The Future of Religion

If science and technology march on, what is going to happen to religion? Will it continue ‘as is’, vanish from society or transform into something new? Because in the past, many religions served to give explainations for natural phenomena about which the people didn’t have scientific knowledge. For example, Classical mythology thrived on this.

Here in Europe, many people see religion as something antiquitated and useless, especially because Christianity has lost a lot of it’s influence and power. But in the Near-East, Islam has become even more powerful over the last years, while Hinduism and Buddhism in Asia continue like they ever did, except that China practicizes state-enforced atheism.

maybe machinepriests like in warhammer 40k is the future of religion? :slight_smile:

“i want to believe!” (special agent fox mulder)

be free to create your own religion :slight_smile:

Where they believe that every machine (not AI, machines in general) is powered by a spirit that inhabits it and can be commanded by human priests?

You mean individual faith.

might be - dont know the details that good.

what i wanted to say that you could experience an AI controled world like some sort of holy spirit guarding the society you live in.

Maybe religion will exist in virtual reality, i think am MMPORPG based on virtual reality could attract people even harder than World of Warcraft does it today.

Wasn’t there a transhumanist who compared religion to virtual reality technology and videogames? I think it was the author of ‘Homo Deus’.

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gotta check that out

faith is always individual. religion is about social conventions.
thank you for the clarification :slight_smile:
in fact you can create and live your own religion, if you are sly enough to not hurt social conventions. so you will not threat the faith of other people in their religion .
this threat is called "clash of cultures"
i mean that any not scientifically based belief is actually a religion.
it is for this i am transhumanist.
and it is for this, transhumanism is not a religion

If science and technology march on, we will increasingly acquire the characteristics and powers we now ascribe to gods or god. We will be able to create new forms of life. Shape the world according to our will. And create virtual worlds that are limited only by our imagination. As we will come to the realization that we, in fact, have become gods to our new creations, we will be compelled to question whether there are beings whose relation to us resembles that of the relation of us to our creations. Those beings we could call our “simulators”. And there will be great and vigorous speculation about their nature, their values, and their goals. New spheres of believes will form about what we should do in order to be rewarded by our simulators, rather than getting punished.

In effect, the ongoing march of science and technology will spur the evolution of religions, rather than impede it. At least until…?

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…yeah, until what?

Answering this question is left as an exercise to the interested reader.


We already live in an era where mythological explanations have been completely obsolesced by scientific knowledge and reasoning, yet, despite their apparent decline in Europe, religions not only persist but flourish and have resulted in a steady proliferation of cults and an active anti-science movement. And one of the downsides of advancing technology is that, as we reduce the need for human labor and afford the individual more free time to pursue their own proclivities, we will, along with an increase in amateur science and arts, see increasing religious participation as people struggle to fill their lives with the ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ they once ascribed to their bank balance.

Mythology offered seemingly logical explanation for phenomenon we could not readily explain. Religion offered a sense of hope in an ultimately wise/just/logical fatherly/motherly management of these forces and a feeling of potential control. Through personification of this phenomena we create a mechanism by which we might influence or manipulate those forces through propitiation of these supernatural beings. We can negotiate and bargain. Or, at least, we can find some kind of assurance or comfort in the cultivation of a ‘faith’ that things are under the control of wise beings with a grand design/plan and our best intentions at heart. There is order, purpose, ultimate justice, and we matter.

Science has described for us a universe that doesn’t give a crap about us and carries on mechanistically like a vast chemical reaction. There is intrinsic logic, great beauty, and incredible power, but no reason or purpose and we don’t matter. And technology has created or us an ever-more-complex and rapidly changing culture that is hard for us to wrap our heads around. We suffer from a general future-shock. And the essential absurdity of all this is terrifying to most people. It imposes much responsibility on us, personally, for any meaning, purpose, justice, morality. It demands we stretch out perceptions and worldview evermore every day. And in the face of that essential absurdity people turn to religion --to what Camus referred to as ‘intellectual suicide’–as an easy way to cope. The attraction of that easy prepackaged worldview and the comfort of faith, with its relinquishing of our own responsibility, will persist, especially for those portions of society that have been disenfranchised in one way or another. The rise of religiosity in the US coincided with the hollowing-out of the middle-class and the increasing precarity of mainstream life. There’s no justice in the workplace. No justice in courts. Maybe we’ll get it in heaven…

