Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Does organized religion have a future?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38828 points ) December 20th, 2009

It is postulated that, generally, there is a national decline in religiosity

http://www.americanhumanist.org/hnn/archives/index.php?id=281&article=0

What do you predict will happen in the future? How will religion evolve, if at all?

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/how-will-religion-evolve/

What effects will globalization have on religion world-wide – what will happen to religions in parts of the world that will transition from a third world country to a developed country? Will any change occur? Is it possible to (as the author of my second linked articled suggests) to create a hybrid concept – where people get certain benefits of religion without any deity involved…I’ve often thought that there needs to be a kind of Sunday service for Atheists or people not having any specific religion…where they can get together and feel like a part of a community, if necessary…

in general, this q isn’t about whether religion is right or wrong or whether or not you think religion’s decline is good or bad…just provide trends you think will happen and absolutely NO scripture postings

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

65 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I hope not. If there has to be a world religion of some sort, please let it be buddhism.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ragingloli again that’s a loaded answer – I asked for you to predict what will happen and NOT what you hope will happen. Please provide another answer, if you’d like, because I really don’t want to have this thread turn into the usual..

ragingloli's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
Well ok, let me elaborate: I think (and hope) that the increased global access to free information and knoweldge about the world and science will increase global education levels which naturally, gradually, steadily, yet unfortunately slowly, will drive people away from religion and towards accepting a worldview based on reason, knowledge and logic. Religious leaders are aware of that fact, and as you can see in the US and the middle east, will do their best railing against that trend and to offset or even to stop and reverse it to drive people back into their grasp. My hope is, that they will be unsuccessful, but I can not make an absolutely accurate prediction. And If there is a global religion, I hope it is Buddhism, because that is the only major religion left that teaches respect for all life. I hope that satisfies you.

Shemarq's avatar

I believe there will always be some type of religion(s) as long as there are people in the world. If you look at societies throughout history, every one has had some type of religion. The Native Americans, ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks and Romans, Hebrews, Muslims, Voo Doo, etc. There are a number of things you will find in common with all of them. They have a God or Gods or some higher level being that has power over them, their religion lays the groundwork for the moral structure of their society (i.e. 10 commandments for Christians), it is used to explain things that people don’t understand (Hercules took the sun across the sky, God created the earth, etc.) and all religions explain what happens to you when you die. Which one is right? What makes one more right than another? I honestly don’t know.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ragingloli thank you for elaborating – what I want to ask you now is whether or not information overload really will ‘naturally’ lead to rejection of religion…isn’t it possible that the vastness of our world and all the information can lead some people to feel detached and lost, therefore seeking some sort of pattern and looking to religion?

lloydbird's avatar

Only as a sociological and philosophical curiosity of the past.
The need for and maintenance of it will evaporate, and we will be left with some kind of ‘free association of individuals’, with a strong and active sense of mutual support to all/any others.

Or something like that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Shemarq I know the past but the future is becoming increasingly unlike the past – obviously I am a post-modernist so my ideas are biased by Hegel and Kojeve and Baudrillard’s writings…I think societies or what those even are will change…I feel what human is will change…and with that there is a possibility of not needing the same kind of thing we needed when religion was used…

laureth's avatar

“I’ve often thought that there needs to be a kind of Sunday service for Atheists or people not having any specific religion…where they can get together and feel like a part of a community, if necessary…”

I thought that’s what the Unitarian Universalists were all about.

ragingloli's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
There will always be some people who will feel overwhelmed and instead of turning to education to enlighten themselves will flee back into superstition. That is why education plays a major role in that process. Lack of or inadequate education about matters of reality always go hand in hand with superstition. People look for answers and if Education is not available, they will go to the next best provide of answers, regardless of whether these answers are true. These second class providers are unfortunately the religious preachers, the demagogues and the propagandists.
Look at the US: Because education does a bad job in teaching science (especially evolution), in no minor part due to the opposition of the religious right, people are overly religious and superstitious.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@laureth huh, that’s true – I never really looked into UU but I might..it might fit our family…reading the Community Church of NYC’s website right now…I am buying a lot of things that they’re saying so we’ll check it out but a lot of the concepts used (worship, sermon, reverence, prophets were all correct) are archaic and feel like they’re religious…and turn me off

Shemarq's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You bring up an excellent point. But I think that religion has a tendency to adapt as people become more knowledgeable. Like the greeks and romans used mythological gods to explain why there was thunder and why the sun moved across the sky, etc. Humans don’t like the “unknown” and want an explanation for things. Religion as we know it today will probably no longer exist in the future, but will more than likely be replaced with a form that makes sense for future societies.

dpworkin's avatar

Where religion is repressed it will flourish and grow; where it is tolerated, its influence will subside. I believe that is what we see in history.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Shemarq what do you think is the form it’ll take?

