If 51% of Americans profess to not believe in evolution that is an absolutely shocking commentary on the ignorance and intelligence of the American public (granted it may not constitute a "vast majority"). I suspect that here in North Idaho it may exceed 51%. We have students in High School who believe dinosaurs never existed. And we have at least one teacher who won't even offer a section on evolution because he gets too much flak from parents (and we don't have very many teachers). Even the Catholic Church recognizes evolution. Our fundamentalistic churches, of which we have many, do not. I personally find this incredible (to say nothing of appalling) but, alas, it is so. I confess to complete ignorance with respect to what Muslims believe about evolution. I shall try to look into the matter.
Bubblehead: I think one could make a case for the opposite of your suggestion about the origins of religion. It would seem to me the weak would not be in much of a position to dictate religious beliefs to the strong. The strong, however, could easily have imposed absurd beliefs on the weaker members of society forcing them to pay money or tribute to themselves (which they could then use to construct obscene monuments to themselves and their "religion"). Besides, why would one assume that weaker members of a society would necessarily be more intelligent than the stronger? Anyway, I'm sure the origins of religion are much more complicated and basic than either of us could possibly know.
Perhaps one could make a stronger case arguing that the weaker members of society invented technology to protect themselves from the stronger. Consider this verse engraved on a confiscated handgun:
Be not afraid of any man,
no matter what his size,
just call on me, my friend,
for I will equalize.
This is all nonsense, of course. Technology obviously advanced along with human evolution in an exceedingly complicated manner.
The current "problem" with religion in the U.S. has not so much to do with whether or not people profess to believe in God, as it does with fundamentalistic religions having influence over the current administration and attempting to force their beliefs on the rest of us. While it is true that Italians believe in God and THE Church, the church itself believes evolution occurred and ordinarily Italians do not attempt to control their government in quite the same way. Religious beliefs should be private matters and not try to infringe upon the body politic. I suspect that most societies are not so concerned with the separation of church and state as we are and in some sense church and state are one in other countries (which probably works where you have one completely dominant religion like Catholicism).
Be all of this as it may, it is perfectly obvious that I despise Bush/Cheney and the neocons as war criminals who should be held accountable for their illegal, immoral, and unconstitional activities. While the Democrats are not without some complicity they are certainly not in the same league with the lying Republicans and I hope they will be able to at least clean up the worst of Bush/Cheney's excesses.