One of the great ironies of modern life is the rise of an essential form of magical/religious thinking in our dominant culture and, particularly, among those in the corporate and financial world and upper-class society. The ‘law of attraction’, also called New Thought Philosophy. The idea that we influence reality through our attitude, drawing to us from the world things that reflect our state of mind. And this imposes upon us a responsibility for all aspects of lives whether or not we can actually control them in any physical way, and an irresponsibility toward the lives of others, fitting in very well with the other great philosophical obsession of the corporate/financial subculture; Philosophical Objectivism. This is, of course, complete BS, but this very religious idea–often masquerading as science–is endemic in our contemporary western culture even where religion is not considered particularly important --even in the decreasingly religious European society. It has produced a corporate cult of optimism that led us into the crash of 2008, led us into environmental crisis, and will lead us into other such disasters tomorrow. And, again, it’s about that sense of hope and personal control in a fundamentally absurd universe we are very small and powerless within.

So, sadly, we’re not likely getting rid of religion in the near future. This intellectual junk-food will be around for some time to come.


And for good reason, as long as science can’t compete with such visions. Religion is a way of coping with complexity and it is pretty demanding, since it is one of the borders of our imagination, while science is the other. The so called conflict between science and religion ultimately boils down to one question: is our reality determined by mind or by matter or by both. And every explanation to this question will ultimately be nothing more than an assumption, since we know nothing - and this will probably always be an anchor point for any belief.

Since religion will probably stick around for a long time, it is probably best to update it from time to time. It is after all the boundary of thought for most of humanity. I am crafty and currently updating religious ideas for the digital epoch

until judgement day, of course ^^

here the explanation for pagans: Judgment Day will be a period of a thousand years during which humans will have the opportunity to regain what Adam and Eve lost.
(i like religions, after all :wink:)

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand why most people feel the need to invent an invisible man in the sky to tell them that they’re special when they could just tell that to themselves and each other.

Why should we need to be given a purpose? We’re sentitent beings and have free will (at least in theory…), we should make our own purposes. Instead of trying to find reasons for our own existence in some abstract metaphysical (or even downright imaginary realm!), we should be focusing on creating reasons, right here in the Universe.

The opium of the masses…

The supposed distinction between mind and matter is nonsense. The mind is a property that emerges from matter. We’re like a software program running in our brains. In the end, the mind is matter and there’s no way of sepparating the two. There’s no point in trying to push it outside of the physical realm because you can’t prove the existence of anything beyond the physical realm. In fact, the very concept of an “extra-physical” reality if self-contradictory since reality is, by definition, physical. Everything is physical.

In the end, religion is really not a way of completing our understanding of reality, but a denial of it.

While I recognize that people won’t be willing to do away with religion anytime soon, I don’t think in any way that you should embrace them. The idea of creating a new futurist or transhumanist religion is one that comes about frequently in these circles, and actually there have already been a few moderately successful projects in that area. But I intensely dislike this idea.

I became a transhumanist because I saw reason in being one. I don’t feel confortable with having people joining our ranks because someone told them lies.

this theory may be a religion… - there is no scientific evidence of free will

and about “sentient beings” : i strongly recommand the film “bereavement”; if the spectator observe the film with a critical eye, he will “feel” the ambiguity of this term.

You know, we already have this ability. Have had it since the beginning of our history. It’s only our ability to make them perceivable to others through the senses that’s been limited. This ability combined with the difficulty in telling apart what we’ve created ourselves and what’s actually a part of reality causes significant issues for many.

I think the main point in many religions (at least originally) is to realize how we’re actually simulating ourselves too. Or rather, simulating ourselves, identifying with what we’re simulating and then forgetting it’s simulation and feeling helpless to change it anymore.

You could say it’s a crutch with which some of us manage to convince themselves to just accept that we can’t control what happens in the world. However, it doesn’t work for everyone.

However, the last part “we matter” is kind of a false concept in that it’s not quite correct to say we matter but it’s even more wrong to claim we don’t matter. The false concept there is that saying either of those assumes that there’s an objective truth available with which to decide if you (or someone else) matter or not.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the basic idea behind it. However, when used to impose responsibility or to justify irresponsibility for the lives of others, it’s being twisted into something rather different. We make choices all the time, most of them unconscious. However, even the unconscious choices are greatly affected by our attitude and beliefs, thus shaping our lives, which is what ‘law of attraction’ basically says.

However, when that idea is used as a reasoning for responsibility or irresposibility, there’s the unstated assumption of control. That complete control is possible and therefore should be done and that everyone is capable of such control. When you apply this kind of absurdity on top of the law of attraction, you get garbage, garbage out.

