What will Religion become?

Tapey
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What will Religion become?

 Ok I have just come back from a lecture by Daniel Dennett about religion as a natural phenomenon. He brought up some very interesting points overall it was very good. One thing that I would be interested in getting is other people’s opinions on what religion will become. There can be no debate really that religions role changes over time.  It just happens, religions change. Daniel Dennett put forth 5 ideas. 

1) Religion with flourish

2) Religion will die out

3) Religion will become like smoking (Not socially acceptable in public)

4) It will become benign

5) Judgment day comes

 

I could be remembering wrong and got a point wrong. But what do you think will be religions role in the 21st century? Will the Vatican become the Museum of Roman Catholicism or will pope be in for a huge pay day? 

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I highly doubt religion will

I highly doubt religion will flourish. It has been in steady decline for hundreds of years now and secularism seems to increase with scientific knowledge. I'm not sure if religion will die out completey but I suppose it is possible that anything we call religion might one day not exist. If it does die out then without a doubt it will first go through a process of becoming benign/like smoking before hand.


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It'll one day enter the same

It'll one day enter the same stigma that surrounds those who claim they had something shoved up their ass by aliens or that we're all pawns in (enter various potential enemy or figment of imagination here)'s plans to rule existence. I'm not so sure that it will go anywhere from there. Cultural changes are harder to accurately predict than the weather. And there has been a propensity in history for people to spend immense amounts of time and effort to preserve something they think is important. Christianity could be completely wiped out only to be reborn a hundred years later, all because one idiot left a bible around for a kid to find.

I'm going to have to remember that last sentence.

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Religion will become the

Religion will become the exact same thing it was before the big bang being the same as it will after the decay of the universe.

 

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I cannot see the future, but...

A good indicator would seem to be what religion has become in the better parts of Europe. You know, places like Scandinavia, etc. Seems to me that an enlightened, educated populace (when such are in the majority) will move on and allow religion to thrive where it ought: amongst the ignorant, the un-  or undereducated, the mean-spirited, the petty, etc. The rest of humanity can then move forward. Naturally I am not thinking large here; religion appears as if it will be around in places like the third world and the US for quite some time to come.


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Ever the optimist...

Ever the optimist...

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Tapey wrote: 1) Religion

Tapey wrote:

 

1) Religion with flourish

2) Religion will die out

3) Religion will become like smoking (Not socially acceptable in public)

4) It will become benign

5) Judgment day comes

 

They are not mutually exclusive. I can imagine all 5 happening.

Some religion will flourish, some die out, some become taboo, some benign, and some may trigger WWIII.

An advantage of the memetic view of religion is that you can see it as an ecosystem with competing memeplexes, like competing species. Religion is without a doubt experiencing a drastic shift right now. It is the equivalent of punctuated equilibrium. When things change fast, they change really fast, and really drastically. It is like a mass extinction. The dinosaur religions are dying off: Mainstream Catholicism and Protestantism. The mammal religions will take their place and flourish and diversify.

I want to point out that the definition of religion is a very fuzzy one. Is Scientology a religion? If not, why not? How about Objectivism? Mysticism? Postmodernism? Rationalism?

Basically, you need a solid definition of religion before you can answer the question with clarity.

When we here at RRS talk about religion, we usually mean the supernaturalist kind, the ones with dogmas and faith. But when these things die off, they will be replaced by other worldviews, maybe not with specific dogmas, but with irrational beliefs strongly held as a part of a person's identity.

So maybe it is 'identity' that defines the core of religion? But then just about any worldview could count as a religion.

Personally, I think drawing these sharp lines about what's a religion and what's not are counter-productive. Like the definition of life, for example. Are all cells life? What about a proto-cell? What about a virus? What about an interdependent collection of self-replicating chemical polymers? It's a continuum.  And so, the real question is, What will Culture become?

For example, science is playing a big part in the changes that are happening to religion. Science itself is a collection of ideas that can modify someone's worldview and thus change their religious beliefs over time. But science is not really a religion, or else the word religion has no meaning. However, both religions and science are culture, and to talk about the changes to religion without mentioning science is to miss the bigger picture.

In response to science, most mainstream religions are dying off. In their place are left the more virulent strains of religion. Western culture, with its emphasis on the marketplace of ideas, with free speech and common law, allows science to directly compete with religious dogma.

Notice that the more virulent strains of religion we are seeing today try to oppose free speech, to impose blasphemy laws, and to denigrate anyone who 'offends' them. This is no accident. Religions are evolving new defense mechanisms against that which threatens them.

