First it was pagan ritual, followed by Roman and Greek Gods, and then came Christianity in all its many guises, to wreak havoc on a burgeoning western civilisation. In more modern times our worship turned to materialism, then sport and finally…what? Food perhaps, there are enough programmes scheduled to feed our devotion. Maybe reality shows, or the relative sizes of our televisions on which we view Strictly, TOWIE, or other vacuous nonsense.
Worship and belief are peculiar aspects of human nature, that alter in intensity and direction according to the wavering social environment in which we are exposed. Picking apart historical accounts of religious intolerance to scientific revelations is a minefield of power plays and conflicting stories. The only fact we can be certain of, is that once upon a time, humankind believed that the Earth was flat. Gradually, brave or foolhardy individuals challenged the popularly held belief until such a time when irrefutable evidence, like circumnavigating the globe, rendered old beliefs moot.
These changing paradigms of belief, something for which sociologist, Thomas Kuhn, gained notoriety for, allows for the build-up of evidence until old philosophies can no longer be supported. How then, can it be possible to go backwards? How can there be a resurgence of flat-earth followers in the face of such overwhelming facts to the contrary? How can people form pockets of believers who follow the imagined teachings from science fiction films? “Sometimes, I think we really are living in the Matrix,” is a disturbing sentence I have heard uttered by more than one close friend.
Has science demystified the world around us to the extent that we are all grasping at straws for something to weld us together; to find a group of like-minded people in which we can feel a sense of belonging? Has anyone formed a religion based on the teaching of George RR Martin yet, allowing for a sub-section of dragon masters?
I have no desire to upset any religious group, but I have to wonder whether Catholics still believe in transubstantiation. Can they seriously think that blessed bread is the physical manifestation of Christ’s body or is it more of a symbolic gesture?
The Large Hadron Collider at Cern has done much to inflame the science versus religion debate, particularly in the use of the nickname coined for a particular sub-atomic constituent – The God Particle. An expensive quest to discover the fundamental principles shaping our universe, and by logical extension, our place within its sphere of influence.
With particle physicists unlocking the secrets of the universe and neuro-scientists hunting for the seat of our minds and souls, there seems little room left for mystical, all-powerful deities. Would a dramatic rise in atheism leave us with no moral or ethical rudders? Has religion had its day or will we revere the founding fathers of technology in its stead? Perhaps we should ask the Pope to canonise Tim Berners-Lee, the patron saint of the Internet, or Steve Jobs for his tireless fight against Microsoft? Will we look back on these days and laugh at the proliferation of inaccuracies from a more enlightened stance, or revert to a revised view of the Bible; Christianity 2.0?
Sam Nash is the author of the sci-fi conspiracy thriller, The Aurora Mandate. Release date TBA. You can find her at https://www.samnash.org or on Twitter @samnashauthor or Facebook.com/samnash.author.