I just found your post and would like to say I think Buddhism is a fantastic religion, if that is the right word to define it. Buddha reached higher consciousness through the discipline of Yoga, which was the world's first "religion" in that it allowed people to verify the truth of mysticism for themselves.
In fact it was an eight fold path - it even included some very difficult practices like telling the truth! The reason being that mental and emotional factors are very important when trying to remodel the brain.
I am a big admirer of Buddhism and my 13 year old daughter declared she wanted to be Buddhist, and even has the Dalai Llama's quotes on her bedroom wall - along with pictures of Jessie J and the Beatles. She really likes to try to understand these ideas, and why a person believes that a Universe with no aim and no life of its own could give birth to fantastically complex life.
I started a modest blog recently and wrote a little about the religion of the future and would welcome comments: http://iaincarstairs.wordpress.com/2...of-the-future/
The most important thing to remember is that religion is a byproduct of a specific function of the brain - just as art is a product of theinterest in visual phenomoena, and galleries all over the world serve the purpose of exploring that interest and fulfilling the desire to know more. Of course, some galleries take one preference and some another, some are closed minded and some are adventurous, but they all require public interest to keep going. If they change their "creeds" it only shows that people's interests are evolving, which is what you would expect, even in one lifetime, never mind over the centuries. Their changes in direction are to be expected and welcomed.
As a painter myself, I found concentrating on painting and on colours continually remodels whatever part of my brain needs to be more sensitive to colours, just as taxi drivers enlarge the areas involved with spatial navigation.
Meditation increases the neuronal density of certain areas, and can, when the overall organism of the human body is in a suitable state, accelerate evolutionary forces within the body and open the tenth door - basically a perfectly natural sense - allowing a person to see into the world of life and of consciousness, of which we are all a part.
Religions are simply the institutional, organised result of the global demand caused by a specific sense within the brain; it is not a radnom or whimsical fad. If it were, it would disappear quickly, because the human mind itself, in the end, rejects whatever is not of lasting worth to it. Everyone will have different levels of this capability but it is a biological factor as verifiable in the laboratory as sight or sound, although incomprehensible to those without any development of that sense within their own brain, just as some people declare "all art is nonsense".Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/interfaith-dialogues/34716-emotional-links-genetic-health-biological-heaven.html
Atheism is a very useful movement because it requires religion to account for itself to the naturally skeptical intellect. This it will certainly be able to do, by working with biologists; in the end, the superstitious aspects will be discarded just as they have been in meteorology, medicine, physics, cosmology, psychology and so on - without any of these fields being abandoned because of their ancient roots having to match the condition of the ancient mind at the time.
Scientific critics of religion's unscientific credentials should remember that science has carefully avoided all investigation of religion - even the genetic and epigenetic effects have been studiously ignored, although they are obvious from a quick study of history - the first scientists all came from devout backgrounds. Therefore, a religious background does not negate a genetically astute scientist and as to the absence of investigation, this criticism is more about science itself and their aloof attitude.
The more serious aspect of this ignorance is that the materialistic lifestyle has given birth to monstrous deformities in the brain - a prevalence of sociopaths, a rise in crime, in addictions, alzheimers, ADD, autism, alcoholism, and a corresponding increase in wars, as these brains find their way into politics. The evidence is that an absence of spiritual values is like ignoring hygiene for the brain; what follows is decay just as an absence of hygiene on the physical plane causes rapid decay and festering sores within the body. Another aspect of ignoring what is and what is not a healthy religious practice, is thatcults and madmen abound, and trickery is mistaken for spiritual wisdom. All these things are disastrous for millions of people, and a lack of scientific interest in it is appalling.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=34716
So this is a very exciting age to be living in and I'm hoping some of these developments will take place in my lifetime.