Shemarq's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I have absolutely no idea quite honestly.

CMaz's avatar

The bible has a safeguard for that. To keep the believers hooked.

“many will fall away and the love of most will grow cold”
– Matthew 24

Decline in religiosity is considered prophecy.

jerv's avatar

The religions we all know may or may not have a future, but those that can evolve may have a better chance. For instance, I think that part of the reason Christianity is still around is that they don’t kill people as often as they used to (Crusades, Inquisitions, “The Burning Times”...) Is what many people practice today still Christianity? Some may argue that it is not, though my opinion it that it is but it’s evolved.

Also, it’s possible that the alleged decline of religion is because many people don’t really believe in Christ as their saviour any longer but have too narrow a worldview to really know any alternatives like Buddhism, Shinto, Discordianism, etcetera. (Personally, I’ve wondered how many self-identified Christians really have faith and how many jsut mark the box because they are afraid not to.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jerv okay, so you feel that some religious people are scared to express their doubts about religion – do you foresee a world where there is less fear surrounding religious categories

ninjacolin's avatar

I believe some people need organized religion and others simply don’t. Some people who need it think they don’t need it. And others who have it don’t really need it.

As time goes on, I think people will begin to see that all humans are inherently religious, that “religion” defines something far more broad and useful than the concepts of mythology and deities popular in religion today.

When that happens, I think the “faith based” church will be replaced by the “reason based” church. And things will continue on better than they were.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ninjacolin I don’t know – it is not necessarily that religion and faith are so mutually exclusive…I mean it’s possible but to assert that those are two different things is debatable (and not on this thread)

jerv's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Sadly, not really. I mean, look at this a recent news story about how North Carolina forbids Atheists from holding public office and tell me what you think.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jerv look I know there is many an unreasonable action done by people in the name of religion but there are many a reasonable action as well…(look I am trying really hard to have a more positive view of religion and we can totally discuss these things elsewhere)

ninjacolin's avatar

it’s possible but to assert that those are two different things is debatable (and not on this thread)

the problem is.. if i’m right then your entire conversation is utterly useless to you, since the responses won’t contain useful information. i think you better figure out first what “Faith” and “Religion” really mean before you have such conversations.

Most of the world spins itself in circles by failing to come to agreeable definitions on such key terms before engaging in discussion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ninjacolin no the conversation isn’t useless and I do have definitions for these concepts (in fact I have VERY strong ideas about religion, its point, its history, etc.)...however, we are not defining religion here, we’re not placing a value on it (not that those things aren’t necessary, it’s just that I want to maintain a specific focus on this thread and not have it devolve into bickering)...we are discussing possible trends, in the future, of concepts we all identify as organized religions…if you don’t want to provide these trends, I am sorry, this isn’t the right thread for you at the moment…

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

I’d say that religion as it stands will decline and disappear. People aren’t feeling that their souls are enhanced by ominous churches that are too dark and too large. I think we all naturally seek communities, and will create them one way or another.

ninjacolin's avatar

yea, i was worried that you missed my point :( i was trying to answer your question.

I was saying that I suspect that the trend will be that new definition of religion: a new, concrete understanding of what “religion” means. and with that new understanding will come a new kind of religious practice. one that can include atheists, one that is based in logic and reason.

now accept my prediction, damnit! you don’t have to understand it yet. :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ninjacolin I do accept that prediction and I agree with it.

ninjacolin's avatar

lol, yay!

HighShaman's avatar

I believe that as long as the earth is in existance as it is today ; there will be organized religions and faiths…...

I do believe that IF more of the members of organized religins would rreas the Secret Gospel of Mark ; which has been disputed ..BUT still very interesting , it migh cause MANY to re think their beliefs in several ways…

JLeslie's avatar

I think it has a future, especially in the US. Years ago people hypothesized religion would probably go by the wayside, but in the US it seems to be alive and well. Very well.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Were you raised religiously? I just wonder since going to a “Sunday Service” is appealing to you.

jerv's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir The sad facts are:
1) Many people seem to regard Religion and Science as mutually exclusive, at least in certain regards. Look how long it took Galileo’s theory of a heliocentric solar system to supplant the belief that Earth was the physical center of the Universe!
This speaks a bit as to how educated they are since there are many scientists who know enough about science to see how faith and reason can co-exist, but the average person seems to be more interested in sound-bites than sound reasoning, so this misconception will be with us for quite a while.

2) The definition of “religion” is rather subjective. According to G.W. Bush, Wicca is not a religion. I could cite more examples or you could just agree that there are people that consider any belief other than their own to be totally invalid.
This extends beyond religion as well; ever see a Liberal and a Conservative go at it?

