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Old 2014-02-02, 05:45 PM   [Ignore Me] #1
MasterChief096
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The Future of Religion


As an atheist, and a highly informed (at least I would like to believe) one at that, I'm often preoccupied with thought about the world's religions, how many people are still religious, and how powerful organized religion is. Sometimes, laying down and trying to fall asleep on my dorm room bed, I often speculate about what the world (in terms of religion) will look like ten, twenty, fifty, one-hundred years from now. I was interested to hear what some of your opinions on this matter are.

I've come to a simple yet profound conclusion, which is, in my own opinion, the most likely outcome for the future of religion in this world.

As levels of education, technological advancement, and economic development increase around the world, the old appeals to dogmatic authority and ancient texts become less influential. There are however substantial arguments that a need for religion is embedded in our psychology as a result of our evolutionary history as a means of dealing with the pains and uncertainties of life. Therefore, a large number of scholars doubt the probability that the concept of religion will ever completely disappear from human societies.

However, time and time again, we find our own modern moral advancements conflicting with the divine dictates of the world's various established religions. The vast amount of interpretations that can be gleaned from their texts has shown time and time again that our own moral beliefs originate from within ourselves rather than through divine revelation.

Case in point: American slavery. Both sides (secularists and Christians) have used the example to illustrate the moral superiority of these two ideologies. The secularists claiming that Christianity supported the establishment of slavery (which it did, and can still be interpreted as supporting it), while the Christians claim that American slavery was an affront to God and immoral.

To me, this is an illustration that the old religions of the world have to "catch up" with the moral and intellectual advancements that have been happening since the Enlightenment. A more modern example is homosexuality, which is commonly condemned by many religions yet there are those within said religions who say that God(s) love is extended to homosexuals as well, yet such views would have been extremely rare 50, 60, 100 years ago in regards to this subject.

The point I am trying to argue is that organized religion, at least the big ones that exist today, is starting to have to appeal to the more general moral consensus of the societies it operates within. Based on this opinion, my predictions for religion in the future are these:

1. Organized religion will be disposed of, the dogmatic and ancient texts of said religions will pass into the realm of ordinary literature to be studied historically, poetically, metaphorically, artistically, etc. Reading the Bible will be no different than reading Shakespear, studying its words for glimpses into the societies that actually believed these stories.

2. Any trace remnants of the "need" for religious faith will adopt a new-age Deism in which most people might proclaim that they believe the universe had a Prime Mover or Creator but that this Creator most likely does not intervene in the affairs of his creation. Such a belief will be free of dogmatic texts and laws, and will most likely be completely harmless and personal.

3. A great number of people will ditch the idea of a belief in a Prime Mover or Creator and instead convert the human impulse to deviate towards religious convictions into a fascination for the universe, whose beauties and mysteries are ever so graciously illuminated by scientific discovery. Many of us have already jumped to this step, such as myself.

Whenever I get into discussions with friends about my atheism, they inevitably say, "you'll never have a spiritual experience" or "how is the world wonderful without god?"

My replies are always two-fold. I first say that religion has no monopoly on emotion, and therefore I think the word "spiritual" is highly unrepresentative of what is actually happening. To an atheist, a spiritual experience is still an experience within reality, in the physical world, being created by chemical reactions within your brain. I then ask why this realization should have any effect on the "spiritual" experience. Why can you not be overwhelmed with awe and excitement and joy from the natural world? Indeed, for an atheist, every spiritual experience happens within the natural world, and never was a spiritual experience ever had that came from a supernatural realm.

Anywho, those are my two cents on where religion is headed in the world within the next century. Let me know yours!
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Old 2014-02-03, 03:25 PM   [Ignore Me] #2
NewSith
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Re: The Future of Religion


I've read it all, just so you know, but my answer is going to be very short:

Religion comes from faith in miracles.
Faith in miracles comes from the lack of satisfaction with one's life.
Lack of satisfaction with one's life comes from the notion that we're taught not to be equal.
Result: Religion will always exist in a society where one thinks even one bit about himself and his condition.

