Sunday, July 08, 2007

End of religion

The positive aspect of religion seems to encompass three things: 1. Offering an explanation for the unknown, the as yet scientifically unproven, 2. (most impactfully) Providing comfort in uncomfortable matters such as death, one's own and the deaths of others and in other unpleasantries; war, pestilence, disease, misfortune, etc. and 3. Providing a moral code of behavioral conduct.

It is easy to see many ways in which religion could become evolutionarily outcompeted, eventually disappearing. First, as science's accelerating advances continue, the unexplained territory shrinks to asymptotically small proportions. Second, if death becomes obsolescent through life extension, there is no longer a need to postulate anything that might occur after death and no need to comfort the non-dying. Third, there are many appropriate moral behavioral norms, particularly those which do not involve religious models or the introduction of artificiality (for example, sinning exonerated by confessing).

It will become increasing difficult for religion to persist in the face of radical life extension and eventual immortality. Everyone is their own Jesus in this new empowered age of agency. Implicit shifts away from religion are codified in the recent publication of books bringing scrutiny and analysis to religion: "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris, "God is not Great" by Christopher Hitchens, "Breaking the Spell" by Daniel Dennett and others.