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Why the decline of religion?

1—Religions are inherently authoritarian. They demand unquestioning adherence to absolute commandments that are said to have been set down by gods or prophets. Such a system built on faith and total acceptance worked well during humanity's childhood—the thousands of years during which people everywhere grew up in authoritarian/ paternalistic environments that demanded submissiveness.

In our times entire generations are growing up in environments in­clined to reciprocity. They are conditioned to question and challenge and take part in decision making. The paternalism and absolutism of religions are alien to their emotional reference.

It is startling to hear people talk of "freedom of religion." Religion itself is unfree. What some people want is the right to be unfree.

2— Religions thrived for thousands of years mainly because they brought comfort and hope at a time when life was largely a relentless cycle of suffering. They offered support and love to those who felt unloved or abandoned. They offered reassuring rationales for people's misfortunes. Religions gave them goals and direction and purpose in life. Most religions even promised some kind of everlasting life after death.

There is still much suffering in the world. But in the more advanced areas of our planet the level of suffering is steadily receding. Hunger —privation—crippling diseases—onslaughts of nature—high death rate—these are not common realities of modern life. Most people can cope on their own with their problems.

For those who cannot cope the modern world offers numerous ther­apeutic supports such as networks of friendships—professional and creative fulfillments—psychotherapy—hypnotherapy—counseling . . . These comforting therapies work better in the modern world than the simplistic palliatives of religion.

3— Religions—like other absolutist systems that demand total acceptance—depend on information monopoly for their survival. Au­thoritarian movements always insist on determining what information should be made available to people.

But we live in what has been called the "information age." Infor­mation is all around us. It gushes out from countless sources. It is increasingly difficult to control information—manipulate it—shut it down. In such an information-intensive environment religion has more and more difficulty exercising unilateral influence.

Every day the sciences are expanding our knowledge base. Each time we learn a little more about the origins of our universe and the solar system and our planet we undermine the basic premises and causalities of religion. Each time we learn a little more about the genesis of living organisms in the oceans and the origins of primates and hominids and the evolution of intelligence and speech we undermine the basic premises and dogmas of religions.

The cumulative buildup of this secular information-environment has its greatest impact on youth.

Date: 2015-02-28; view: 1107

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