The hypothesis reads much differently if one approaches it from a non anti-religious perspective, however.
There are no known cultures ever identified that did not include some awareness of a higher power which provides some plausibility in the possibility that such higher power exists. Such awareness has not come with a fully translated handbook or an unclouded picture of the nature and/or powers of such higher power, however, and different cultures chose different name or names for such being or beings and developed different myths to explain the being's relationship and involvement with humankind. Some of these included elements of fear and appeasement, yes, but at least as often there is an element of hope that man was not a hopeless pawn or prisoner of his environment and/or circumstances.
So, you could as easily write:
Explanation: Awareness. Hope. Mystery. Faith. The foundation stones of religion.
Man shaped gods: into the image that man imagined them to be.
Is it such a leap of credibility to postulate that, given the overwhelming prevalence of man's consideration of a god or gods, that such being or beings exist?