As stated above in several comments religion is a result of environment. Trying to justify and explain the unknown; however, it is evident by all religious practices it is humanity's fear and even pride that is being protected. We seek to produce myths and legends that grant us logic and some sort of consistency. It is functional behavior for the most part, but at many levels disagrees with reality and cause us to act inconsistent. The logic behind escapism in the form of religion is necessary, wanting to make reason of everything. But ironically it causes us to act otherwise
I believe in the evolution of species and at a certain point man became aware of his own mortality; a state of consciousness probably unique to our species. Species that survive and thrive, as indeed we have, by definition have to reach an accommodation with their physical surroundings and I would argue that in the case of man, also has to have an accommodation with his psychological world.....Enter God.....The balance needed for the developing mind. Beyond the fear of our mortality there are everyday fears and concerns and God neatly provides hope, justice and ultimately reward. Victims, which include all of us at some point in our lives as we are all full of fear find solace in god. Of course it is an abstract concept and because we all have different fears based largely on our historical geopolitical circumstances we developed different rules of God belief, namely religions. Of course we have a changing world so we have changing religions which in itself highlights its true purpose. These crystal sanctuaries we build to protect ourselves from the harsh realities of life are precarious and obviously so when adherents of religion are called to question.
I mean come on, doesn't it seem just a little unbelievable that an invisible man who lives in the sky has spent eternity watching what every single person on the planet does, waiting for the exact moment they screw up in some minor way, just so he can punish them? It's an interesting story, but I think most people cling to it and the belief system around it to escape the boringess of their lives.
The "world" ceases to be the paramount concern. Posthumous concerns override. "Tribe" is no longer humanity at large, but a small group or group of one. Religious types say religion saves them. "Save me" behavior goes hand in hand with escapism from the real world. Social proof reinforces the beliefs.
Ever since the consciousness of human beings, we have searched for something to place our hope into. With that being said, it doesn't matter to many people that there is no proof in religion, because it is much easier to place their "faith" in something that they dont understand nor have evidence for, rather than accepting that they are unsure of how things work that are beyond their comprehension. The truth is most people would rather knowingly entertain a comforting "belief" than to accept uncertainty as the single real truth that we actually have. I suppose that its nice to believe that my late friends and relatives are in heaven living peacefully, but that doesn't make it true. I would be happy to find that to be reality but that doesnt make it so, though it could be, but just as well we could all not exist after death. Whatever the case, its all speculation without proof and should be treated as such until proven otherwise. As for the values of a lot of religions, I support them because they are realistic and just.
Although some religions can have some very good rules and ideas to live your life by it also is an escape for people that can't face the harsh realities of life. It is something to put the blame on when bad things happen and something that weak people need to make sense of their lives. Religion is a crutch and an escape for people that want to escape reality.
Religion cannot survive even a miniscule amount of critical thinking because of its supernatural and therefore unrealistic basis. No one with intellectual honesty can believe differently. Religion is useful in that it can console and give a “feeling” of hope and wellbeing, but that feeling falls short when faced with real world problems that require real world answers.
There are a lot of mysteries about how the world works that science can't explain. Religions make people feel like they have those answers. Sometimes those views go against science, but sometimes they resonate with it; I think that is important to think rationally about one's beliefs, but, at the end of the day, if there is something that can't be explained, it isn't overly harmful to personally believe what "feels" right until there is more evidence.
Religion can only be considered escapism if there is no supporting evidence to prove otherwise. The question is: Does the seeker have something to escape *to*, no just *from*? Wishing, even believing, something is real doesn't necessarily make it so. But if there are verifiable miracles, testimonies of changed lives, and prophecies that have been fulfilled, then one would have to be escaping reality to denounce such evidence as escapism.