The Future of God-And Secularism

Article excerpt

THE FUTURE OF GOD DEPENDS ON THE FUTURE OF secularism. Most people will hear in that sentiment a prediction about the growth of secularism: If secularism grows, belief in God will commensurately shrink If secularism stagnates, the world will continue to believe in God in 2100.

A hundred years ago, such predictions would have seemed straightforward. At the height of the secularization thesis, it was assumed that religion would decline with the growth of science. But, with the resurgence of Islam, Christianity, and other faiths worldwide, the secularization thesis seemed discredited, as argued in books such as the recent God is Back.

Yet the secularization thesis has probably been dismissed too quickly. In March 2009, the American Religion Identification Survey reported that 15 percent of Americans have "no religion." That report, coupled with President Barack Obama's reference to "nonbelievers" in his Inaugural Address, means that America no longer understands itself as a purely religious society.

By 2100, 1 believe that the numbers of nonbelievers in the world will have increased dramatically. Surprisingly, however, secular growth is not the most important issue for the future of God. The question is, what kind of secularism will emerge? Currently, the New Atheists- people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins- dominate secular thought. They identify God as a supernatural being commanding the natural world and demanding submission from humankind. If this remains the message of secularism, this conception of God will also tend to remain dominant. Such a course of events would ultimately weaken belief in God because this is precisely the kind of God that science discredits.

Fortunately, another kind of secularism is emerging, one that would foretell a different future for God. …