Periodically they include rituals, particularly at traditional holidays. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.”. And when a religion dies, it becomes a myth, and its claim to sacred truth expires. THE resurgence of religion has been dramatic in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Does organized religion have a future? Given all that, there’s a growing consensus that the future of religion is that it has no future. “Religions do well, and always have done, when they are subjectively convincing – when you have the sense that God is working for you,” says Woodhead, now professor of sociology of religion at the University of Lancaster in the UK. Now there is, comes the reply. The congregation numbers a few hundred, but Irzak, as a good engineer, is committed to testing out ways to grow that number. In the West, one form this takes is for humanists to rework religious motifs: there have been attempts to rewrite the Bible without any supernatural elements, calls for the construction of “atheist temples” dedicated to contemplation. He was arguing that belief in God is necessary for society to function, even if he didn’t approve of the monopoly the church held over that belief. Woodhead and her co-author found that people were rapidly turning away from organised religion, with its emphasis on fitting into an established order of things, towards practices designed to accentuate and foster individuals’ own sense of who they are. Transhumanism, Jediism, the Witnesses of Climatology and the myriad of other new religious movements may never amount to much. “Unreligions” seek to dispense with the supposedly unpopular strictures or irrational doctrines of conventional religion, and so might appeal to the irreligious. The research suggests that the last two groups are significant. If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “The Essential List”. So, given time and motivation, could something more explicitly religious grow out of an online community? In the book, he argues that humanity is in need of a religious revolution that dispenses with the concept of God and elements of the supernatural, a revolution that expands individual and collective human empowerment by fostering a condition he calls "deep freedom"—a life of creativity, risk, experiment, … When someone tries to start a new religion, it is often dismissed as a cult. Munificent economies, good government, solid education and effective rule of law can ensure that we rub along happily without any kind of religious framework. Given all that, there’s a growing consensus that the future of religion is that it has no future. Social change undermines religions which don’t accommodate it: earlier this year, Pope Francis warned that if the Catholic Church didn’t acknowledge its history of male domination and sexual abuse it risked becoming “a museum”. But if your basic needs are well catered for, you are more likely to be seeking fulfilment and meaning. Question: What is the world's worst government on religious liberty? The broad idea that a shared faith serves the needs of a society is known as the functionalist view of religion. Despite this, religion is not disappearing on a global scale – at least in terms of numbers. Even today’s dominant religions have continually evolved throughout history. The traditionally religious both belonged and believed; hardcore atheists did neither. The Future of Religion Worldwide. Such esoteric beliefs have arisen throughout history, but the ease with which we can now build a community around them is new. Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. He tweets @sumit. Scepticism about practitioners’ motives impedes many new movements from being recognised as genuine religions, whether by officialdom or by the public at large. You might also like:• How and why did religion evolve?• Do humans have a religion instinct?• How long can civilisation survive? The Turing Church, founded in 2011, has a range of cosmic tenets – “We will go to the stars and find Gods, build Gods, become Gods, and resurrect the dead” – but no hierarchy, rituals or proscribed activities and only one ethical maxim: “Try to act with love and compassion toward other sentient beings.”. We obey laws made and enforced by governments, not by God. Some branches of Jediism remain jokey, but others take themselves more seriously: the Temple of the Jedi Order claims its members are “real people that live or lived their lives according to the principles of Jediism” – inspired by the fiction, but based on the real-life philosophies that informed it. By the year 2050, … Continue reading “What is the future of religion? In 1954, Fredric Brown wrote a (very) short story called “Answer”, in which a galaxy-spanning supercomputer is turned on and asked: is there a God? So to encourage everyone to do everything possible to help to bring into existence, it will perpetually and retroactively torture those who don’t – including anyone who so much as learns of its potential existence. The “prosperity gospel” is central to several of America’s megachurches, whose congregations are often dominated by economically insecure congregations. But ultimately the question of sincerity is a red herring, Singler says: “Whenever someone tells you their worldview, you have to take them at face value”. Since then, Christianity has continued both to grow and to splinter into ever more disparate groups, from silent Quakers to snake-handling Pentecostalists. And, finally, there are those who believe in something, but don’t belong to any group. “Going out into a medieval town square and shouting out your unorthodox beliefs was going to get you labelled a heretic, not win converts to your cause.”