Religions served to concentrate wealth, historically. Furthermore, several of them offered strong reasons to tend the sick, investigate the natural world, and so forth -- probably more so than a typical local lord would have.
Religions also served to unite farflung lands. A researcher in Isfahan could correspond with one in Marrakech. A monk studying flowers in Edinburgh could share his findings with a nun in Osel. Without religions, you need another set of well-funded institutions with a tradition of correspondence and interaction to provide the same benefits. Today we have universities and research organizations like Oxford and Brookhaven National Labs. The concept of a university grew out of the Muslim monastic tradition, though, starting with the University of al-Qarawiyyin, founded in the 800s.
Of course, you can still get the same benefits without religions. But we have no reason to think we'd be even this advanced without the monastic traditions of Islam and Christianity.