Human history may be viewed as a gradual education of mankind. Every religion was, and still is, a phase along that step-by-step path to illumination. Religion was not, as some have supposed, a scam imposed upon credulous people by self-seeking clergy; it was an evolutionary theory intended to civilize humanity by instilling virtue, decency, and social unity. Some religions (the Old Testament for example) sought to make men virtuous by assuring them worldly riches in a long life. In another phase (the New Testament) it tried to overcome the disheartening discrepancy between virtue and earthly riches by promising rewards after death. In both cases the appeal was adjusted to the limited understanding of the people at the time.
Supernatural religions, like Christianity and Islam, are only a phase of evolution of the human mind. A higher phase comes when humans learn to reason, and when men and women grow strong and clear enough to do what’s morally right because it is seen to be virtuous and reasonable, rather than for material or heavenly rewards. That phase has been reached by many individuals; it has not yet come to the race. But it will come as man’s education develops. Just as the average individual recapitulates in his growth the intellectual and moral development of the race, so the race slowly passes through the intellectual and moral development of progressive individuals.
Religion has been an immense aid to morality, but it has also been the cause of much pain and suffering and death because it separates people into them vs. us. Who’s right and who’s wrong…. Hopefully, the human race can soon move beyond a system of dogmas demanding acceptance on pain of sin, punishment, and social obloquy, and become compassionate, moral beings simply because it is the moral way to live, and causes the least amount of suffering for everyone.