The law of attraction is useful when used as a guide in learning about your own attitudes and their effects to your life through your choices and learning how to mold those attitudes to live a life closer to what you actually want.

The need to be given a purpose is likely a relic of more barbaric times. Times when those in power cemented their power by convincing others that purpose is given by someone else. Unfortunately, such convictions settle deep into the human psyche and are passed on to children through the children unconsciously observing what their parents believe and unconsciously adopting those beliefs.

I suspect the religions that attempt to give you a purpose were born in an attempt to restore some of our individual capability of being self-sufficient in terms of purpose.

While I agree that there’s no separating mind and matter, I’d like to ask you how do you know that it’s matter that gives birth to mind and not the other way around? Every perception of matter you ever have happens in your mind. Every experiment you do is also perceived through your mind. How do you know it actually exists outside your mind?

(do note, though, that I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m merely pointing out the difficulty in supporting the position you take experimentally.)

It’s not a theory since it can’t be used to predict anything, therefore there can’t be evidence for or against it. It’s a concept that tries to convey an aspect of the human mind to a human mind. Especially to a human mind that’s forgotten that it’s able to choose what it thinks and believes.


Have you ever read any religious text? God is the oldest idea mankind has developed and it survived through millenia. It connects billions of individuals through the times and it is guiding their behaviour. Religion is based around morals, based around the idea to live your life in a way, that won’t hurt others, since this is the only way to be worthy of gods blessing. It is actually, if it is actually done and not just words, the hardest work on your own character development imaginable. And since the concepts barely change, but the contexts, in which these concepts are applied, there is a lot of confusion and everyone is looking on everyone else, instead inwards to be the judge of your own actions and take not just the credit, but also the blame for your own failings and responsibility for your fears. If you feel the need to be given a purpose, you make yourself a slave to the one who is giving you a purpose. if you need your own purpose, then search for it inside yourself, there are a lot of signals and communication from your body, from your subconciousnes and from your mind which are telling you, what you should or could do, but as long as you don’t decide for yourself, you will also be a slave to your body and to your mind. you should originate from within you. give it the name you want, some call it god, but the idea behind god is finding the best version of yourself possible and live your live through this version of yourself.

I would argue that we as humans live more in the universe of the mind than in any other. sure, mind is physical, but by the same logic every thought, imagination and dream is physical also, which would make god a physical being, created and sustained through our thinking. And it is quite powerful, since we are not just driving our ideas, but are driven by our ideas as well. There is nothing metaphysical or abstract about belief or thought, it is just acceptance of the idea, that my physical mind could be seen as evidence, that the physical cosmos might be a physical mind on it’s own.

Why should you as a scientist create reason? that is not your place, you said it yourself that you don’t need reasons, that is fine. I don’t need a reason too, i just want to be happy and live a good live which contributes more to the benefit than to the harm of my surrondings. And this is the core idea behind buddhism, islam, christianity etc. This is always the aim and religion is one method of achieving this, ultimately it is absolutely irrelevant, if there is any magic being anywhere, proof wouldn’t change a thing since the idea itself is already the most powerful thing we as humanity have created so far. it is the driving force of our entire history and of humans throughout time, be it as believer or as denier or as agnostic.

And everyone of us is to blame, that the masses need the opium at all…

You are absolutely right.

How and why? Isn’t the idea behind god that it is a omnipotent, omnipresent and allknowing being? The only reality, in which this idea could stand, would be one in which everything is god. By following the idea of a god, the follower is embracing reality as the physical dimension of a cosmic mind in which we live. chaos theory is suggesting that there are multiverses, if i am not mixing theories right now, so what aboutour dreams and thoughts? you say they are physical, so i say that every thought is creating a physical universe within my mind. is your thinking and you being yourself through your perception any less real or physical then what you perceive through your senses? what if mind is just another sense for reality? science despite all its achievements can’t provide answers to these questions now, but these are questions which are relevant to most of humanity. there is no human need which remains a long time unsatisfied.