. Tagged: BBC, Pew Forum, Soviet Union, China, New Scientist, Karl Marx. Accordingly, there are very many ways of being an unbeliever”, the report concluded – including, notably, the dating-website cliche “spiritual, but not religious”. He cites research showing that people ignore authoritarian pitches until they sense a deterioration of social norms. “Nones” may be disinterested in organised religion, but that doesn’t mean they are militantly atheist. Thinking about Thanksgiving and beyond: Always coronavirus winter, but never Christmas? This worldview makes sense for groups too small to need abstract codes of conduct, but who must know their environment intimately. We also need to be careful when interpreting what people mean by “no religion”. The future of religion in America is not an easy thing to predict. Growing numbers “say they have no religion at all. Rather than seeing religions as providing spiritual truths and essential morality, Paul-Choudhury leans toward the “functionalist” theory by which creeds evolved to provide social cohesion. That’s most true in rich, stable countries like Sweden and Japan, but also, perhaps more surprisingly, in places like Latin America and the Arab world. Levandowski is not alone. The Understanding Unbelief project at the University of Kent in the UK is conducting a three-year, six-nation survey of attitudes among those who say they don’t believe God exists (“atheists”) and those who don’t think it’s possible to know if God exists (“agnostics”). Perhaps religions never do really die. In a landmark study, people directly affected by the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand became significantly more religious than other New Zealanders, who became marginally less religious. Another 1,500 years later – today – Zoroastrianism is a dying faith, its sacred flames tended by ever fewer worshippers. There are many functionalist hypotheses, from the idea that religion is the “opium of the masses”, used by the powerful to control the poor, to the proposal that faith supports the abstract intellectualism required for science and law. What have diplomacy, faith, and gender got to do with each other? The idea of punishment as an imperative to cooperate is reminiscent of Norenzayan’s “Big Gods”. “I’d be careful about calling capitalism a religion, but a lot of its institutions have religious elements, as in all spheres of human institutional life,” says Wood. We can do this in several ways. Some groups are performing or “hacking” religion to win support for transhumanist ideas, says Singler. Those faiths that endure are “the long-term products of extraordinarily complex cultural pressures, selection processes, and evolution”, writes Connor Wood of the Center for Mind and Culture in Boston, Massachusetts on the religious reference website Patheos, where he blogs about the scientific study of religion. The faith  had millions of followers in the Persian Empire’s heyday but today counts only 60,000. In Russia alone, 50 percent of the population now declare themselves to be Orthodox, and millions are adherents of other religions. “The Western consensus on a combination of market capitalism and democracy can’t be taken for granted.”. Clue: This could be a faith-based question. Modern societies are multicultural where followers of many different faiths live side by side (Credit: Getty Images). According to Wood, it was set apart by its ethos of caring for the sick – meaning more Christians survived outbreaks of disease than pagan Romans. * This story is featured in BBC Future’s “Best of 2019” collection. THE resurgence of religion has been dramatic in the countries of the former Soviet Union. What barriers does it face? The acid test, as true for neopagans as for transhumanists, is whether people make significant changes to their lives consistent with their stated faith. In poorer societies, you might pray for good fortune or a stable job. Given all that, there’s a growing consensus that the future of religion is that it has no future.”, Thinkers have been promoting that same consensus since the 17th and 18th Century “Enlightenment.”, A special problem hampered religions during the past century, he briefly acknowledges. Religion News Service put that question to an intellectually and spiritually diverse range of scholars, leaders, activists and experts, asking them to reflect on the past decade and use it as a springboard to conceive the biggest themes likely to materialize in the 2020s.. What Is the Future of Religion? 2. “The ‘invisible hand’ of the market almost seems like a supernatural entity.”