Religion Will Be Dead Before The End Of The Century

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Religion Will Be Dead Before The End Of The Century


Charles Sabillion
November 12, 2006

All the major religions of the world will have largely ceased to exist, before the twenty-first century is over.

Humanity only started to experience a dash towards prosperity in the nineteenth century and that coincided with a marked decrease in the level of religiousness in most nations of the world. In the following century, progress accelerated and the belief in the divine fell faster.

By the year 2000 only 45% of Americans went regularly to church, while two centuries earlier the entire population systemically visited the house of God. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the whole population of Europe went to church but by the early twenty-first century less than 10% did.

Religion has seen a retreat everywhere and not just in the Western world. In India, the rest of Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, and in the Middle East the share of the population that is deeply committed to Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and all the other creeds is much lower today than what it was in the past. Living conditions in those countries are still poor but they are much better than in previous centuries and that has gone hand in hand with a diminished belief in the divine.

Human beings want one basic thing and it is to have a nice and comfortable life, so when they get it, they start to forget about their Gods because the reason that has always driven them to pray, is the desire to obtain a better existence.

The growing prosperity of the past centuries is due to the rapid advance of technology and everything suggests that in the twenty-first century technology will progress even faster. That will obviously translate into a larger satisfaction of people’s needs which will make individuals even more indifferent to God.

It is not just the improved living conditions what has conspired against religion. Education has also played a role.

The accelerating growth of technology has been accompanied by an accelerating rate of economic growth and with that has come an expansion of education. As education has moved forward, religion has increasingly gotten pushed away from the lives of people.

Education teaches science and science debunks the bulk of what the creeds of the world assert. On the other hand, the learning system also trains people to reason logically and a logical mind has a hard time coping with the inconsistency of religions.

The rate of economic growth in all the nations of the world has been persistently accelerating during the past centuries and the share of the population that goes to school has systematically expanded. In the eighteenth century the world economy grew by about 0.2% annually, in the nineteenth century by 1.2%, and in the twentieth by 3.0%.

In the year 1800 the percentage of the adult populace of America, Europe, and Asia that obtained a university degree was practically zero. In 1900 it was one percent and by 2000 it was seven percent. The historical trend suggests that the world economy will grow by at least 4.0% per year in the twenty-first century and by 2100 the share that will possess a university diploma will have reached about sixty percent. With those high levels of rationality and knowledge, people will find it impossible to believe in the simplistic ideas that religions peddle.

Three centuries ago the entire population of the Western world believed unconditionally in the Christian religion. Today, only a fourth goes regularly to church. A century from now, the rest of the world will have attained levels of development that are like those of the West today and by then the share of the population from developing countries that is strongly committed to religion will be as low as in the West at present. By the year 2100, living conditions in Western countries will be much higher than right now and when that day arrives, the concept of God in North America and Europe will be just a distant memory.

In a century, the wars and the terrorism of the present, which are largely driven by opposing religious beliefs, will be a thing of the past because by then people will no longer get passionate about God. The world is right now in a similar situation to that of Europe in the seventeenth century, when it was tearing itself apart because of differences between Catholics and Protestants.

We are moving towards a better world.

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Interesting article. I like

Interesting article. I like that he brings in facts on how the world is slowly becoming more secular.

However, I'm not sure you can just assume that the trend will continue. I'm sure there were many secularists in roman times, only for religion to take over again in the Dark Ages.

In any case, let's hope this author is correct.

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan

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Definitely hope so!

Definitely hope so!

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I agree with the general

I agree with the general theory put forth in this article, but I doubt religion will really cease to exist within this century. The institutions which perpetuate it still have a great deal of wealth and power. They will not fall easily.

I do think that religion will continue to decline, or perhaps evolve (gasp!) into something more of a humanistic philosophy rather than a dogmatic faith.

