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Excersus XLI: Reunion


One would like to say that the Age of Christianity is winding up, making way for, perhaps, an Age of Curiosity. But we've said that before. Nothing was more clear to Voltaire and Diderot than that religious dogma had reached a state of absurdity that couldn't possibly live out the eighteenth century, and yet here we are. Here in the United States, 85% still profess a belief in religion, and even the most skeptical of nations, such as France and South Korea, still clock in at the low sixties. Worldwide, the number of atheists has doubled in the last ten years, to a whopping 2.5% of the population. And while "Look to your left, look to your right - Now repeat the process in sixteen other random locations - one of you is an atheist" isn't the most impressive tagline, it's not bad for a system of belief that gets one more or less automatically disqualified from public office just about anywhere in the world.

All of which sounds sort of depressing, but really it oughtn't. Everything about the direction of the world is on the side of the heathens, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and spiritual poets. Facebook trumps monotheism - kids can't be kept in mental cages as easily as they used to be. Time was, your community erected the boundaries of permissible thought and, knowing nothing else, you pruned your own brain to those confines like some intellectual bonsai bush. But that's not really the only option for a kid who has 150 facebook friends spanning the entire planet - the monolith of Everybody Believes This So Must You breaks its back on worldwide networking, and as a result each generation is a little less willing to claim moral hegemony for whatever religious text was shoved into its pocket at birth than the last. So does 2.5% become 5 become 10 become 20, and sooner than any of us would have dared to think twenty years ago. As long as we, the almost invisible minority of heathens and skeptics, continue to exist without shame in public, and tell our stories and opinions without blushing, it will happen.

- Count Dolby von Luckner