The erosion of religion is something we have discussed here many times, and the question is not as simple as so-called secularists tend to think. The secular era is indeed showing the erosion of classic religions(although at the start we see reformations) but it doesn’t follow that we have abolished the spiritual domain however much we are driven to apply rationality to its many superstitions. Nor can we resolve the issues of god and metaphysics using a superficial scientism. We can leave religions but then we confront the spiritual question all over again without the tools to really do that. Religions such as Xtianity are misleading in the sense that the myth is like propaganda, with an active dimension behind that. The procession from Roman Empire via Christianity was an immensely complex process of social transformation whose character was more than sociological and its place in the ethical development of whole cultures has to be assessed on different grounds. We see then that religions of the Axial period are passing away, almost like clockwork, but it still remains for us to understand what these historical phases really were. What was the Axial Age? conventional scientism/secularism hasn’t a clue here. The issues aren’t really resolved by conventional science. And the question of ‘god’ isn’t really resolved very well by conventional atheism, conventional theism being admittedly a set of almost idolatrous confusions. We cannot deal with archaic belief systems in modernist rationality, but we can’t eliminate the fact/value distinction and are stuck quite logically with a non-material dimension, however we are to understand it.
Man is immersed in a larger reality that he is hard-pressed to understand, and the mystery of ‘soul’, life/death, and the nature of consciousness and will, remain to confound the ‘smart ape’ immersed in a confusing mystery. Perhaps man is evolving to a better complex of senses to detect the unseen, but whatever the case we can’t assume that behind the false facade of much religion there is no deeper reality. The next era will move to resolve the primitive intuitions of the older religions even as those pass away. And we are not talking solely of Xtianity but of the whole spectrum of religions and that includes the buddhist anomaly, at least to monotheists.
We can proceed beyond religion but we have no answers as such to the questions raised by religion. And the question of ‘god’ never even enters in the realm of buddhist thinking. The realm of the sufi has shown in some fashion a similar resolution of the ‘will’ and the magical. The occult world if anything has expanded in the wake of the passing of religion. The New Age movement has already gestated new forms of religion, as yet inchoate.
What the future holds remains unclear but hopefully science can slowly but surely come to detect alternate realities behind fallible human intuitions. Shall we believe in ghosts? The question is not so simple and none other than Alfred Wallace wished to make the question scientific. The question of the human soul likewise is a so far intractable mystery, next to reincarnation and the round of rebirths. The religions have actually proven their limits with these questions but they will remain to be answered by a new and future ‘secularism’.
By now, it’s clear that religion is fading in America, as it has done in most advanced Western democracies. Dozens of surveys find identical evidence: Fewer American adults, especially those under …
Source: The Long, Slow Death of Religion