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Ask HN: Does religion have a future
9 points by digamber_kamat on June 6, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments
After watching the recent star trek movie I realized that the science fiction movies have altogether kind of agreed that there is no religion in future except in cases of some distant planets with Paganism.

There is no Church/Mosque/Temples anymore :) Very rarely do we see the remain of Mexican Aztec culture but no Christianity or Islam (for that matter any other major religion)

That simply isn't true tho'. The biggest and most famous franchise of all, Star Wars, is heavily religious, the very first film states it openly. So is the best recent sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica. A main character of Firefly is a preacher.

Even in Star Trek the Vulcans spend an awful lot of time contemplating candles and wearing robes. They may not talk about it on-screen but the producers must have consciously chosen to use monastic/Catholic imagery.

Belief in a higher power has been around since the dawn of time. There are as many religious people in the world as ever. Decrease in the west? Yes. Increase in the east? Yes. Faith has survived thousands of years of innovation, so it's a bit of generational arrogance (possibly coming from your particular western enlightenment reddit-reading background ;o) to think that we're finally outgrowing God.

Nietzsche declared God dead a hundred years ago and since then religion has been booming in china, africa, south america, et al. Of course, maybe those poor dumb people will be rich and educated like us someday. :-/

your statement kind of reflecting what I am trying to say. I am from East and not West.

I am referring here to religion and not to God. Religions like Christianity and its institutions like church are so much based on Dogma that can not stand reasoning.

Will that vanish with time and scientific progress?

Some folks think so, but I don't. For two different reasons.

The first, rational. Some folks think science will overturn religion because (they so casually assume) religion is false, irrational, and inflexible. Well, that's a touch easier to just assume than to actually argue with a live Christian intellectual, isn't it? I find the viewpoint humorously arrogant, and shall return the favor: Christianity will survive because it is not only rational, but also true. Theology and science both love truth, both pursue it through reason, and anything that is true cannot remain the enemy of either one forever.

The second, human nature. Some folks think religion is nothing more than superstition, and easily overturned by education. I think folks might find that foolish if they actually visited a church and tried it; the roots of religion in human nature are an awful lot deeper than that. The need for God, for purpose, for morality, for mythology, is a very deep and universally human thing. Science, for all its practical success, is a pursuit for intellectuals, but the spiritual is universal. For every cold intellectual you show me, I'll show you ten romantics, and maybe even a couple guys who answer both calls.

Christianity has been around for two millenia; Judaism for four or five. Neither is going anywhere soon. Oh, the institutions will change, the names will change, how they actually function may grow close to unrecognizable. But folks will gather for worship and prayer as they always have, and devout mothers will pray over their children as timeless peers. The hot theological debates will be different, but doctrine and scripture that hasn't changed in three or five millienia is not going anywhere in another ten.

It seems fashionable to pronouce religion dead at least once a century, but it's like the old knight said . . . the church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.

This is very interesting observation. Over last few centuries we have seen many religions evolving drastically, I guess the far future will have religions but they will evolve in such a way that I and you may not be able to find resemblance between them and todays religion

The trend of that evolution is very much on the lines with Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

IF we see the dogma of religion has been defeated by reason and logic over time. But some part of it still exists. Who knows eventually even that will get extinct?

Christianity is a very young religion (taking one example). I am certain it wont exist 100's of years in the future (mostly because certain elements wont stand the test of science). But will there be replacements? Religions born out of existing ones or created anew (a bad example: scientology). I imagine there will be.

At the end of the day religion is designed to fill a void: not the unexplained (because that, I think, is to do with faith and belief) but rather because humans constantly seek to hand off their reposnsibility. "It's not my fault I ws told to...". In a group like a religion blame can be spread out. I think society does need these organisations, for better or worse, to function (personally I wish it was different).

Will faith and belief in a higher power exist many hundreds of years in the future? Well I think there will always be those who refuse to believe the findings of science (Im thinking along the lines of young earth creationists). Many of those are due to religious brain washing - but some have actually developed that view through free will. And I dont see that changing. But I do think that faith and belief will focus on different aspects of the unexplained. I t just depends how far our science goes. In thousands of years we should have documented proof of darwin evolution for example. But will we have figured out the big bang? Who knows! :)

SO the simple answer to the question is, I think, yes religion does have a future and yes faith does have a future: but the form it takes is dependant on our scientific progression (a small irony there I feel)

There is a believe in some form of a God in Star Trek, for example Picard believes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNwzawXu4v8 that the afterlife is run by someone/something, just not by Q.

My question was not really about the God, but religion and institutions that promote some sort of Dogma.

The only hope is evolution. Religion is rooted in the wetware, and resides physically in the brain. As we evolve a percentage of the population is born with ever shrinking god regions in the wetware. Those who cannot feel or understand faith, or do not sense an external force, do not participate in religious commune.

If this mutation is successful, changes in the population will eventually bear out a larger group of mutations, than earlier populations. I definitely believe its a genetic issue and one that will be identified fully in time, as our understanding of the brain evolves.

At some point we may release the baggage of our childhood and move out into the universe that beckons. But, as long as there are more people hell bent on believing the rapture is just around the corner, the less likely I believe our species can survive.

We have technology that can eliminate us, stories in the Bible, Quran, and Torah that predict our demise, and a world full of believers set on seeing it through.

Obviously, this does not add up to a Star Trek ending. Only science can save us. Hopefully, one day they will find this root of all evil and remove it from the population.

Maybe, just maybe, we will last that long.

I doubt it.

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