First thing's first. What religion is not (pay attention scientists).
- It is not a scientific explanation of the history of the world, nor does it attempt to be.
- It is not incompatible with scientific explanations of how the world came to be.
- It is not about belief in a higher being and/or the holy texts that accompany it.
An extreme example of this in practice; imagine an atheist and a Christian both get fired from their job on the same day for something they didn't do, crashing their car on the way home into their respective wives and children (killing all immediately) and eventually arriving to find the gas was left on and their houses had burned down, with no insurance. The atheist could be forgiven for hitting the bottle. The Christian would more likely hit the book of Job, and praise his god for giving him such an effective test of faith. He would probably be successful in getting his life back on track too. The atheist would probably end up sitting outside Family Mart drinking sho-chu, reading racist propaganda and smelling of wee. An extreme examples to be sure, and certainly not universal in either case, but we see similar micro-patterns all the time.
An attachment to a religion brings private benefits to believers that non-believers may not need but wouldn't get either way. The thing is, in order to benefit from this mind hack, you have to go through all the motions of having the belief to back it up. This includes studying the scriptures, praying (even by yourself), going to a place of worship regularly, and most importantly, making your beliefs clear to those around you. It's a constant uphill battle trying to convince yourself not that god is real and the teachings are true, but that you really believe so. And for most people, this is generally unobtrusive and has no effect on their ability to participate in society normally, due in part to the general social acceptance of religion, especially the dominant one, but also because of its irrelevance to day to day life. Thinking that a guy who lived 2000 years ago died, came back to life, and is still alive in a magical kingdom up in space, and for some reason is interested in Jim's life, is not going to stop Jim from doing his job as an accountant diligently. Everybody wins! Beneath the surface though, it's unlikely that many people actually believe that their god is any more than a mental placemarker, like the question marks in the often parodied business plan “Steal socks -> ??? -> Profit!!” I mean, they're not stupid.
Perhaps you're familiar with the parable of Han and Greedo. Han was a smuggler, who to avoid capture had found it necessary one day to dump his cargo, much to the ire of the racketeer who hired him. On his way to apologise and make amends with his employer, he found himself face to face with the unscrupulous blackmailer Greedo who showed every intent of killing Han. In self defence, Han casually smite the miscreant on the ground he stood, and strolled away with a swank. Han was a fighter, a gambler, and cocky to-boot, certainly not a role model for young children. In later life however, Han unified with the forces of light and performed many great and brave services in the name of justice and good. Crowned as a saint, many pious historians found his activities earlier in life detracted from his divinity and sought to downplay them. Hence a new history was written where Han's already justifiable act of self defence was portrayed as a more direct defensive move. Though the change was minor, this split the Followers of the Force into two distinct opposing factions, each with their own rally cry. The traditionalists on the left brandished banners emblazoned "Han fired first" while the revisionists on the right wore t-shirts with "Greedo fired first." Both are printed in block capitals with a number of exclamation marks, some of which are in fact the number 1. Each side is fiercely loyal to their interpretation of the celluloid scriptures, believing it to be the one absolute truth, and the battles were bloody and endless. In the very heat of battle with neither side showing any intent to yield to the other side's truth, a voice booms from the depths "Timothy, your tea's ready!" The battle ends for another day, they shut down the internet connection for the night and commune with family. While doing so, there is no doubt in their mind that they were talking about a work of twentieth century fiction, and that their own faction is of no consequence, but that doesn't make the belief any less real, nor those that believe a different interpretation any less the enemy. This hierarchical plurality of belief is the cornerstone of most religious followings.
Religion can of course be abused; threats of hell to bully children into submission, promises of a million submissive children for the price of a suicide bomb, and suicide bombings resulting from religious intolerance, which curiously tends to come from the top down as if it served some other hidden agenda... These are the examples that stand out, and they give religion a bad name. That's not good.
But what of this scientific proof of god? Surely science has proved the exact opposite, that the process of evolution and cycles of life are sufficiently intelligent that they don't require a creator? Typically, this is scientists once again simply not getting what religion is about. First off, a belief in god does not mean a belief in a specific god as defined by a specific religion who did a bunch of stuff in accordance with a specific text of questionable origin. Secondly, scientists who should know that human behaviour and thought processes are very much determined by the physical makeup of the brain and the body and the restraints of upbringing, environment, time and space, frequently assume that the god they have to disprove is like a slightly cleverer version of us, despite having no reason to be so, a typical strawman argument in practice.
When you isolate the concept of god from religious interpretation, it tends to become a lot less interesting - a mere higher intelligence above and beyond that of humans, That sounds rather a lot like the nature of life itself, as described in the former paragraph. For example, how can cells evolve and adapt unless those cells are not just intelligent themselves but part of a wider intelligence?! There are those that would consider this as a lower form of intelligence of course, particularly those suffering from intellectual hubris, believing that abstract thought and self awareness is the absolute cutting edge of being smart. And for sure, abstract thought is something humans probably do have the lead on, but how much value does it really have? The subconscious parts of the brain, body tissues and organs are constantly involved in intelligent processes way beyond what the conscious mind can comprehend, in some cases making the body react intelligently to a stimuli before the conscious mind is aware there's even a problem (hot potato anybody?) We rarely consider such processes to be intelligent, but the supposedly intelligent conscious mind of most people can't even figure out what to wear to the supermarket.
Put simply, you look at the wonders of nature around you, you're not looking at random chemical reactions, and you're not looking at god's work. You're looking at god face to face. I sincerely believe that if scientists really pulled together, they could reclaim god from the religions and redefine it with their own scientifically based agenda.
Well, perhaps we don't need to get that carried away, because playing a semantic game doesn't mean that any of the religious significance of a god's existence is going to be carried into the scientific realm. God is just a name, and that it can be put into the perspective of a proven phenomena should not change anybody's experience, or really mean anything in particular to anybody at all, because the science remains the same, and religion remains a fake belief in a placemarker as a mind hack. On the other hand though, perhaps scientists could ignore the likes of Dawkins, and cut the religious folk a little more slack, because even if their beliefs aren't real, the concept of god is not all that outlandish.