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What an optimist! And I'm

What an optimist! And I'm not just trying to be the pessimist but I do think this is some wishful thinking. How I wish it were to be something to look forward to. It would certainly give hope to a lot of people that need it right now. Me, included.
Imagine having a conversation with someone new and not halfway through it having them mention that they are xtain and asking you what you believe. This scenario happens to me often enough because I look like what a heathen is supposed to look like, I guess. I mean I sometimes think I have anti-christ stamped on my forehead. I never would've made it during the witch trials. I'm not even goth so I don't know what it is. Anyway wishful thinking is something I try not to do too much of. I kinda go with the don't get your hopes up, don't hold your breath, don't count your chickens before the hatch, etc. I really am not a pessimist, I just believe in hardcore reality.

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I'm not so sure about this.

I'm not so sure about this. In my history class we talked about how religion devotion goes through cycles and we are now coming off of a high curve right now. Or something like that I'm not too sure, I doubt they can work out very accurate graphs...

Honestly I see humans as weak minded and lacking self control. If we had such things we would need no laws, governments, or religion. The reason religion is still around is similar to Santa, at least for the most part. Tradition makes parents act like there is a fat man that brakes into houses to leave gifts. Little kids would believe it because it feels good. The only thing missing is our fear of death and the unknown.

Cold? Unfriendly? Makes you feel a little out of it? Well that is the real world. The animal is happy because it doesn't know, the human can be unhappy because it knows enough to know they don't know. However is happiness through ignorance really better then valued happiness through reason? Even the animal is unhappy, but for the physical things it probably doesn't understand. We are animals yet not, the only thing that separates us is our arrogant notion of intelligence, our tools for the most part, and language to some point. Basically we can be animal if we want and ignore reality, but that limits us and would cause more harm then good.

I think I went off on a tangent, but I keep writing anyway. I'll probably use it in my essay.

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It's true in the late 18th

It's true in the late 18th century a lot of people thought religion would die out. Unfortunately, it didn't.

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It's a load of BS. You can

It's a load of BS. You can be very smart and still believe there's a god. Smart people are very good at tricking themselves into believing bullshit. If you look at how fanatical religion is today, you'd have to be an idiot to think religion would be dead, unless you think less than 25% attending church regularly is death. The harder you press them the harder they cling, sorta like a fingertrap.

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I think there will be some

I think there will be some more freethinkers, especially in the countries where you can get a good education. Which is good.

But I don't think religion will go away. The divide between believers and freethinkers will just become more pronounced.

I am worried about the fact that people still have stupid-ass beliefs like taking powders made from the bones of tigers or whatever will make you fertile, crap like that, and of course the mushrooming popularity of Catholicism, Islam and primitivist religions in the Third World.

Maybe there's just a certain percentage of the population that will never wake up and think. You just extrapolate the habits that we see in smaller samples.

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I'm not so sure about

I'm not so sure about religion in general, but my gut tells me that either fundamentalism will end by the end of this century (probably sooner) or the human race will. It is hard to see religion and mysticism ever vanishing completely, but if we can simply have a world free of religious war and hatred, we might just survive as a species.

It's going to take a LOT of work, and it starts here and now. First and foremost we have to break down this unfounded resistence to ctiticism religion and mysticism seem to enjoy - and if you are here and supporting the RRS, you're working toward that end.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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One thing I think is funny,

One thing I think is funny, though, is that even if mainstream religion ends as we know it there's still an irrational settling point to go to. Just look at "What the bleep do we know? Down the rabbit hole" It tries to fit new age thinking into modern quantum physics. I watched it with a couple of junior and senior physics majors and we all had a good laugh, though people still fall for Knight's channeling gig.

I talked to one person who loved the movie but didn't check some of the things mentioned in it and I had to carefully explain what was wrong with it. Like the supposed brain prodding finger sticking experiment. That's one of the best parts. If you haven't seen the movie and enjoy watching crazy people talk, check it out.

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I'd be happy with getting

I'd be happy with getting rid of religion. Flat-Earthers aren't killing round-earthers. We can deal with idiocy as long as it's not violent idiocy.