It seems that the modern world does not just drive more and more species of flora and fauna into extinction. According to a recent study, religion is endangered, too.
The study, conducted by a US team and reported in a BBC article online, used census data from Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland and showed that religion in these countries is set for extinction.
The research team used the mathematical approach known as nonlinear dynamics to explain the phenomenon in which a number of factors play a part.
After finding out from the census data, some of which stretched back from the 19th century, that there has been a trend that people are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion, the team then applied the nonlinear dynamics model and concluded that social groups that have more members are more attractive to join because of the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership. Similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all the countries studies, indicating that religion is headed toward extinction.
The readers' comments also seem to lend support to the findings. "I don't see the decline of religion to be a particularly bad thing," said one reader. "The sooner religion is consigned to history the better," said another. Yet another reader tried to offer an explanation:
"This is definitely obvious in my age group (students), you will be hard pressed to find many who believe strongly in a religion of one kind. I think that religion is a natural human way to comprehend what we didn't understand, filling in the gaps of our knowledge until we found rational scientific explanations for things, in the developed world, religion is running out of gaps to fill."
While I agree with the last statement that "religion is running out of gaps to fill", I don't think those are necessarily gaps of knowledge. They can also be gaps of happiness, fulfillment and wisdom. It is unfortunate that in modern life, people are less and less inclined to seek to fill those gaps through religion. There are simply too many distractions and temptations. The fact that those nine nations where religion is endangered are largely Christian countries is unsettling. If religious faith becomes extinct in them, it may lead to a void in moral value which has disastrous consequences.
Just look at China.