So you created reason within yourself, but you are denying others their reasons? Who made you a judge for what is right and wrong? by believing that you are better than others, you are fueling conflict and you are telling lies yourself. you and i we know nothing. you can’t comprehend reality any better than i can, so what makes your perception better than mine? have you read every relevant information? can you be sure, you haven’t missed anything? i have to assume, that you don’t know anything better than i do, so ultimately you are telling lies too, because you can’t speak truth because a lack of knowledge. since it is your lies, others should follow, you are doing yourself, what you are accusing others of. how are you different, than any other human being, which is fed by lies and acting accordingly? we are no judges, we want to make politics and in politics it doesn’t matter, who is right or wrong, it only matters how we could achieve the best for the most, idealy for everyone. we can’t do this, if we disregard personal perception as wrong, we can do this only, if we find a solution, where personal perception can stand, without harming other personal perceptions. i guess we need virtual(physical) realities, in which perceptions can emigrate so that our physical society can remain an oasis of peace and neutrality.

What about the possible existence of mind control technology, could it take over religion?

I was mostly educated in catholic schools. As such, I did read, and analyse, considerable portions of the bible. Also, althought I’ve never read the Quran or any Buddhist and Hindu texts, I did study their beliefs in my religion classes. Therefore, I do think I know what religion is quite well.

Which God? I know it may be tempting to assume that everyone believes more or less is the same god since Abrahamic religions have become so overwhelmingly dominant, but that is simply not true.

Christianity defines God as being omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and good. Islam seems to point in a similar direction, and so does Judaism (although the part of it being good is particularly questionable in this one), but that’s only because these three religions happen share the same roots. Sometimes there are many gods, none of them omniscient, omnipresent or omnipotent, and many of them are not good. If you want to say that God is mankind’s oldest ide and it has survived through millenia, you’re going to have to come up with a definition of God that applies as well to christianity as to greek polytheism and whatever religion the people who built Stonehenge practiced.

You’re probably not going to like it, but let me try to do that for you: God is the supernatural, it is something that escapes human comprehension, and as such can’t be expected to conform to the laws of the universe, which including the laws of physics and also basic logic.

This is pretty much the only definition I can think of that covers every theistic religion.

Religions are not “based around morals”, they are constructs created to impose someone views on morals on other people. As primitive men didn’t find reason to be a good enough criteria to tell right and wrong appart, they just made up invisible men in the sky and that worked better.

I know this is the way humanity as always done things, but I think lately we have proved that we can do it a different way. With centuries of rational phisophical discussion of ethics. Still, religion is not likely to go away, but that doesn’t mean we should embrace it.

I absolutely agree with this

That’s just not what a God is, at least not in traditional religions. God is a supernatural entity that commands reality without obeying to its laws. The concept of religion implies the search for a purpose outside of humanity and the physical world.

Let me quote wikipedia’s entry on religion here:

There is no scholarly consensus over the definition of “religion”.[1][2] Conventionally, a “religion” is any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organizations, that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental.

I do not consider positions that search for God inside the Universe to be religious at all. If anything, “spiritual” movements such as pantheism and religious naturalism are just attempts to attribute religious characteristics to something that is not religious. In other words, these movements are for people who know that there is no God, and yet still feel the need for one, therefore resorting to calling God to something different. Something that does exist but yet has nothing magical about it.

God exists as a concept, I wouldn’t quite say it exists as a “being”. It is no more real than unicorns and fairies, the only difference is that very few people actually believe in unicorns and fairies whereas many do believe in God. A popular illusion is still and illusion nonetheless.

Aso, God most definetly does not exist as a concious being (which is part of the definition of a theistic God).

You see, this is the problem with all these new “Jungian” pseudo-religions. You recognize that religion is basically just a form of collective insanity, and yet you say that people should pray to their own insanity instead of trying to get rid of it. That’s just not right.

You just don’t need a religion to do this. Religion is the wrong way to do it. If this is about getting people to do what is right, then you should that by persuading them with rational discourse, not by telling them lies.

Granted, but I do need to point out that people currently don’t agree with each other on what system of thought leads a “happy life and more good than harm to one’s surroundings”. The reason why people create religions is because they don’t want to defend their own systems of thought through rationality, and so they just make up lies to justify them. They don’t want to explain why they’re right, they just want to be recognized as being right.

True, but if everyone just suddenly started smoking opium right now and they showed no signs of being willing to give it up, that wouldn’t make opium a good thing that should be embraced. I don’t need opium, therefore, I won’t smoke it, and I’ll advise everyone to do the same. I’ll definetly not spend my time and energy creating a new type of opium so I can further my own agenda at the expense of others.

The idea doesn’t need to “stand” because it’s not supposed not be scrutinized through reason but accepted out of blind faith. God is supposed to be above reason, above nature (hence being supernatural), and ultimately above reality. Therefore, by claiming that reality is determined by something that escapes the laws of reality as we know it, religion ultimately does deny reality.

