The inevitable transition back into religiousness

034 February 7, 2015 -- (asphalt)

The phenomenon we know today as "religion" can be accurately described as a set of sets of teachings which comprise both ideology and philosophy (and maybe more?), boiling down to the assumption that some form of God exists. Many have challenged this core principle and, more importantly, many have in the end found it irrelevant to the existence of humankind, as the more pragmatic ones have found it more useful to use experiment, and in the end science and its own set of principles, instead of deducting arguments from God. This is undeniably a starting point for ongoing evolution and also that from which the rather useless1 "science versus religion" debate had sprung.

So science not being in any real antithesis with religion, it hasn't and shall never replace it. People are not becoming less religious and more scientous, but they have become less religious in the past century, a century in which they have replaced religiousness-as-worship with something else. This isn't in any way "good", nor is it in any way "bad", especially if we relate these two notions to Christian morals; religiousness simply happens, or it doesn't, and we, or rather I believe it's important to observe this.

Religion-as-worship is however inextricably linked to religion-as-superstition. Now, superstition is a very peculiar phenomenon related to the inductive (feedback) learning mechanisms that brains are supposedly implementing: if a given event is repeated enough times in a given context, then we (unconsciously!) learn to link the event and the context even when no real relationship exists between the two. Religion can therefore be easily explained in a given framework: "I want to live (conservation instinct), therefore God", reasons the primitive mind. Of course, in comparison to the systematic and arduous approach proposed by science, which can take centuries, as every complex evolutionary process does, this has the advantage of providing fast results, but also the major disadvantage of being half-baked at best. I will let the reader draw further conclusions on this.

And now is finally the right time to delve into the actual context: after transitioning from religion to post-religion in only two generations or so, humanity will go, or rather is presently going through some rough times. Not because of "pollution", "global warming", "animal cruelty", "not enough girls in IT" and other such possibly false problems2. No, there are other issues which are more important, of which I shall remind only one:

Global food scarcity. The idea here is that we're seven billion souls and growing in a fixed period of time \(\delta t\), while the quantity of food is growing at a smaller pace in the same \(\delta t\). Of course, westerners like to think that we're "the master race" and that our industrialized processes are so streamlined that this will never fail (note: for the western world), that is, until this will blow up straight in our faces. No doubt, this is one of the main underlying causes of war today and nothing will impede some lunatic from committing genocide in order to "balance the odds". That can only mean that rough times, or rather "dark ages" are coming, and in these dark times people will be more and more susceptible to irrational arguments.

And this is when, as I, the prophet, envision that the world, or at least the western world, will fall back again into sheer religiousness. This has happened before and can, and I say that it will happen again, although that might be some time after I drop dead. It's just the cyclic nature of history.

I find it hard to believe that Christianity will have any success this time, though. In those dark times, someone will have to come up with a more "enlightened" religion in order to appeal to the irrational, but more rational than two thousand years ago mind. And again, this might be some time after my children drop dead.

Of course, this is an unscientific claim, since I can't verify it. If you're from the future and reading this, you will however know whether I was right or not.

  1. One can believe in God and be a good scientist; also, one can refuse to believe in God and be a lousy human being in general. Setting up an "us versus them" environment isn't in any way constructive, unless we deliberately intend to cause a war... which might be constructive from a point of view, namely that in which by "constructive" we mean "destructive". Which isn't to say that destruction is not necessary at times.

  2. Or maybe the fact that we create such false problems is precisely one of the things that have led us to this sad state of affairs. No, it's not "ironical", it's simply dumb, because it's detracted us from the real problems of humanity, as cognitive dissonance usually does.