So I did write the term papers. One titled "Science of Myth" the other titled "The Evolution of Superstition."
The latter was the paper that dealt most with this topic. Research took me to some interesting places and in the end, my own humble hypothesis is that yes: It would seem that to some extent, superstition is a biological trait, essential for survival (and I venture to say innovation), and shared by most animals.
Now before I get kicked out of the Atheist's club for touting superstition as a good thing...
One of the selling points for me is best explained in a favorite book, "When they Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth" by saying simply when we hear a strange noise in the forest, we tend not to think "what" made that noise but "who." Charles Darwin, in Ascent of Man, observed this in his dog; noting one day that the dog was growling at a parasol flapping in the wind. It was an otherwise empty field and the dog must have been able to see there was no person or other animal causing the parasol to flap. And yet, the dog was reacting not as if it were just the wind, but as we would expect the dog to react to a conscious, willful threat. There are apparent survival advantages in having our default position be on yellow alert: To assume there is a willful/conscious someone, even when there is no immediate empirical evidence to suggest it.
On the innovation end, while researching the paper, I mused that this is very close to the definition of a scientific hypothesis. We take 2 ounces of evidence (say, a parasol flapping in the wind) and with it create 2 pounds of conjecture (Could it be a ghost?). The invention of a new tool involves imagining such a tool which so far does not exist.
That however is where I speculated in the paper, the usefulness of superstition/belief ends, as does its biological inherency. The scientist will take that ghost hypothesis and empirically test it, perfectly willing to say "Oops, my bad, guess it wasn't a ghost but it was the wind after all." Or try to invent that tool to see if it really works or doesn't.
As art and language became more and more complex in homo sapiens, so did our elaborate backstories and speculation about the ghost/god/demon/whatever causing the parasol to flap. The gut instinct to fear things that go bump in the night is a biological hardwiring. The elaborate imagination and religion beyond that is cultural. And as we Atheists have observed, rarely good for society.
Anyway, just wanted to follow up on that. Got an A on both papers. Yay!
I think that asking a question as 'Are WE hardwired...' making a generalization as if people were more equal than they may really be.
To me, it seems probable to speculate, that while people have a ceiling of the farthest of what evolution would allow them to become under the best circumstances, many people just never reach their full potential, due to immaturity, brain damage or other reasons.
While therefore the god gene may be hardwired into the brain as a transitory phase during the maturation of the brain, some people are doomed to be stuck in it, while others may grow and develop further to a state, where they become so rational, that they grow out of the need to believe.