It's not just religions, either. Postmodernism is a good example of an anti-science worldview that explicitly rejects the 'authority' of science. Pseudo-science is another defense mechanism: Mimicry. Denialism and the conspiracy mentality are also examples.

I personally see the future of culture as a question of whether the scientific community will be able to adapt to these counter-memes in time.

New Atheism is not really about atheism per se, it's about standing up and defending the scientific and rational worldview against these evolving threats. 9/11 was the premier example of why this is necessary. Prior to 9/11 most atheists (mainly scientific rationalists) considered religion to be a dying force in the world. On its way out. Inevitable.

9/11 was a shock for most people. But for scientific rationalists it was a shock to this core assumption we had. "Wait a second. Religiously motivated terrorism is supposed to be dying off. How the heck did this happen?"

Clearly, our complacency was a mistake. We started to wake up, to raise our consciousness to the dangers of religion, and to speak out.

The first thing we noticed we had in common was our atheism. But it is not our atheism that really defines us. This 'New Atheist' movement is misnamed. We know it's misnamed, because we've been seeking new names for it from the beginning. The Brights, the Humanists, the Naturalists (naturalism.org), the Church of Reality (churchofreality.org), the Rational Response Squad, etc.

What we are realizing is that culture is not something that follows inevitable trends, and that religion was not a 'phase'. It evolves. We cannot rest on our laurels. Our 'antibiotics' are becoming weaker, as pathogenic forms of religion and other worldviews develop defense mechanisms against science.

Religion will not simply die out. It is developing resistance.

However, the question becomes, can science *also* adapt? Can we develop counter-counter-memes? Can we identify the mechanisms of religion (as Dennett has begun to explore, for example) so that we can decode it and disarm it? Or perhaps, use some of its tricks against it, as is the case of a vaccine, which uses a weak or inert form of the pathogen to confer immunity on a person.

I think science can adapt. I think the culture of science, including scientific worldviews, can 'wake up', raise its level of consciousness, and start 'speaking out'. In other words, start taking direct action against anti-scientific ideas.

One example of this is injecting a scientific worldview into other forms of culture than just 'science' itself. For example, while not part of 'science' itself, the website Understanding Science tries to use techniques from mainstream culture to convey ideas about science.

Personally, I see this at just the tip of the iceberg. Our movement will start penetrating other bastions of culture that normally you would not associate with the scientific worldview. We are already doing this to some extent, with various radio, TV, and public appearances, but I'm talking much deeper than that.

Think about this: What is science fiction, at its core? There are all kinds of SF, some that try to be as accurate as possible, dubbed 'hard' SF, and some that are more playful and speculative, dubbed 'soft' SF. There are thousands of different categories of SF. But at its core, all SF shares at least some reference to science as a source of knowledge or power. Science plays a role somehow.

But why put it in a fictional format? What's the point? Well, the point is that SF is also literature. Stories, entertainment, something to spark the imagination. People have ideas, and they communicate them in a fictional format, just like all literature.

So, if it's literature, why the connection to science? Why is there an entire *genre* called 'science' fiction? Doesn't that seem rather odd, when you think of it? You go to the book store, and you see: Fiction (general), Self-help, How-to, Philosophy, Religion, Mystery, Horror, Romance, ... Science Fiction, and Fantasy.

Why does 'science' get its own fiction category? Why isn't there Accounting Fiction, or Farming Fiction, or whatever?

For that matter, why are there different genres at all? What purpose do they serve?

Why is it you find most people gravitate to one section or another? Clearly they have some sort of preference.

Could their preferences be based on what they believe and what they value?

Could it be, perhaps, that part of the reason they believe and value these things is that they have in fact *learned* them from the literature they read? Like a self-reinforcing echo, they read because of some attraction, then they get some ideas out of reading, then they are further attracted because of these ideas, and they read more, get more ideas, etc.

What I'm getting at is this: While in the past there was only one book that ruled people's lives, be it the Bible or the Quran, and which book they followed defined their religion, today we have a plethora of books, in many different genres, and which books/movies/TV/etc. you read is what determines your 'religion', or more generally your 'world view'.

I'm saying that since the advent of the printing press, classical religion has been slowly being replaced by literature.

And if you think about this, it starts to make sense. Because what is the Bible besides literature? Where do most people get their ideas about the world from? Literature, TV, radio, movies, music, etc.

People learn what 'reality' is like, whether we like it or not, from the culture that surrounds them, and the culture that they surround themselves with.

