Religious belief and cultural lifestyles go hand in hand together. A strong cultural life has had strong evolutionary benefits for our species; both for the individuals and collectivities. A cultural life requires such things as self-restraint, curbing of aggressive impulses, resisting temptations, and to align overall behaviors to society's standards, rules, and laws. Being that such restraints would complicate the natural selfish nature of our species (on the whole selfish), would require a sophisticated form of action control over these impulses.
Religious belief emphasizes the importance of free will in its doctrines (basic western doctrines), and is important to an enactment of moral restraints attributed to them. On the other hand, it also stands "that the capacity to exercise free will evolved as an adaptation to meet the requirements of cultural life (Baumeister, Bauer, & Lloyd, 2010)." To enforce prosocial behaviors and promote the belief in free will fell to the responsibility of religious institutions (i.e. churches, masques, synagogues, etc.). These institutions "placed constraints on the moral behaviors and choices that facilitate cultural life (Baumeister, Bauer, &Lloyd, 2010)."
Religions serve as an efficient and pragmatic approach to promoting prosocial behaviors in society. "It can bolster self-control and buffer against its imminent failures by encouraging people to monitor their behaviors through increased self-awareness, by creating ample opportunities to exercise and build self-control strength, and by promoting long-term time perspectives that support self-control (Baumeister, Bauer, & Lloyd, 2010)." A final significant reason why religion evolved in human cultural life would be its potential to fulfill peoples need to belong, and can also be "stemmed in the self-control that social influences would have on one by approving and disapproving of certain behaviors (Baumeister, Bauer, &Lloyd, 2010)." In general, religion has been the most adaptable form in culture to promote the construction of societies throughout history, and advancements in scientific discoveries that come from a structured society.
In contemporary society (just as any other thus far), religions still continue to play an important role in influencing societies beliefs, values, and attitudes on different social and politic issues in life. Issues like what kinds of contraceptive methods are acceptable for Roman Catholics come from papal authority in Vatican (Bottum, 2009), or the issue of state religion in Ireland (Lorenz, 2008). Such moral decision making is very stress relieving for individuals who prescribe to one religion or another.