Recently when one of my friend forwarded me statistics about religion in USA I was surprised to see that almost ~16% people don't like to affiliate themselves with any religion. After ruling over people's mind for centuries I think slowly religion is loosing its grip on people, at least trend in USA point to that direction. It's not surprising phenomena but on wonders what can be the reasons behind this shift? Organized religion is at its best now a days as far as aggressiveness is concerned, money is not the problem for them, these organizations are very rich and powerful, their network is huge, they have large dedicated workforce, all resources are at their disposal to propagate their views (including TV, internet or any other modern tools of social communication), so technically they have all physical requirements which is necessary to become a successful enterprise. Even after all this its share is on decline, but still no one can argue that even now religion is a major force which divides or unites groups, it polarizes people's opinions and most people still like to associate themselves with some religion. All organized religions ruled this world unconditionally until progress in science and technology started helping people to figure out the things and their dependence on religion started reducing. I don't think fierce competition between different religions or violent conflicts between them or super conservative nature of some these organizations and their unwillingness to change are the only reasons for its decline, these things were there since religion started but its growth was not affected because of these factors.
Religion is a product of intelligent human brain, there was a time in our civilization when there was lot of confusion around with lot of questions about things happening around people, there was not a single force which can unite people of that time, there were no proper tools to find out any answers for their questions and at that time organized religion and concept of God came to their help, it provided them best possible answers based on current knowledge of that time and rest all (which one can not explain at that time) was attributed to God and its powers (they call it as miracles). Everything was settled, people were happy, most of their doubts were cleared. Then slowly religion got converted into organized institute with rigid rules and requirements, it also became big, very big so these rules were necessary to run the organization smoothly. But at the same time there were always skeptics and non believers who thought differently or didn't believe in all these explanations offered by religion and its books, some of them developed their own philosophies which slowly developed in other religions, some challenged the concept of religion and God itself, some of them survived and many perished (or got executed).
This whole process continued for many centuries and one after another many religions came, with that came fierce competition, tough race to recruit more subjects, once they get them then they need to retain those subjects and this started conflict between different religions, they were fighting for same subjects, the competition became tough and conflicts became serious, so serious that many times it turned violent resulting in mass killings, riots just because of difference in their beliefs and this exposed the ugly, cruel side of religion to people where group of people who claimed that their religion and God taught them love, peace and compassion started killing others just because they didn't believe in same set of beliefs and ideas which they believed. But still this didn't reduced popularity of religion because the hold of religion was very strong, people needed something to identify themselves, some common identity to feel the part of group, part of society. Because of presence and emergence of many religions people got divided depending on which religion they follow and this conflict is still going on where there is a continuous struggle between different religions to expand their base and this invented the process of conversions, re-conversions, etc.
At the same time rise of science and technology as separate field caused major dent in the belief system of all religions, it helped people to find reasons and logic behind many things which were supposed to be divine and God created or controlled. Initially organized religion tried to stop this from happening but the evidence was too overwhelming to suppress. This slowly busted the bubble of false belief created by religion to some extend and then slowly there was explosion of knowledge and then there was revolution in communication techniques at the end of twentieth century, this revolution virtually brought the whole world together. Atheists, skeptics, non believers formed their own societies, in modern world it was not that easy to prosecute them or eliminate them. Slowly they also started sharing their own doubts, own ideas and there was a audience for them, many of their questions sound very logical, their concerns and doubts sound very rational and they all demonstrated on thing very clearly that one doesn't need any religion to be a good human being. I think the result all this is that 16% people who don't want to associate themselves with any religion, they have their own set of ideas and are fine without any particular belief system, one can see that this trend is all over the world. Unless organized religion and its gatekeepers recognize this issue and mend their ways accordingly this trend will continue, it's very small dent right now but I am sure they are concerned of it getting big and if they don't change anything I am sure it is going to get big, more and more people will move away from religion. To counter this trend I think either they will either become more aggressive in preaching (most possible action according to me based on history of organized religion) or they will try to adjust with changing environment of today's world (which is very unlikely to happen according to me), it will be interesting to see which direction organized religion takes, its future depends on what they choose.
Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.
(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)