Although I am not a believer myself, I went to a Roman Catholic high school, where one of the courses was Religion. The most talked about religions were Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Worldwide they are known as the five major religions. In this same period I visited my father, who then lived in Samoa. During my stay, he showed me the Bahá’ì House of Worship. The Bahá’ì-religion combines all these major religions. In spite of the possibility of combining these religions, the number of these so-called Houses can still be counted on two hands. Getting to know this other religion made me think differently about belief.
Despite of the fact that there already is a “church” that merges these major religions, there still is an on-going struggle between beliefs. People need something to hold on to, which gives purpose to their lives, but this is different among others. Counterparts will still remain which causes discontent. An example here for is that Jerusalem is home to several religions, causing incidents to occur.
With the rise of sport in de 19th Century, there was discontent with the church in Western countries already. The main business then engaged work, the household and going to church. At the time sports were introduced from abroad, people started rearranging their weekly businesses, which caused less people spending time in church. Sport is completely cultured in our daily lives, while religion still exists. Then what is it that causes religion to still decline? There are several reasons; there are many divisions arising from churches and denominations. Over 60% of Christians is ashamed of this fact. They believe that church is losing its strength through these divisions.
A correlation that is made with this decreasing trend is linked to the use of Internet and high education. Research shows that a third of “infidels” is part of the highly educated group. This can be due to the time spent online.
A book by Dr. Nigel Barber shows a link between having many children and increasing materialism, which in turn leads to extinction of religion. He based his book on the evolving of behaviour of humanity. He had measurements being done, to find out when the “current 3rd world countries” will be at the same level as the current 1st world countries. For these highly developed countries a decline in religion is already stated. This is due to the increasing materialism, thus changing priorities and the thought of not needing religion anymore.
Another article indicates that because of the declining number of believers in politics, other governmental decisions are made and the status this used to have for believers has disappeared. Also because democratization religion declines. Religion formerly was part of absolutism, it now is something an individual can explore for him- or herself. Another reason mentioned is the task governments have nowadays. European government programs take care of the less fortunate. This is a task that previously was done by the church. As youngster now expect the government to do this, the role of the church disappears into the background and they will look for their meaning in life elsewhere.
As mentioned before, belief in certain religions declines. However, people need a certain meaning in life, which they will find elsewhere. A bizarre example of this is Yeezianity. This flow is created by Kanye West fans, who believe he is the new prophet. There even is a church set up for these followers to come together.
I think I can say the world is going to look different in a couple of years. The towns and the streets you know now, which a mosque on one corner of the street and a few blocks away a catholic church, aren’t going to stay the same. Places of worship will disappear or change. Do you remember de Bahá’ì House of Worship; this might be an example of how these new-age worship places might look like. The entire neighbourhood might come together in these places, developed so everyone with a different belief can still come together. To me it seems like a fascinating net streetscape.
Yarmulke, burkas, headscarves, or a cross around you neck… These are a few examples of attributes that show your belief. Plenty of people, even in today’s society, believe in something but have no symbolic objects to express to others, and keep it for themselves. Try to make a guess how people in a couple of years will walk around the streets. What you believe in, even if it is yourself, you lucky underwear or a Kanye West album… The crazier you can imagine, people might actually have it with him/her. Because they are proud of themselves as individuals and not because they want to convert anybody.
Partly because of individualism, people are able to go their own way. They won’t have rules to live by like the five major religions prescribe, they are able to only focus on that what makes hem happy.