Thursday, March 21, 2013

False predictions of science killing God

Almost fifty years ago the anthropologist Anthony Wallace pronounced in an undergraduate textbook:
the evolutionary future of religion is extinction. Belief in supernatural beings and in supernatural forces that affect nature without obeying nature’s laws will erode and become only an interesting historical memory ... [As] a cultural trait, belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge ... the process is inevitable.
Wallace, F.C., Religion: An Anthropological View, Random House, New York (1966) pages 264-265.

Yet this has not been fulfilled. It did not deter the atheist and philosopher Daniel Dennett stating in 2007:
I’m so optimistic that I expect to live to see the evaporation of the powerful mystique of religion. I think that in about twenty-five years almost all religions will have evolved into very different phenomena, so much so that in most quarters religion will no longer command the awe it does today.
I first heard these quotations in the introduction that Peter Harrison gave to his excellent seminar last week on "Science and Secularization."

1 comment:

  1. It's surprising that Wallace would show such disrespect to religion, he was an academic in the 60s. He studied native religions for a living!