Does Religion benefit society?
Overall I'd say it does more harm than good. It's a lot easier to convince someone to do something insane or fight for you if they believe that a god is supporting them, and that they will exist in pure happiness for eternity after death.
It does do a lot of good too, I won't deny that, but I think their are plenty of other reasons for people to do good.
It benefits the pre-modern society as its teachings encourage people to accept the status quo "because it's how God intended".
In a world with low life expectancy, it provides a comfort blanket for those who expect to die young.
However, it's not so beneficial when faced with the social and technological progress of the modern world, as it is often a conservative force that doesn't want to lose its power over people.
Yes, when it is used as it should be! Problem is, it often tries to be a government. That is when it hurts. SOCIETY should make ITS rules, ITS morals. If a church wants their own .... keep it within their "flock"! The people should decide what is going to make their life what they want, not some religious idiot with an agenda.
I have no problem with anyone's religion as long as THEY keep it to themselves and don't try to control the world!
In many ways religion restricts the advancement of science and progress of mankind.
The afterlife ''wonderland'' which the main religions have created serves only as a disincentive for people to strive to achieve the best in this life, ( the only one there is) in the hope that by praying and worshiping some mythical god they will enjoy a life of luxury in 'cloud cuckoo land'.
On the other side of the coin it must be recognised that as the the following of religion recedes and the spiritual consequences of breaking the moral codes of the various religious scriptures becomes meaningless so the societies of the nigh on godless nations escalates to terrible heights.
Religion in the modern world has a much less central role in defining the morals of the average person. We're pretty privileged in terms of how mannerly our society is in America and other 1st world countries. In a much more primitive time, religion had a much more central role in defining someones morals, because there wasn't a society that by itself incentivized following any morals. So I'd say yes, overall, religion has benefited society as a whole, in developing our morals. However, religion is a very widespread term, and to be open minded you have to include radical religions into the mix, that might believe that killing in the name of their God is sensible. In that regard, religion would be damaging our society. But I'd say over the history of the world it's done more good than evil, but that's just my opinion so don't take it as a factual statement.