From time to time you see articles exclaiming the erosion of traditional religion in the modern age. The reasons given for It never seem to have much thought behind them. It’s usually something along the lines of “people just aren’t into it anymore”, but they never really say why.
When you think back to the times when religion was a central, and in many cases all encompassing, aspect of people’s lives there is an element that many of these regions and eras in time have in common – singular authority. Lands were often ruled by monarchs. On a more local level, typically the most powerful person in town was the priest or other religious leader – often one of the only literate people around. People were used to looking to a leader for all the answers. They had the questions, which they could ask with varying degrees of freedom depending on the time and place, but most had little choice but to rely on central authority figures for what more often than not amounted to pre-scripted answers.
In the modern era with the proliferation of access to information, we have an unprecedented means to both obtain and interpret questions on an unprecedented level. We no longer have to look to a singular figure to provide us with the answers – neither priests, nor kings, or even God himself. The questions have not changed, but the answers are so wide ranging that the possibilities of interpretation have increased exponentially. And yet, even with this explosion of individual initiative, unencumbered by traditional societal restraints and deference to centralized authority figures – both real and imagined, we are still as puzzled as ever as to why we are here and what happens when we expire.