It would probably be going too far to say that religion is the cause of all the world’s conflicts. If there were no religion, people would still fight over resources, ideology, or just because they don’t like each other very much.
Nonetheless, religion is driving a lot of the conflict in the world today, so I’d like to use my blog tonight to put that into a bit of perspective.
People have been recognizably human for about 2 million years or so, and may well have had some kind of religious beliefs for most of that time. It’s natural. You look at what you don’t understand, and you make up your best story. We’ve had some kind of civilization, i.e. agriculture, fixed settlements, evenings around the campfire with the whole clan, folk stories and beer, for around 65,000 years.
Christianity has only been around for 2,000 years, Islam just over half that. Judaism a bit longer, but within the context of 65,000 years, or 2,000,000, it’s nothing at all. A fart in a hurricane, a drop in the ocean. If all of our modern religions disappear, within a generation or two they will be more or less forgotten. No matter how much people talk about “thousands of years of tradition,” thousands of years is not all that much.
I don’t think they are going to disappear that quickly, although I’ve seen some recent stats that are encouraging. People still want a narrative to give meaning to their lives, some sort of spiritual fall back in a troubled world. AA people call it their “higher power.”
I think it more likely that, as knowledge and technology increases, that religions will start to change and adapt. Even the Amish will use a telephone in an emergency. Soon, religions will be changing as fast as trends in music and fashion. New ones will come along, old ones will fade.
I cannot predict what the state of mankind will be 1,000 years from now. Neither can anybody else. But, just because something has existed for 2,000 years, doesn’t mean it’s going to last.