And if, as demonstrated by Hollywood movies, TV, celebrity culture, etc., that means the vast majority end up with a kind of quasi-mystical, post-modern, "we can't really know anything at all, so why bother?" kind of attitude, then that's what we will see in the people we meet on a daily basis.

Science fiction exists because there's a portion of the populace who are drawn to science, for whatever reasons. This is also where they get many of their ideas about the world.

Science fiction is currently in the middle of a pretty dry period. If you look at the shelves in the bookstore, there's pretty slim pickings. And the majority of good SF is drowned out by commercial spin offs like Star Wars and Star Trek and all sorts of other series.

What's left is mostly cliche and hack works. Maybe something to pass a few afternoons, but not much in terms of provoking thought.

If science is to win this war, it's going to have to get down in the trenches of popular culture. The troops are disorganized and in disarray. They are not putting up a good fight.

Where is the 'new atheist' movement in Science Fiction? For that matter, where is it in Fantasy? Why stop there? Why not Horror, Romance, and all the rest? Why is the closest thing we have to an atheist on TV a disgruntled asshole (House)?

This is where the war will be fought and won or lost.

I'll be judging the health of our popular movement by the quality of SF I see in books and in movies. So far, it is pretty crappy.

An example: Has anyone seen the movie Knowing with Nicholas Cage? It is the Rapture, wrapped up in a sugar coating of sci-fi veneer. *This* is our problem. This is what we need to begin pushing against. As long as we neglect popular culture, and fail to get our message out there in the minds of the mainstream, we will continue to be frustrated and perplexed by ongoing religious, pseudo-scientific, postmodern, and mystical nonsense.

It's not just the intellectual argument we need to hone, it is the intuitive and emotional argument, as well. Not just the ethos, but also the pathos.

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BebekCucuk wrote:A good

BebekCucuk wrote:

A good indicator would seem to be what religion has become in the better parts of Europe. You know, places like Scandinavia, etc. Seems to me that an enlightened, educated populace (when such are in the majority) will move on and allow religion to thrive where it ought: amongst the ignorant, the un-  or undereducated, the mean-spirited, the petty, etc. The rest of humanity can then move forward. Naturally I am not thinking large here; religion appears as if it will be around in places like the third world and the US for quite some time to come.

This came up, the third world that is and how in many places  religion in the only ray of hope many people have and how moral it would be to take that away? I agree that it will happen differently across the world. I believe the USA is starting down the path to becoming way less religious, but in places like Africa and the middle east I don't see religion going anywhere anytime soon. 

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Quote:This is where the war

Quote:

This is where the war will be fought and won or lost.

Well, I guess in that respect, there is one advantage we have which you did not mention. Properly grounded, rigorously done science under the auspices of a highly trained and professional group of people commited to the continued expansion of the sum total of human knowledge is absolutely vital for the continuity of human civilization, in both economic and cultural terms. Religion is not.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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deludedgod wrote:Quote:This

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

This is where the war will be fought and won or lost.

Well, I guess in that respect, there is one advantage we have which you did not mention. Properly grounded, rigorously done science under the auspices of a highly trained and professional group of people commited to the continued expansion of the sum total of human knowledge is absolutely vital for the continuity of human civilization, in both economic and cultural terms. Religion is not.

Didn't stop the first Dark Ages.

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deludedgod wrote:Quote:This

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

This is where the war will be fought and won or lost.

Well, I guess in that respect, there is one advantage we have which you did not mention. Properly grounded, rigorously done science under the auspices of a highly trained and professional group of people commited to the continued expansion of the sum total of human knowledge is absolutely vital for the continuity of human civilization, in both economic and cultural terms. Religion is not.

Didn't stop the first Dark Ages.

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Quote:Didn't stop the first

Quote:

Didn't stop the first Dark Ages.

Well, that's hardly a fair comparison. Firstly, during the Dark Ages civilization more or less did grind to a halt, so that's somewhat illustrative of my point. Secondly, unlike that period of time, where the system of class was feudal in nature, the sustainment of civilization today requires a whole gamut of expert classes and people with highly technical knowledge. Every generation for the last 200 years has had to produce scientists who have to learn increasingly complex and difficult processes of reasoning, understanding and analyzing. Not just the amount of content but the level of understanding and the required analytical skills, has increased vastly for anyone wishing to follow any scientific profession in the last 90-100 years.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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deludedgod

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

Didn't stop the first Dark Ages.