. “We hope people get real value from this and are encouraged to work on climate change,” she says, rather than despairing about the state of the world. Even in the US, long a conspicuous exception to the axiom that richer countries are more secular, the number of “nones” has been rising sharply. Early Christianity, for example, was a truly broad church: ancient documents include yarns about Jesus’ family life and testaments to the nobility of Judas. They didn’t see any need to bring God into it – Irzak was brought up an atheist – but did start running regular “services”, including introductions, a sermon eulogising the awesomeness of nature and education on aspects of environmentalism. This might have been expected, because it’s been practised for thousands of years as part of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year – whose origins lie in part with the Zoroastrians. And what does philosophy uniquely have to offer to the broad discourse on religion in the modern world? Islam is forecast to be the world's largest religion by 2070, if current trends continue. To answer these questions, a good starting point is to ask: why do we have religion in the first place? But over time, they canevolve into more heartfelt and coherent belief systems: Woodhead points to the robust adoption of Rodnovery – an often conservative and patriarchal pagan faith based around the reconstructed beliefs and traditions of the ancient Slavs – in the former Soviet Union as a potential exemplar of things to come. That’s a problem, since that combination has radically transformed the social environment from the one in which the world religions evolved – and has to some extent supplanted them. Levandowski, who made a fortune through self-driving cars, hit the headlines in 2017 when it became public knowledge that he had founded a church, Way of the Future, dedicated to bringing about a peaceful transition to a world mostly run by super-intelligent machines. Among other things, she is considering a Sunday School to teach children ways of thinking about how complex systems work. While the world religions are likely to persist and evolve for the foreseeable future, we might for the rest of this century see an efflorescence of relatively small religions jostling to break out among these groups. What Is the Future of Religion? The future of world religions The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths. The psychologist Ara Norenzayan argues it was belief in these “Big Gods” that allowed the formation of societies made up of large numbers of strangers. Not all are liberally inclined. His successors are emboldened by surveys showing that in many countries, increasing numbers of people are saying they have no religion. As these examples suggest, Witnesses of Climatology has a parodic feel to it – light-heartedness helps novices get over any initial awkwardness – but Irzak’s underlying intent is quite serious. There is precedent for this: in the 1700s, Christianity was ailing in the US, having become dull and formal even as the Age of Reason saw secular rationalism in the ascendant. It took three centuries for the Christian church to consolidate around a canon of scriptures – and then in 1054 it split into the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches. Spirituality asks you to let go of your present attachments for a better present . The pseudo-religious social order might work well when times are good. At the other end of the spectrum, the teeming societies of the West are at least nominally faithful to religions in which a single watchful, all-powerful god lays down, and sometimes enforces, moral instructions: Yahweh, Christ and Allah. A church service in Berlin uses Star Wars to engage the congregation (Credit: Getty Images), Are these movements for real? And arguments over ways to evade the Basilisk’s gaze are every bit as convoluted as the medieval Scholastics’ attempts to square human freedom with divine oversight. In 1994, the sociologist Grace Davie classified people according to whether they belonged to a religious group and/or believed in a religious position. Using a model called Future of Religion and Secular Transitions (FOREST), it was theorised that there are four factors in which people tend to secularise: Existential security: It is a state of being secure enough to be taken as granted and you have enough money and food to survive. What are the realistic prospects for improvement, and why does this matter? Some 3,500 years ago, in Bronze Age Iran, he had a vision of the one supreme God. Join more than one million Future fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter or Instagram. Secularism is on the rise, with science providing tools to understand and shape the world. One approach is syncretism, the “pick and mix” approach of combining traditions and practices that often results from the mixing of cultures. Or at least, it did. But The Beeb goes futuristic in a current online series that takes “the long view of humanity.” An August article offered the forecast about  religion (click here). New religious movements are born all the time, but most don’t survive long. What’s more, around three-quarters of atheists and nine out of 10 agnostics are open to the existence of supernatural phenomena, including everything from astrology to supernatural beings and life after death. At Reverse Christmas, the Witnesses plant a tree rather than cutting one down; on Glacier Memorial Day, they watch blocks of ice melt in the California sun. Jesuit Rev. This week's podcast: It isn't 'fake news' to recognize that America remains a divided land, A news story? We obey laws made and enforced by governments, not by God. Think Karl Marx, who deemed religion the “opium of the masses.” As clans and tribes gave way to large