The development of complex languages, around 200,000 years ago, that can describe and pass on abstract thinking (like religious thought) has been likely the biggest force behind our cultural evolution, which has taken off exponentially since the first sentences were formed.
This use of language to describe complex and abstract notions sparked our cultural or cognitive evolution which recording in writing and now vocal/video/software has pushed along this exponential growth curve, where it will end up, nobody knows.
Yet, we had to crawl before we could run. So started our cognitive evolution which through the act of survival, observation and wonder at the unknown, formed the first religions. At the time we were extremely reliant on what we knew about the natural world, prey, predators, seasons, which plants were edible, death, birth, and is there a reason/purpose for it all?
Cognition evolved and it likely had to start from comprehending simple observations and concepts/frameworks, to gradually build on those and develop the more complex observations and concepts. Each observation of nature and how creatures moved about, set up stories for educating the next generation on how to hunt prey and avoid predators. This information was passed on originally, when language was limited by dances, like bees use to give others direction to a crop of flowers. Though as language progressed, the dances were replaced with tales and stories that gave these basic lessons. When language became more colorful and abstract, the creatures in the tales also became more colorful and abstract and started adopting human traits, imposed on them by the story tellers. Thus animism was born, where an explanation of the behavior of creatures was told in story form and the creatures behaved as they were observed, because they were following the wishes of a guiding spirit of their own species that cared for them.
Though while many animistic religions were built on very simple observations and concepts concerning those observations. I will very briefly summarize the polytheism era/phase of our cognitive and thus religious evolution. Then a little more on Monotheism which is the era/phase that needs to be phased out for further and proper advancement in human cognitive (cultural) evolution.
Next in the evolution of religion came Polytheism, where animistic spirits/semi-gods, became semi human, as humans cognition developed greater egotism and humans self concept started to put ourselves into the realm of being cared for by the gods, where in animism, the gods/spirits only looked after their specific species and natural phenomenon, like lightning, thunder, etc...
Finally we get to monotheism, the final development of human cognition and egotism, prior to becoming a species that truly understands itself and the natural world around it.
It is the most egotistical of all the evolved religion forms, where humans post themselves into the position of being the prime purpose of the existence of everything. What was a cognitive evolution into self understanding and knowledge, became an evolution into self delusion and thus the entire environment on Earth has suffered.
Most forms of monotheism did not come from human's quest for knowledge and understanding the observable universe, like animism and polytheism. Monotheism replaced the search for truth and knowledge with IGNORANCE and gives fabricated, self deluded, false answers for everything known to exist at the time. Basically it went from a natural quest for knowledge to a confidence trick, where if you want knowledge, you must seek he that already knows it all or the Omniscient one, which has already written all you ever need to know in some scripture, somewhere???
Thus Monotheist religions (scams) mostly started as a means of controlling groups of humans to satisfy the narcissistic megalomania of some wannabe tyrant, Abraham, Moses, Muhammad, Zoroaster, etc... So this form of religious evolution exposed human egotism at it's very worst.
We are at the stage of evolution where we are trying to free ourselves from the shackles of self delusion, such extreme egotism and understand the universe as it really is. Yet, many don't want to get over the previous stage, because most humans are cognitive misers and this new stage of cognitive evolution which you have embarked into means a certain loss of delusional comfort and false certainty that religion offered the pious.
This is my hypothesis.
Which I developed from studying, theology at a Christian college, Philosophy as a side subject while doing arts at uni, history, in particular encyclopedic studies into religious history, books on anthropology, psychology and neurology.
Human progress is being hampered by those wanting to cling to our previous cognitive form , Theistic.
The US need to eject GOP to make any advances in their cognitive evolution.
I could go for weeks, so I had to force myself to shorten it.
Hope somebody would agree with my Hypothesis on the history of religion.
All Comments Welcome! :-D~
Thanks for taking the time to read this, hope I didn't waste any of it, if you enjoy it, the long time spent typing was worth it. Phew! I haven't much time left for proof reading, so iggy my many errors please!