If you look at most of the religious teachings, they all bear that same idea, people turning to religion are looking for.
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Old 2014-02-03, 03:55 PM   [Ignore Me] #3
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Re: The Future of Religion


As a Catholic i will just say one thing without getting into arguments.
Advances in technology, science and more will be made, the number of religious people will drop but religion itself will not dissapear.
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Old 2014-02-03, 05:04 PM   [Ignore Me] #4
MasterChief096
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Re: The Future of Religion


Originally Posted by NewSith View Post
I've read it all, just so you know, but my answer is going to be very short:

Religion comes from faith in miracles.
Faith in miracles comes from the lack of satisfaction with one's life.
Lack of satisfaction with one's life comes from the notion that we're taught not to be equal.
Result: Religion will always exist in a society where one thinks even one bit about himself and his condition.

If you look at most of the religious teachings, they all bear that same idea, people turning to religion are looking for.
What if you take into account the idea that technology and knowledge can eventually eliminate scarcity, the central underpinning of every modern economic system? For instance, humanity utilizing renewable energy sources, possibly fusion energy, and harvesting the seemingly endless amount of minerals and elements from elsewhere in the solar system rather than ruining Earth?

If power and food and all the base necessities of life were to become 100% pervasive throughout all human societies, where would religion, as it is now, then fit in?
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Old 2014-02-04, 07:05 AM   [Ignore Me] #5
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Re: The Future of Religion


Originally Posted by MasterChief096 View Post
What if you take into account the idea that technology and knowledge can eventually eliminate scarcity, the central underpinning of every modern economic system? For instance, humanity utilizing renewable energy sources, possibly fusion energy, and harvesting the seemingly endless amount of minerals and elements from elsewhere in the solar system rather than ruining Earth?

If power and food and all the base necessities of life were to become 100% pervasive throughout all human societies, where would religion, as it is now, then fit in?
You see Futurama?
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Old 2014-02-04, 08:26 AM   [Ignore Me] #6
NewSith
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Re: The Future of Religion


Originally Posted by MasterChief096 View Post
What if you take into account the idea that technology and knowledge can eventually eliminate scarcity, the central underpinning of every modern economic system? For instance, humanity utilizing renewable energy sources, possibly fusion energy, and harvesting the seemingly endless amount of minerals and elements from elsewhere in the solar system rather than ruining Earth?

If power and food and all the base necessities of life were to become 100% pervasive throughout all human societies, where would religion, as it is now, then fit in?
Here's a basic example, I think I don't need to elaborate any further:
John loves Mary. They date.
Mike loves Mary. She doesn't love him.
Mike is jealous and is not satisfied with what he has.

Mike is a human being and is prone to emotions. That means that whatever his quality of life is, he can still be unsatisfied with it, as long as he can feel.


What's also worth mentioning really is that if we talk about MASS religion, it's nothing more than a tool to control people. Just like government, or any other similar instance. And thus, as long as what I stated above is true, religion will exist. Moreover - scientific approach is also a religion, no matter how hard people want to deny it.



PS Food for thought - math implies the existence of infinity that doesn't have a number or form. How's that any different from believing in god? Actually, as a whole - science doesn't deny what cannot be proven, and thus it's just as imperfect as religion.
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Old 2014-02-04, 02:29 PM   [Ignore Me] #7
MasterChief096
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Re: The Future of Religion


Originally Posted by Goku View Post
You see Futurama?
Yeah one of my favorite shows lol.

Not a very realistic depiction of the future though (not that we know what the future will look like, but Futurama is just a gigantic parody of what it could be lol).
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Old 2014-02-04, 02:50 PM   [Ignore Me] #8
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Re: The Future of Religion


Originally Posted by NewSith View Post
Here's a basic example, I think I don't need to elaborate any further:
John loves Mary. They date.
Mike loves Mary. She doesn't love him.
Mike is jealous and is not satisfied with what he has.

Mike is a human being and is prone to emotions. That means that whatever his quality of life is, he can still be unsatisfied with it, as long as he can feel.
Big difference between getting heartbroken and appealing to God in prayer because your children don't have enough food to eat (in most places of the world).

I've gone through a breakup, never felt the need to pray about it. Instead I recognized why the relationship ended, what were my mistakes, her mistakes, and how to move forward by improving upon myself. The ability to feel does not immediately necessitate the need for religion. To paraphrase Dawkins, "I'm tired of the proposition that religion has a monopoly on emotion!" It doesn't, of course. In my opinion, religion spawned from a lack of understanding of our emotions and how they were incited by the perils and wonders of the natural world that we were subjected to in our species' infancy. We now have better methods for explaining such perils and wonders without an appeal to Volcano gods, etc.

