In software development, we have the concept of a “development platform”. In the olden days (circa 1983), a development platform would usually mean either the IBM PC or the MacIntoch. Each platform would offer access to a certain market, and would provide certain development tools to the software developer.
Today, the word “platform” is still in use, but its meaning has morphed. Some development platforms are “virtual machines”. You develop for non-existent machine, and the platform provides a way to convert from the virtual machine apps to an actual machine. The best example today would be game development platforms. Platforms create “paradigms”, or ways of approaching a problem, on which their various development tools hang. Tools are software to do things like 3-D modeling or moving objects over virtual landscapes. Once your game (to continue with that analogy) is done, the platform allows you implement it easily for the target real machines: hand held, PC, X-Box, Sega etc.
As I said before, the platform dictates the audience, and the tools it provides represent the paradigm to approaching the problem.
If you are a con artist, you have several platforms to choose from. Health and health care is a fertile ground for scams and is a good example of a con game development platform. Others are financial world (stock market, pyramid schemes etc) and, of course, religion. Nobody understands everything about these complex ideas, so it is easy for the con man to hide in the weeds.
Organized religion is a perfect development platform for the con. The development tools are the tools of religion the world over… an invisible buddy that watches over you all the time, messes with your life, and threatens you with eternal damnation. You can say the most ridiculous things and get away with it when you wrap them in the tools of the platform (e.g.: god moves in mysterious ways; god tells us what is moral and what is not).
The virtual machine is the religious world view. The development platform is the virtual religious world view at the top and its specific implementation platforms (Catholicism, Islam, Judaism etc) below it, and the actual target real machines are you, me, and your kids… but mostly your kids. And like most games today, they involve in-application purchases and lots of them. That is, if you want to play the game, you must pay.
Game development platforms often are tightly held, meaning only certain tools are available for use and they are controlled by the platform star chamber. Think “kosher”. Other platforms are more open to input and modification.
At the end of the day, development platforms are created to make money, whether we are talking games or religion.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.