Religion isn’t something designed by an oppressor class to “control the masses.”
It was designed, either directly or indirectly, by evolution, and is an indelible part of human nature. Or at least that’s the scientific view.
“And though this history doesn’t determine us – for with each new phase in life’s story comes greater power of agency – this bio-cosmological history influences everything we do and are. Even the most seemingly autonomous human decision is made from within history. That’s the big picture here. That’s what we’ve been keeping in mind as we made our way back in time to the evolutionary seeds that would eventually – and quite slowly – blossom into human religion.”
But what about religion’s future? Some people argue that since we know how and why religion evolved, we’re now able to leave behind such childish, primitive things.
Some even argue that it’s in our best interest to do so because religion, like a virus, has infected our species and caused us to enact horrible atrocities the world over. Better to leave it to science and rationality to help us forge our way ahead. But this perspective is shortsighted. For one thing, science itself is not neutral, and it has facilitated some of the worst modern phenomena, including eugenics, the atomic bomb, and drone warfare. Should we also leave science behind because of its checkered history? Of course not.
Our criticisms of human institutions shouldn’t blind us to the positive contributions those institutions have made across the globe. None of us should deny either the ugliness or nobility found in the deep history of religion. Instead, we should acquaint ourselves with that history, appreciate it where can, interrogate it where we ought, and, with both eyes open, trek on toward the future opening up before us.