Michael Shermer surveys the ubiquity of religious belief around the world and concludes that it must all be a result of evolution:
Of course, genes do not determine whether one chooses Judaism, Catholicism, Islam or any other religion. Rather, belief in supernatural agents (God, angels, demons) and commitment to certain religious practices (church attendance, prayer, rituals) appears to reflect genetically based cognitive processes (inferring the existence of invisible agents) and personality traits (respect for authority, traditionalism).
Why did we inherit this tendency? Long, long ago, in a Paleolithic environment far, far away from the modern world, humans evolved to find meaningful causal patterns in nature to make sense of the world, and infuse many of those patterns with intentional agency, some of which became animistic spirits and powerful gods. I call these two processes patternicity (the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless data) and agenticity (the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention and agency).
Yes, well, the clunky neologisms aside, one wonders: If religious belief is the norm, and if it is the product of our genes, does that not imply that those who don't have a religious belief are genetic mutants and deviants? Just asking.RLC