At some point in pre-history, humans started believing in the existence of a god or gods. This was the first religious awakening, and it was vital to human evolution. With it humankind was able to move from a hunter-gatherer society to a complex modern civilization.
An important role for the gods after the first awakening was to be a higher power that could and would help humans in their daily challenges. As the first awakening continued over thousands of years, peoples evolved into what we call civilization. Another important role emerged for the god or gods, as religion now helped the secular leader hold the larger group together as a nation and an empire. Typically, the priest class created a myth structure that assisted the political leader with legitimacy and provided a set of rules in which society could better work as a political and social unit.
My main goal is not to prove the existence of god or gods, but to establish that religion in the past was functional to human social evolution and that religions hold important social roles in the present and future. At the same time, some of those roles need to be updated, given the realities of globalization and science. Significantly, the functions of religions over thousands of years may not hold true for the twenty-first century.