and diverse nations, people were able to coexist through devotion to “Big Gods,” and so forth. Perhaps a new religion will emerge to fill the void? That’s a potent combination for believers and an unsettling one for secularists: can anything bridge the gap between them? Religion asks you to sacrifice your present attachments for a promised future. None of these are religions, of course, but they do share parallels with nascent belief systems – particularly that key functionalist objective of fostering a sense of community and shared purpose. US megachurches bring in thousands of worshippers (Credit: Getty Images). Christians began as a tiny Jewish sect, spread through the Roman Empire, and today are found  most everywhere and practice the world’s largest religion. Their grandchildren, however, are growing up in a world of geopolitical stresses and socioeconomic angst; they are more likely to hark back to supposedly simpler times. Again, Woodhead is sceptical. urns out atheists and agnostics are surprisingly open to supernatural phenomena, favor objective moral values, and generally seek to find “meaning in the world and your own life.”, The BBC article contrasts with the estimates for 2050 in the Pew Research Center report “The Future of World Religions.”. Clearly, it's China, What hath Trump wrought? Global COVID-19 parables: What responsibility do faith groups have to the larger society? Muslims would grow in number to match Christians, while the number unaffiliated with any religion would decline slightly. Importantly, this BBC writer foresees a bleak future. Official status is irrelevant if you can win thousands or even millions of followers to your cause. Similar movements exist across Europe, such as Druidry in the UK. “I think it’s pretty clear that we’re entering into a period of non-linear change in social systems,” he says. Perhaps the religions that span the world today are less durable than we think. And perhaps the next great faith is just getting started. Predictably, that only made the idea explode across the internet – or at least the geekier parts of it – with references to the Basilisk popping up everywhere from news sites to Doctor Who,  despite protestations from some Rationalists that no-one really took it seriously. Growing numbers “say they have no religion at all. Some have confessional and sacrificial elements, too. Tales of the Egyptian, Greek and Norse pantheons are now considered legends, not holy writ. Some are motivated by a desire to return to what they see as conservative “traditional” values – leading in some cases to clashes over the validity of opposing beliefs. But in fact, he was being perfectly sincere. Spirituality is the true essence, and the true origin , of every religious movement. By 2050 there will still be more Christians than any other religious group The global Christian population will remain stable over the next 35 years, despite Muslims being the fastest-growing religious group. So the nones mostly represent not atheists, nor even secularists, but a mixture of “apatheists” – people who simply don’t care about religion – and practitioners of what you might call “disorganised religion”. In Iceland, for example, the small but fast-growing Ásatrú faith has no particular doctrine beyond somewhat arch celebrations of Old Norse customs and mythology, but has been active on social and ecological issues. #MeToo started out as a hashtag expressing anger and solidarity but now stands for real changes to long-standing social norms. “This is the human animal looking around and saying we don’t agree how we should behave,” Wood says. This time it’s different. In 2005, Linda Woodhead wrote The Spiritual Revolution, in which she described an intensive study of belief in the British town of Kendal. Scientology was barred from recognition as a religion for many years in the UK because it did not have a Supreme Being – something that could also be said of Buddhism. Powerful intellectual and political currents have driven this proposition since the early 20th Century. Religious diversity has brought vitality in the forms of conflict and competiton, socio-cultural changes are re-shaping the forms that religion takes, while the changing social location of religion alters the competitive framework for services provided. A few years ago, members of the self-declared “Rationalist” community website LessWrong began discussing a thought experiment about an omnipotent, super-intelligent machine – with many of the qualities of a deity and something of the Old Testament God’s vengeful nature. “And we need authority to tell us.” It’s suggestive that political strongmen are often hand in glove with religious fundamentalists: Hindu nationalists in India, say, or Christian evangelicals in the US. In fact, recognition is a complex issue worldwide, particularly since that there is no widely accepted definition of religion even in academic circles. But I digress. Outlandish though it might seem, Roko’s Basilisk caused quite a stir when it was first suggested on LessWrong – enough for discussion of it to be banned by the site’s creator. The 2001 UK census found that Jediism, the fictional faith observed by the good guys in Star Wars, was the fourth largest religion: nearly 400,000 people had been inspired to claim it, initially by a tongue-in-cheek online campaign. While his vision sounds more