I believe 2017 is going to be the tipping point for religion. With assaults on two fronts, more and more people are going to abandon faith. Those two fronts are: science and religion absurdity.
More and more people are talking about science and it’s clear it contradicts basic religious tenants. There are hundreds, if not thousands of “flat-earthers” posting on the internet, but people posting such absurd thoughts are actually going to bring about their demise. The more we know about medicine, weather, geology, astronomy, etc. the less we see that an invisible man in the sky who looks human had anything to do with it. The Bill Nye/Richard Dawkins/Neil DeGrasse Tyson/Stephen Hawking group is going to get stronger and win more followers. They use too much logic not to.
On the other hand, Westboro Baptist church and its ilk (i.e. cults) are going to bring negative attention to religion. Scientology, Mormons, snake handlers, Ken Ham, etc. are all going to be seen as insane. The more news we receive of bizarre rituals in third world countries remind us of the roots of religion, and that everyone once had such ridiculous beliefs. The Catholic Church with its progressive pope is going to erase some of their long-held beliefs. Terrorism from radical islamic militants is going to bring to fore the fact that one cannot have more than one “true” religion at a time. The fact that churches don’t pay taxes in the US and billions of dollars are not going into the economy has got to change. I predict a sex abuse scandal affecting the Amish will come to light – I feel there is something ugly going on in that community that we don’t know about because of its isolation.
People are thankfully beginning to question religion more and more. Each generation pushes the envelope a little further. You can’t teach science in schools generation after generation and expect kids to be able to hold religion up to what they learn and say, ok, the moon is a light – no problem. A science textbook* from 1940 that I bought at an antiques store states,
“The very first men, who lived thousands of years ago, knew very little about the earth upon which they lived. They knew much less about the sun, moon and stars. They were busy hunting food and protecting themselves from wild animals and the weather. No one knows when men first began to think about the stars. No one knows when ancient men looked up at the sky and for the first time became interested in teh things they saw there. Whenever it was, it must have been long before the history of the human race began to be written… As centuries passed, soem men learned to raise sheep and to become shepherds. Perhaps, as they watched their flocks night after night, they noticed that the stars seemed to reach a certain position just before dawn. In this way they may have learned to know when their long night of watching would soon be over, and thus to tell time by the stars… The people of those early times had not learned to think things out for themselves. There were no scientists to tell them about things. Nor were there books for them to read…Telescopes and other instruments had not been invented… As century after century passed and men were not able to learn the true answers to their questions, some of them made up their answers. They noticed that sometimes things happened which were good for men. At other times, harmful things, such as severe storms, lightning, and fire, occurred. They began to think that there were good spirits which brought the good things and evil spirits which brought the harmful things… The more that people imagined, the more they thought that the sun, moon, and stars and the gods and goddesses affected their lives. They said that thunder and times when food was scarce were caused by angry gods. They thought they could bring rain in times of dry weather by doing something to please the gods. These are only a few of the queer beliefs of ancient people; there were many, many others.
Children grew up among some of these strange ideas, which we call superstitions. They heard their parents talk about the terrible things the gods and stars caused. They saw their parents tremble in fear. Soon they became afraid. They were afraid that they would anger some god and cause him to harm them. During all their lives they were invluenced or changed by these superstitions.
Most people became so influenced by these old ideas that they were afraid to change their beliefs when new ideas were brought to them. They were too filled with fear of what might happen to them. So many of them continued to live and believe very much as their parents and grandparents had lived and believed for centuries.
During all the ages from the earliest times men have handed down superstitions as truth. And even now after we have learned much truth about the heavenly bodies, some people still believe that the sun, moon, and stars have a strange influence upon their lives.
For hundreds and hundreds of years, people kept and told their old beliefs. Their lives were filled with fear, trying to please angry gods or to keep them from becoming angry. But about 4,000 years ago, although most people believed in the old ideas, there were a few who were not satisfied with them. These few could not believe the stories they had heard. They began to search for facts. These men must have been very brave and intelligent, since they were willing to give up the old beliefs if they could find explanations which seemed better.
Ancient people in various parts of the world had many ideas about diseases and how to cure them. Some people believed that sickness was caused by demons, or evil spirits which came to live in the body. Your friends would have put on ugly masks and would have danced about you, making loud and terrifying noises to frieghten away the evil spirits. Or they might have called their medicine man, who would have used charms or magic to make you well… Is it any wonder that people in times long past thought illness was a punishment send down by the gods? Some persons even thought that it was wrong to try to help those who were sick. They believed that the gods wanted these people to be ill…For nearly a centry men have been trying to find the causes of different diseased and how they may cure persons who have them.”
*The Earth Then and Now by Gerald S. Craig – Consultant in Elementary Science Horace Mann School, and Associate Professor of National Sciences, Teachers College, Columbia University and Goldie M. Johnson, Formerly Supervisor of Elementary Science, Montclair NJ and June E. Lewis, Asst. in Science Department Plattsburg State Normal School. Ginn and Co, NY, 1940.