Actually, a better way of stating that would be that eventually there will be no religion. When that happens, while technically we’ll all be atheists, we won’t need to differentiate between theist and atheist, so there will be no Atheism either. Here’s why:
Religion is just a drug, a way of making people feel better about the insecurities in their lives. It arose when life was full of uncertainty. Where will the next meal comes from? Will I be attacked and eaten by a wild animal? Will I be struck by lightning? Will I live through child-birth? etc, etc.There was no way to understand the forces of nature that caused these uncertainties, so religion arose with explanations that were, well, more comforting than not knowing the real answers. Those explanations were supernatural.
It is inevitable that the accrual of human knowledge will be the death knell of religion. The reason why the supernatural arose as a conceptual explanation for the natural, was because the natural was unexplainable. But with the advances in human understanding of the natural world, primarily through science, supernatural explanations became increasingly superfluous; indeed ridiculous and delusional. In other words, the more we know, the less we need gods.
There is a reason why there is a high correlation between atheism on one hand and intelligence and education on the other. As the article linked to above demonstrates, the poorer, and hence more ignorant nations, are also the most highly religious. One could reasonably extrapolate from this that the type of people who cling so firmly to their religious beliefs are also those that are not intelligent enough to fully understand the nature of nature, so to speak, and are hence less secure in their environment and world. In short, life scares them. Enter god(s).
Here’s the money quote in the Psychology Today article.
In social democracies, there is less fear and uncertainty about the future because social welfare programs provide a safety net and better health care means that fewer people can expect to die young. People who are less vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature feel more in control of their lives and less in need of religion.
…with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people’s daily lives and hence less of a market for religion.
Is there a connection between the recent attempts in the US by the Republicans to limit social welfare programs and health insurance, not to mention the blatant attempt at union busting we saw in Wisconsin and other states, with an effort to maintain a level of fear and uncertainty that facilitates control by those in authority? Is it coincidence that the current form of these same Republicans also happen to be extremely religious? I think not. Look at the statement by Rick Perry on the official website of the National Prayer Rally he’s planning in Texas next month:
“Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters.”
“Natural Disasters”? The official response of the Governor of Texas to tornadoes is prayer? Is this the statement of a man confident in his abilities to roll up his sleeves and solve the problems of society (something he was elected to do) or is it a sentiment of complete insecurity and impotence in the face of natural trials and tribulations?
I vote for the latter.
Education doesn’t seem to be high on the list of priorities of Republicans. Creating bogeyman for us to fear is, as is reliance on delusional thinking about non-existent gods. Intelligent design in science class, revision of textbooks to mirror theocratic sensibilities, appeals to massive church endorsed prayer events to solve our economic and social problems, opposition to widespread health care for the masses, reliance on guns to protect ourselves; all of these things tend to keep us stupid and fearful. And let’s not forget the horrors of gay marriage.
What I can’t figure out is whether this is a manifestation of a conscious plan of specific people in authority to manipulate and control us for their personal benefit, or is it just a natural outgrowth of the memetic characteristics of religion. If it’s the latter (which I’m leaning toward) then the inexorable advance of human knowledge and civilization will eventually win out, unless we destroy ourselves before we get that far. I’ll admit it’s a race with an uncertain outcome.
Either way, though, there will be no religion in the end.