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The Future of Religion in Our Lives

Sherman123

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It is an interesting question that I've been thinking about for a while. For much of the past 20 years we've seen a steady increase in irreligious, atheistic, or secularist sentiment among citizens of the Western world (Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc though excluding Russia and the post-Soviet space) and it does not seem as though this trend is slowing down. The raw statistics are easy enough to call upon and I don't think it's necessary here--suffice to say that it has risen significantly among youth and young adults and across most every country in the West it is on the rise and religiosity (the importance of traditional religion, attendance of services, etc) is on the decline. What I find more interesting personally is how the narrative has shifted so much in such a short period of time. It was only a few short years ago that this was a much more controversial subject with atheism/irreligion, the Newdow case, that war memorial out in California appearing nightly in the news. Now it seems like no one bats an eye at such lawsuits or polling reports on religion.

It makes me wonder of how different things could be in even 20 years, or 50, or a 100. Do you think your children will be as religious as you are? Your grandchildren? How prominent will traditional churches be and how much will they change? Will it follow current geographical demographics or will it spread evenly? Or will it reverse (I personally think this unlikely)?

It strikes me that so much of the vehemence around the current iteration of 'culture wars' is the sense on one side that they are slowly losing their grip on the future (and their deeply held views on life and society) and those who think they are increasingly winning.

Since most of us on this forum are definitely in the 'West' where this trend is taking place I figured I'd pose some of those questions here and see what you had to say.
 

Paschendale

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I certainly hope that it dwindles down to nothingness. As a species, we have outgrown it. We don't need to imagine anthropomorphic forces at work controlling the universe. We don't need to view the universe through the lens of human experience. We don't need to be afraid of mysterious occurrences. We know why earthquakes and storms happen. We don't need to project our own fears and insecurities onto them. We don't need to use the fear of a magical and immortal king to maintain order. We have the consent of the governed to take care of that now.

Whatever benefits religious ideas may have served in the past, we no longer need them. We have intellect and learning enough to free us from superstition and fear.
 

Canell

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Religion is a personal thing. The mere word comes from the Latin verb "religare", which means "to re/connect to the divine".
When somebody is telling you what to think and do, that's no longer real religion, but human religion.
 

Ray410

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Interesting to note that the OP stated he would "pose some of these questions here" and then went on to post no questions whatsoever.

Given the mindless gloating pop culture responses that will be intentionally elicited, shouldn't this thread be in "Philosophical Discussions?"

One wonders what the attraction is in the endless attempts to slip anti-religious threads into the Religious Section.
 
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SBu

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I do think that nurturing the mind/soul/spirit whatever you want to call it is important. Whether you do that through prayer, meditation, reading philosophy or poetry who cares. I think that the more complicated modern life becomes with its distractions and cynicism...unplugging for some personal mind health will become more important. I do think that organized religion will probably decline over time. The more educated people become, the less interested they are in having someone else give their spin on something they can read or interpret themselves.
 

Grand Mal

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I certainly hope that it dwindles down to nothingness. As a species, we have outgrown it. We don't need to imagine anthropomorphic forces at work controlling the universe. We don't need to view the universe through the lens of human experience. We don't need to be afraid of mysterious occurrences. We know why earthquakes and storms happen. We don't need to project our own fears and insecurities onto them. We don't need to use the fear of a magical and immortal king to maintain order. We have the consent of the governed to take care of that now.

Whatever benefits religious ideas may have served in the past, we no longer need them. We have intellect and learning enough to free us from superstition and fear.
If it was in your power, would you take religion out of the lives of everyone in the world?
 

Paschendale

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If it was in your power, would you take religion out of the lives of everyone in the world?
That is a very complicated question. I suppose it depends on exactly what sort of power I had. Would I outlaw religion and punish people who practice? Of course not. If I could psychically impart understanding to everyone in the world the collective sum of human knowledge that leads us past superstition... probably, yes. If I simply had the power to make the perfect argument that would convince everyone? Sure. I'd do that in a flash. If I personally had the power to go from person to power, discover what individual argument, fact, or information, would make them stop seeing the world through the human-centric lens, and the superstition, the fear, and the misunderstanding... I would go door to door, and speak with every one of those people.

