Millennials, narcissus, and the future of the church” raised some important points. Blauer did an eloquent job of posing the questions, prompting lively dialog, leading many valid and important points. But wherever you fall on the argument, I want to ponder the question from a different angle than perhaps you’ve considered before.
Take a step back and think of where our society stands at this point in history. We’ve seen the industrial revolution, the automotive revolution, the electrical revolution and the computer revolution. Cell phones and pads glisten in the palms of our hands. Automatic coffee makers brew the perfect cup. And social media connects us into instant virtual communities. Now we’re on the cusp of a robotic revolution. Soon machines will mow our lawns, clean our houses, and who knows what else. Driverless cars will whisk us off to wherever we want to go while we play holographic video games in the back seat, and driverless trucks and drones will deliver everything we need right to our front doors.
Meanwhile, the religions of the world seem to be stumbling over their own feet. Before anyone gets too upset, I don’t fault religion; there’s really a lot to be worked out. The rapid increase in knowledge has created so many questions, and everything has to be understood within the historical context of traditional as well as contemporary faith. Religion is a stabilizing force because it does not move so fast. It’s going to take a lot of time, discussion and prayer.
But think about the contrast. If you were a Millennial just emerging into a new world, which would you pick? A glimmering, flashing cell phone or a broken stained glass window? I fully realize there’s much more to religion than the picture I’ve painted, but I’m doing this to show the disparity. Science is riding a 100-plus year wave of success while religion squabbles with itself. Science gets a tremendous amount of respect while religion gets very little. A couple centuries ago it was the opposite. Once again I’m not faulting those of faith; I’m just pointing out the obvious.
Now think about that housing bubble just a few years back. Our progress seems like it will go on forever, but bubbles always feel that way. That’s why they’re bubbles. When the stock market is rocketing upward, those buying at its peak always think it’s going up further, otherwise they wouldn’t buy. However, markets all have a business cycle; stock market averages go up and down; and civilizations rise and fall. My fear is that one day our technology will disappoint us. I don’t know what form that will take, but as a science fiction writer, I’ve got a lot of ideas.
What makes it scarier for me is that I hear such confidence in science. We’re like cosmic dark energy, expanding at an ever-increasing rate, but with scant religious or philosophical framework within which to understand that progress. We’re like a truck barreling down the highway with the throttle pressed to the floor. Where is the governor? Where does the road end? I don’t hear anybody asking those questions. It sounds an awful lot to me like the intrepidity in housing before its collapse. You have to understand that the world has never been here before. On what historical precedent is our confidence based? The fall of Rome? Nazi Germany?
When people are disappointed, they might return to traditional faith. But who knows? What if they embrace somebody or something completely new?