Last night I took a walk to Cabot Auditorium at Tufts University to see a presentation by philosopher Daniel Dennett, who is one of the "four horsemen" of new atheism.
He listed three of his potential futures for religion, and mostly discussed the third possibility:
1. Religion will sweep the planet.
2. Religion is in its death throes.
3. Religion transform into creedless moral teams (ceremony and tradition, but no doctrine).
Which do you think is most likely, and why? What could we do to help steer to that path?
Dennett made compelling arguments for number 3, and some possible projects atheist groups could do to help that path. For instance, many preachers (just like many politicians) are pretending to be religious, but they don't believe the doctrine, the magic, the hocus pocus bullshit. (Dennett's paper on non-believing preachers.
There is the possibility for atheist or secular groups to compete with churches, which accelerates #3, e.g. to maintain numbers the churches have to offer what the competitors offer. But will religion die out completely that way, or will it still be resident, just in weaker forms? Can competition happen in the schools for children, so that more people put their children in secular schools instead of being brainwashed from day 1?