Society - A religion?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine about religion the other day. It actually started off because we were looking for interesting topics to talk about. I have always found that religion, as a topic of discussion seems to evoke a great deal of passion in people and this was no different. However, while arguing my point I tripped upon an idea that got me thinking.

As part of the discussion I was asking the question – How can we bring people together under one umbrella of norms? If religion is not the binding factor then what else could it be? What is it that holds a society together and why do we all conform to the norms of society? There are basic rules in society that we do not question. We all seem to walk the line on those ideas. Killing and stealing are the most obvious crimes that we consider as an evil in society. But what is it that makes us work under that assumption? Who sets the rules of society and based on what factors do we modify those rules? If religion is not the foundation upon which we come up with these rules then what else?

Can a society by itself be the religion? Can we all come up with a set of rules that is not influenced by religion and create a society purely based on social norms? How would that society be structured and what would be the greatest influencing force in such a pure atheistic society? Did the first cave man, who tried to organize a society, come up with religion as a tool to organize?

Like Yul Brynner concluded in the “King and I”- Is Puzzlement!

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