Periodically, there are those who forecast the “extinction of religion” for the modern world. Their forecast is usually based on current behaviours of people in a given population.
But rarely do these forecasts take into consideration either the spiritual nature of human beings in time, or the secular nature of cultural “gods” that temporarily replace God-religions.
I am responding to BBC news reporter, Jason Palmer, who recently summarized a census study by Richard Wiener of Research Corp. for Science Advancement at the University of Arizona. He cites a study that indicated “the coming extinction of religion for nine countries.”
The study employed a “nonlinear dynamics model” that follows behaviour patterns, which can be mathematically interpreted to indicate real trends among a given population.
In this case, the trends reported that increasingly larger proportions of these populations were “exiting” any religious attachments, and reporting their faith as “unaffiliated.”
Although the reasons for exiting may not be the same, the conclusion suggested that religion is headed for extinction, at least, in these nine countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland).
These forecasts on the demise of religion in the West go back to Nietzsche and earlier. But as social science has indicated, the human being might be more aptly named “Homo religious” rather than “Homo sapiens” (which means “man of wisdom”).
Socially, we are all “religious” in that we all depend on some “philosophical” system or construct bigger than ourselves to provide a spiritual foundation for living in community (i.e. to provide a sense of meaning, integrity, purpose, belonging, etc.), that involves a connection to “something” outside ourselves and our temporal constructs.
Right now, most people seem content to rely or depend on secular-materialist philosophies, like American-style capitalism, to validate, uphold and esteem their living style and their American dream.
However, when the globalization of American capitalism finally implodes on its own greed, then alternative, more divinely-inspired systems will flourish again—those that rely on more wholesome economics, like that of the Christian covenant.
The Christian faith is founded on something bigger than mere human wisdom; it is founded on the more life-giving wisdom of Jesus, the Christ, whom many still believe to be an emissary from God—whether He is human, divine or both!
Rev. Dr. Rolf Nosterud
Lutheran Church of the