The thing that I like best about religion and those that practice it (I say practice, because with as messed up as religion tends to be, you can never perfect it) is the fact that it is only possible to do if you have a really unique brain. Luckily for religion's sake, humans have this type of brain. The followers of DinoJesus never had to worry about becoming unbelievers, because they didn't have a brain that was sophisticated enough to think their way out of religion. (If you ask me, this may have been a major design flaw from the creator of this planet.) Anyway, back to my original point. The human brain can partition (metaphorically speaking) itself into various sections, with each section believing a different, non-compatible thing, and the two shall never mix. If this were not possible, then humans, as they grew older would come to a time in their life when their different beliefs would meet, and like matter and anti-matter meeting the result wouldn't be good. Somewhere around 8 to 10 years old the child would question whether Santa Claus was real, and then their head would explode and it would really be hard for the human species to propagate.
So, taking a step back from the thoughts of little kids walking around and their head suddenly blowing up, what am I trying to say? Just that humans are made for religion. We always are looking for the explanation. In our youth as a modern species, it was easy to make up explanations to explain away the unknown. What is lightening? It is an angry god hurling bolts from his house on high. Why does the sun go around the sky? It is a fiery chariot that makes its daily trip across the sky before another goddess can pull her cloak over the world. Perfectly reasonable explanations. As long as you pay no attention to science or what we have discovered since then.
However, have we really traveled that far from our ancestors? Approximately 50% of people in the United States believe that humans were created in their present form sometime in the last 10,000 years. If you asked these same people if they believe that dinosaurs existed, many of them would say yes. The fossil record is conclusive in support of evolution and that life has existed for hundreds of millions of years, and yet, a vast number of people can easily hold two diametrically opposite views in their heads with no problem. "I believe that the story of Adam and Eve is true and that God created all the creatures of the earth at the same time and they lived in the garden with Adam and Eve." "I love visiting the dinosaur museum and seeing all the bones and wondering at how the Earth must have been back then when the dinosaurs were roaming the planet for millions of years long before the mammals even came in to existence." One would think that these two statements would come from two very different individuals. But in reality, these thoughts can come from the same brain. One side is the religious side, and the other is the science side, and we keep them compartmentalized and separate for our own sanity. (This of course does not take in to account those people that explain the dinosaur fossils as "Devil Rocks" that were put there by Satan to confuse us in to believing in that whole "Evil lution" thing.)
Now many people will say "so what?" As long as we can believe two different things, then who cares? The problem is that people will often make decisions using one part of their brains that believes one thing, when the other part that believes something else would have been the more appropriate part to use. Can you imagine the number of problems that could be wiped out if everybody would keep their religion thoughts to themselves and not allow them to make decisions in the real world? Think about the current problems between the western world and the middle east. If you were to take religion out of the mix, I would bet that there would be no such problems.
But even closer to home (Utah) you would see a huge change. The people of Utah and their leaders think of themselves as Conservative and defenders of liberty. Not so fast. You see, they often allow the religious brain to get involved and it has a tendency to really mess things up. Would you like a glass of wine with your dinner? Let me go behind this curtain and pour you a glass and then bring it out to the table. I have to have a curtain there, because the law says that people shouldn't see the evil alcohol being poured, because it might cause the youth to want to drink. Really. I kid you not. So, the kid sitting across from me can see the glass of wine. Knows what is in the glass if he has half a brain (which, since he is probably religious is true), but because he didn't see it poured he is safe from the malicious effects of the temptation to drink. This is the type of thinking that happens when the religious side of the brain takes over for a second or two. The leadership of the state claim to believe in freedom, but only the freedom to do those things that are in agreement with their core beliefs. If you want to do something that they don't feel is "right" then they have no problem legislating their morals on you. And, even more, see no problem in their doing it.
So, the problem is simple. The answer complex. Can we believe two things and use the right belief at the right time to act? Can I listen to a moral story in the bible, without "not suffering a witch to live?" Can I understand it's important to live an honest, moral life, without trying to kill with stones a person who cheated on their spouse? Can I appreciate the simpleness of a Hobbit's life without having to live in the Shire?