TED Conversations

Scott Knightly

Undergraduate Student, St.Francis Xavier University

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In today's technologically run world, what is the new role of religion?

Since the past generation of the baby boomers took control of society, science and technology have risen. In this shift, society went from a religious centered society to a technology centered one. Now this shift was part of a much larger change in the way humans think which has been going on for many tens of hundreds of years. From the polytheist Greeks to the monotheistic Islamic people, the shift in religion has been something that took thousands of years to develop to what it is today. So the question I pose is "What, now, is religion's role?" and/or "Is that the role it is meant to play?" Now I am not saying that Science or Religion are correct, I am only asking what purpose it now serves society after falling as a community creator, and a spiritual binder. Where does it fall today and is it useful to us?


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    Oct 27 2012: Scott, Please explain why you think that the role of religion has changed and why you pose this question?
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      Oct 27 2012: Religion is a fascination of mine and it, in my experience, has changed roles drastically over the past number of years. What started as a means of connecting one's self to "The Creator(s)" as well as to the community as a whole has shifted in the social sphere. Today, attendance at churches is drastically lower than it was in years past and those who do attend (for the biggest part) are the "Baby Boomers". Today's generation would rather stream Netflix on their computer than attend a religious practice of any kind. I am posing this question because I love discussion and I love having my concepts and ideas proved incorrect, if at all possible, as we can learn so much more from stating an opinion and being proven incorrect by an intelligent person than posing a question and having everyone agree. Thanks for asking, but now I must ask you for your opinion.
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        Oct 27 2012: Fair enough. Scott I do not have a easy answer ... Religion took some serious hits in people like Jim and Tammy Baker and the whole TV evanglist movement. ... Sunday was a day of reflection and rest and now it is fire up the grill, hoist a few brews, and watch the game. .... for years the church was a means of networking now we have many means available .... people tend to view religion differently the closer they come to the end of the line ..... generations X, Y, Z, etc were raised in a latch key environment with money thrown at them in real money and electronics to entertain them without real parental guidence or interface. They make their own decisions and mostly reject anything their parents believe in or espouse ... religion is cyclic just like everything else ..... The power of the Catholic church has dimioshed greatly ... movies/media/TV and other influences have dimished the appeal .... the fight between good and evil is not a plain as it once was cowboys in white hats beat cowboys in black hats ... drugs ... gay movements ... the rapid move to the socialism point of view .. thus the rise of athiests .... bad science that wants to challenge religion instead of embracing it and allow two differing views everything has become in your face ... and much, much more ....

        Scott I do not see any one thing as a major contributor but the collection of many influences. Think of us in a 100 year cycle .. we are again in the roaring 20's mindset where money. booze, partying are important variables in their life.

        Perhaps it would be advisable to look at the early life influences that prevailed in the great years of christianity and the parental influences of the last two generations. I see the relationship of the social, family, economics as being factors and influences.

        These are expressed opinions as I am no expert just a observer of the species.

        All the best. Bob.
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          Oct 27 2012: Very intriguing. So are you saying that the shift is more importantly in the family unit and that is what has caused the dramatic changes we see today?

          I agree that the world has become much more complicated now, but I believe that is an important change in the human mind. This problem, as I see it, is that we are ruining this new and much more powerful mind by not recognizing that science and religion are bound together and do not appose one-and-other but compliment.

          That is an interesting point, that we are, psychologically, on a loop. So do you think that we will ever achieve a sense of balance between the two? Or will they tear each other to ribbons before that can be actualized?

          Thank-you for the opinion, everyone has one and no two are ever the same but each is marvelously interesting!

          Enjoy your day,
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        Oct 27 2012: Scott, families were once within a 25 - 50 miles radus. Today we are scatter throught the world. I recall going to a family members house every weekend and all the family joined. Now we (sometimes) text. Yes there is a radical change in the family unit.

        Science and religion can and should be partners ... there are always those who seek to dominate on both sides and will keep the fight going.

        Yes I think we are in loops in most things .... hair styles ... clothing ..... music ... norms

        When the economy is good and the kids make their own money and leave the farm for the big city, they want to sample all the wares. When the economy is bad and they move home they re-affilate with the local culture.

        When I was a kid if a divorced woman moved into town the husbands were put on a short leash and the "hussy" was watched 24/7. If a unmarried girl become pregnate she was "a tramp". All of these things have vanished and society is much kinder than they were. However, behind closed doors the stigmas still exist.

        As you say there is a change in the human mind .... is that not a cultural thing. We are a product of our environment and associations within our circle.