So, to truly answer your question: I would not TAKE religion from anyone. But I would absolutely give what is needed to bring any reasonable human mind to a place where it could see religion for what it is, a relic of the past, steeped in ritual and magic, and ancient ideas of human emotions and psychology, and truly ancient ideas of justice and morality that would make us weep to think on, and interjecting ourselves where we are not the actors and instigators. The universe exists. We had nothing to do with it. No all powerful being had to miraculously exist just so that it could make us.

What is in my power is the use of my voice and my words. That power I will use to dispense with religion in the world. The world does not need it now... if it ever did.
 

Grand Mal

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That is a very complicated question. I suppose it depends on exactly what sort of power I had. Would I outlaw religion and punish people who practice? Of course not. If I could psychically impart understanding to everyone in the world the collective sum of human knowledge that leads us past superstition... probably, yes. If I simply had the power to make the perfect argument that would convince everyone? Sure. I'd do that in a flash. If I personally had the power to go from person to power, discover what individual argument, fact, or information, would make them stop seeing the world through the human-centric lens, and the superstition, the fear, and the misunderstanding... I would go door to door, and speak with every one of those people.

So, to truly answer your question: I would not TAKE religion from anyone. But I would absolutely give what is needed to bring any reasonable human mind to a place where it could see religion for what it is, a relic of the past, steeped in ritual and magic, and ancient ideas of human emotions and psychology, and truly ancient ideas of justice and morality that would make us weep to think on, and interjecting ourselves where we are not the actors and instigators. The universe exists. We had nothing to do with it. No all powerful being had to miraculously exist just so that it could make us.

What is in my power is the use of my voice and my words. That power I will use to dispense with religion in the world. The world does not need it now... if it ever did.
How about this- If you could take religion out of the lives of all those villagers in Peru, Bangladesh, Tibet, Laos, wherever, would you? Do you think you have a substitute to offer?
 

ChezC3

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I certainly hope that it dwindles down to nothingness. As a species, we have outgrown it. We don't need to imagine anthropomorphic forces at work controlling the universe. We don't need to view the universe through the lens of human experience. We don't need to be afraid of mysterious occurrences. We know why earthquakes and storms happen. We don't need to project our own fears and insecurities onto them. We don't need to use the fear of a magical and immortal king to maintain order. We have the consent of the governed to take care of that now.

Whatever benefits religious ideas may have served in the past, we no longer need them. We have intellect and learning enough to free us from superstition and fear.

There's another way of viewing the universe?

I'd rather take my chances with the majik King, thanks...
 

SBu

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Trashing religion and belief systems simply because you don't believe isn't very classy. Misery loves company maybe? Sure you can argue whether organized religion has been positive or not, but why get personal?
 

Aunt Spiker

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It is an interesting question that I've been thinking about for a while. For much of the past 20 years we've seen a steady increase in irreligious, atheistic, or secularist sentiment among citizens of the Western world (Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc though excluding Russia and the post-Soviet space) and it does not seem as though this trend is slowing down. The raw statistics are easy enough to call upon and I don't think it's necessary here--suffice to say that it has risen significantly among youth and young adults and across most every country in the West it is on the rise and religiosity (the importance of traditional religion, attendance of services, etc) is on the decline. What I find more interesting personally is how the narrative has shifted so much in such a short period of time. It was only a few short years ago that this was a much more controversial subject with atheism/irreligion, the Newdow case, that war memorial out in California appearing nightly in the news. Now it seems like no one bats an eye at such lawsuits or polling reports on religion.

It makes me wonder of how different things could be in even 20 years, or 50, or a 100. Do you think your children will be as religious as you are? Your grandchildren? How prominent will traditional churches be and how much will they change? Will it follow current geographical demographics or will it spread evenly? Or will it reverse (I personally think this unlikely)?