3) Even people of the same faith can (and do) have differences of opinion, and sometimes they are dramatic enough to lead to splintering much like the split between Protestants and Catholics a few centuries ago. And this doesn’t even count the minority factions like Mormons.
In other words, there are >6 billion religions on Earth right now. It’s just that many of them are similar enough that their followers can be in teh same house of worship without (too much) disagreement.

That said, how do you define “organized religion”? I think that once we answer that, I might be able to get a better idea of where you are coming from.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I just said Sunday Service as that’s what normally happens and I figured instead of worship, people can get together to talk about social justice issues – I was not raised religious but there were religious people in my family…they were orthodox Christian and I wanted to be Christian but my parents wouldn’t let me be christened as they wanted me to grow up and decide this after I turned 18…when we moved to the US and I re-read the Bible again, I was like ‘wtf’ and rejected my past religious leanings…this lead to a spiritual search, being a witch for some years…then years of agnosticism, then some more witchcraft…now I am atheist…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jerv the major Abrahamic faiths in the US and the public front they present.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Do you still feel you are searching in any way?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I am definitely not searching to connect to a higher being but am always searching to connect to others…even though people annoy me often…another reason I’m interested in finding a community like the Universalist Unitarians is because I’ve been SO angry lately at certain religious peoples and their ideas and sentiments that I don’t agree with and I want to find people who are religious and open and just and positive so that I find balance…I know religion isn’t going away, necessarily, and I want to interact with its positive aspects but not feel problematic as an Atheist…so we’ll check the UU here in NYC

jerv's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir In that case, I think that you and I have different enough mindsets that I am going to have to think of how to translate is we are to be even close to being on the same wavelength regarding the future of religion as a whole.
That said, I generally take things a bit more case-by-case since I have known many kind, intelligent, rational people who just happened to be devoutly religious.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jerv As have I. Which is why I was trying to say that many people who are religious can be perfectly reasonable.

Pandora's avatar

I think religion follows the economy and crisis. In financially hard times or times of war people turn to God for help. When everything is dandy, people forget God. People act like spoil children. When all is good we don’t need mommy and daddy. When things are bad we scream like the brats we are. I don’t think religion ever declines it just fluctuates and changes and certain religions become more fanatical as others decline. The only bad thing about any of it declining is that as we progress people start to believe themselves as Gods and toss out their moral compass. And fanatical faiths through out their moral compass in the name of the God they serve.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

the smarter we get , the less chance there is of organized religion lasting.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora But I think what you said only works for those inclined to be religious to begin with. Being raised an atheist, and being one myself, I do not find God in fox holes. It does not even occur to me. I would say that those who believe in God and identify with a religion during hard times might start frequenting their churches more, but people like me probably never find their way. The only exception I can see for myself is if I was forbidden to enter a temple (I am Jewish) if it became illegal to be Jewish, then I would fight hard for the right to practice my religion, but I would do that for any religion (as long as they were not doing dangerous or illegal things).

CMaz's avatar

“the smarter we get”

Now you sound like a Roman or an Aztec. Even an Egyptian.

JLeslie's avatar

@ChazMaz But wouldn’t you agree that people who are more educated, especially in the sicences are less likely to be religious? I do know people who are educated and religious, but I think education reduces the numbers.

CMaz's avatar

“wouldn’t you agree that people who are more educated, especially in the sciences ”

Now you sound like a Roman or an Aztec. Even an Egyptian. :-)
Our intellect only relevant to the moment of time we occupy.

If history is the story of mans actions. We will just re-invent ourselves. Again.
Rising up from the ashes and finding God in one manifestation or another.

JLeslie's avatar

@ChazMaz So you think humans will always invent a God or Gods? It is just in our DNA? And, I want to make sure I understand you…you are saying that what we feel is science today will be nothing compared to the science of tomorrow? That we think we know so much, but it will be a measly nothing a few hundred years in the future? Half of which will probably be disproven. Is that your point?

CMaz's avatar

Yes.

And, DNA is too easy of an answer.

JLeslie's avatar

@ChazMaz And you think that even as we advance in science we will continue to rely on something that cannot be proven, that seems to make no logical sense like God? Is that because you think people want to be able to believe in something that will take care of them?? Or, what do you think it is? It seems that even thousands of years ago the people developing our current day western religions understood that most want to be able to follow, or look up to someone/thing. We use terms like Father, Teacher, King, to describe Gods and those who speak for God. I guess I am not a follower.

