Religious authority is a crutch. Religious leaders have depended on it too much for too long and for too often. Over reliance on authority has caused religious leaders to forget how to persuade. It has atrophied the faculty of persuasion.
God could have dragged us back to paradise by dint of omnipotence kicking and screaming like recalcitrant children. Have you ever wondered why God does not? Have you ever wondered why God does not use their omnipotence to forcibly return us to our home with them in paradise?
The answer is that when God gives us the gift of paradise - and the gift of paradise is ineluctable - God does not want us to repeat the mistake of our parents who abdicated the gift of paradise after the gift of paradise had been delivered to them (as did a gaggle of angels led by Lucifer). When God gives the gift of paradise to us, God wants us to keep it.
Paradise is not a prison. God is not our warden. We are not God's prisoners. Adam and Eve exited paradise because the serpent offered them a better deal than God. This illusion would work on the children of Adam and Eve if God had not taken steps to shatter it. Reality shatters illusion. The truth sets us free.
Godlessness sucks. God lets us stew in the sourness of godlessness so we can experience for ourselves its sourness. This personal experience shatters the serpent's illusion. Because we experience the sourness of godlessness, the serpent can no longer persuade us that a life lived as gods in godlessness is superior to a life lived with God in paradise. It is not true. The serpent is a liar. Experiencing the sourness of godlessness for ourselves is harsh but effective medicine. This harsh but effective medicine drove the prodigal son from the pigsty and drives us too out of godlessness.
Religious leaders do not need authority to preach this reality. This is the truth. All they need to do is preach the truth and our rationality will steer us in the proper direction.
Moreover, this is not the only truth that drives us from godlessness to paradise. The sourness of godlessness is but one engine. The other engine is the sweetness of paradise. The sweetness of paradise pulls us to its entrances. Because we live in godlessness, we do not know the sweetness of paradise. It must be revealed to us.
God undertook the job of revealing the sweetness of paradise to us themselves. God did not delegate the job to a subordinate. The job was too important. To reveal the sweetness of paradise, the Son of God paid us a visit for approximately thirty-three years at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of the planet called the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. At Bethlehem, God sent us a love note. It was no ordinary love note. It was alive. It lived and breathed. At Calvary, God delivered to us a guarantee that the love note was genuine. If the love note were counterfeit, God's love for us would have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived. When He rose from the dead, He was not pissed at us. We hadn't antagonized Him. We had tortured and killed Him yet He continued to love us nonetheless. The dial that controls His love for us is in hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. That the Son of God was willing to do Calvary for us tells us in no uncertain terms that there is nothing that God won't do for us. Wow! This is the sweetness of paradise. Where do I sign up? How do I enlist? How do I join the kingodom of this God who love me so much?
Religion is neither arbitrary or capricious. It does not need "authority" or "omnipotence" to work. It works best in the realm of rationality rather than in the realm of authority. In the realm of rationality, it is a fact. In the realm of authority, it is an opinion. Religion functions quite well when religious leaders feed the truth to our rationality. Rationality shatters illusion. The truth sets us free. Rational people flee the sourness of godlessness and seek the sweetness of paradise. Religious leaders work best and achieve the most when they exit the world of authority and enter the world of rationality.
Ours is a religion for rational people.