The conservative philanthropy the John Templeton Foundation is giving $4 million to Oxford University in England to study "...whether belief in a divine being is a basic part of mankind's makeup."
I hate to get all existential here, but I thought we had already answered this question. Writers such as Otto Rank and Ernest Becker, and thousands of other scholars already know that even if there was no God, humans would inevitably invent one. Why? Man is the only creature who is unfortunate enough to understand the inevitability of his own demise.
The specter of death is the motivation for all human history, culture and achievement, not to mention the worst things men have done to other men (Thousand year Reich, anyone?). "Necessary Lies," as Rank called them, such as the promise of immortality by religion are a fundamental part of any human culture. Modern man has difficulty believing contemporary religion's 2,000 year old fairy tales, which is why we cling to life using extreme modern medicine, and build piles of money as symbolic power against death. To make a bad analogue, any port will do in a crisis of immortality storm. The harder it is to believe in religion the more people and elites try to convince themselves of its importance.
So - the geniuses who run the Templeton Foundation either don't know this, don't want to know this, have another agenda, or perhaps some combination of the above. Either way the fact they have snookered Oxford University into sanctioning their know-nothing approach to knowledge is indicative of what conservative philanthropy has done, and is attempting to do by funding so-called research at elite institutions. For years conservative philanthropy has pushed religion on the United States and the world, promoting a retrograde mentality and morality that is used by Republican (and some Democratic) politicians to preserve the prerogatives of the rich and the corporate. Just google something like "Religion in the public square," or "Faith-based" and you'll see what I mean.
Think about it: What is Faith, anyways? It's belief in the absence of evidence and reason - actually the exact opposite of our modern way of knowing things. So why would you have have an arm of the government run on "faith"? It's literally crazy, but there it is - our federal government now gives out like $20 billion a year to so-called faith-based organizations, most of it without any accountability measures.
The craze for religion is so great, as a recent poll showed, no Democratic nor Republican politician would succeed at running for president as an atheist. This deep prejudice among the electorate against the faithless is precisely the goal of conservative philanthropies like the Templeton Foundation, and its many allies in the tax-exempt community. At some point I begin to wonder how far this head-in-the-sand mentality can, or will, go; but when you see, for example, the number of people who don't believe in evolution in this country you know it's already gone too far.