If religion was ever to go away, then it would need to be replaced, by things that will fulfill our social, cultural, economic, emotional biological needs just as well. If only because if it is not, then it will only come back again. And fortunately there are masses of things that are waiting to step up and do so, whether they be, environmentalism, science, philosophy, social justice, the rule of law, secular morality, democracy, free debate, the arts, free media, feminism, secular charities, or social clubs, humanism and many more cultural enterprises. All of which offer their own communities, logos, romantic mythos, and many rituals, to more than equal those of religion.
The great crime of religion is not that it does not succeed in fulfilling human needs, but that it stands in the way of things that will fulfill them much better, and thereby provides a platform and recruiting ground, for those who do not want human needs to be any better met. Which is why it is becoming and will increasingly become, the main meeting place for the criminally inclined, ultra conservative and the protectors of privilege.
IF religion ever goes away it will be replaced by some other nonsense that might and could be equally as bad. Looking back on religious history shows this because you can see the monster it has become. One extremely good example is now -- "Jesus is the reason for the season." Believers all go with this idea and most of us know that Jesus had nothing to do with Christmas. In America it was become "merchant day." Buy a little gift for me. Maybe a Jaguar. When I was a child we had just come out of an era of hanging up stockings that could be stuffed with fruit and nuts. As for the "war on Christmas" nonsense, Bing used to sing about "happy holidays."
If it goes away on some funny day
Then we may as well throw the son away
All the the pigs that flew in the godson sky
When the ruse was new and the myths were nigh
And the daze was young and the nights belong
To a muse that stood not for right but wrong
If it goes away
If it goes away
If it goes away
Religion may be an evolutionary trait?
In this revised cult classic, the author offers a systematic, scientific argument that shows why belief in God is an inherent evolutionary mechanism that enables us to cope with our greatest, universal terror-death.
Originally published in 1996, Matthew Alper's book is a personal journey that has been adopted by over 25 colleges and universities and has sparked commentary by world-renowned scientists such as E. O. Wilson and E. Fuller Torry.
I've thought about this and if religion religion goes away something will replace it. However, the list presented is good but rather optimistic. Just look at the past couple of years. Qanon, trumpers,, antivax and any other conspiracy theory. Why learn when faith is so much easier? Maybe it's just the pessimist in me.
Joseph Campbell's definition of why religion exists, makes it obvious to me why religion hates good government. A fair and benevolent government easily does a way with many of the needs religion fulfills. I think this is one of the reasons the Scandinavian countries have less religion adherents.
Joseph Campbell identified four functions of mythology. They are:
"1. ...the first function of mythology [is] to evoke in the individual a sense of grateful, affirmative awe before the monstrous mystery that is existence
2. The second function of mythology is to present an image of the cosmos, an image of the universe round about, that will maintain and elicit this experience of awe. [or] …to present an image of the cosmos that will maintain your sense of mystical awe and explain everything that you come into
contact with in the universe around you.
3. The third function of a mythological order is to validate and maintain a certain sociological
system: a shared set of rights and wrongs, proprieties or improprieties, on which your particular
social unit depends for its existence.
4. …the fourth function of myth is psychological. That myth must carry the individual through the
stages of his life, from birth through maturity through senility to death. The mythology must do so in accords with the social order of his group, the cosmos as understood by his group, and the monstrous mystery."
Expanding on this, Campbell wrote,
"The second and third functions have been taken over in our world by secular orders. Our cosmology
is in the hands of science. The first law of science is that the truth has not been found. The laws of science
are working hypotheses. The scientist knows that at any moment facts may be found that make the present theory obsolete; this is happening now constantly. It's amusing. In a religious tradition, the older the doctrine, the truer it is held to be. In the scientific tradition, on the other hand, a paper written ten years ago is already out of date.
There's a continuous movement onward. So there's no law, no Rock of Ages on which you can rest.
There's nothing of the kind. It's fluid. And we know that rocks are fluid, too, though it takes them a long
time to flow. Nothing lasts. It all changes.
In the social realm, again, we don't regard our laws as being divinely ordained. You still hear it from time to time, as in the current abortion problem: God is talking to Senator So-and-so, or Reverend Thus-and-such. But it doesn't seem to make sense otherwise. God's law is no longer the justification for the nation's laws. Congress decides what a decent aim for the social order is and what the institution is
that should bring that aim about. So I would say that in this secular society of ours, we can no longer
really think of the cosmological and sociological functions as a problem.
However, in all of our lives, the first and fourth functions do still play a role, and it's these that I will be addressing. We are going to find ourselves far away from the old traditions. The first is the
problem of awe. And, as I've said, you can have one of three attitudes toward it. The fourth function now is the pedagogical. Basically, the function of the pedagogical order is to bring a child to maturity and then to help the aged become disengaged. Infancy is a period of obedience and dependency. The child is dependent on the parent, looks to the parent for advice and help and approval. There comes a time, however, when the individual has to become self-reliant and not dependent but himself the authority. Now here we come to a distinction between the traditional attitude toward this problem and the contemporary Western one. The traditional idea is that the adult who has moved from dependency to responsibility should take over without criticism the laws of the society and represent them. In our world, we ask for the development of the individual's critical faculties, that you should evaluate the social order and yourself, then contribute criticism. This doesn't mean blowing it up...."
I will argue that, with the advent of the Hubble and Web space telescopes, and of DNA technology, and of radiometric dating, and other scientific wonders, we have replaced the first function of myth, instilling a sense of awe. Who can look at the images of stars being born in distant nebulae without being awestruck at the immensity and beauty of the universe?
That just leaves the fourth function, which is, as Campbell says, mainly a pedagogical problem. To finally solve it we need to first take the money out of politics. We'll never get anywhere as long as the fossil fuel industry and the military industrial complex can continue to buy the laws they want. Once we have achieved transparency and fair governance, we can offer public education that students, parents, teachers, and administrators can actually believe in.
Climate change is the wild card in all this. Will we destroy the Earth's ability to support our civilization before we can perfect it? It's not looking good...
All of your alternatives are preferable to religion in my opinion. But I think any belief can be corrupted when people use that belief to define themselves, in the worst case justifying demonizing non-believers. Most atheists don’t feel the need to demonize the average believer but we have our extremists also. Becoming too passionate about any belief isn’t healthy. Moderation in all things is an old adage that comes to mind.