Well, that's hardly a fair comparison. Firstly, during the Dark Ages civilization more or less did grind to a halt, so that's somewhat illustrative of my point. Secondly, unlike that period of time, where the system of class was feudal in nature, the sustainment of civilization today requires a whole gamut of expert classes and people with highly technical knowledge. Every generation for the last 200 years has had to produce scientists who have to learn increasingly complex and difficult processes of reasoning, understanding and analyzing. Not just the amount of content but the level of understanding and the required analytical skills, has increased vastly for anyone wishing to follow any scientific profession in the last 90-100 years.

My point was that your profferred 'benefit' of science is not a benefit if the masses simply ignore it. The ignorant masses who brought on the Dark Ages didn't care that what they were doing (burning books and such) was detrimental. They just did it.

Likewise, if we don't get across the message to the masses that science is crucial, then the fact that science is indeed crucial won't make much of a difference. For example, if a new religious movement started that swept the globe with fervency, the way Christianity did prior to the Dark Ages, and we didn't put up a sufficient fight in the popular culture, then a new dark age is not out of the question.

We're already feeling the consequences of unfettered irrationalism/Consumptionism with the economic crisis. Further crisis is not out of the question. We cannot rest on our laurels. We cannot assume that, "Well, science is our best tool for knowledge, so there's no way irrationality could possibly dethrone it." It can. All it takes is for the 'infection' to spread too far, the 'fever' to get too high, and our 'immune system' may not be sufficient to keep us alive. We need to generate all sorts of 'antibodies' the way our real immune systems do. The analogy is not perfect, but I hope you get the drift. All I'm saying is that we cannot be complacent. What appears to us to be science's great strength will not necessarily play out with the mainstream. We need to use more than just intellectual argument to bring them over to supporting science again. We need to use the methods of communication that work on the mainstream.

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Quote:All I'm saying is that

Quote:

All I'm saying is that we cannot be complacent

Which was never something I suggested. My original point two posts ago was that this necessity of science versus the vestigial uselessness of religion constitutes an advantage worth noting.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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natural wrote:New Atheism is

natural wrote:

New Atheism is not really about atheism per se, it's about standing up and defending the scientific and rational worldview against these evolving threats. 9/11 was the premier example of why this is necessary. Prior to 9/11 most atheists (mainly scientific rationalists) considered religion to be a dying force in the world. On its way out. Inevitable.

9/11 was a shock for most people. But for scientific rationalists it was a shock to this core assumption we had. "Wait a second. Religiously motivated terrorism is supposed to be dying off. How the heck did this happen?"

Strange self deception. Before 9/11, I could have told you a 9/11 was going to happen. I can tell you that it's still likely to happen again. Not the exact same incident obviously, but the US is making too many enemies and not enough friends. Even without religion, a counter attack is inevitable. That's simply what happens when you're a bully. Sooner or later you run into a bigger one. Or one that just doesn't give a shit. Frankly, I have considered the US lucky as shit regarding 9/11. That day could have been an order of magnitude worse had the opponent been a truly credible threat.

natural wrote:

Why does 'science' get its own fiction category? Why isn't there Accounting Fiction, or Farming Fiction, or whatever?

Until Star Wars, sci-fi and fantasy had the same shelf. Popular demand created the genre. Smiling

natural wrote:
Science fiction is currently in the middle of a pretty dry period. If you look at the shelves in the bookstore, there's pretty slim pickings. And the majority of good SF is drowned out by commercial spin offs like Star Wars and Star Trek and all sorts of other series.

Star Wars is the cream of the sci-fi crop. Covers a period of 15,000+ years, multiple civilizations and memes; has games, movies, comics, and books. Has more high quality authors than any other series in history.

If you want to be a sci-fi author, Star Wars is the single greatest place to make your big mark, though you have to have a name for yourself before they'll even consider you. Much like the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance are the places to make a mark in Fantasy.

natural wrote:
Where is the 'new atheist' movement in Science Fiction? For that matter, where is it in Fantasy? Why stop there? Why not Horror, Romance, and all the rest? Why is the closest thing we have to an atheist on TV a disgruntled asshole (House)?

Atheism and religious fundamentalism has been a meme in multiple fields recently.

Star Wars just a couple years ago finished a 20 odd book series on a war with a species that was both brutal and fundamentalist.

Final Fantasy X's entire 300 odd hour story was based on the fundamentalist stupidity that is generally found in religion, and the problems it can cause as well as how it manipulates people. Even in a world where there is logical reason to believe in a religion.

natural wrote:

This is where the war will be fought and won or lost.

I'll be judging the health of our popular movement by the quality of SF I see in books and in movies. So far, it is pretty crappy.

