We’re definitely not better off with it in this day and age. We got mass literacy and science in spite of religion. The fact that such incredible technology was invented and implemented during the Roman Empire that was not improved upon for centuries is a great example of that.
And we had soap in Roman times, lost it for a bit, and got it back again. Developments come in fits and starts.
The opposition to evolutionary theory is a perfect example and most of the banned books throughout history have been banned because of them causing offense to religious sensibilities.
Evolutionary theory? You probably mean Darwin’s theory of natural selection rather than Mendel’s theory of inheritance, because the church was cool about that one. Big radical new theories are often opposed very strongly – the Missoula Floods, for example. Opposed by scientists for quite a long time until finally the evidence was just too much. Your modern remnant opposition to Darwin, and book burning, is more about the anxiety of becoming culturally irrelevant than religious dogma.
When a huge group of people believe they’ve become irrelevant in the modern world, that anger can be channeled to achieve political aims a la the rise of Wahhabism during the Ottoman Empire. Yeah, there are some religious bones to throw, but there are usually other political aims which are paramount. Is it really a coincidence that science-denying, book-burning religious Americans are also reliably voting to make really rich people even richer? If religion didn’t exist as a tool to mobilize these voters, these same snake oil salespeople would use oh, I dunno, maybe race, to achieve the same goals.
Just because the Sistine Chapel is painted beautifully doesn’t mean that religion hasn’t done far more to censor art than it has to further it.
People like to tell other people how to live their lives. I agree religion plays a part in that, but less of a part than you’re implying.
Fundamentalist Islam has motivated the destruction of so many historical artifacts and works of art.
IMO fundamentalism is the application of hyper-literalist interpretations onto otherwise fairly sane religions, with the explicit purpose of coming to insane conclusions. You want to justify genocide? Just read enough Old Testament with enough of a literal bent and a complete disregard for context and you’ll find it. IMO fundamentalism is about seeking how to weaponize religion, it is not religion in its own right. YMMV.
Religious fundamentalism provides mankind, which I agree sucks, with an easy justification for its atrocities and even sometimes motivates its atrocities. Sane people wouldn’t be beheading people for apostasy if their religion didn’t call for it. Sane people wouldn’t be campaigning against gay rights if religion didn’t condemn homosexuality.
Aside from what I’ve already said about fundamentalism, people behave very badly to people they don’t like, that much I agree with. Were it not for religion, though, I believe people would find another justification to injure those same people. Religion provides easy justification for bad things, certainly. But I think you overlook mankind’s ability to seek out other easy justifications.
Also, I want to stress that I’m not trying to let religion off the hook completely. It does help lead to many of these things. But it is just one of many, many things.