Religion refers to the concept that people have as regards the origin and nature of the universe with reverence to a supernatural being to whom honor and worship is accorded and codes, believed to be desired by the supernatural being are observed as guides to how people live.
Religion also has a set of other meanings such as: a given basic beliefs and practices that a group of people have agreed to adhere to, a group of people who observe a given set of faith as well as something that is believed in and is being observed. This paper seeks to discuss the future of religion and how it will develop. The paper will look at the origin of religion, trend of religion and views and opinions of how religion is expected to be in future.
Origin of Religion
Every element that is encountered in life has its origin to which it can be traced. The origin of religion, though expressed in many version has views converging to some agreed upon version by historians and anthropologists. There are three major religions that are currently dominant in the world. These are “Judaism, Judeo Christianity and Islam” (Origins 1). Besides these three, there are other minor religions that are closely related to the above.
The three major religions are also subdivided into denominations with each denomination having its outlined principles of beliefs. However different and conflicting the three religions may be, historians have, after conclusive research, concluded that the differences among these religions emerged in the process of development of religion and not in their origin. It has been argued that these three religions have the same origin which is based on the biblical book of Genesis.
All of the three religions are based on the belief that a supreme God created the first man and woman who were in perfect harmony with God before sin occurred. Lucifer then came to Eve in the form of a serpent and lied to her, convincing her to partake of a fruit that God, the creator and commander of the universe, had commanded the first man and woman never to eat.
The woman yielded to the serpent, ate the fruit and even spared some for her husband. This was contrary to the command that God had give and the consequence which had been forewarned by God followed. The consequence of the consumption of the fruit from the “tree of knowledge” was an everlasting suffering of all mankind as a punishment to Adam and Eve following their disobedience to God (Origins 1).
Owing to their similar foundation, religions differ on some particular beliefs which took places after the period covered by the book of Genesis. One major difference among these religions is the subject of Jesus of Nazareth. The three religions have a varied belief regarding the birth and even the personality of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was born to a virgin mother, Mary, who conceived by the Holy Spirit.
The child Jesus was, therefore, according to Christians, not a child of an earthly man, but a child of God. The Jewish on the contrary believe that Jesus was not born of the Holy Spirit and that his mother was not “a virgin impregnated by the Holy spirit” (Origins 1). The Jews also refute the idea that Jesus was the son of God. In their opinion, Jesus was just a normal religious person whom they described as a “misguided prophet” (Origins 1). Muslims on the other hand hold an almost similar opinion to that of Christians.
The Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin mother through the Holy Spirit, though they refute the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God. All the three major religions are similarly convergent to the concept of the end of the world and the manner in which the world will come to its end. All of them believe that the end will be culminated by a war between God and Lucifer who had, shortly after the creation time, deceived the first man and woman (Origins 1).
Trend in the Three Major Religions
One of the elements that have been agreed upon is the transitions that are experienced among religions of the world. A basic transition is the move from the same origin to divergent views on the nature of Jesus.
The different religions developed their views regarding the subject of Jesus based on divergence in religious opinions or beliefs that each separate religion had by that time developed contrary to the original uniform belief that was initially upheld over the creation of the universe. There have been specific changes in individual religions that have been realized over time.
A case study of Christian faith registers a number of changes that the religion has experienced over time. One of the significant transitions experienced within the Christian religion has been its spread over geographical regions. It is for example reported that by the beginning of the twentieth century, majority of Christians were found in Europe.
About three quarters of the Christian population dwelt in Europe with the remaining quarter being spread in the rest of the world. This geographical arrangement has however changed with the global spread of Christianity to the other continents. There have actually been opinions that currently, “Christian adherence has become stronger in Africa than in Europe” (Noll 10).
The trend has also changed with respect to the number of Christians in African and Asian countries rising to even surpass that of countries in America and Europe. It is for example reported that “live bodies in church are far more numerous in Kenya than in Canada” (Noll 10), and “more believers worship together in church Sunday by Sunday in Nagaland than in Norway” (Noll 10).
A change in Christianity was also realized in the North America following the introduction and spread of the faith in the continent. Noll acknowledged that there were significant changes in region following a series of missionary work that was done by Europeans.
There was a difference in pattern in which churches were conducted in America as compared to the practices that were observed in Europe. After the original missionary work by the Europeans, the local Americans also undertook the missionary initiatives into their country to help in spreading the faith.
The end result was a deviation from the original practice that was customized to European churches into new traditions. Another shift in pattern in the Christian faith, according to Noll, is the necessity of religion among Christians. He argued that “north Americans traded Christendom for voluntary Christianity” (Noll 10) a step that had to some extent been observed in Europe (Noll 10).
