Good news. Religions of all faiths are dying. Being killed, says Tufts philosopher of science Daniel Dennett, by the increasing openness of the internet:
In the March issue of Scientific American, Deb Roy and I compare this to the Cambrian Explosion. The Cambrian Explosion happened 540 million years ago, when there was a sudden, very dramatic explosion of different life forms in response to some new change in the world. Oxford zoologist Andrew Parker argues that the increased transparency of the ocean made eyesight possible, and this changed everything: now predators could see prey, and prey could see predators, and this set off an arms race of interactions. Well, we think something similar is happening in human culture. Institutions — not just religions but also universities, armies, corporations — are now faced with how to change their fundamental structure and methods to deal with the fact that everybody’s living in a glass house now.
Protecting your inner workings is becoming very difficult; it’s very hard to keep secrets. Religions have thrived in part because they were able to keep secrets. They were able to keep secrets about other religions from their parishioners, who were largely ignorant of what other people in the world believed, and also keep secrets about their own inner workings and their own histories, so that it was easy to have a sort of controlled message that went out to people. Those days are over. You can go on the Internet and access to all kinds of information. This is going to change everything.
I’ve been saying this in my public speeches for a while now, but it’s possible to fact-check your pastor with your smartphone while he’s giving a sermon. It’s possible to know when you’re being lied to because your church is no longer the ultimate source of information. And while church leaders might tell you to “just have faith” when you ask tough questions, Google won’t run away from your line of inquiry.
So many lines of argument about the death or growth of religions is based solely on demographics, that x number of religion y have a birthrate of z, therefore “horror.”
I don’t buy that. I don’t buy that at all, because you have to make a choice to go religious – and as knowledge becomes easier to find and to check, the ignorance of faith becomes harder to justify.
Check out the whole interview.
[Hat tip Richard Dawkins]
- “Religious institutions have survived by controlling what their adherents know, argues Tufts Prof. Daniel C. Dennett, but today that is next to impossible.”
Why the Future of Religion Is Bleak – Daniel Dennett, WALL STREET JOURNAL
- “Dennett spoke recently with The Cubit about institutional transparency, the parallels between religious and atheistic fundamentalism, and the future of religion.
”Q: You describe non-believing clergy as “canaries in a coal mine.” Why does this group hold such significance for understanding the future of religion?”
Churches Can No Longer Hide the Truth: Daniel Dennett on the New Transparency – interview with Andrew Aghapour, RELIGION DISPATCHES