Does religion has a positive or negative influence on the world? Does it provide comfort, hope and social cohesion? Does it promote gullibility, intolerance, the rejection of reality in favor of belief? If your response is both, which is more common, or more important? Can the good things done in the name of religion really be chalked up to religious belief itself, or would people have done them anyway, and religion just gave them the inspiration? What about the bad things done in the name of religion?
I say religion as a whole has an interesting influence on human society and no matter of this issue you take, our emotions will get in the way of reason and understanding. When persons argue over whether some piece of religious doctrine is plausible or not, misses the purpose of the doctrine’s intent. And that makes for some very muddled, meandering, frustrating debates. I am often the one sitting on the fence because I feel that it is worth remembering that each side could theoretically be right and wrong about the other. But if I had to choose, I’d say that religion has a harmful influence on the world.