Let me rephrase my question then – “does belief in God make the world a better place?”
Based on incidents in the 20th and 21st century, I have to say belief in a God invokes so much passion among people or groups of people that that passion is the hotbed for hatred, violence and bigotry. How can hatred and violence make the world a better place? Any objective person who looks solely at data will have to conclude the belief in God causes more damage than good.
So we are left with two choices (1) abandon religion and live a life based on one’s own internal values (2) dive deeper into the problem, analyze and learn from it. Personally, I think the world would be a better place if we practice the second option. The first option does not solve anything as there is no individual growth. People with opposite values is always the source of friction.
Srila Prabhupada once said that if there is counterfeit money then it implies there must be the original – so search for the original. Similarly religion can make the world a better place if we go deeper from believing in God to finding God. One who has found God in his life will not have the urge to find anything else of this world. In such a state, there is no internal agitation of mind what to speak of causing external agitation? In such a peaceful state, the seeker will find everlasting happiness.
So yes belief in God or religion will make the world a better place only if we use it to rectify our own internal faults and in that state of humility seek God. There is no other value system (be it civic or political or moral) that can help us transcend our own limitations in search of a higher truth. Only religion or search for God can set us free from our inner mind to which we are bound. Thus knowing the truth, we can be free from the shackles of bondage.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” – Jesus Christ