Many people find themselves under the sway of religion. Religion taps into core human ideas: The betterment of mankind, doing the right thing by way of others and so on. And by tapping into inate human morality. Religion co-opts human nature.
Human Nature is not so bad:
As I blogged here in a slightly trollish style - to tease libertarian-capitalists who oppose socialism. http://a-new-red-dawn.blogspot.com/2010/11/red-blooded-men-reject-unfairness-and.html
Human nature has been somewhat tested and observed under lab conditions - For example, the Ultimatum Game can test if the two agents in the game have a sense of fair play - and are they willing to suffer self sacrifice in order to enforce fairness.
Religion weaves this and other natural human traits into a story narrative. The danger is that it co-opts the host into addition modes of behaviour. And lest we forget, what the great Karl Marx said about religion.,
Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes Religion is the opium of the People.
And surely true. However, with religion so widespread, perhaps itself is woven into human nature?
In the end, if one is concerned about advancing humanity, one need only turn towards socialism with the ultimate aim of a communist future. A world of community, sharing and superabundance of goods cannot be a goal which is invalid.
With regards to Origins
I find this sort of thing quite inspiring
The energy content of the universe appears to be zero as gravity counter acts the energy of expansion.
Logically the universe must exist without creation because there is nothing to stop it emerging! Nothingness is unstable. Intuitively we understand a notion, that you cannot get something out of nothing. But that is a law of the universe we inhabit - just as our 'plane of existance' is well described by classical physics - reality is deeper and weirder - Relativity bends time, quantum physics shakes ones faith in reality And yet, counter intuitive concepts rule the universe. Before the universe, no such rule constraining spontaneous creation. And even then, the net energy content of the universe is nearly or exactly zero. So the big bang does not require a prime mover, only logic. And the rest emerges from that.
This issue of new scientist discusses Phase Space http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128241.700-beyond-spacetime-welcome-to-phase-space.html?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=mg21128241.700