Organized religions have historically been responsible for some of the greatest benefits to humanity as well as great human atrocities. On the positive side, religious orders preserved literacy throughout the darkest days of the Middle Ages, and promoted a variety of moral virtues. But on the dark side, some of the greatest evils have been perpetrated in the name of religion.
An increase in the number of the religious is not an unalloyed blessing. The Middle East today is torn asunder by the Sunni/Shia conflict. The greatest source of today’s terrorism comes from Muslim extremists. One of the most frightening prospects facing the world today is that one of these terrorists groups might acquire a suitcase-sized nuclear weapon and use it to target some group or country they consider heretical. Because religious fanatics today may hold the world hostage, one cannot say that religion is moving in the right direction.