In recent years, starting with a significant boost in 2002, I have been becoming increasingly outspoken about my disdain for faith and religion. I come from a secular family and Sweden is one of the least religious countries in the world, so faith was never really on the agenda for me, but with the advent of the web and the information about other countries that it brings has made me think about religion more and more.
My standpoint is that of the hardline atheists; I believe that religion is detrimental to both the individual and to our entire society, regardless of whether the person of faith is a fundamentalist or not. I have long planned to write a posting here, elaborating about my thoughts on this, but I feel that it's no longer necessary - It's been done so many times by people far more eloquent than myself. Instead, I will hereby predict the imminent dawn of a new enlightenment. An almost ridicilously bold statement perhaps, but mark my words, there is something monumental happening all around us right now.
I will not delve into theories about how the increased exposure of fundamentalist religion in recent years has aggrevated atheists, because I'm not very convinced that it's true, and I also find that such theories takes attention away from the matters at hand - namely that faith is dying, and it's dying fast.
But before I present my arguments, I will make some excuses and reservations. I know that at some point in this article, I will need a paragraph to serve as a disclaimer of sort, and I might just as well do it now, so here goes: Religion as a phenomenon will never die. There will always, as long as there are humans, be superstition and faith. There has always been, and there is good scientific evidence that we are genetically prone to such beliefs. I will also make no claims that the impending decline of faith and religion will automagically resolve the worls conflicts, because although those are often spawned under the flag of religious dogma, the problem is rooted even deeper within our instincts. In fact, what I suggest is happening to the global intellect right now might not make the world a better place at all in the short term - but that does not mean that it's not happening.
To reiterate, my prediction is that faith and religion will become marginalised in the coming years. How many years would be depending on your definition of "marginalised" and "religion", as well as what population you're talking about, and although I'll willingly admit that I'm not informed enough to make a solid prediction, I'd say that the majority of the worlds leaders (presidents/prime ministers/dictators) will be outspoken atheists in 20 years. That's a shot-from-the-hip guesstimate, but I stand by it none the less. I don't even think I'm being all that optimistic.
So what makes me believe this? First and foremost there is the fact that the existence of god cannot be proven, and that there is no scientific evidence, what so ever, that indicates that any supernatural being or force has made even the slightest alteration to our universe in the history of its existence. And if anyone by any chance would feel inclined to object to this assertion, please do us both a favour and make sure you understand the concept of the scientific method
first. That said, if you indeed can
prove the existence of god, I'd be absolutely thrilled to hear about it. For I strive to know truth, not to reassure myself that I'm right.
Now that bit about scientific proof just convinces me
that there is no god, so what about the rest of the world? Why am I so confident people will start to loosen their attachment to the concept of faith? For one thing, I believe truth will prevail, and the non-existence of god is, by all definitions of the word, truth. And secondly, and here comes my main thesis in this little article, is that throughout the history of civilisation mankind has become increasingly skeptical concerning religion (albeit at an agonizingly slow pace). With the modern means of communication (not just the web; I'm also thinking of things like satellite television) ideas spread faster than ever. With this follows that erroneous theories and scams get debunked faster than ever, too. This is the category religion falls into. If you were in an isolated village under a certain religion with little means of communicating with the outside world, you may never get your beliefs tested or questioned. Now compare that with our online lives of today; draw it out as a graph and you see where the future inevitably puts us.
The increase in information availability is what feeds this intellectual evolution, and if we again imagine it as a graph, I think it's fairly logical to assume that it's exponential rather than a straight line. I feel as though we're now, at the end of 2006, hitting the magic 45 degree point of this curve, because suddenly atheism is everywhere
. Not a single day goes by without anti-faith and anti-religion links are posted on sites like Digg
, as well as many, many others. And unlike just a few years ago, the overwhelming majority of comments on these sites are in favour of the ideas put forth in the articles. Richard Dawkins
is becoming a mainstream idol in the US, which would have been a prepostrous claim just a single year ago, when even the cant-we-all-get-along agnostics could get called out as hell-condemned heathens. Now they're no longer called heathens, because the pendulum has swung to the other side - now they're being called out as blind apologetics, oblivious to the damage religion inflicts on the collective intellect.
Ironically, what I've written here is not solid, indisputable evidence - to play the devils advocate I could perhaps claim to have faith
in this idea. But I'll rather see it as an observation of a trend and a conclusion based on the facts at hand.
If I'm right, and rest assuerd that I would absolutely love for that to be the case, we are about to see people change their stance all around us. People will, slowly but certainly, make the transition from perhaps-there-is-a-greater-force-but-I'm-not-really-religious agnosticism to there-is-no-god atheism and eventually, I would hope, to a point where they can and do intellectually and proactively argue against faith of any kind, and with argument and facts make a good case for why mankind is better off trusting scientific proof and logic, without superstition and imaginary friends in the sky.
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