I was just reading an online article on Discovery about some newly discovered cave paintings by Native Americans, in Tennessee. They are the oldest cave paintings in North America. The author says that many of the paintings express a belief in a higher power. When my wife took World History at Brookdale Community College, her book talked about the cave paintings in France and Spain and how they also seemed to indicate that primitive man's belief in a higher power.
Socio-biological evolutionary theory is fascinating. My understanding is that a great deal of it has to do not with the adaptive survival of individuals but foremost, of communities/groups. Note that religious faiths are as much or more about the community as they are about individuals.
My older son has studied the theory of evolution extensively and confirms that the basic life force is the survival and propagation of the species. In the Book of Genesis, when God says to Adam & Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply," I interpret that to be the Biblical author's observation and affirmation of what evolution tells us.
Is it possible that, from the time of the earliest homo sapiens, that manifestations of belief in a higher power are part of the brains evolutionary adaptation to life, to help ensure the survival and propagation of the species?
If that is true, then surely, much of the attempts at adaptation seem ineffective or failures, neurotic. But what if some of the attempts at adaptation are effective? In comparison with more traditional evolutionary science, recall that most if not all species die out someday. Neanderthal Man died out, but my son's physical anthropology textbook says that he actually had a good run--lasting longer actually than we have been around so far. So the fact that a hypothesized religious faith as an adaptive mechanism on the part of the brain may fail often does not necessarily prove that it is not part of an evolutionary mechanism.
If faith/religion is a manifestation of socio-biological evolutionary adaption, then what does that mean? It suggests that it is a good thing and in fact is related to our survival as a species. It should be dismissed or condemned. Certainly it should be studied but perhaps in a way I know not.
Extending the thought:
But this has to do with the soft programming of the brain's neuro-circuits not the hard programming of our physical bodies.
It is a well observed fact that the various major religions of the world seem appropriate to the cultures within which they originated and developed. Hinduism seems far more suited to traditional India. The same with Islam and the traditional Arab culture. These differences also account for when the major religions fight with each other. The issue is that we now live in the modern world, and to me it would seem that in order to survive, the traditional religions have to do some radical evolving.