It strikes me that so much of the vehemence around the current iteration of 'culture wars' is the sense on one side that they are slowly losing their grip on the future (and their deeply held views on life and society) and those who think they are increasingly winning.

Since most of us on this forum are definitely in the 'West' where this trend is taking place I figured I'd pose some of those questions here and see what you had to say.

I see governments no longer being the enforcer, encourager, or regulatory religious power telling people WHAT to believe . . . this is what's new in our modern era.

Religion was, for the most part, tied to your nationality and enforced by your government in centuries past - and still is for many people (Note that where countries till define the religious views of the people, they are also some of the most war-torn regions). I would imagine that religious people would feel it's good, rather than bad, that religion isn't a requirement. Instead, those who do believe, believe because they want to and not because they were threatened with being burned at the stake for heresy.

Which is exactly how religion became so prominent for all the people above - Catholicism forced people into a belief system (for example), but that doesn't mean that those people actually believed, it just meant they went along with the program out of fear.

You, however, are saying that "they wanted to believe."

Not true.

Those living in the US - since it's their right and free choice TO believe these days - then that is true for them, "they want to believe." Most of them, anyway.

Vast difference.

So you should be asking, "What drove people to identify with religious beliefs in the past?" - and the answer is social conformity and requirements . . . to stand up and say "No, I don't want to believe," just fifty years ago wasn't met with smiles and opened hearts in our country . . . we just didn't go so far as to burn people for it (well - in the last 100 years, anyway). Now, imagine living 50 years ago and coming out as a non-believer. You would have been ostracized in some fashion.

Trust me - I know how it is, I was raised as a Pentecostal. Going to church means nothing.
 
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Slyhunter

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Some religions need to be curbed, or they will take over the world.
 

Aunt Spiker

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Some religions need to be curbed, or they will take over the world.
Heh - That's their intention. Some religious people don't see the irony of that sentiment, there.
 

FreedomFromAll

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To each their own. If someone wants to believe [insert whatever here] I dont care at all nor is it up to me to care. My only stipulation though is that someone elses beliefs batter not affect my rights at all, or my well being or my families. Nor should anyone care about my beliefs or the lack of beliefs. As long as I stick to my own stipulation everything should be fine from my end. I just wish everyone would adhere to such a philosophy. But the reality is that many people do not.
 

DDD

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How about this- If you could take religion out of the lives of all those villagers in Peru, Bangladesh, Tibet, Laos, wherever, would you? Do you think you have a substitute to offer?
Well I do have a substitute. I have done what Pasch says. I did try and convince people out of dogma door to door.

What I offer them in substitute is the following education in: reason, scientific data, and critical thinking. These should help with superstition.

Nurturing their inner selves through meditation, hobbies, music, (whatever floats their boat) would also be good practice. I am not for total disconnection with the self!
 

RabidAlpaca

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If it was in your power, would you take religion out of the lives of everyone in the world?
It is an interesting question that I've been thinking about for a while. For much of the past 20 years we've seen a steady increase in irreligious, atheistic, or secularist sentiment among citizens of the Western world (Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc though excluding Russia and the post-Soviet space) and it does not seem as though this trend is slowing down. The raw statistics are easy enough to call upon and I don't think it's necessary here--suffice to say that it has risen significantly among youth and young adults and across most every country in the West it is on the rise and religiosity (the importance of traditional religion, attendance of services, etc) is on the decline. What I find more interesting personally is how the narrative has shifted so much in such a short period of time. It was only a few short years ago that this was a much more controversial subject with atheism/irreligion, the Newdow case, that war memorial out in California appearing nightly in the news. Now it seems like no one bats an eye at such lawsuits or polling reports on religion.

It makes me wonder of how different things could be in even 20 years, or 50, or a 100. Do you think your children will be as religious as you are? Your grandchildren? How prominent will traditional churches be and how much will they change? Will it follow current geographical demographics or will it spread evenly? Or will it reverse (I personally think this unlikely)?

