It seems that it's very hard to make a thread that tries to deal with religious or dubious matter without it being twisted into people trying to turn it into their own personal body of proof that there is no god and there is not point to anything. I am an existentialist through and through - I don't personally think it very likely that there is a greater purpose in the world, or that anyone is, was or ever will be meant to truly achieve something. But that doesn't mean the thought isn't appealing, and it definitely doesn't mean that I, and everyone who shares my belief, might be wrong. In fact, saying that we don't believe in anything is wrong by simply looking at the way that we believe the truth lies in there being no truth! Atheism and existentialism are almost religions in and of themselves, even though most people who support these theories might vehemently deny it as such.
It's a shame that we've evolved to the point to the point that we can put people on other planets, but not to the point where it comes natural to us to respectfully disagree with someone without immediately plotting how to convince them that your way is the right way.
I sort of imagine it like the OP is asking for directions from two people at once: One says left and one says right. Rather than trying to help or even include the one who originally asked the question, those two are now going to be at each others throats.
But that doesn't really matter - It's not the point. Now, to try and get back on topic!
I think religion ha sadly left a lot of rather grim marks on the world, but I also think it's improved a lot of things from what they were before it came along. We have to keep in mind that religions brought some of the earliest widely accepted codes of morale and the first ethical guidelines. There was a time when no one was telling you that killing and stealing was wrong - And I think it's a good thing that pretty much all religions set about changing this. Religions helped organize an shape the world, and it led to startling modernization. In the western world in particular we've achieved far more in the last 2000 years than we did in the 2000 years before them - For worse, yes, but certainly also for better. As a matter of fact, was it not for Christianity most of us would have no use of this site at all, as we would likely never have been taught to read or write by ourselves!
A lot of people turn to religion in the hardest times of their life - And some people mock them for it. I think that's rather cruel. Ten months ago I started treatment for severe depression and anxiety disorders following a nervous breakdown. I was frightened and belittled and without anything to hold on to. I didn't turn to religion myself, but I can see why people would!
When you stand on the edge and stare into the cavernous void, wondering if there's anything at the bottom, you start to realize that you have only two options. You either plummet into the dark depths yourself, and find out or you stand on the edge and you hope there's something there. And that's what religion can do for you! That's the medical value of religion: You can at least hope it will work. In a world where everything is cured by swallowing pills and being shot at with beam-cannons that leave the Death-Star blushing - What's wrong with just a nice bit of hope? For all of those who go about calling this all nothing more than a placebo - Well, is there anything wrong with that? The placebo effect has been shown to work, just like faith has. Faith, hope, love, rage - All emotions and spiritual concepts you can think of have proven, scientific values. If you were stripped of them all you'd not even pass for a shadow of what we'd call a human being. All of those people who will happily use science to disprove faith seem to forget that there's science behind faith itself. Faith and science aren't two different ideals - It's not the Reds and the Blues staring each other down. The two are undeniably connected. Most modern science would not exist was it not because people had questioned religious beliefs, so if those religions weren't there to start with.. Why would we ever have bothered putting a man on the moon? Instead of trying to prove something to the world, and to ourselves, we'd have looked up at the moon and gone 'There's the moon..' and the guy next to you would say 'Yeah, I can see it.. What about it?'. Faith and science is required to produce a result, just like a man and a woman is required to produce a child.
So yeah - Religion is possibly the most important thing to ever have happened. If we didn't have religions and laws we'd never have had any reason to question anything.. We'd be sitting in a cave by the beach, eating shrimps, defecating and killing each other with rocks because your hey; Your rock was bigger than my rock, so I wanted yours instead!
And that's exactly what this conversation isn't supposed to devolve into. People, please - Don't be the one sitting with a rock, wanting to hit someone else over the head with it just because they don't agree your rock is the best rock.