It is often assumed that religion is the backward-looking servant of tradition and the status quo, utterly opposed to the new. This refrain in so much of recent polemical writing has permeated the public mind and can even be found in academic publications. But recent scholarship increasingly shows that this view is a gross simplification - that, in fact, religious beliefs and practices have contributed to significant changes in human affairs: political and legal, social and artistic, scientific and commercial. This is certainly not to say that religion is always innovative. But the relationship between religion and innovation is much more complex and instructive than is generally assumed.
All religion is a technology of human flourishing. There is no tradition on the face of the earth that wasn’t at one time an innovation. As our practical capabilities develop, so does our understanding of the terms that define the contours of society.