It strikes me that so much of the vehemence around the current iteration of 'culture wars' is the sense on one side that they are slowly losing their grip on the future (and their deeply held views on life and society) and those who think they are increasingly winning.

Since most of us on this forum are definitely in the 'West' where this trend is taking place I figured I'd pose some of those questions here and see what you had to say.
I'm about as atheist as it comes, but I don't want to force my views on anybody. People are free to choose to believe what they want. However, I will still on a personal level oppose religion, especially the christian religion, because they are actively trying to force themselves onto the rest of us. For some reason it's not enough to worship among their own kind, they have to try to have the government enforce it with an iron fist. That is completely unacceptable.

Personally, I'd like to see all religion gone and have people make decisions based on logic and reason and not on a mystical belief in an ancient book. I don't think this irreligious trend will be reversing, only steamrolling.
 

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It is an interesting question that I've been thinking about for a while. For much of the past 20 years we've seen a steady increase in irreligious, atheistic, or secularist sentiment among citizens of the Western world (Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc though excluding Russia and the post-Soviet space) and it does not seem as though this trend is slowing down. The raw statistics are easy enough to call upon and I don't think it's necessary here--suffice to say that it has risen significantly among youth and young adults and across most every country in the West it is on the rise and religiosity (the importance of traditional religion, attendance of services, etc) is on the decline. What I find more interesting personally is how the narrative has shifted so much in such a short period of time. It was only a few short years ago that this was a much more controversial subject with atheism/irreligion, the Newdow case, that war memorial out in California appearing nightly in the news. Now it seems like no one bats an eye at such lawsuits or polling reports on religion.

It makes me wonder of how different things could be in even 20 years, or 50, or a 100. Do you think your children will be as religious as you are? Your grandchildren? How prominent will traditional churches be and how much will they change? Will it follow current geographical demographics or will it spread evenly? Or will it reverse (I personally think this unlikely)?

It strikes me that so much of the vehemence around the current iteration of 'culture wars' is the sense on one side that they are slowly losing their grip on the future (and their deeply held views on life and society) and those who think they are increasingly winning.

Since most of us on this forum are definitely in the 'West' where this trend is taking place I figured I'd pose some of those questions here and see what you had to say.
You do realize that 20 years is a completely insignificant period of time? Try taking a bit of a longer perspective.
 

DDD

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You do realize that 20 years is a completely insignificant period of time? Try taking a bit of a longer perspective.
Why is it insignificant? Do you know of certain regressive analysis studies that have analyzed data and seen the trends to conclude that 20 years falls down from that estimate?
 

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I certainly hope that it dwindles down to nothingness. As a species, we have outgrown it. We don't need to imagine anthropomorphic forces at work controlling the universe. We don't need to view the universe through the lens of human experience. We don't need to be afraid of mysterious occurrences. We know why earthquakes and storms happen. We don't need to project our own fears and insecurities onto them. We don't need to use the fear of a magical and immortal king to maintain order. We have the consent of the governed to take care of that now.

Whatever benefits religious ideas may have served in the past, we no longer need them. We have intellect and learning enough to free us from superstition and fear.
I don't understand this construct; you seem to be suggesting that those who are "religious" are superstitious and fearful (and non-intellectual and ignorant). Why are you doing this? Surely you know folks of faith who are as "smart" and "educated" and confident as you are, folks who aren't ignorant ninnies. Presenting yourself as an either/or thinker doesn't really serve you well here.
 

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Religion is a personal thing. The mere word comes from the Latin verb "religare", which means "to re/connect to the divine".
When somebody is telling you what to think and do, that's no longer real religion, but human religion.
Saying religion is simply one's personal connection with the divine, and one's conscience is supreme, is self-idolization, if religion has no objective authority what's the difference between the cult leader saying he's listening to his divine connection with the ultimate, and that of mother teresa.

What it ends up doing (that theology of the individual), ends up just having people doing whatever they want, whatever they "feel" is right (which often just so happens to match what benefits themselves) and call it "religion" or "spirituality."
 

