Religion, as defined by Marxism, is fantastic reality. Fantastic, not in the trite sense that the claims religion makes about existence are verifiably untrue, unreal or baseless, but in the sense that nature and society are reflected in exaggerated form, as leaping shadows, as symbols or inversions.
So religion should not be dismissed as mere false consciousness. Religion reflects something of the real; but, as Jack Conrad’s book shows, there is even more to it than that. Religious ideas are not only determined by reality: they can themselves become materially effective.
The ideas people have in their heads – especially when mediated through institutions such as churches, mosques and temples – no matter how wrapped up in the godly and seemingly unrelated to the corporeal world, impact on their surroundings.