I like this thread, sorry I can't contribute more but falcon and jj and hunting have all brought up some amazing points.
jj: religion and god are packaged together but they don't need to be. that's just what happens. what falcon says about hinduism and buddhism is true, and thies goes for all religions, the essence is not about god but something deeper and far more useful that most people don't have time for. If you can't see god then it's what god stands for that would make the impact, and most people don't take time to do this. just happy to end at god and equate god and religion and boom done.
this brings me to falcon: when arguing against religion and what it has done today, or even the bad impact of the god/religion package, what does it matter what the essence of it is if no one is educated enough to enlightened enough to think about it? If some guy in the name of god blows up a place and I lose my family because of it.. what does it matter that this guy's religion was fundamentally pure and sacred? We live in a human world, everything's human perspective. In fact you being able to realize that there's more is a compliment to your capacity to view things in a different perspective, but all that perspective won't matter if there's others who don't see eye to eye and interfere with your life in less than ideal ways. There's too much in this thread for me to touch upon and obviously i see your point, especially coming from a similar background, but to answer the question of the thread, what does my belief in god or the beliefs in the purity of religions do for me if i can't achieve a level of power/existence that puts me beyond the circumstances and consequences of every other fool out there? So I guess the question becomes, as i said before, do we NEED to, do we GAIN from believing in god? If yes, then we will choose to believe in god. If no, we will choose not to believe in god. Looking at the world today and seeing how close it is to hell, it's easy to say there's no point believing in god. But then again, all the good people you do meet - and there's more good ones than bad ones, its just the bad ones have more impact - god/religion probably had some effect on the way they are, and why they are good to begin with. And the world is an everyday ongoing 'miracle' of such 'un-explainable' things as happiness and contentment and people helping each other and friendship and love which really does not have any other solid explanation.