benevolent than Roko’s Basilisk, the church’s creed still includes the ominous lines: “We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not. A new guard of travelling fire-and-brimstone preachers successfully reinvigorated the faith, setting the tone for centuries to come – an event called the “Great Awakenings”. Their case was not helped by the fact that many Rationalists are strongly committed to other startling ideas about artificial intelligence, ranging from AIs that destroy the world by accident to human-machine hybrids that would transcend all mortal limitations. The People's Climate March in New York City made history this month as the largest protest on climate change in the world. The psychology of religion attempts to predict consequences of religious belief. We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition.”, “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavours of Christianity, Judaism, Islam,” Levandowski told Wired. Then there are those who belong but don’t believe – parents attending church to get a place for their child at a faith school, perhaps. Connor Wood is not so sure. If religions have changed so dramatically in the past, how might they change in the future? And some people, like AI entrepreneur Anthony Levandowski, think their holy objective is to build a super-machine that will one day answer just as Brown’s fictional machine did. That chimes with what we know about the deep-seated psychological and neurological drivers of belief. “There is a pull away from global universality to local identities,” says Woodhead. One answer, of course, is that we simply get on with our lives. Sociologists argued that the march of science was leading to the “disenchantment” of society: supernatural answers to the big questions were no longer felt to be needed. One notorious answer comes from Voltaire, the 18th Century French polymath, who wrote: “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”Because Voltaire was a trenchant critic of organised religion, this quip is often quoted cynically. New religious movements often seek to preserve the central tenets of an older religion while stripping it of trappings that may have become stifling or old-fashioned. Though coming from different and distinct intellectual traditions, Richard Rorty and Gianni Vattimo are united in their criticism of the metaphysical tradition. Seite 2/2: Hier die KI-Religion, dort die Todsünden. The mechanism may be new, but the message isn’t. Is there any substance to the claim that belief in gods and deities will die out altogether? what it would mean if AI developed a "soul", abstract intellectualism required for science and law, on the religious reference website Patheos, the "light triad" traits that can make you a good person, modelled the future of the world’s great religions. The pattern Pew predicted was of “the secularising West and the rapidly growing rest”. Kamala Harris' selection as the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee has prompted discussion about her ethnic and religious background and what it means for the future of religion … Conversely, we might expect similar societies to have similar religions, even if they have developed in isolation. Based on their research, psychologists might anticipate that a particular belief will cause those who believe it to respond in a certain way. And indeed, some of the societies with the highest proportions of non-believers are among the most secure and harmonious on Earth. Once the founders of libraries and universities, they are no longer the key sponsors of intellectual thought. “What’s a multi-generational social construct that organises people around shared morals?” she asks. In these situations, the individuals committing the attacks end up instrumentalizing religious matters for the achievement of other interests. One recurring theme is social cohesion: religion brings together a community, who might then form a hunting party, raise a temple or support a political party. And Extinction Rebellion has striven, with considerable success, to trigger a radical shift in attitudes to the crises in climate change and biodiversity. One of journalism's oddest assignments: 'Polygamy beat' at Salt Lake Tribune, Believers must face this: All kinds of people (pastors too) wrestle with depression and suicide. An alternative is to streamline. Zoroaster) in roughly the era of the ancient Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. (Find out what it would mean if AI developed a "soul". But what does it actually mean? But when the social contract becomes stressed – through identity politics, culture wars or economic instability – Wood suggests the consequence is what we see today: the rise of authoritarians in country after country. It's a growing force in pro-Trump media universe, Story of concern for Nigerian boy jailed for blasphemy offers hope, despite lackluster reporting. First, we need to increase the exposure of the field in the broader psychological community. What new forms of religion might these online “congregations” come up with? Religionists say even secular institutions have religious roots: civil legal systems, for example, codify ideas about justice based on social norms established by religions. Today, many of our societies are huge and multicultural: adherents of many faiths co-exist with each other – and