Monday, December 13, 2010

Overdue for a new God?

The Economist has a fascinating online feature, where they ask specialists to predict the future. According to Paul Saffro, we are long overdue the creation of a new God.

Jaspers’s axial age shares close parallels with today. It was a time shaped by innovations in government, transport and communications. Population growth created new challenges demanding political innovations. New sailing technology transformed the seas from barriers to highways for ideas that travelled with trade goods to new lands. The consequent intellectual ferment yielded new world views, new uncertainties—and new religions.
Three technologies have brought us to the edge of another axial shift today. Air travel has given entire populations unprecedented mobility. The intermodal container has delivered a cornucopia of products to every corner of the globe. And cyberspace has become a promiscuous, meme-spreading hotbed of ideas.
Throw in the usual round of human misery served up by war, revolution and natural disasters, and the result is a potent cultural Petri dish from which a new god could spring. Populations around the world are struggling to find security and identity in this strange new future-shock world. The rise of fundamentalism is a sure indicator of dissatisfaction with the current religious order. Unhappy believers first look back to their roots for comfort, but origins rarely comfort and thus they will inevitably search for a new god.

I think some Ba'ahi, Mormons and Scientologists might beg to differ. However the point of the article is well taken. There have been major technological changes to the very elements of human life. How have we yet to see some major world encompassing new religion take shape?

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