There are approximately 7 billion humans residing on our planet. Of those 7 billion humans, approximately 5.8 billon identify with a religious group. The breakdown was found to be: Christian: 2.2 billion; Muslim: 1.6 billion; Hindu: 1.0 billion; Buddhist: 0.5 billion; and Other: 0.5 billion.
While not mathematically accurate, the research does provide an order of magnitude of humans who identify with any religion or more generally, those who believe in a supreme creator, relative to those who do not. In general terms, 8.4 out of every 10 people occupying the planet, most without sufficient knowledge to make a convincing case for the non-existence of God, apparently blindly or otherwise, believe that God does, in fact, exist. Taken as a percentage, the number of atheists in our midst is not unlike the incidence of a genetic variation like left-handedness within the total population. It is also clear that this identification with “God” dates back to prehistory.
As early as 100,000 BCE, Neanderthals were performing pre-burial rituals on their dead. As humans evolved, the rituals became more complex, the concept of sacrifice to a deity came into being, and prominence in a community became tied to religious practices. In Neolithic times, theocracies appeared adding political power to religious prestige. The Bronze Age religions became more complex in their funerary practices leading to the prominent Egyptian funerary system. With each age the religious aspect of life evolved until the Greek development of a written language capable of recording history. These phenomena strongly suggests that human DNA is somehow pre-programmed to identify with a intelligent, divine creator.
It is the Greek development of Hellenist principles that found their way into the ancient religions and eventually into the early Christianities that appeared at the beginning of the year numbering system known as the Common Era.
Religion, as it relates to Hellenism and Hellenes, is presented here in the context of how the Hellenist principles have found their way into religion, and more specifically, into those religions that were dominant in western civilization.