E O Wilson
Biologist E O Wilson says religion should be eliminated. Ragesoss

Renowned biologist E. O. Wilson has said we should eliminate religions for the sake of human progress, as they are "dragging us down".

In an interview with New Scientist, Wilson was speaking about his latest book The Meaning of Human Existence, in which he questions religion, how humanity looks for common cause, our behaviour and our impact on the environment.

He said his next book, in which he plans to deal with where we are going as a species, looks at how we have been destroying Earth in a way that people have not fully realised "like the death of a thousand cuts".

Wilson said we ignore cues from science about the damage we are doing because of our "tribal structure".

"All the ideologies and religions have their own answers for the big questions, but these are usually bound as a dogma to some kind of tribe. Religions in particular feature supernatural elements that other tribes – other faiths – cannot accept ... And every tribe, no matter how generous, benign, loving and charitable, nonetheless looks down on all other tribes. What's dragging us down is religious faith."

He said that he is not an atheist or agnostic, instead explains "I'm a scientist".

"Humans everywhere have a strong tendency to wonder about whether they're being looked over by a god or not. Practically every person ponders whether they're going to have another life. These are the things that unite humanity.

"This transcendent searching has been hijacked by the tribal religions. So I would say that for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faiths. But certainly not eliminating the natural yearnings of our species or the asking of these great questions."

Speaking about the future of mankind, Wilson said the living world is going to reach a tipping point where it is no longer in equilibrium.

"And when that happens, the whole thing collapses – and we collapse with it."