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tirsdag 4. februar 2014

Why religion will triumph (tekst fra 2013)

Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley and various other 19th century secularists, saw themselves as spearheading the global fight against religion and superstition. They seemed to believe they were predestined to conquer the scourge of religion once and for all. With incessant vigour they fought against the yoke of superstition, championing science and reason. They literally thought religion would be gone from the Earth in a generation or two. But here we are, 150 years later, in a postmodern world – and religion is stronger than ever. 

Why is this?

The answer is multifaceted. On the one hand, it should be noted that Arthur C. Clarke had it right* when he said: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Science and technology have become so deeply mystical and alienating that people are estranged. They simply can't grasp how the latest inventions work, so they fail to appreciate the physics underlying every new gizmo. They rely on computers to solve their math problems, so they never develop logic or reasoning skills. Even Heidegger noted this in a moment of clarity. He pointed out, back in the sixties, how five people in the world, at most, understood the fundamental science – the basic mathematical equations – behind the propagation of radio signals. Engineers and technicians know enough to do their job properly, but only a handful of people understand the underlying principles that actually make the technology work. Since most people are alienated from science and technology, they grasp at straws, taking solace in what's comforting and understandable. And what's more comforting and understandable than the belief that a caring, loving God is watching over you, rewarding you after death, while punishing the infidels?

The second part of the answer has to do with resource scarcity and diminishing returns. We're beyond peak oil per capita now, and the EROEI (energy return on energy invested), is rapidly making the pursuit of new oil projects less and less profitable. This rapid resource depletion is not only apparent in oil; it's evident with regards to a lot of other natural resources as well. This unsustainable use of resources, driven by overpopulation, creates poverty. The poverty manifests itself as economic crises. What seemingly starts as a crisis in the financial sector, quickly proves to be a debt crisis, which in turn, eventually, proves to be a resource crisis. To put it short: Food production per capita is going down. It's becoming obvious that we don't have enough energy to maintain our standard of living indefinitely. Profits are channeled to the top of the pyramid, to cement and increase the wealth of the elite, consolidating their power. The impoverished masses working on minimum wage to pay off their mortgages, become criminals, just to get by. Desperation and poverty drives them into violent behaviour. And into religion. Once again, they find solace in the idea of a loving, caring God. If the politicians don't look after them, then surely God does. He must. After all, he's God. Looking after people is his job. He's fair and just.

This is why religion is winning and atheism losing. Atheism has no place in the future of the human species. It's a thing of the past. Religion is sexier, more aggressive, more violent. It's the way of the future. A hip way to cope with a harsher, more brutal world. As we approach the Malthusian catastrophe ahead of us, religion will increasingly be seen as something cool. The media will portray it as sexy, as something worth striving for, something to envy and pursue. The age of nihilism and meaninglessness is behind us now. To survive in the future, mankind must become even more religious than it already is. Religiosity will increasingly become an adaptive trait. It will be essential to the survival of any hypothetical humans in the post-Malthusian era.

So start praying to the god(s) of your choice now, while there's still hope.

(*Apart from the obvious tautology in his statement.)

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