An example: Has anyone seen the movie Knowing with Nicholas Cage? It is the Rapture, wrapped up in a sugar coating of sci-fi veneer. *This* is our problem. This is what we need to begin pushing against. As long as we neglect popular culture, and fail to get our message out there in the minds of the mainstream, we will continue to be frustrated and perplexed by ongoing religious, pseudo-scientific, postmodern, and mystical nonsense.

It's not just the intellectual argument we need to hone, it is the intuitive and emotional argument, as well. Not just the ethos, but also the pathos.

Agreed wholeheartedly.

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6) Technology advances will

6) Technology advances will make it obsolete.

It will go the way of all drugs.

"Virtual reality will allow an unemployed iron worker to have sex with Claudia Schiffer. This will make crack cocaine look like Sanka." Dennis Miller. Real sex will become obsolete.

Technology will be developed to directly stimulate the Nucleus Accumbens(the brains pleasure center) through non-invasive means. This direct stimulation will replace all primitive means of pleasure and anxiety relief(e.g. religion).

So religion, sex, cocaine and all all drugs will become obsolete with better technology to get high.

 

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Religion, if it dies out,

Religion, if it dies out, will probably come about in some other form of irrationality. We can never STOP irrationality completely, but we can try to clean up and educate as best we can.

*Our world is far more complex than the rigid structure we want to assign to it, and we will probably never fully understand it.*

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Vastet wrote:natural

Vastet wrote:

natural wrote:
Where is the 'new atheist' movement in Science Fiction? For that matter, where is it in Fantasy? Why stop there? Why not Horror, Romance, and all the rest? Why is the closest thing we have to an atheist on TV a disgruntled asshole (House)?

Atheism and religious fundamentalism has been a meme in multiple fields recently.

Star Wars just a couple years ago finished a 20 odd book series on a war with a species that was both brutal and fundamentalist.

Didn't Greg Bear have some of that stuff too (in some of his terraforming novels, I'm sure I recall some hints about the colonists trying to avoid some sort of problems with a theocracy back on Earth)? Also (in the past ten/fifteen years, anyway) there's been David Brin's Uplift series (the last few were particularly spectacular), Stephen Baxter's Xeelee series (the last human empire was...um...yeah... pretty much theocratic, and REALLY scary), and there are others, I'm sure, they just escape my memory at the moment.

So there is plenty out there- it's just, well, sci-fi has been going through a pretty low point of popularity, as natural said, and Vastet agreed with. It would be great if sci-fi became a REAL cultural force again, like it was in the so-called 'Gold' and 'Silver' (granted, the former was pretty much pseudo-science and space operas, but it did put science into the public discourse.)

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crazymonkie wrote:Vastet

crazymonkie wrote:

Vastet wrote:

natural wrote:
Where is the 'new atheist' movement in Science Fiction? For that matter, where is it in Fantasy? Why stop there? Why not Horror, Romance, and all the rest? Why is the closest thing we have to an atheist on TV a disgruntled asshole (House)?

Atheism and religious fundamentalism has been a meme in multiple fields recently.

Star Wars just a couple years ago finished a 20 odd book series on a war with a species that was both brutal and fundamentalist.

Didn't Greg Bear have some of that stuff too (in some of his terraforming novels, I'm sure I recall some hints about the colonists trying to avoid some sort of problems with a theocracy back on Earth)? Also (in the past ten/fifteen years, anyway) there's been David Brin's Uplift series (the last few were particularly spectacular), Stephen Baxter's Xeelee series (the last human empire was...um...yeah... pretty much theocratic, and REALLY scary), and there are others, I'm sure, they just escape my memory at the moment.

So there is plenty out there- it's just, well, sci-fi has been going through a pretty low point of popularity, as natural said, and Vastet agreed with. It would be great if sci-fi became a REAL cultural force again, like it was in the so-called 'Gold' and 'Silver' (granted, the former was pretty much pseudo-science and space operas, but it did put science into the public discourse.)

I don't think these are good examples of the 'new atheist' movement in SF. These are examples of (for lack of a better word) 'old atheists', humanists, and skeptics.

There has long been an underlying theme of anti-religion in SF, but there have been precious few that have tackled it the way we are attempting to tackle it today.

Making an evil theocratic empire is one thing, but having the entire story be focused on a directed critique of religion and anti-science itself is another.

I'll give you an example from my recent reading. I recently bought this book The Helix, by some author. I read the back cover and blurbs and it looked like the kind of book I was hoping for, a 'new atheist' SF book.

Even reading the first couple of chapters really got me excited. The author presented some pretty good back-stories that pointed sharply at religion as a culprit in society's ills. I started to think, "Hey, maybe I've finally found one. Looking good."

