I went to a forum at my college about the future of religion. All the speakers at the event agreed that religion will be around until the human species becomes extinct. They stated this was the case because of religion's use for social cohesion, morality, and explaining what science can't explain. One speaker even said religion is an evolutionary adaptation, which I'm not sure is a good argument for religion always being around or remaining dominant in society. Evolution shows us how organisms change over time, so it's not inconceivable that belief in the supernatural could decrease in the distant future or go away completely even if it is an evolutionary adaptation.
Recently in the news, there was a story about "The Church of Atheism," and when a speaker at the event brought it up in jest. But it made me wonder if groups like The Church of Atheism proved that social cohesion could be achieved without belief in the supernatural. People come together and form cohesive groups when they share similar values and beliefs no matter what they may be.
I went away from it thinking that even if people always have faith or be prone to believing in the supernatural, they may not always set up societies that have prominent religious influence. The number of secularists is on the rise in Europe and even in the United States. Because of this, I think one would be lacking in imagination if they couldn't see a world in which societies are made up mostly of secularists.
What do you think? Disregarding how you feel about religion personally, do you think humans will always invent gods and form religions? or do you think one day religion and belief in god(s) will become extinct?
I wonder all the same things, Jillian. I also wonder how the internet might affect the decline of religion.
Just think how much support atheists find on this site and how easy it is to use these message boards for sharing of ideas and histories. None of that would have been possible even thirty years ago.
In terms of social cohesion without belief in the supernatural, lots of people seem to be thinking along those lines. Here is a link to one such project:
On another subject, on one of these forum message boards we have been talking about the difficulty in handling the horribly disconcerting idea (for many of us) of ceasing to exist with our personal death. Some people think that because of this difficulty, there will always be a "market" for and a huge yearning for the reassurances of religion concerning an afterlife. I'm not sure...
Good questins, anyway.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/im-an-atheist-therefore... This article about transhumanism and atheism made me wonder if the end of religion could truly come the day technology is able to significantly extend the human life span. Perhaps it's not unlikely that people will put their stock in science if it replaces their need for an afterlife in the distant future.
It's a new word to me, but I guess a lot of us are transhumanists.
Imagine some theoretical future day when affordable and readily available procedures or drugs could halt aging, extending the healthy human life span easily to age 1000, with the possibility at the end of that period to extend it even further. (We'll pretend that somhow there is no problem with overpopulation.)
I can easily imagine some people opting to just let their timer run out at the end of a normal life span, but what I can't imagine is someone who would choose the faint hope of eternal life in "heaven" (literally pie in the sky) over a sure thing engineered by medicine and science.
It's been pointed out many times, but "true believers" don't seem one bit less distressed, as far as I can tell, with a diagnosis of cancer than an atheist might be. And it goes without saying that mourning following a death shows how people really feel. I'm not buying the cliches about how they KNOW the person is "with god", but that they are grieving only because THEY will miss their deceased loved one.
The messages at funerals remind me of the Easter Sunday messages I used to hear. To me, there was always a sense of wishful thinking, and an atmosphere, somewhat hopeful, I suppose, that maybe there really IS some sort of eternal life... but no honest conviction-- more like "whistling in the dark", just a momentary glimmer of hope that lets people think about death "tomorrow".
A truth very well expressed in this animation, "If Heaven Really Existed".
True believers don't really have confidence that there's eternal life in heaven; they only hope that that's so.
Short answer, most likely YES.
Because it gives some false comfort and it is a profitable enterprise, so as long as religion gives such false sense of comfort for some, makes money and guarantees power over others, it will always exist.
Because there is always somebody wanting to make money from others fears.
The more pressing question, it seems to me, is this: Will our species (and perhaps all living things) become extinct because of religion and belief in the supernatural? The evangelicals, and in particular the Dominionists, take their notion of a coming Rupture Rapture as a foregone conclusion; that is, they do all they can to usher in the supposed prophecies of John of Patmos (called "Revelations"). Their inane, irresponsible activities in this regard include the funding of far right wingnut groups in Israel who support the building of new settlements in Palestinian lands and the bombing of Iraq, Syria, and Iran. One of the main perps is the Rev. John Hagee, a Texas megachurch pastor who solicits "charitable" contributions both in his cavernous church and on TV broadcasts. But he is hardly an isolated phenomenon: I occasionally pass by a small evangelical church locally whose marquee reads, "We Support Israel."