CMaz's avatar

Now you sound like a Roman or an Aztec. Even an Egyptian. :-)

Tell me how we get something from nothing.
We still struggle over the chicken and egg theory. (let’s not go there)

I know the answer is out there.
But, it goes beyond our comprehension of what we know and how we currently accept how things work.
Or we would already know how it all began. We are no closer then the cave man. Ok, let’s stick with the Romans, Aztecs and Egyptians.
What makes sense to us now, made as much sense as the world being flat to the past generations.
The world does not spin for us. We are just a result of the spinning process.

Eventually man will die off and life will begin all over again. With our quest to discover the unknown we will become “enlightened” to there being supernatural powers guiding us.

JLeslie's avatar

@ChazMaz Hmm. I’ll think about what you said.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie “But wouldn’t you agree that people who are more educated, especially in the sicences are less likely to be religious? I do know people who are educated and religious, but I think education reduces the numbers.”

There is a flaw in that theory in that many Americans are not terribly well educated. I mean, the well-educated people are much smarter than the geniuses of yesteryear, but on the other hand we have places where the high school dropout rate exceeds 50%, cashiers at McDonalds have such poor math skills that they are incapable of even counting out correct change, and most people don’t bother reading the manual to their electronics or otherwise trying to learn how they work, instead relying on others to do the thinking for them.

It’s true that more educated people are more likely to be Atheist/Agnostic, but it’s highly debatable whether or not America (on average) can truly be considered “educated”.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I think we are agreeing. I think the less educated Americans are more likely to be religious. I think I am confused??

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, I think we are agreeing, just in different words.

Just_Justine's avatar

I live in a developing country and religion is still firmly in place. I don’t go for the word religion because I am amongst various “religions” including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, occult, wiccan, the list is endless. I think because our country went through so many transitions we have learned a little about all the belief structures followed. No one mashes anyone up about it. It is a personal choice. Any ones belief system should be personal to them. Some still like the construct of religious ceremony some do not. I think the most important part of a person is “spirituality”. Which can take any form. I am curious though what would the atheists meeting be about? The fact that they don’t believe in anything?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

It’ll reform and adapt. Wiley little bastard.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Just_Justine The meeting would be about connecting to one another over shared ideas, wanting to do social justice and to further political action against those bothered for being atheists.

Just_Justine's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir well groups and organisations exist for shared ideas on various subjects, topics, areas. The atheists are bugged? Gosh wonder why? Perhaps they can join the “leave me alone for my beliefs” group that the religious people also should belong too! (in order to get some relief).

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Just_Justine There are ethical unions and humanist assosications and all that that I think answer some of the questions for people who don’t want to belong to an organized religion. But I gotta tell you and this is just going off of my own experiences, no atheist ever bugged me about my beliefs when I was a Christian or a Wiccan but a hell of a lot more Christians bug me about my atheism.

Just_Justine's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir well the christians around here must be slacking! no one bugs anyone. I always steer away from christians, or atheists or anyone that try and shove their belief system onto me. Particularly if it all about hell and damnation. I have all sorts of people pray for me when things go bad from Hindu to whatever, I guess it is all about good intention good vibrations and positive love. I do not involve myself in social constructs and yes they have in general (all constructs) lost their power in society. I believe in God, but it has nothing to do with anyone else.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Just_Justine Well, granted, many people don’t shove their ideas down anyone’s throats but the communities I work with are very religious and even the reveal of my atheist makes them not want to talk to me anymore – which is unfortunate, because I can offer them a lot of emotional, financial and otherwise help. But that’s their close mindedness biting them in the ass.

CMaz's avatar

“well the christians around here must be slacking!”

Or we see a bigger picture. ;-)

Just_Justine's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I will give you my good friend, who is a gay pastor in the USA , good advice, she always told me if its judgemental, if it does not come from a place of love, run, run run for the hills. So fuck ‘em I say. They have their issues don’t let their issues become yours.

Just_Justine's avatar

@ChazMaz what do you mean by that?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Just_Justine Oh I don’t take any of it seriously – it just makes it difficult to do my job.

CMaz's avatar

I call myself a Christian.

But, I do not go for the “magic” that the bible brings to the table. Or the old word ignorance it continues to promote.
I will not deny God’s existence since there are possibly (currently) infinite possibilities.

It’s my life and I will do what I want. But/and there is no reason to shove anything down anothers throat.
That is rather un-productive to love. Unless you like that. ;-)

When we find out what made the universe spin. There you will find God.
Don’t get too upset if it is not an old guy with a beard.

Free your mind, the rest will follow.

Just_Justine's avatar

@ChazMaz ah! sorry misread your comment. Indeed :) He has been too evident to me in my life, to deny. I’m his wayward naughty child ;) – but anyway one has to believe in something even if it is just “love”. And keep away from all the rest.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther