I read this article yesterday on PZ Meyers blog, Pharyngula. It is one of the best things I’ve ever read about how science is pushing religion into an ever smaller place in our societies today.
This has been going on for several hundred years now, going back at lease as far back as Copernicus. As new knowledge of our world has come to light so religion has had to rethink or retreat from it’s views of the world.
As science continues to make discoveries that push the limits of our knowledge, the areas of the unknown of which before this had been the purview of religion get smaller and smaller. Interestingly, as the universe we have know has expanded from the earth surrounded by the sun, moon five planets and fixed stars to one that is billions of light years across, the areas where religion can still reasonably claim to have answers has shrunk to a tiny fraction of what it once was.
From Galileo’s proof that the planets, including the earth revolve around the sun, to modern string theory that postulates that our universe is merely one of an infinite number of universes in a great multiverse, religion is left with very little that it can hold claim to.
Evolution has shown us that life on earth had to have begun with a single type of life form that then, over billions of year, evolved into every type of life we now see around us, plus millions of others that are now extinct. Once life has been found on another world in our solar system, which I believe is highly probably, all of the creation stories of almost all of the world’s religions will become, at the least, myths and allegories, and at the most discarded relics of magical thinking.
Even how life it’s self began may soon be, not only discovered, by replicated in a laboratory, and when that happens, we, ourselves will be the god like creators, and that will leave little room for any kind of omnipotent begin to whom we need to pray or worship.
With our knowledge and technology advancing at an exponential rate, the time when religion could become obsolete may be much closer than we think, perhaps even within our children’s lifetime. Then, all of humankind will be able to stand in the light of knowledge and reason with only ourselves to hold us back.