PZ has an entertaining little rant against D.S. Wilson and his ideas about religion as an adaptive trait operated on by group selection. (For what it's worth: I don't think it's inconceivable that at one time religion was beneficial to certain groups and that a form of cultural evolution may have driven it, but I'm extremely skeptical about the idea of group selection on a genetic level, in any context.) It culminates in a few paragraphs that I think extends far beyond this one little point about D.S. Wilson, and so I have re-edited it to make it more general:
But I have one word for [those with a] benign view of religion...That word is…
Whenever I hear that tripe about the beneficial effects of religion on human cultural evolution, it’s useful to note that the world’s dominant faiths all hardcode directly into their core beliefs the idea that women are unclean, inferior, weak, and responsible for the failings of mankind…that even their omnipotent, all-loving god regards women as lesser creatures not fit to be intermediaries with him, and that their cosmic fate is to be subservient slaves to men, just as men are to be subservient slaves to capital-H Him.
...[T]hose with eyes to see can see for themselves that religion has for thousands of years perpetuated the oppression of half our species. Half of the great minds our peoples have produced have lived and died unknown and forgotten, their educations neglected, their lives spent doing laundry and other menial tasks for men — their merits unrecognized and buried under lies promulgated by religion, in cultures soaked in the destructive myths of faith which codify misogyny and give it a godly blessing.
Isn’t that reason enough to tear down the cathedrals — that with this one far-reaching, difficult change to our cultures, we double human potential?