“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. The congregation numbers a few hundred, but Irzak, as a good engineer, is committed to testing out ways to grow that number. 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 … (An exception: Shinto, an ancient animist religion, is still widely practised in hyper-modern Japan.). 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. 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. In the 2018 General Social Survey of US attitudes, “no religion” became the single largest group, edging out evangelical Christians. The Parsees’ religion originated with Zarathustra (a.k.a. ), A flame burns in a Zoroastrian Fire Temple, possibly for more than a millennium (Credit: Getty Images). 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. And indeed, some of the societies with the highest proportions of non-believers are among the most secure and harmonious on Earth. With those sorts of numbers, Jediism “should” have been recognised as a religion in the UK. And Extinction Rebellion has striven, with considerable success, to trigger a radical shift in attitudes to the crises in climate change and biodiversity. If religions have changed so dramatically in the past, how might they change in the future? 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. What is the status of religious freedom in the world today? What barriers does it face? But officials who apparently assumed it was not a genuine census answer did not record it as such. Finally, the leadership team considered the future of religious life with new data illustrating the makeup of religious life. 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. The knowledge that Big God is watching makes sure we behave ourselves. The acid test, as true for neopagans as for transhumanists, is whether people make significant changes to their lives consistent with their stated faith. We can do this in several ways. 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. “But they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This week's podcast: It isn't 'fake news' to recognize that America remains a divided land, A news story? The Silicon Valley mantra of “move fast and break things” has become a self-evident truth for many technologists and plutocrats. One approach is syncretism, the “pick and mix” approach of combining traditions and practices that often results from the mixing of cultures. If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “The Essential List”. Spirituality asks you to let go of your present attachments for a better present . 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. These are niche activities at the moment, and might sometimes be more about playing with symbolism than heartfelt spiritual practice. The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, some moving to atheism from faith, others to religion from secularism, and many still undecided. In poorer societies, you might pray for good fortune or a stable job. In 2005, Linda Woodhead wrote The Spiritual Revolution, in which she described an intensive study of belief in the British town of Kendal. 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. Another 1,500 years later – today – Zoroastrianism is a dying faith, its sacred flames tended by ever fewer worshippers. (Read about the "light triad" traits that can make you a good person.). And perhaps the next great faith is just getting started. Perhaps religions never do really die. 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.. 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). Many religions have syncretistic elements, although over time they are assimilated and become unremarkable. Even the technological trappings aren’t new. And as our civilisation and its technologies become increasingly complex, could entirely new forms of worship emerge? Nations like Soviet Russia and China “adopted atheism as state policy and frowned on even private religious expression.”. Is there any substance to the claim that belief in gods and deities will die out altogether? Perhaps a new religion will emerge to fill the void? In Russia alone, 50 percent of the population now declare themselves to be Orthodox, and millions are adherents of other religions. 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. But Harris, the 55-year-old junior senator from California, has other advantages in the 2020 presidential race. “This is the human animal looking around and saying we don’t agree how we should behave,” Wood says. 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. Some 3,500 years ago, in Bronze Age Iran, he had a vision of the one supreme God. For the full report (.pdf here). To answer these questions, a good starting point is to ask: why do we have religion in the first place? 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.”. 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. 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. The joins are easier to see in relatively young religions, such as Vodoun or Rastafarianism. 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. Ten years later, it had dropped to seventh place, leading many to dismiss it as a prank. Munificent economies, good government, solid education and effective rule of law can ensure that we rub along happily without any kind of religious framework. “Nones” may be disinterested in organised religion, but that doesn’t mean they are militantly atheist. “the secularising West and the rapidly growing rest”. 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? 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. Some groups are performing or “hacking” religion to win support for transhumanist ideas, says Singler. The traditionally religious both belonged and believed; hardcore atheists did neither. Again, Woodhead is sceptical. By the year 2050, … 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. 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. 2. Clue: This could be a faith-based question. Online movements gain followers at rates unimaginable in the past. In 1994, the sociologist Grace Davie classified people according to whether they belonged to a religious group and/or believed in a religious position. 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. And the “Sunday Assembly” aims to recreate the atmosphere of a lively church service without reference to God. 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, … This time it’s different. 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. Tales of the Egyptian, Greek and Norse pantheons are now considered legends, not holy writ. The Future of Religion. 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 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. 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”. 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