Which Came First, Religion or Civilization?

Just recently I stumbled across a blog post about Gobekli Tepe, a neolithic archaeological site in southeastern Turkey currently under excavation. As more of the site became unearthed, it started posing questions about the agricultural revolution, civilization and religion.

Klaus Schmidt, from the German excavation team working the Gobekli Tepe site believes that this could be one of the oldest temples or places of worship in the world, if not the oldest.

It is commonly thought that the agricultural revolution led to civilization. However according to the blog post, the discovery of Gobekli Tepe leads one to believe that the need to gather for religious events may have led to agriculture and then to civilization.

What is civilization? Having looked up many definitions of civilization, the one that seems to convey the best meaning is:

An advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions.

So then, Klaus Schmidt may well be onto something here at Gobekli Tepe. I find it hard to comprehend a civilized world inventing religion, or finding a need for it. It would have to have been invented by primitive man.

Why then is religion still around? And why do supposedly civilized people still cling to it, some in utter desperation even?

I really don’t know for certain. FEAR seems to be a leading candidate, but ignorance also comes in close. However what is certain, is that religion is slowly losing its stranglehold in an increasingly sophisticated scientific world.

That is very encouraging for the evolution of civilization.