What causes the religion to start in the first place? What causes them to grow and spread? What causes them to be twisted and used for evil?
Religion are started when a bunch of people have problems which cause them unhappiness, and a smaller group of people or a single person offers them a solution to happiness.
Buddhism, for example, did not start out as a religion.
You are absolutely right, but in one of the classic evolutions of history, it became one despite itself.
The issue is not with any particular religion. The issue is not with any particular person, either. The issue is the human mind's capacity to react blindly to what is happening.
You appear to be stating the argument is that religion is the root cause of all our problems, which I never said. No the root cause of all of our problems is that we are illogical animals that in order to thrive need to live in orderly societies. Religion was a solution to that problem. It was an easier solution, but turned out in the history of man it was a much worse solution than adopting reason. Religion then went onto cause plenty of suffering and other problems and holds back our development.
Criticizing religions won't make a dent in it.
Criticizing religion is exactly what has made a dent in religion. First Christ made critical remarks about the organization around his religion by espousing his own which was more accessible to his people. When that was corrupted to the point that people couldn't take it any more, Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper to a church with a criticism. Each of these Criticisms has worked to ease suffering by furthering philosophy and humanism in it's own way, working towards a society where one is not injured or killed for their opinions or discoveries.
What would make a dent in it is teaching people how to no longer react blindly to things
How can you tell someone how to do something right if you first don't find a way to tell them what was wrong with the old way they were doing things? In my opinion, this statement seems to make someone like me and someone like Hitchens out to be simply an attack dog, which is a gross mischaracterization and is exactly what those in Religious circles want you to think. Hitchens and myself have been providing the solution this whole time... reason. All the things religion does bad are done perfectly well with reason. Obviously something in my messaging is failing because I can't possibly see how you didn't see that, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. Saying that billions of people have been killed in the name of religion is not some kind of attack statement, it's the truth. Can you dispute that?
In a twist, Reason is hard because it goes against our animal nature, but in that much, we agree that as animals we are emotional and want quick fixes rather than well thought out responses, and we must train ourselves away from that animal nature. I agree with what you are saying about our nature, but in my opinion you are misrepresenting a reasonable opinion as simply a contrary one. I leave it to others to figure out a diplomatic way to bring humans into an age of reason, but you can't start that until someone is very clearly stating what is wrong.
If you shoot down one 'bad' religion, another will spring up, and so on ad infinitem
Considering Hitchens went after them all with one very large hammer, I fail to see how this is relevant. This isn't about taking out one religion at a time, it's about doing away with ALL of them.
To summarize: The problem is our animal nature, but religion in general is a bad solution that Hitchens devoted his life to speak out against. Reason is a better solution.