with a growing number of people who say they have no religion at all. Like many cliches, it’s rooted in truth. ), A flame burns in a Zoroastrian Fire Temple, possibly for more than a millennium (Credit: Getty Images). Even the technological trappings aren’t new. The full proposition is a complicated logic puzzle, but crudely put, it goes that when a benevolent super-intelligence emerges, it will want to do as much good as possible – and the earlier it comes into existence, the more good it will be able to do. Given all that, there’s a growing consensus that the future of religion is that it has no future.” Thinkers have been promoting that same consensus since the 17th and 18th Century … “the secularising West and the rapidly growing rest”. The 17th-Century French mathematician suggested non-believers should nonetheless go through the motions of religious observance, just in case a vengeful God does turn out to exist. In fact, religions, even the defunct ones, can provide uncannily appropriate metaphors for many of the more intractable features of modern life. We obey laws made and enforced by governments, not by God. Through exploring these questions and more, the authors’ goal is not that of meeting the philosophical future, but of forging it. “A lot is measured against the Western Anglophone tradition of religion,” says Singler. Where do those who identify with no religion fit in this future. Whenever religion is invoked as the cause for terrorist attacks, it is simply a mere excuse to what the actual real motivations behind those really are: economic interests and politic control, which are in no way related to the purpose of religion. Pastor John MacArthur and California church closings: Why isn't this a national story? The first generation of spiritual revolutionaries, coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s, were optimistic and universalist in outlook, happy to take inspiration from faiths around the world. Does it even have a future?”, by Richard Ostling. The knowledge that Big God is watching makes sure we behave ourselves. BBC asks: What is the future of religion? That’s an odd verb to depict Communist regimes’ mass-scale murder, torture, imprisonment, persecution, petty harassment, propaganda, property theft and destruction of institutions. In its early history the BBC (born in 1927, the year of the U.S. Radio Act) was nicknamed “Auntie” for its comforting, old-style tone. Far from a precipitous decline in religiosity, it predicted a modest increase in believers, from 84% of the world’s population today to 87% in 2050. The Parsees’ religion originated with Zarathustra (a.k.a. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Other fledgling transhumanist religious movements focus on immortality – a new spin on the promise of eternal life. But officials who apparently assumed it was not a genuine census answer did not record it as such. And the “Sunday Assembly” aims to recreate the atmosphere of a lively church service without reference to God. What is the status of religious freedom in the world today? This cosmic theme is raised by a British Broadcasting Corporation article under the headline, “Tomorrow’s Gods: What is the Future of Religion?”. But if Big Gods and shared faiths are key to social cohesion, what happens without them? Online movements gain followers at rates unimaginable in the past. Christianity, for example, was just one of many religious movements that came and mostly went during the course of the Roman Empire. Read about our approach to external linking. And their tendency to claim we sit at the pinnacle of creation is undermined by a growing sense that humans are not so very significant in the grand scheme of things. In response, people have started constructing faiths of their own. A thousand years later, Zoroastrianism, the world’s first great monotheistic religion, was the official faith of the mighty Persian Empire, its fire temples attended by millions of adherents. Whether that belief constitutes cause or effect has recently been disputed, but the upshot is that sharing a faith allows people to co-exist (relatively) peacefully. In his bestselling book Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari argues that the foundations of modern civilisation are eroding in the face of an emergent religion he calls “dataism”, which holds that by giving ourselves over to information flows, we can transcend our earthly concerns and ties. Why the Future of Religion Is Bleak Religious institutions have survived by controlling what their adherents know, argues Tufts Prof. Daniel C. Dennett, but today that is next to impossible But as missionary religions know, what begins as a mere flirtation or idle curiosity – perhaps piqued by a resonant statement or appealing ceremony – can end in a sincere search for truth. Communist Vietnam, for example, is officially atheist and often cited as one of the world’s most irreligious countries – but sceptics say this is really because official surveys don’t capture the huge proportion of the population who practice folk religion. Biden and the US bishops: Compromise crafted by 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick still in place. Still others ally themselves with older faiths, notably Mormonism. The Atlantic offers faith-free take on this question: Should Down Syndrome kids be allowed to live? If you