Now, your position seems to be different. Similar to pantheism, which I’ve already discussed in this post, but let’s see more…

So, you do believe in personal God, right? Or at least you want other people to believe in it, I don’t know…

Is that Cosmic mind a sentient being or some abastraction? If it’s the first I’d like to ask you the following: Is the cosmic mind magical? What I mean to ask by this is if the way the Cosmic mind is distributed and operates is physical and can one day be understood through the laws of reality or if it’s something inherently beyond human comprehension?

If it’s the first and the mind is not magical, then what you have is not a religion and you’re simply trying to attribute religious characteristic to something that is not religious. If that’s the case I’d describe your position as speculation. It would make a good science-fiction novel, but I see no reason why people should pray to your speculative Cosmic Mind and accept a certain system of thought because of it. Saying that you should do the right thing because a Cosmic Mind may be watching is a poor moral argument. Someone with very different moral ideas than your own could perfectly say the same thing. He could say: the Cosmic Mind is wathcing so must kill everyone who’s not one of the Cosmic Mind’s chosen. And, as you had justified your morals through speculation, you could make no claim of being more right than him. This why religious wars happen.

If the mind is, in fact magical, then you’re denying reality. You’re saying that God/The Cosmic Mind, is something that doesn’t have to operate within the parameters of reality, and yet it does determine reality.

Chaos theory? I’m not sure if you mean string theory or many-worlds intrepretation of quantum mechanics. In the first one it’s more like there are extra-dimensions. In second, yes, there are alternate universes, but I don’t think that really can be of any use to you in this discussion.

I’m not sure what you mean here. Yes, I do believe that the things I dream of and imagine are, in fact, less real than the things I physically perceive. They’re not “beings” but “concepts”, they’re different things.

And yes, I’ll grant you that dreaming and imagining things is a bit like creating tiny universes inside your head. Those universes are, in my opinion, less real than ours and they contain much less information. But I do recognize the possibily that there may be something more real than our universe. We may, in fact, be all living inside some ultra-advanced alien’s dream. That alien should have a mind much larger than our own, and it must living in a reality that constain much more information. Is this alien your idea of a Cosmic Mind? It’s pretty much the same thing as the idea of the simulators, which Radivis has already brought up to this thread. I do recognize that this is a possibility, but it’s all just speculation. The simulators may be real, but I won’t pray to them and I most definetly won’t use the idea of them to convince other of my views on ethical philosophy by means of creating a pseudo-religion.

I can deny their reasons if their reasons are not rational. When people adhere to a movement or an ideology that should be motivated by and understanding that belonging that movement and substribing to that ideology are rational positions to take. They should not me motivated by fantasies of invisible men in the sky, subjective feelings such as faith, and speculation.

No one. But I’ve always tried to the best of my ability to know the difference between those two through objective reasoning. And I do demand that other people try to do the same. They may disagree with me, that is perfectly fine, but they cannot refuse to think rationally, that’s simply not an option that can be given to people.

Sure, we all know nothing. Without making any assumptions about you and me, I’d like to point out the fact that some people do know more things than other, but that’s besides the point. I oppose religion because it claims that we should look fot answer through non-rational means. This is not about individuals knowing more or knowing less, this is a reason and the denial of it that religion represents.

I can never be sure of that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the duty to try make an objective analysis.

The difference is that I justify the thigs I say, or at least I try to. Sure, I myself am probably wrong about a lot of things, but I attempt to make an objective analysis of reality and everyone has the duty to do the same.

No, because I actually try to give people objective reasons why they should follow my “lies”, while religion doesn’t do that.

This is a very dangerous philosophy. Pure moral subjectivism.

If you think you can impose a moral code on people by justifying with religion, then what stops somenone with a very different moral code of doing the same? You can’t say that they’re wong, and they can’t say that you’re wrong, because you both justified your ideas the exact same way. If you really do believe in thsi things, how can you condemn religious terrorism for example? After all, these people are just acting accordingly to their “personal perceptions”. You can’t say they’re wrong.

I’m sorry, but we do have the right to judge other people’s morals. Civiliazation demands it.

Right and Wrong is all that matter. There is, in fact, a way of causing the most good for the most people, and that way is, by definition, the right way. And people should accept it solely because they can rationally understand that it is the right way. That’s what makes superior to all others.

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