Andrew Macleod wrote:
'David Groom wrote that he expects as education increases, it will eventually become "ludicrous or backward to believe in religion". Christianity has been a driving force for education in Britain for hundreds of years! Most of my Christian friends have university degrees. (I am a science teacher). Most of my fellow church members read and study the bible, and other books on theology, science, philosophy, psychology... and other disciplines too! You're view of Christians is naive.'
A couple of points. Firstly I am referring to all religions, not just Christianity and for the reasons below, I stand completely behind my view that religion is doomed in the long term. Secondly, Christianity may have been a driving force for education (debatable, depending on your point of view), but this doesn't mean that it cannot be eclipsed by enlightenment and thus sow the seeds of its own destruction.
Now, I base my views, not on wishful thinking, but on the broad sweep of history and extrapolate the trends forwards. In the past four hundred years, science has made enormous strides and religion has been steadily pushed towards the margins. This push by science has led to religious positions shifting to accommodate the changes in knowledge, many of which were previously considered the domain of religion, and thus religion is steadily moving towards 'explaining' only the gaps, but not the key fundamentals of knowledge, which have become dominated by science. The problem for religion is that it has nothing with which to push back - it doesn't have any explanations to offer. All it can do is forever retreat to the areas not so far explained or try to prevent the march of scientific progress.
For this reason, as the human knowledge base widens further the need for religion to 'explain' anything will diminish further until eventually I expect that religion will be something practiced behind closed doors by the few, but will not be something any educated sophisticated person will admit to (even though some may still practice in private). It won't happen in my lifetime. It may take 500 or a thousand years, but as sure as anything can be, science will trump religion and what I have predicted will come to pass. Why? Well in the end, man's thirst for knowledge will always be unquenched, and explorers will always push back the barriers of knowledge.
Not only this, but knowledge will become more and more widely known throughout the world. Instead of just a few people knowing complex and unimaginable things, many will do so and the expanding knowledge base will eventually leave little room for superstitions. A classic example of this is the Theory of Relativity. Near enough a hundred years ago or so ago, only Einstein and a few others understood it. Nowadays, any layman can get a basic knowledge from the many excellent books on the subject, and the knowledge base of the T of R, must now be several millions, maybe much more. And before anybody challenges this, no I haven't carried out a worldwide poll to establish who does and doesn't have a basic knowledge and understanding of the subject - nevertheless I am pretty sure that my 'guesstimate' is quite conservative.
As I think I have said on a different thread, the last bastion of god lies in the origins of the universe - the ultimate and final gap. Until there is a credible scientific explanation of the origins of matter and life, then I guess, for some people, god has a niche left to fill. However, once there is a satisfactory, testable explanation then I am afraid god will be a gonner.
I am sure that Andrew Macleod will find this prospect appalling and distressing, but as Richard Dawkins has implied on many occasions, just because you don't like to face the truth, and would rather retreat behind 'belief' doesn't make factual evidence something which is false. It just means that your mind can't cope with reality. And so it is here. There is nothing religion can do to stop the march of science and thirst for knowledge and the sooner it realises it the better.