Delivering a speech at an institutional gathering recently on the topic of ‘Rethinking religions’, a prominent, MP, said that by the middle of this century religion would be very different, that its present form would be completely unrecognisable, given the changes brought about by an emerging information society. "Religion as we know it will not be the same in 50 years. There has been a rapid democratisation of the world. The world is a much smaller place. The pronouncements of religions can therefore not remain the same," he said. More importantly, he maintained that some notions central to religion would not survive the future: "You have to stay with the times or you'll be left behind."
One wonders, if he had also been sitting in the audience listening to himself would his jaw have dropped‘? For if there's one thing we all know that doesn't change, it's religion. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc, have lived comfortably through many technological and other intellectual upheavals in the past such as the Renaissance, printing and the industrial revolution, for instance, and have emerged even more stubborn and ossified if anything afterwards. Sure, peripheral elements change —heretics are no longer burned at the stake, sati is outlawed — but "notions central to religion" not surviving, say, the Internet, is laughable.
That's because the central notion of all religions, concepts that are cold welded to the first few pages of any scripture, is that there is a God who is the creator of all things including us, that we have a duty to love and worship Him and that He stands for everything which is good. These things have so far reliably demonstrated a sure fire ability to endure millennia.
On the other hand, consider Parsis. More and more members of these modern day descendants of migrants who fled persecution in Iran more than 1,000 years ago, are turning to new technology to keep their ancient Zoroastrian religion alive and kicking. "Websites, blogs, on line directories and match making portals are being used by the close knit but scattered and shrinking community to stay in touch and true to the 3,500 year old faith," reports AFP. In fact, they're doing exactly the opposite of what our prominent MP fears: they're staying with the times for fear of being left behind. It's what all religions have always done in order to keep the faith.