The story was also fairly entertaining, so all around it was looking pretty good overall.

Then I started to see tell-tale signs that this was really an 'old atheist' kind of book. Certainly not a true 'new atheist' one.

The first obvious crack in the foundation was when the human landing party (imagine a kind of cross between Ringworld and Halo, but the world is actually shaped like a helix instead of a ring) discovers an alien race that lives very peacefully and 'at one' with their environment. This was clearly the author's attempt to portray the solution to the dogmatic religion problem. Okay, this is the meat of the story, I'm thinking.

So, what's the solution to dogma? Well, these aliens 'live in the Now', and they are just so in awe of nature, and so, like, *loving* man, that it's kinda bringing a tear to my eye.... not. You see, these aliens have given up their desire for 'control' over nature, they no longer pursue 'evil' science, instead they just bliss out by contemplating nature.

So, do you know what one of the humans says about it? She says something like, "Well, maybe there's hope for humanity yet. See how peaceful and anti-materialistic these aliens are?"

Yes, indeed, the author stuffed the word 'anti-materialistic' in the character's mouth.

And no, the character did not just mean 'not obsessed with possessions', which is one interpretation of 'anti-materialist'. The character did mean that, but *also* meant 'rejecting the materialist explanation for the universe.' The character meant 'these people live spritual lives' and by 'spiritual' that means 'having a spirit that transcends the body'.

So, the story goes on, and apparently these aliens, who are somewhat Buddhist in their portrayal, they have this ancient prophecy that some people in the future would land in a star ship, just like the humans did. And part of the mythology behind the prophecy is that the humans must meet The Sleeper. So, the aliens take the humans to meet this mysterious Sleeper.

Well, it turns out that the mystery behind the Sleeper is that another alien (different species altogether) crash landed on this world and was injured. He was dying, so he put himself in cryosleep until his buddies could come rescue him. He told these Buddha aliens that his buddies would land, and that they should bring his buddies to his ship to wake him up and heal him.

So, the Buddha aliens made a whole mythology out of this, and they've been keeping this myth alive for hundreds or thousands of years, until the humans arrived.

The humans go to wake the Sleeper, but unfortunately, he's been asleep too long and has died. His buddies never did find him.

So, now the humans have to explain to the Buddha aliens what happened. the Buddha aliens have been holding on to this myth for hundreds of years, and it's all a big mistake.

Do you know how the humans 'solved' this problem of breaking the bad news to the Buddha aliens?

The same character who praised the Buddha aliens for their anti-materialism pipes in again, "Well, we can't just destroy their illusions. After all, it's what has been keeping them going for so long. It is the story that keeps them from degenerating into materialism. It is their 'higher purpose'."

So the humans lie to the Buddha aliens, and tell them that the Sleeper woke up, told them a message, and then went back to sleep. the Buddha aliens should keep watching over the Sleeper forever more, basically.

So here we have it. On the surface, it's an anti-religion story. But it's really only an anti-fundamentalist/extremist story.

It is not really an anti-religion story. In fact, although the author rails on 'dogma', the characters actually resort to *perpetuating* a dogma (that of the Sleeper) onto the Buddha aliens in order to keep them from becoming materialist again.

The story is an atheist story, but it's not a 'new atheist' story. It is actually pro-dogma, anti-science, *explicitly* anti-materialist, and also anti-rationalist.

The solution it proposes is what I call 'blissing out'. That's what Marx would call the opiate of the masses. Use religion as a 'safe' drug to calm your worries, eliminate your desire to learn more, placate your questioning mind, etc.

A real 'new atheist' story would have the human characters saying, "Hey Buddha aliens, sorry to break it to you, but that story of the Sleeper dude was a myth. He wasn't some mystical guy, he was just an alien that crash landed. You guys should ask more questions, don't assume tradition is true, challenge your own beliefs, etc. And dammit, start practicing science again!"

So far, I've read lots of stories with evil/corrupt religious characters/organizations, but I have yet to read a story that takes a strong stance on logic, science, rationality, and directly attacks/confronts religion, superstition, irrationality, etc.

That's what I'm looking for. Not old-atheist, or humanist, or agnostic, or NOMA, or skeptical SF, but real honest-to-FSM 'new atheist' SF.

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crazymonkie wrote:Vastet

crazymonkie wrote:

Vastet wrote:

natural wrote:
Where is the 'new atheist' movement in Science Fiction? For that matter, where is it in Fantasy? Why stop there? Why not Horror, Romance, and all the rest? Why is the closest thing we have to an atheist on TV a disgruntled asshole (House)?