believe your faith has arrived at ultimate truth, you might reject the idea that it will change at all. Paganism also often features divinities that are more like diffuse forces than anthropomorphic gods; that allows people to focus on issues they feel sympathetic towards without having to make a leap of faith to supernatural deities. Unbelievers “exhibit significant diversity both within, and between, different countries. In interim results released in May 2019, the researchers found that few unbelievers actually identify themselves by these labels, with significant minorities opting for a religious identity. But Woodhead thinks the religions that might emerge from the current turmoil will have much deeper roots. The likes of the New Atheists, on the other hand, argue that religion amounts to little more than superstition, and abandoning it will enable societies to improve their lot more effectively. Writer Sumit Paul-Choudhury, former editor-in-chief of the New Scientist magazine, notes that religions ebb and flow across eons. “We’ve always had new forms of religiosity, but we haven’t always had enabling spaces for them,” says Beth Singler, who studies the social, philosophical and religious implications of AI at the University of Cambridge. The Future of Religious Freedom addresses these critical questions by assembling in one volume some of the best forward-thinking and empirical research on religious liberty, international legal trends, and societal dynamics. Second, we need to increase the amount of funding for research of religious phenomena. We take it for granted that religions are born, grow and die – but we are also oddly blind to that reality. Religion will continue to grow in economically and socially insecure places like much of sub-Saharan Africa – and to decline where they are stable. With those sorts of numbers, Jediism “should” have been recognised as a religion in the UK. Islam, too, initially attracted followers by emphasising honour, humility and charity – qualities which were not endemic in turbulent 7th-Century Arabia. Modern disbelief is complicated, he notes, as shown in research on the U.S., U.K., and four other nations that University of Kent scholars presented to a May confab at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. So three years ago, Irzak and some friends set about building one. A woman dances as druids, pagans and revellers gather at Stonehenge (Credit: Getty Images). (Read about the "light triad" traits that can make you a good person.). Religion will be a non-event in Australia within two generations according to the head of the country's atheist foundation. Recast as an effort to rid the world of environmental ills, it proved a popular addition to the liturgy. Many religions have syncretistic elements, although over time they are assimilated and become unremarkable. How ought the philosophy of religion to interact with religious studies and theology to make for fruitful interdisciplinary engagement? Belief in “Big Gods” allowed the formation of societies made up of strangers (Credit: Getty Images), Hunter-gatherers, for example, tend to believe that all objects – whether animal, vegetable or mineral – have supernatural aspects (animism) and that the world is imbued with supernatural forces (animatism). New York Times helps fuel new journalism fires in 2020s, 2020 vote again: Various religion factors still baffle news-media pros and the Democrats. They must compete with other faiths for followers and survive potentially hostile social and political environments. Germany Debating the future of women in religion and diplomacy . The Silicon Valley mantra of “move fast and break things” has become a self-evident truth for many technologists and plutocrats. It was called Roko’s Basilisk. The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, some moving to atheism from faith, others to religion from secularism, and many still undecided. Future: What are the likely psychological consequences of religious belief and practice for the individual and for society? When life is tough or disaster strikes, religion seems to provide a bulwark of psychological (and sometimes practical) support. Secularism is on the rise, with science providing tools to understand and shape the world. Under this argument, any religion that does endure has to offer its adherents tangible benefits. Recently, the Witnesses have been looking further afield, including to a ceremony conducted across the Middle East and central Asia just before the spring equinox: purification by throwing something unwanted into a fire – a written wish, or an actual object – and then jumping over it. The kind of revivals experienced in the 18 th and 19 th century coincided with some of the most important developments in what we might now call secular thinking. (If this is the first you’ve heard of it: sorry! The parallels with today are easy to draw, but Woodhead is sceptical that Christianity or other world religions can make up the ground they have lost, in the long term. Pay attention to this sect-run news source. Hey, New York Times editors: Did painful Thanksgiving dinners really begin in 2016? A Roman Catholic priest officiates mass on the first day of trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Manila (Credit: Getty Images). These must be understood and respected; human morality generally doesn’t figure significantly. “Historically, what makes religions rise or fall is political support,” she says, “and all religions are transient unless they get imperial support.” Zoroastrianism benefited from its adoption by the successive Persian dynasties; the turning point for Christianity came when it was adopted by the Roman Empire. In Russia, by contrast, the nationalistic overtones of both Rodnovery and the Orthodox church wins them tacit political backing. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital, and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday. And as our civilisation and its technologies become increasingly complex, could entirely new forms of worship emerge? Before Mohammed, before Jesus, before Buddha, there was Zoroaster. Sumit Paul-Choudhury is a freelance writer and former editor-in-chief of New Scientist. And there is some evidence for that – although when it comes to religion, there are always exceptions to any rule. Inhalt Auf einer Seite lesen Inhalt. When we recognise a faith, we treat its teachings and traditions as timeless and sacrosanct. New research provides insights … In Russia alone, 50 percent of the population now declare themselves to be Orthodox, and millions are adherents of other religions. Paul-Choudbury seems enthused by trends like syncretism (combining elements of separate religions), stripping faiths of ancient tenets, efforts to revive old paganism in Europe, and the invention of new sects like Way of the Future,  Homo Deus, The Turing Church, Temple of the Jedi Order or Witnesses of Climatology. Way of the Future: Man kann Kirche nicht ohne KI schreiben. (The numbers are not public.) For the full report (.pdf here). But perhaps the same could have been said for the small groups of believers who gathered around a sacred flame in ancient Iran, three millennia ago, and whose fledgling belief grew into one of the largest, most powerful and enduring religions the world has ever seen – and which is still inspiring people today. Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism are among the long-established ones, and Jehovah’s Witnesses also have a long history there. (An exception: Shinto, an ancient animist religion, is still widely practised in hyper-modern Japan.). On the other hand, official recognition of Ásatrú, the Icelandic pagan faith, meant it was entitled to its share of a “faith tax”; as a result, it is building the country’s first pagan temple for nearly 1,000 years. Thomas Gaunt, the executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, presented the sisters with data collected through CARA's recent surveys. Ten years later, it had dropped to seventh place, leading many to dismiss it as a prank. But without the deep roots of traditional religions, these can struggle: the Sunday Assembly, after initial rapid expansion, is now reportedly struggling to keep up its momentum. After a decade spent working on engineering solutions to climate change, its founder Olya Irzak came to the conclusion that the real problem lay not some much in finding technical solutions, but in winning social support for them. But as Singler notes, that is still an awful lot of people – and a lot longer than most viral campaigns endure. Many modern students of religion agree. The Future of Religion. Developments in the academic fields of ecology and religion and “spiritual environmentalism”, especially in North America, give an advance glimpse of a future … But today, there’s another possible source of support: the internet. Christianity is also increasi… Now that we’re actually in the 21st Century, Berger’s view remains an article of faith for many secularists – although Berger himself recanted in the 1990s. But if history is any guide, no matter how deeply held our beliefs may be today, they are likely in time to be transformed or transferred as they pass to our descendants – or simply to fade away. Perhaps one of the major religions might change its form enough to win back non-believers in significant numbers. Gorsuch sees psychology of religion's future as being no brighter than it is now, unless we take control. These are niche activities at the moment, and might sometimes be more about playing with symbolism than heartfelt spiritual practice. In 2015, the Pew Research Center modelled the future of the world’s great religions based on demographics, migration and conversion. Communist states like Soviet Russia and China adopted atheism as state policy and frowned on even private religious expression. © var today = new Date(); document.write(today.getFullYear()); GetReligion.org unless otherwise noted.All rights reserved. The joins are easier to see in relatively young religions, such as Vodoun or Rastafarianism. Financial exchanges, where people meet to conduct highly ritualised trading activity, seem quite like temples to Mammon, too. Given this, we might expect the form that religion takes to follow the function it plays in a particular society – or as Voltaire might have put it, that different societies will invent the particular gods they need. Discover more of our picks. Tomorrow’s Gods: What is the future of religion? Traditional religion is failing to deliver on this, particularly where doctrine clashes with moral convictions that arise from secular society – on gender equality, say. 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