Top Male dominance is the basis of Stone Age religion.
Uninformed opinion about our species overwhelms factual information. Whether the viewpoint is scientific, religious, cultural, romantic, mythological, artistic, or philosophical, human beings have generated a massive quantity of material to explain the existence, purpose, and behavior of our species. Most of these ideas are prescriptive rather than descriptive, judgmental rather than genuinely inquisitive, and are tainted by supernatural thinking; in the west it is assumed that we exist outside nature, occupying a plane of existence above animals and below the gods. We think that we are superior to the rest of life.
Maintaining roles is important in societies organized into a hierarchy of gender, wealth, religious power, warrior status, servitude, and poverty. Some percentage of a group will be regarded as serving a function similar to domestic animals, and outsiders are usually regarded as lesser beings and dangerous. The hierarchical structure imposed by males is so basic, that despite political ideals of liberty, justice, and equality, modern societies are run by male hierarchies. Whether or not male groups are labeled as street gangs or political parties, the hierarchy is brutally enforced. The ongoing struggle for dominance between ranking males requires acts of reciprocal humiliation, sabotage, and lies, and eventually, violent clashes. This does not mean however that males have it made. Myths and historical accounts reveal a type of terror that comes from being the Top Male, and it includes human sacrifice.
Top Males have much to lose; sons are the continuation of a family or dynasty, but they are also a threat to the father. As a Top Male ages his physical powers decrease and he fears overthrow and death. His son(s) wants to grab power before they grow too old to enjoy being Top Male. What is a father to do? Wait for his sons to kill him, or make a preemptive strike? A Top Male commits many acts of violence, but this 'son' problem is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. The Top Male faces a dilemma: the son he intends to dispatch has a mother, and she is a member of the female group that provides sex and children. If he openly kills offspring, the females may replace him with a younger, more reasonable male. His clever magical human brain invents a solution; he comes up with a story to justify the 'sacrifice' of the son. The father has a dream, sees sign, and receives an ill omen. A magician-priest-holy man confirms that someone close to the father has violated sacred rules or has offended the gods. The father protests that he doesn't want to kill his son, but what is he to do? The gods have threatened retribution on the people if he doesn't. Even better, a gift has been promised by the gods in exchange for the sacrifice: victory over the neighbors, and possession of their prime land. This is Stone Age mythology.
The father - son dilemma is a theme based in real family relationships. Often in myth, the son is not sacrificed directly, but sent on a journey of heroic difficulty. He is forbidden to return until he has completed what are meant to be impossible tasks, and he must bring tangible proof of his deeds. The son's demise due to faraway forces eases the responsibility of the father. For the son to have a chance at being successful he must have friends in high places, usually in his mother's family. When the boy returns home he confronts a father troubled by greed, misconduct, and unhappy subjects.
In some versions of the myth, the mother is only too happy to rid herself of a despotic husband and she aids her son in doing the deed. The triumph of the son is seen as a return of the natural order, which it is. Son succeeds father.
The god of the Old Testament is a despotic father of the first rank, who confirms his Top Male status by bizarre and paranoid means. He murders his wife before she can produce children. This removal of the female happens long before the mishmash of myth that constitutes the Jesus legend. The sacrificial son therefore must pop out of a void left by his father's unnatural solitude: a borrowed virgin is required to fill in for the missing wife.
Like previous heroes, Jesus is sent away to accomplish an impossible task, that of overturning the status quo centered in the temple and its priests. He fails, and his father's priests have him slain by a third party, leaving the father blameless. Typical of a Top Male, Jehovah turns the murder into a noble sacrifice, as if he ever felt affection for his son, or for anyone else. The promise of immortality in Christian mythology is big; eternal life had previously been reserved for pharaohs, kings, the sons and daughters of gods and goddesses, various mortal heroes and the rich, who could buy into the everlasting good life. The fantastic appeal of cheating death (and nature) is evident in the millions of modern Christians who believe, despite the torturous illogic of the Jesus story, that by practicing ritual human sacrifice and cannibalism they too, will become immortal.