Religion Will Be Dead Before The End Of The Century
Humanity only started to experience a dash towards prosperity in the nineteenth century and that coincided with a marked decrease in the level of religiousness in most nations of the world. In the following century, progress accelerated and the belief in the divine fell faster.
By the year 2000 only 45% of Americans went regularly to church, while two centuries earlier the entire population systemically visited the house of God. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the whole population of Europe went to church but by the early twenty-first century less than 10% did.
Religion has seen a retreat everywhere and not just in the Western world. In India, the rest of Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, and in the Middle East the share of the population that is deeply committed to Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and all the other creeds is much lower today than what it was in the past. Living conditions in those countries are still poor, but they are much better than in previous centuries and that has gone hand in hand with a diminished belief in the divine.
Human beings want one basic thing and it is to have a nice and comfortable life, so when they get it, they start to forget about their Gods because the reason that has always driven them to pray, is the desire to obtain a better existence.
The growing prosperity of the past centuries is due to the rapid advance of technology and everything suggests that in the twenty-first century technology will progress even faster. That will obviously translate into a larger satisfaction of people's needs which will make individuals even more indifferent to God.
It is not just the improved living conditions what has conspired against religion. Education has also played a role.
The accelerating growth of technology has been accompanied by an accelerating rate of economic growth and with that has come an expansion of education. As education has moved forward, religion has increasingly gotten pushed away from the lives of people.
Education teaches science and science debunks the bulk of what the creeds of the world assert. On the other hand, the learning system also trains people to reason logically and a logical mind has a hard time coping with the inconsistency of religions.
The rate of economic growth in all the nations of the world has been persistently accelerating during the past centuries and the share of the population that goes to school has systematically expanded. In the eighteenth century the world economy grew by about 0.2% annually, in the nineteenth century by 1.2%, and in the twentieth by 3.0%.
In the year 1800 the percentage of the adult populace of America, Europe, and Asia that obtained a university degree was practically zero. In 1900 it was one percent and by 2000 it was seven percent. The historical trend suggests that the world economy will grow by at least 4.0% per year in the twenty-first century and by 2100 the share that will possess a university diploma will have reached about sixty percent. With those high levels of rationality and knowledge, people will find it impossible to believe in the simplistic ideas that religions peddle.
Three centuries ago the entire population of the Western world believed unconditionally in the Christian religion. Today, only a fourth goes regularly to church. A century from now, the rest of the world will have attained levels of development that are like those of the West today and by then the share of the population from developing countries that is strongly committed to religion will be as low as in the West at present. By the year 2100, living conditions in Western countries will be much higher than right now and when that day arrives, the concept of God in North America and Europe will be just a distant memory.
In a century, the wars and the terrorism of the present, which are largely driven by opposing religious beliefs, will be a thing of the past because by then people will no longer get passionate about God. The world is right now in a similar situation to that of Europe in the seventeenth century, when it was tearing itself apart because of differences between Catholics and Protestants.
We are moving towards a better world.
Related Tags: prosperity, war, science, buddhism, progress, god, christianity, creed, islam, hinduism, catholicism
Charles Sabillon did High School in Texas and has undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, Economics and Law as well as a masters and a doctorate in International Relations. After the PhD, he undertook post-doctoral research in the fields of History, Economics, and Ecology. He has taught Economic History at a university in Switzerland and speaks fluently English, Spanish, French and German.
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