A friend of mine, let’s call him Mr. Pink, once told me that in the future modern religions will be relegated to the position of mythology in our society. He said as our society becomes more educated the number of atheists will grow. He went on to tell me that according to a survey of the National Academy of Sciences less than 6 percent of its members have any sort of religious belief. He says education breeds skepticism, and that religious faith is a byproduct of a lack of knowledge.
I found all of this quite alarming. However it begs the question, does his argument have merit? Mr. Pink seems to believe that this future without religion is a bright one, that if we move past our arcane belief in a higher power we can move ourselves closer to an Utopian ideal. We would be freed from fear and be allowed to evolve as a society. He was not wrong about the National Academy of Sciences, in fact there is evidence that the proportion of atheists is highest amongst the highly educated particularly those educated in the sciences.
Can this be true? Is atheism a foregone conclusion for our society? Will we benefit from a lack of faith? As someone who is religious and highly educated in the sciences, I would like to say that faith is still firmly seated in our cultural psyche. It is not something that can be discarded so easily. It is not something that we would all be better off without. Faith enriches us all. It fills in the human experiences with beauty and life. Many people do miraculous things because of their faith. People often display the most compassion when they are acting with faith. Yet, I do see a trend in our society. I see people manipulate the faiths of others to advance malfeasant agendas. I see many examples in our society of crimes committed because of some person’s interpretation of their faith. And I see many of my colleagues choose to shirk their religious beliefs in the place of a personal ethic and compassion towards those whom we share this earth with.
So I ask the readership who collectively has had experiences and ideas that go far beyond my simple perspective, will religion go extinct? Will we be better for it?