Quote from: Semaphorewe're just one stage removed from animals and we're still trying to throw off our bestial nature.I agree - most human problems are internal, at their basis.
"democracy and human rights and justice and equality" generally change our outward environment.
Some of these things can help reduce inequality, which it has done in Nordic countries; but not nearly as much in the USA, for example.
They don't address the inner cause of most of our problems.QuoteWe've invented ... science and a host of other things that make us more civilisedThe real explosion since Galileo has been in the "hard" sciences - physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, medicine, imaging, mechanical, civil, electrical and aerospace engineering, etc. This has been assisted (and enabled, in many cases) by rapid developments in computing.
Medicine has helped us live longer, and less troubled by pain.
The most successful medical advance has been plumbing, which became fairly effective in the Roman era, and even more effective with the application of the steam engine. This has done more to help human health than most medical endeavours, but it's hardly modern.
But none of these really address the inner beast.
For these you must look to the "soft" sciences - psychology, sociology, economics, etc.
For Psychology, we are still very much in the infancy phase, with theories in the last century driven mainly by guesses and hypotheses, with little objective information until the development of Functional MRI - and it's still a fairly coarse tool, unable to resolve volumes smaller than millions of neurones, or timescales faster than a second.
We still have the problem that even today, most experimentally verified psychology is actually based on a study of first year university students. They are forced to participate to pass their course. This has resulted in psychology becoming a WEIRD science - it is very much the study of Western, Educated, and from Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic countries. This is hardly representative of the human population.
Economics is still very much a black art. Everyone hangs on every word from the US Reserve about their guesses this month. And economists try to predict the reactions of other people who have also studied economics - a situation very likely to produce chaotic behaviour!
But most of our problems are still driven by human greed. It is said that if you want to find the cause of something, follow the money. Certainly large amounts of advertising money have managed to stall any progress on major scientific findings in several important cases.
So it's not surprising that it was a religious figure who commented that "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil".
One of the problems with economics is that human behaviour has an unfortunate habit of interfering with the best laid plans. Look at Brexit, who anticipated that result? Markets depend on people being rational which they're not.
To greed I'd add power - maybe they're two sides of the same coin. Just look at the 2-dimensional people who run for public office.
I love your last sentence. How much is the Vatican worth? How much wealth did the monasteries accumulate? The religions lust for power and money just like the sinners they condemn.