Clearly, such organizations take their marching orders from the late Rousas John Rushdoony, a holocaust denier and racist who advocated bringing about biblical prophecy of Christ returning to exercise "dominion" over all the earth and its political, social, and educational institutions. Evangelical "scholars" focus their attention (and missionary endeavors) on the Levant because the Jews have returned to the "Holy Land" and reestablished a Zionist state, the initial fulfillment of prophecy as seen in John's revelations. Some go so far as to see Obama as Satan because "the Great Beast 666" must establish dominion of his own before all of the signs and portents can drop into the jigsaw puzzle and signal the Final Cataclysmic Event. (Nobody bothered to tell them that in order to avoid persecution of the bearers of John's epistle, he wrote in Koine Greek letter-number code and that by this method, known as isopsepia, "the Great Beast 666" meant "Nero Caesar." Thus, their presentist argument for the application of Revelations to current events is downright childish.)
But consider this as well: evangelicals are at the forefront of the deniers of climate change. Some reason that "God" would not destroy his own creation in such a way, because a scientific explanation for the end of the earth is in conflict with their Dominionist prognosis. They also want to add to overpopulation, a threat to the environment and national security, because "God" abhors abortion and birth control (though they also decry entitlements such as food stamps to feed unwanted children that are not miscarried or aborted). Their "prosperity gospel" furthers unbridled consumerism and laissez-faire capitalism, and they support those at the high end of the scale of wealth, the 1% that own 30-40% of the capital. The Roman Church is equally at fault in some respects, especially in its opposition to abortifacients. As more and more mouths present themselves for feeding, vast tracts of land including precious, irreplacable rain forrests such as the Amazon are mowed down to plant edible vegetation.
Religion rules from birth to death by whatever means necessary. Billions will die in the wars of religious zeal right up to our extinction. Try as we may in science to educate the masses, it has been less than successful. After all, War, Alcohol, and Religion (WAR) are corporate giants and use all avenues of guile to prevail. Hope for real, honest, factual enlightenment is surfacing but hardly rising to heights held for millennia by the pseudo-powers. Like the Deists of Thomas Jefferson's days, why not celebrate nature as God? Or the FORCE that led to the Big Bang?
I remember reading something that religion is declining in developed countries such as Australia, Canada, Austria, Finland, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Netherlands.
and everywhere else, I think. Once people have access to information, most of them start to free themselves of religion.
True Chris, hardly a Christian in sight here, it's all about education.
China is starting to lead the way in education, Japan and so on.
All these highly educated countries are seeing a reduction in religion.
US needs to have a national education scheme that GOP cannot stand in the way of and all public and private schools must follow a well developed science curriculum.
This is what has helped Australia become less Christian and those other countries.
A clever country is a religion free country.
The biggest number one factor in the death of religion is knowledge, and that knowledge comes today through the computer and the Internet. Computers are used in every school system today. Answers are pretty much instant. Even so, the "gullible" will hang on promoting lies with bad logic. This might be because we are all born atheist, and children are taught religious myth early before they learn anything else as fact. This is why you have people with college degrees that believe the Noah's ark story. This will change in our near future and is why the "religious right" fights everything so hard.
Consider again that all phenomena (occult and religious) has pre-supposed ideas. If I knock on wood 3 times and ask, "Splitfoot, are you there?" it shows that I believe already.
Along this line too, some claim there is no morality without god. Penn Jillette states that when you say "god is good" you have established morality outside of god.
Some right wing christians want to usher in the "end times" right now, and would do anything to make this a reality. They need to remember that 9/11 was a religious event also, but it just wasn't "their" religion. If they succeed in making this a reality, Jesus will not be there to help them. Wake up, people!
Oh, yes. The Church of Atheism. I've seen reports and video clips on this, and it's like "church without god." Is this a big joke? We don't need this. Meetings, yes, but a "church", no. Count me out please.
The likelihood that humans will always invent gods and religions remains very high anyway. It's part of human nature because nobody wants to die. Our past history pretty well tells the story.