There are actually two elements to my diagnosis of religion here. The first is that religious belief is a symptom of fear: aware that our lives are precarious and vulnerable, we seek the protection of a powerful deity, to comfort ourselves with an illusion of safety. The second is that fear is a symptom of religion: in particular, doctrines of punishment in both this life and the next cause ignorant believers to live in fear unnecessarily. There is little doubt that this analysis has some truth on both points; perhaps it explains quite accurately the causes and effects of religious belief in a significant number of cases. But do such cases represent religion itself, or are they a distortion of it?