© Copyright 2010 Diaries of Dissension by Tommy Rodriguez
“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology.” —Albert Einstein
Charles Darwin once suggested that species eventually lose those intricate components that are no longer required. Considering that evolution is not strictly limited to physical adaptations, but also due to social and behavioral mechanisms that play a role, we should almost certainly assume that all of the adaptive principles of evolution apply to the various aspects of human life, including those features that become expired over many generations. Under these circumstances, the sociocultural component of our species will undoubtedly be affected by the slow, gradual process of time.
Human history is one marked by steady change. Cultural patterns of human behavior reflect those changes. Looking at historical examples generally validates the logic of a sociocultural evolutionary process at work. We see periods of reform and periods of revolution—periods of progress and periods of despair. We see the rise and fall of various political systems—the comings and goings of world religions. We see the steady growth of innovation in cultures that have access to intercultural influences. We see primitive characteristics in groups that experience prolonged isolation. Human culture is not one that could be quantified, but it is possible to see the transformation of cultural concepts over time through the recorded history on human civilization. One thing remains consistent: change.
However unpleasant, it would be a mistake to completely neglect the social struggles that have helped shape human history. For good or ill, they serve as lessons of things that should and could be avoided in present times. But humans don’t always heed the warnings of past centuries. Many conflicts today have recurring themes in human history. A lust for power, land, and wealth often drives us toward destruction and violence. Some might even say this is expected of a species that has a tendency toward aggression.
But despite our inherited flaws, there is reason for hope. We humans do occasionally manage to get it right. Overcoming the toughest of adversities, some achievements in human history have paved the way for moments of renaissance and enlightenment. With great difficulty and unease, rational thinking has triumphed over negative primal traits. In many ways, human culture is experiencing a period of refinement. Modern society has arrived, and with it has come the age of science and reason.
This is a promising indicator. Human culture has shown characteristics of resilience against oppression and injustice. It appears that transitions in sociocultural thinking are likely to occur under conditions that present difficulties for survival. In other words, human beings have the capacity for adapting and reshaping societal structures in order to accommodate healthy communal cohesion.
Religion is not excluded from this discussion. This has been better documented in the hundreds of past religions long gone. Because religion serves as an important social component that fills our need for unity, kinship, and social network, it too should be included in the equation. Thus, I believe there is an underlying reality that cannot be so easily ignored.
Now, keep in mind—what I’m about to imply is no big secret nor is it revelation. I’ve been hinting at it all along, in fact. It is an opinion, however, so take it as you will. But it is an opinion based on the inclination of things I see all around me. It is an opinion based on the recorded history of human behavior that very much seems to indicate things that will likely come to pass if we continue our current course. It is also a well-thought-out conclusion to this story in which everything (in my mind, at least) appears to suggest the inevitable.
As we continue our march forward into a new world of possibilities, thanks to the discoveries of modern science and a newly founded secular resistance against religious oppression, two things will no doubt come as a result. One, more and more will we depend solely on science for answers, identity, salvation, and one might even argue, a source of morality. And the other, unfortunately for some, is not so forthcoming. My gut tells me this: religious ideology, superstition, myth, and belief in supernatural forces will eventually erode away and become totally obsolete in light of our ever-increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge. I believe humanity in all likelihood will socially, behaviorally, and intellectually evolve right past the need for religion. There may come a point where religion will be no longer necessary, only perceived as insufficient and potentially harmful, and may even make for interesting future history.
Of course, this is not likely to occur overnight. I don’t expect it to happen in your lifetime or in mine. History shows that major cultural and social transitions span many generations, like many other processes with evolutionary implications. Perhaps it will be a few hundred years from now, or maybe a few thousand. But make no mistake about it. The transition has begun. This process is inevitable. We are witnesses only to the beginning stages. Religion will one day be completely absorbed by science, taking a backseat, exactly where it belongs.
The year 2029 will be a very interesting year. Actually, I don’t know if “interesting” is the right word to describe it. It will certainly be one to watch for. As it draws closer, a startling realization will begin to settle in. That year will bring with it a near-Earth asteroid which will descend between our satellite communication systems and the Earth itself. Its name is Apophis, named after the ancient Egyptian god of chaos. As it shoots across the night sky in the year 2029, there will be a small, though unlikely possibility that it will pass through a gravitational keyhole—a space no more than about six hundred meters across—which would set up a future impact when it swings back around on April 13, 2036.100 On impact, it could release up to 1,400 tons of TNT—a major global catastrophe, depending on where it lands.
The chance of it taking this trajectory is very slim or next to none. In fact, scientists have recently ruled out the possibility that it might hit at all. So, don’t panic—at least, not yet. But let’s speculate for a moment. Let’s say the unthinkable happens. Let’s say Apophis just squeezes through that small gravitational keyhole in 2029, making the reality of imminent impact seven years later inevitable.
Considering that religions are infamous for making the boldest claim of all, like having the highest self-proclaimed ability to achieve the impossible through faith, I wonder if we should leave it to the faithful to change the trajectory of this near-Earth asteroid through the power of prayer? Perhaps the future scientists in charge of deflecting Apophis from its destructive course should step aside for God. After all, I’ve heard it many times before: “Anything can be achieved through faith.” Well, actually let me take that back. Not anything, given the current circumstances in this unlikely scenario.
And this is precisely the point. It is on its own inability to live up to the false hope, ridiculous claims, and empty promises in which religion will see its ultimate demise. Religion is useless—now more than ever. And I suspect in a future world dominated by science, technology, democracy, and secularism, religion will pose no significant benefit for society whatsoever.
With an ever-increasing population and limited resources to support it, future generations will depend more and more on selfless cooperation and coexistence. Division and prejudices will only interfere with our success. Future civilizations will shake this off. At least, that’s the hope. This is what successful species have always done: find a way to survive or perish in extinction. The choice is ours. We need to move past those things that can cause great harm to our existence. We will evolve past those things that are no longer useful (and religion is both, in my opinion). The time is nearing. Its days are numbered . . . so long and good riddance.
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