More on Breaking the Spell:
Jesus, am I ever way behind on this, but I suppose it's useful to review Chapter 2 of a book when you're on Chapter 7. Anyways...
Subchapter 2 of Chapter 2 is entitled ' Should Science Study Religion ?'. it begins with a quotation from Aesop, the old, "look before you leap". The author begins by advancing five hypotheses about "the future of religion" and goes on to note that foreknowledge is one of the best aspects of our species. He says that,
"In general, knowing more improves your chances of getting what you value...suppose there is a limit on how much knowledge about some about some topic is good for us...It may be, then that some of our major disagreements in the world today are about whether we've reached such a limit....sometimes ignorance is bliss. we need to consider such possibilities carefully".
So on to other arguments. Seems like the author is a a typical philosopher. Never say anything in one sentence that can be expressed in 50 pages.
But, anyways, here are the hypotheses for the future of religion:
1)The Enlightenment is long gone; the creeping "secularization" of modern societies that has been anticipated for two centuries is evaporating before our eyes. Molly's note- this may be similar to the theories of sociologist P.A. Sorokin.
2)Religion is in its death throes; today's outbursts of fervor and fanaticism are but an brief and awkward transition to a truly modern society in which religion plays at most a ceremonial role.
3)Religions transform themselves into institutions unlike anything seen before on the planet: basically creedless associations selling self-help and enabling moral teamwork, using ceremony and tradition to cement relationships and build "long-term fan loyalty". Molly's note- something like the United Church of Canada today.
4)Religion diminishes in prestige and visibility, rather like smoking:it is tolerated, since there are those who say they can't live without it, but it is discouraged, and teaching religion to impressionable young children is frowned upon in most societies and actually outlawed in others. Molly's note- a good metaphor.
5)Judgement day arrives. The blessed ascend bodily into heaven, and the rest are left behind to suffer the agonies of the damned, as the AntiChrist is vanquished. Molly's note- the author has already stated that he is speaking to an American audience, the only country in the world where such an "alternative" is 'known' to large numbers of people and not mocked when it is known.