43 Ὅταν δὲ τὸ ἀκάθαρτον πνεῦμα ἐξέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, διέρχεται δι᾽ ἀνύδρων τόπων ζητοῦν ἀνάπαυσιν, καὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκει.
44 τότε λέγει Εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου ἐπιστρέψω ὅθεν ἐξῆλθον: καὶ ἐλθὸν εὑρίσκει σχολάζοντα [καὶ] σεσαρωμένον καὶ κεκοσμημένον.
45 τότε πορεύεται καὶ παραλαμβάνει μεθ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ ἑπτὰ ἕτερα πνεύματα πονηρότερα ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ εἰσελθόντα κατοικεῖ ἐκεῖ: καὶ γίνεται τὰ ἔσχατα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου χείρονα τῶν πρώτων. Οὕτως ἔσται καὶ τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ τῇ πονηρᾷ.
43 When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.
44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.
So what happens if, or when, the unclean spirit of religion is exorcised from humanity? Will everything just work out in the end? I don’t think so; we live in a world beyond the reach of god. This means that the right, just, or correct happy ending is not guaranteed. What if religion dies yet something even worse comes back to occupy humanity? Something that brings with it seven more spirits that are more wicked than religion itself?
Why, if science will supposedly save us, do I think that something else altogether will happen? Read this quote:
Our world is shrinking. Science is becoming inaccessible to us. Who can understand the latest innovations in genetics, astrophysics and biology? Who can explain them to the profane? Knowledge no longer communicates; writers and philosophers in our day are incapable of enabling us to understand science. At the same time, the scope of imagination in science is dazzling. How can we claim to speak of human consciousness if we overlook what is most daring and imaginative? I am concerned by what it means to be literate today. Is it possible to be literate if you do not understand non-linear equations?
The world is increasingly being divided between the laymen and the scientific. In essence, the scientific enterprise (not the scientific method) is becoming more and more like a priestly caste. Much like the Catholic priests of old yet now are the bearers and bringers of “salvation” in the form of knowledge. Esoteric knowledge that only they “really” know how to interpret, just like pre-Protestant Catholics.
People will rightfully be wary of this sort of dichotomy in society. And they should be. If it continues, we will see “protestant revolutions” in the forms of more and more pseudoscience and other forms of quackery gaining more and more mainstream appeal, latching on to the respect and authority of science but not actually following the scientific method; the thing that gave science its continued wins against religion in the first place. And these pseudosciences will become “alternatives” to the priestly caste of science, and a new form of religion — pseudoscience — will start to propagate among the masses.
That’s my prediction anyway, if things continue the way they are going… the general distrust (at least here in the good ol’ USA) of scientists and intellectuals. What can be done to stop it? Better science education, as Neil deGrasse Tyson says. Of course, I would make classes like introduction to critical thinking or introduction to cognitive science mandatory as part of this better science education. Learning how to think instead of what to think, and learning how the brain works so that you can get better at how to think, are in my opinion essential immunizations for both religion and pseudoscience.
But really, having the entire world become atheistic will not get rid of the problems that created religion in the first place. It will just make those problems less obvious and harder to root out. Atheism is just the beginning.