Culture, including religion, is shaped by Darwinian pressures. Eg Dawkins, The Selfish Gene. Discipline worked for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Religion was adaptive because a God demanding discipline was more compelling than just habit. The Christian vision of eternal paradise or hell-fire propelled this ethos all over the West for 1,500 years, until it started to lose strength as the State got better at enforcing discipline, and with the rise of science.
How can we account for the beliefs of almost half of Americans, that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, the earth and the universe are about 7,000 years old, species weren’t created by evolutionary processes… If elements of culture like this are subject to Darwinian “survival of the fittest” pressures, what accounts for their widespread propagation in one of the best-educated populations in existence – in a society that is a world leader in science? How can such an ethos be adaptive? Why does it not disappear?