In this view, a situation is expressed in which Christianity was previously a custom in Europe, but the trend which had experienced some slight divergence in Europe is portrayed to have exhibited more of the deviation in north America. It can therefore be argued that the intensity with which the Christian faith was upheld in Europe and even in other continents where the gospel was preached has been reducing with time and the faith has been reduced to a voluntary activity that is probably done at convenience (Noll 10).
The manner in which Christians are nowadays perceived by members of other religions or even how Christians view one another is not exactly how Christians are biblically viewed to be. Basic principles of Christianity that were founded on love for God and other people have deteriorated to the level that the Christian faith is being referred to by use negative terms related to “judgmental, out there, lost, hate speech, bible bashing and anti-American sentiment” (11th-hour 1).
Islam as a religion has not been spared from adjustments into the changes and developments that have been experienced in the world. Over the past one or two decades, there were developments in the Muslim faith that led to what could be seen as factions in the religion.
Difference in practice has been significant, for example, among Muslims in the Asian continent; Azra Azyumardy expressed, “south east Asian Islam is a distinctive Islam, having a different expression compared with Islam in the Middle East or elsewhere in the Islam world” (Azra 165).
Contrary to the notion that Muslims are violent, the south East Asian Muslims have been reported to be non violent. They are actually reported to follow an Islam religion described as “a brand of peaceful and moderate Islam that has no problem with modernity, democracy, human rights and other tendencies of the modern world” (Azra 166).
However in the recent past there have been changes which have been witnessed and displayed the Islam religion as being violent. The radical changes that even saw a terrorist attack on the United States in the year 2001 has tainted the former image of the Islamic region that was previously considered to be peaceful (Azra 169).
Judaism has also been a victim of the wave of change. Migrations of foreigners into the southern Jewish population have for example brought about changes in the style of worship that was practiced in the region.
The southern Jews have over time been considered to practice strict Judaism and an infiltration to their religion is a direct reference to changes to Judaism as a religion. According to Wilson, Lippi and Hill, “self conscious accommodation to southern ways that occasioned folklore and a life that was unique to the southern Jews had faded” (Hill, Lippi and Wilson 410) by the end of the twentieth century.
The migration of the northern Jews to the south and further immigration of other foreigners facilitated the change that was later realized as a transition in the religion of Judaism that was previously strictly observed by Jews into liberal society that lost its original cultural religion (Hill, Lippi and Wilson 410).
The Future of Religion
The trend in changes in religions that has been evident throughout the considered religions can be used as an indicator of what is expected of the religions in future. Since changes have been experienced in the past it can equivalently be predicted that changes will continue to occur within these religions as time goes by. Carter Ben expressed the fear that significant transitions will be witnessed among religions in the coming years.
One of the changes that Carter predicts is the reduction of religion to a mere social activity. A change is expected from the initial reverence of God and the holy temple during the earlier times of biblical Abraham and Moses to a time when people will go to church just like any other social place. Some of the reasons for changes in religions, according to Carter, are the increasing financial demands in the church which might not be acceptable by the future generations.
Developments such as superstitious beliefs and technological advancements are also predicted to play a part in weakening religions in future. It is believed that though the church is not bound to collapse, the sincerity and dedication of people with respect to religion will be greatly reduced (Carter 23).
This is likely to happen to the other major religions as they try to be compliant with the trend of time thus generally there will be more compromising on the values of the religions as new values will be adopted to make the religions relevant in the times to come.
Major world religions are believed to have had the same origin in the Garden of Eden. Developments over time however led to the split into the different religions which are currently further affected with interdenominational divisions. In their diversities, the major religions are realized to be victims of change subject to the environmental changes. It is for this reason expected that religions are likely to lose their value and be degraded to normal social activities rather than avenues for communication with the supernatural God.
11th-hour. The separation of church and faith. 11 Hour, 2005. Web. April 13, 2011
Azra, Azyumardy. Indonesia, Islam, and democracy: dynamics in a global context. Jakarta, Indonesia: Equinox Publishing, 2006. Print.
Carter, Ben. The Future of “God” and Organized Religion: Andbusiness Systems of the Futureselected Short Stories. New York, NY: iUniverse, 2003. Print.
Hill, Samuel., Lippy, Charles and Wilson, Charles. Encyclopedia of religion in the South. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2005. Print.
Noll, Mark. How American experience reflects global faith. Ivpress, n.d. Web. April 13, 2011
Origins. Religion’s hidden secrets: the true origins of religions, spirituality and mysticisism. Origin of Religions, 2010. Web. April 13, 2011.