Atheism and religious fundamentalism has been a meme in multiple fields recently.

Star Wars just a couple years ago finished a 20 odd book series on a war with a species that was both brutal and fundamentalist.

Didn't Greg Bear have some of that stuff too (in some of his terraforming novels, I'm sure I recall some hints about the colonists trying to avoid some sort of problems with a theocracy back on Earth)? Also (in the past ten/fifteen years, anyway) there's been David Brin's Uplift series (the last few were particularly spectacular), Stephen Baxter's Xeelee series (the last human empire was...um...yeah... pretty much theocratic, and REALLY scary), and there are others, I'm sure, they just escape my memory at the moment.

The only Greg Bear novel I've read is Rogue Planet. It was pretty good, and I wouldn't mind reading more of his books, but I haven't had a lot of money for new things for quite awhile. I'm unfamiliar with the other two authors you mention.

natural wrote:

I don't think these are good examples of the 'new atheist' movement in SF. These are examples of (for lack of a better word) 'old atheists', humanists, and skeptics.

There has long been an underlying theme of anti-religion in SF, but there have been precious few that have tackled it the way we are attempting to tackle it today.

Making an evil theocratic empire is one thing, but having the entire story be focused on a directed critique of religion and anti-science itself is another.

Final Fantasy X came very close to that. The underlying plot of the entire game was based on a false religion knowingly perpetuated throughout the generations to maintain a status quo of effective slavery and mass control to sustain one being who had usurped near absolute power by means that would take entirely too long to delve into in a brief post. I can't think of anything else I've seen that really hit hard like you're looking for. But after I played FFX, I began to think games might be hated enough by religious evangelists to actually turn designers off of religious views in their games, and I think this will be the first industry to have a significant number of new atheist materials available.

As for the remainder of your post, you'll have to wait a few years I think. I'm writing myself, but it comes in fits and starts. I'm sure there are others out there, because I feel the same desire you do. It's part of the reason I started writing. I think that all that we need to do is convince publishers that there is an audience for such material. I would imagine publishers to be the biggest road block. They aren't generally happy with trying new things from what I've heard from authors.

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Vastet wrote:The only Greg

Vastet wrote:

The only Greg Bear novel I've read is Rogue Planet. It was pretty good, and I wouldn't mind reading more of his books, but I haven't had a lot of money for new things for quite awhile. I'm unfamiliar with the other two authors you mention.

I'm actually not that hot about Greg Bear. His stuff tends to be too dry for my taste, for the most part. Blood Music was kinda cool, but the ending, I thought, was silly.

Anyway- David Brin's sci-fi changed quite a bit over the years. His early stuff was sort of Niven-ish, lately it's been more like, well, like himself. The religious bits are more along the lines of having a doomsday cult that's fixated on removing humanity from the society of Uplifted beings, mainly because they're a self-Uplifted group; one that had the audacity to Uplift several species of their own and NOT treat them like slaves as many other Uplift societies had done. In one novel, there's even mention of a weird re-interpretation of Jesus as a reflection of humanity- meaning, humanity must die so the universe will be right.

So, sure, one can say that Brin is 'old atheist,' but it doesn't seem that way to me. Granted, it's just background, but it's there.

Stephen Baxter is the first sci-fi writer I can remember who mentioned string theory. That was roughly when it came up as a hypothesis, I think (I don't know the history, so if I'm way off, I apologize) in the late 80s or early 90s. Again, his talk about religion is in the background, but there's been a recent novel (might be a brief series, I'm not sure) about the time period of the last human empire. It seems pretty new atheist like to me. Maybe it's not strong enough? I dunno.

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Gawds

 

 

      Just like Zeus and Thor, these gawds will go along the mythology route also.   It is just a matter of time.


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Vastet wrote:Final Fantasy X

Vastet wrote:

Final Fantasy X came very close to that. The underlying plot of the entire game was based on a false religion knowingly perpetuated throughout the generations to maintain a status quo of effective slavery and mass control to sustain one being who had usurped near absolute power by means that would take entirely too long to delve into in a brief post. I can't think of anything else I've seen that really hit hard like you're looking for. But after I played FFX, I began to think games might be hated enough by religious evangelists to actually turn designers off of religious views in their games, and I think this will be the first industry to have a significant number of new atheist materials available.

Sounds interesting. Never played FFX. I get too addicted to games, so I rarely play them anymore. You're right, that's one form of pop culture that's ripe for some new atheist story lines.

