The Fate of Faith
Whether you like it or not, the religious landscape of the world is changing. For one thing, Islam is on the rise, particularly in those regions of the globe where fertility rates are the highest. In addition to this, Muslims are also beginning to dominate more and more of Asia, as Hindus and Buddhists are pushed aside. Simply put, over the next thirty or forty years, Buddhism isn’t really going to grow in size at all. However, Hinduism will increase marginally by gaining strength in numbers throughout the 21st century. This is where things will really start to change. India will soon house the most Muslims in the world, in spite of remaining a primarily Hindu nation.
This is important because it’s rather difficult to get radicalized militant zealots out of the ranks of Hinduism or Buddhism, but not so much with Islam. With that said, it’s far more likely for a Sunni to become a terrorist than a Shiite. Certain Muslims are definitely potentially more dangerous than others. Although, it should be noted that the vast majority of devout Muslims are actually very peaceful. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see how important it is to strive for religious moderates rather than extremists. Granted, Christianity has had its fair share of evangelic terrorists, as well. It’s just that, the Pope is now doing a lot to try and make up for the mistakes of the Catholic Church, regarding things like the Inquisition, while Islam seems to just be getting started with a new reign of radicalized proselytization.
Either way, the point is that Christianity is definitely falling behind in terms of the converted. Here in the United States, over the next few decades, the fraction of Americans who identify as Christian will drop from 3/4 to 2/3. Plus, it’s estimated that by the year 2050, nearly one hundred million Christians will convert to Islam worldwide. Eventually, the global Muslim population will equal that of the Christians, having about three billion adherents in each camp. So, unless something drastically alters the course of human evolution, Islam should surpass Christianity as the major world religion no later than 2075.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the whole world is just going to be covered in mosques by then. On the contrary, over the coming decades, Judaism will grow slightly, and the Jews will continue to stake their claim on Israel. So, conflict with the Palestinians will likely continue on into the 22nd century. However, the amount of temples and rabbis will not increase that much, but Judaism will remain an integral part of the Abrahamic mythos, for generations to come. Of course, Christianity will continue to be a major influence on everything for a very long time too.
Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated will achieve their peak population by about 2050, with slightly more than a billion non-believers in total. However, this will be relatively short-lived, because the group will actually consist of a declining share of the overall human population, from that point on. In other words, the growing interest in atheism is just going to be a passing fad. In contrast to this, monotheism seems to be getting stronger and stronger, as time goes on. Granted, people will undoubtedly dabble in pantheism and humanism, as well as many other things along the way, but good old-fashioned religion will be around forever. Spirituality is hard-wired into the psyche. It’s just a fact of life that humans are faith-based creatures. We always have been, and we always will be.
In the far flung future, people will have technologically based visions of the divine, with bizarre trans-humanist neo-spiritual practices sprouting up all over the place. Animistic traditions will all but vanish, as the primitive tribes assimilate, more and more. Although, techno-shamanism will become increasingly more common. The resulting postmodern mystics will induce altered states of consciousness using high-tech devices, in conjunction with time-honored techniques, like drumming and chanting. Eventually, the Supreme Being will even be thought of as some sort of super advanced programmer that encodes the holographic simulations of life. Someday, robots might even pray. Only time will tell for sure.
Regardless, the thing to understand is that the vast majority of people, more than 90% of them, will still believe in God, in some form or another, in the futuristic world of the 22nd century. Ultimately, theology is just as important today, as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. This is why we all need to pursue more studies in comparative religious teachings, to be the most effective global citizens that we can. In fact, to be the best people we possibly can, we should all open our hearts and minds to the powers that be. After all, everyone needs to believe in something, sometimes.