I've been reading a book by Robert Wright called The Evolution of God, in which he traces the changes in the nature of God (or of how people think of God) from forces of nature to tribal deities to national gods to the idea of one God to the idea of a loving universal God. Fascinating stuff and well worth reading.
But that's not what this is about. What this blog is about is what powered the evolution of God. Now Wright doesn't say anything about this, but as he outlines the ideas and the history, a progression becomes clear. The first step in the progression is an advancement in science/technology (domesticating of grains; irrigation). From this springs an advance in civilization (rise of cities; laws). From this springs an increase in moral understanding. And finally, from the increase in moral understanding, comes a change in religious thought.
I note two things from this: First that the understanding of the nature of the world around us is the wellspring of all progress, temporal and spiritual. Second, religion is a tag-along and in no way a leader in all of this. In fact, religion is usually dragging its feet, heels dug in, kicking and screaming.
One reason I feel compelled to write this is a widespread belief that "science has failed us." I wonder at the sheer gall and massive silliness of people who can actually say such things without going into giggle fits.
In fact, science is not only what has saved us, it's the only thing that offers any hope for the future.