Paschendale

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How about this- If you could take religion out of the lives of all those villagers in Peru, Bangladesh, Tibet, Laos, wherever, would you? Do you think you have a substitute to offer?
Again, same answer about methods. The replacement for superstition is truth. Those people would benefit greatly from truths about human experience, about science and medicine, and our mortality. I don't get why anyone thinks that if one is poor, they need to "believe in something greater" in order to find meaning in their lives. Such belief only breeds complacency and makes them accept the oppression they face more readily, since it wouldn't matter compared with eternal bliss. The truth that this life is the only one we can be sure we'll ever get should move us to treat it as all the more precious and fight to make it better.

I don't understand this construct; you seem to be suggesting that those who are "religious" are superstitious and fearful (and non-intellectual and ignorant). Why are you doing this? Surely you know folks of faith who are as "smart" and "educated" and confident as you are, folks who aren't ignorant ninnies. Presenting yourself as an either/or thinker doesn't really serve you well here.
The reason for inventing religious fables in the first place was because of superstition and fear. We should not cling to such a poorly conceived legacy. I did not actually make mention of any modern religious people. I was talking about the roots of the ideas contained in religion, and why they are flawed ideas. We have better ideas now, and they came from a better place.

There's another way of viewing the universe?

I'd rather take my chances with the majik King, thanks...
Of course there is. There's the one where it isn't run by a human intelligence. Where human agency isn't the ultimate power. Earthquakes do not happen because of any choice. Sub-atomic particles do not behave in a manner that makes sense to humans on the scale we live in, neither do stars and galaxies and supernovas. Diseases are not a form of justice or punishment, striking the wicked for sinning. Most religious and mythological ideas (same thing, really) are about extrapolating human agency onto natural events. In our species' infancy, we could not understand things outside our own brand of logic. Now, we can. We understand that the world has its own brand, and it doesn't always fit with ours. But we can learn what it is. We do not need to think that hurricanes are a punishment for how people have sex. We do not need to scoff at future discoveries because they do not fit with the human experience. The human experience is unique, but not special. It does not govern anything besides us.
 

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It makes me wonder of how different things could be in even 20 years, or 50, or a 100. Do you think your children will be as religious as you are? Your grandchildren? How prominent will traditional churches be and how much will they change? Will it follow current geographical demographics or will it spread evenly? Or will it reverse (I personally think this unlikely)?
I personally suspect that traditional dogmatic religion will continue to decline, but a personal, non-traditional religious impulse will continue to increase, and that many people will turn toward a more humanistic expression or "social religion", if you will. As humans, we tend to look for answers to the unknowable, and we try to feel some sense of control over mortality, so the need to search for meaning will not go away.
 

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Interesting to note that the OP stated he would "pose some of these questions here" and then went on to post no questions whatsoever.

Given the mindless gloating pop culture responses that will be intentionally elicited, shouldn't this thread be in "Philosophical Discussions?"

One wonders what the attraction is in the endless attempts to slip anti-religious threads into the Religious Section.
I did pose them, they are in my second paragraph: "Do you think your children will be as religious as you are? Your grandchildren? How prominent will traditional churches be and how much will they change? Will it follow current geographical demographics or will it spread evenly? Or will it reverse (I personally think this unlikely)?"

Your hostility is unnecessary. This is a perfectly relevant topic for the religion forum.
 

Sherman123

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You do realize that 20 years is a completely insignificant period of time? Try taking a bit of a longer perspective.
In twenty years we've seen the collapse of the Soviet Union, the flourishing of the internet, rise of the personal computer, and the emergence of China just to name a few. Things happen faster and faster and I don't think it's unfair to look at 20 years as a period of time where momentous change could occur or to plot the accelerating trajectories of existing trends. Hell look at gay marriage, we've gone from fierce opposition to the verge of acceptance in just about 20 years. So I'd have to disagree that it isn't a worthwhile period of time to consider.
 
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