think they’ve stumbled onto the most accurate picture of reality, then keep it to themselves. Of course some do claim they’re prophets, and get followers and such, and that leads to big religions. I think all thats fine, as long as these prophets never claim to actually know anything. Sell your asceticism, your transubstantiation, your nirvana, your piety, your sacred. Just don’t make any pretensions about the whole thing.
Hell, people would probably start being multiple-consumers, collecting religious experiences.