I believe that the belief in God is only a way of making people work hard without any humanly recompensation or benefit. It is a way in which the higher classes control the poor and exploit them saying they will get their benefit in heaven. I am not an atheist. I am just willing to believe in a large range of things. Anything is possible.
I agree with all those who doubt. Where is the credible proof of the matter?? Religion exploits the people into believing in a God that punishes them. people should be morally correct and good but should not be enslaved to the idea of eternal damnation or heaven.
Yes, God punishes...He punishes for the unrepented sin.
It's interesting that you mentioned believing in God as a means of the rich to oppress the poor, because being a Christian, for instance, is not about getting rich, and there is scripture everywhere telling us to care for the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned. On that note, a lot (if not most) of "rich" people don't have anything to do with God, nor do they believe they need Jesus. No need to realize that we're following a Lord who said He didn't even have a place to rest His head.
Now you just mentioned the belief in God, so why do I mention Christianity? Because as Christians, we believe we are children of God through His Son, Jesus. Yeah, we'll get our benefit in heaven, but it's so much more than that. See, Christianity isn't a "religion", for it's not about what we do...instead, it's a Relationship with God, for it's about who we know. So we live in God's presence during this life, and live eternally with Him in the next one. (Can you imagine that? God as a friend!) If anybody's oppressing ANYBODY, then they can't say they have anything to do with God, because His children take on His character, and oppression (especially of the poor) is NOT God's character.
As for a means of conformity in society, I think that if anything, we're conformed in our persecution. Those who want to do away with God push us into groups...even as it says in revelation...those who have the number of the beast can purchase things, but those who don't (those who have God's stamp on their foreheads instead) won't be able to buy anything. So we're grouped together by our persecuters in society (though we're supposed to be grouped together anyway, but I mention this for the sake of your question).