What's also worth mentioning really is that if we talk about MASS religion, it's nothing more than a tool to control people. Just like government, or any other similar instance. And thus, as long as what I stated above is true, religion will exist. Moreover - scientific approach is also a religion, no matter how hard people want to deny it.
Agreed on the first part of this, that organized religion is a means of control. But for what reasons do governments exist? To control resources, allocate resources, acquire resources that is lacking, and to (ideally) punish wrong-doers. What if the standard of living for each and every human being became completely equal, resources were essentially infinite. What need would there be for overly complicated government? Crime would be significantly reduced, as no one would have a need to commit a crime because they would have everything they need. Exclude the existence of psychopaths in the future, assume medical/neuroscience had advanced to a point where psychopathy (its genetic "nature" and its bred "nurture" causes) is completely understood and could be prevented entirely.

I disagree a lot that science approach is a religion. It is the exact opposite of a religion. Religion relies on faith and miracles to prove its claims, an "assume its already correct" mentality in which even the most extraordinary things have to believed to be true on scant evidence (at best, most of the time there is NO evidence aside from the account in the holy text of some of the events that are said to have happened).

Scientific approach is a rejection of any claim that can't be supported by significant evidence, reproduced in someone else's laboratory, and that which has been subjected to intense peer-review. There is no faith involved, except when you devise and perform an experiment with a hypothesis - what you THINK will happen. This does not mean that you BELIEVE something will happen during an experiment, and then when that does not happen, you still believe it did and relegate it to the realm of "faith."

There are no rituals in science. There is the scientific method, which is a generally followed consensus on how to conduct good science. This is not the same as religious ritual in which people attempt to connect to the supernatural in some way. By that argument, me drinking a cup of coffee every morning is ritual, and thus a religion in and of itself.

Science also does not appeal to supernatural explanations to explain anything it hasn't already explained. What science has not yet uncovered is often speculated about and debated among scientists and others, that does not make it a religion. If that were the case, speculating about the economy without knowing what it will actually do would also be a religion.

Science appeals to only what is observable, and thus, only to the natural world. Since the existence of a supernatural plane cannot be proven or disproven, it cannot claim to know anything about it, it can only show that observable phenomena that were long thought to be supernatural by humans for centuries do in fact have natural causes, so in some instances science can "debunk" supernatural claims but it cannot make any claims about the nature of the supernatural dimension, if it exists.

There are no tenets or dogmas of the scientific approach. This is a common fallacy purported by people of faith. All scientific findings are taught in school as being true (that's a bad word, since science is humble enough to say that nothing can ever be known for certain and thus all of our closest models are still slightly "off" in some way). This does not make it dogma, because new experimental findings can replace old knowledge because it is better and more accurate (indeed this happens all the time). You will be hard-pressed to find a religious faith that revises whole sections of its holy texts because it admits that they probably got most of their history/claims of the supernatural wrong.

There is no scientific authority that says you can't investigate questions. Right now, if I wanted to start a scientific group dedicated to debunking evolution by looking for evidence, I could (in fact this has been done). If we found conclusive evidence that evolution was false, then the textbooks would get rewritten.

So your claim that science is a religion confuses me, because it is not. It has nothing to do with the supernatural, is ultimately humble about what it claims (in that anything it claims can be rewritten upon further experimental evidence), and has no superior authority which dictates which questions can and cannot be asked or how to ask them.

PS Food for thought - math implies the existence of infinity that doesn't have a number or form. How's that any different from believing in god? Actually, as a whole - science doesn't deny what cannot be proven, and thus it's just as imperfect as religion.
Math doesn't say infinity exists. Its an abstract idea that can never exist in a finite universe (which we cannot know yet if our universe is finite our infinite. There is pretty good evidence to suggest it is finite, but if multiverse theory is proven to be true, then that whole assumption goes out the window).

Infinity is merely a useful tool for calculating things which actually have values, such as limits. Infinity can really be defined as "all numbers that can be thought of or used in someway."

You cannot believe or disbelieve in infinity because it is not something that exists. You can only use its concept to think about problems that actually have real solutions. Its hugely different from believing in a God that created the universe, knows everything, intervenes in people's lives, cares about how we have sex, what food we eat, how we treat gays, etc.

And you are right that science cannot deny what cannot be proven, but that's not a problem with science, that's a problem with what can't proven, AKA, God, the supernatural, etc.

Science cannot disprove any number of fallacious claims about unicorns on Jupiter, fairies on the sun, etc, but the burden of proof rests not with science, it rests with the person claiming there are unicorns on Jupiter.
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