Quote:
As for the remainder of your post, you'll have to wait a few years I think. I'm writing myself, but it comes in fits and starts. I'm sure there are others out there, because I feel the same desire you do. It's part of the reason I started writing. I think that all that we need to do is convince publishers that there is an audience for such material. I would imagine publishers to be the biggest road block. They aren't generally happy with trying new things from what I've heard from authors.

Two things going for us: Prometheus books, and Richard Dawkins' coat-tails. If no mainstream publisher will go for it, I'm sure we would be able to convince Prometheus books to go for such a project, if the writing was good enough. And then it is still possible a mainstream publisher would go for it if they consider Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Dennett, et al.

I too am working on writing. I tend to procrastinate on big projects, though, so it's slow going.

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crazymonkie wrote:Stephen

crazymonkie wrote:

Stephen Baxter is the first sci-fi writer I can remember who mentioned string theory. That was roughly when it came up as a hypothesis, I think (I don't know the history, so if I'm way off, I apologize) in the late 80s or early 90s. Again, his talk about religion is in the background, but there's been a recent novel (might be a brief series, I'm not sure) about the time period of the last human empire. It seems pretty new atheist like to me. Maybe it's not strong enough? I dunno.

What's the book called?

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Took me a while to find the

Took me a while to find the listing: "Exultant." I haven't read it, so I may be pretty far off from my assessment, honestly.

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:o

Scientology will be the next major wolrd religion.


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ClockCat wrote:Scientology

ClockCat wrote:

Scientology will be the next major wolrd religion.

I'm into them for 10 G's already... make it stop.

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spike.barnett wrote:ClockCat

spike.barnett wrote:

ClockCat wrote:

Scientology will be the next major wolrd religion.

I'm into them for 10 G's already... make it stop.

 

Sorry, you have to clean the invisible taint. Mankind is fallen y'know. And unlike all those OTHER answers to "deep cleanse the pores/sin" this one really WORKS.

 

Really.

 

 

 

 

Promise.

 

 

 

 

 

We do take Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. No Diner's Club. Sorry. Yes, you can get the AAA discount.

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The alternative to

The alternative to scientology is anonymous. Choose your side well. There is no turning back.

 

Cash not required.

 

 

 

 

lol

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Tapey wrote: 1) Religion

Tapey wrote:

 

1) Religion with flourish

2) Religion will die out

3) Religion will become like smoking (Not socially acceptable in public)

4) It will become benign

5) Judgment day comes

I can also see that some of all 5 of these conditions will likely happen.

1)Religion will continue to flourish in mostly 3rd world countries. Islam is currently the fastest growing religion and has not shown a tendency to slow down.

2)Religion has dropped in importance in many western countries but not so much in the US.

3)One can hope that religion will become something one does not do in public and is taxed as high as tobacco.

4)Religion has never been benign, at least none of the god of Abe beliefs so I wouldn't expect this at all.

5)Judgment day may come by way of a religious WW3. 

 

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It will become a role

It will become a role playing game called Advanced Religion & Devils -- I will role a Mormon to have access to a third unique book of rules and powers. Come on natural 18's... I want to be a prophet.

Can't wait for the LARP version.. Oh wait.. that's already here.

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neptewn wrote:It will become

neptewn wrote:

It will become a role playing game called Advanced Religion & Devils -- I will role a Mormon to have access to a third unique book of rules and powers. Come on natural 18's... I want to be a prophet.

Can't wait for the LARP version.. Oh wait.. that's already here.

You know, that actually sounds like it could have some potential. Just needs a plot.

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neptewn wrote:It will become

neptewn wrote:

It will become a role playing game called Advanced Religion & Devils -- I will role a Mormon to have access to a third unique book of rules and powers. Come on natural 18's... I want to be a prophet.

Can't wait for the LARP version.. Oh wait.. that's already here.

Haha, religion as LARP! It's so true!

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Realy 10 G's

spike.barnett wrote:

ClockCat wrote:

Scientology will be the next major wolrd religion.

I'm into them for 10 G's already... make it stop.

 

         Did you ever consider sueing them  for  the money based on 'false promise' or 'non performence'? In canada that would work;  in a civil court.

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You can actually look to the

You can actually look to the Scandinavian countries for a preview of what religion will become.

In Norway, despite having an official state church, religion has been largely relegated to ceremonial special events like baptisms, weddings and funerals. However, Norway never reached the kind of religious ferver that the United States has, so it's hard to say how long it will take religion to reached the ceremonial-only phase. But that's where it's going.

Nobody I know was brainwashed into being an atheist.

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