        This is a enjoyable exchange. Thank you. Bob.
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          Oct 29 2012: Indeed, ideals have shifted on a huge scale and the way we think has shifted in way that were un-foreseen. I ask you the question, "Do you think that, in the loss of the family unit, people turn to technology more readily as a means of creating the ties that have been lost in the shift?"

          The world has become, in a way, kinder, that I have seen in my lifetime. But you say that the stigmas still exist they have simply moved behind closed doors. I think that I agree with this but I propose a slightly different approach which draws technology back in. Would you say that, in the shift from a town community to an online/interconnected community, the stigmas have simply made this jump as well? In other words, a woman found to be pregnant is no longer mocked or dishonoured so much in public but on the internet, etc?

          That is exactly what I meant. The change in the way we live has created a new, "Hyper-mind" which is connected us to much of the world in second. I mean look at the conversation I made in a little, sometimes forgotten, province in Canada and anyone with access to the internet can read it and have an opinion. This is a beautiful creation that has yet to be understood. But yes, the change in the human mind owes almost everything to culture. Products of our environment we are indeed.

          I too am enjoying our exchange. This conversation is much more successful than I had predicted it would be. You are most welcome, and thank-you. Scott.
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        Oct 29 2012: Q1: Not really. Technology is a substitute for the support group or the interaction that we human have a need for. Come from farm to city. You would find a church ... a bar ... a gym ... or some group to interact with and form a new support group not family.

        Q2: Sure stigmas make the jump because they are a basic part of us. I think that it brings a whole new set of issues into play. Look at all of the cyber bulling and issues that have come from the internet. Things that people kept behind closed doors or only spoke about secretly are now broadcasted over the web. These same people may have never done it face to face. A girl who becomes PG in your towm means nothing to me ... never met her ... but I can call her names from thousands of miles away and make her feel really bad. The only real difference is that one is local and one is now world wide. My friends have turned against me ... the world hates me. How about a recording or nude photos. Once you could move and try to start over ... with the web it is forever and always with you. Happened when you were 16 ... your now 28 and a teacher ... it will find you.

        As in everything the internet is a blessing and a curse depending on the user and his intentions. That is why we should all act honorably. We can not stop it all but we can opt to not be a part of it by passing it on or sponsoring it by being quiet or ignoring it.

        I too enjoyed the exchange. Thank you.

        All the best. Bob
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          Oct 30 2012: Ah, that is very clarifying, thanks. I see what you mean in your definition of Family. I agree as far as these groups not being a family and I see where you are coming from. Is it safe to say the you are stating that you can't create some form of those family bonds through technology? If so then I agree and it seems that, for you, the reason for is is the fundamental change in the family unit itself is technology?

          I also agree with your stigma point. In fact, I am willing to go so far as to say that it has become a part of the human. Indeed the rise of cyber-bullying, a practice that had not existed even in my time, illustrates this point. And I have seen what you have described come to fruition and it can be devastating.

          So, in conclusion, so you think that it is not the technology, but the individual which has created the shifting that this conversation brings up? That technology is useful more so in theory than in practice?

          Thank-you, I appreciate the conversation with an intellectual such as yourself.
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        Oct 30 2012: No one factor ever creats the change we are experiencing. Variables such as transportation that have allowed us to leave the farm, communications that allows us to see and hear other cultures and match them against our cultures and norms, etc .... It really is a socio-economic world and we need to keep a constant guard to be aware of these shifts.

        Technology is neither good or bad unless we make it so.

        People are tied to their electronics to the extent that they have become the dominate factors in their lives. Anything in excess cannot be a good thing. Everything in moderation. I often say we mature when we can differentiate between our WANTS and our NEEDS.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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          Nov 1 2012: I agree that no single factor could create this massive change we are undergoing but I think that combination of many, all going through the individual, and His/Her decisions based upon these factors, is the change. We are living in a socio-political world indeed, a place where the group mentality has shifted drastically.

          I concur.

          You say, "Anything in excess cannot be a good thing." This is a statement that I agree with but would like to ask if you also believe that, as "worshipping" technology without understanding it brings only negitive outcomes, do you also believe that religious practices without a greater understanding of whatever God(s) can also only be negitive? If so, then has technology created this worship of the physical and not the conceptual or is it a poor operation of religion that has just been transfered by the human mind?

          The difference between Wants and Needs is something that many people fail to, and refuse to understand. We, as a society, have become inexoralably linked to our technology and physical possessions and some have forgotten what is really important: this, again, comes back to the family/love/virtue.

          Don't mention it. This is intriguing. Thanks.
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        Nov 1 2012: Scott, As to your question religion is neither posative or negative without you making it so. In fact religion is basically social. There are approximately 4200 religions and they are designed to provide the meaning of life, explain the orgins of life or the universe. There is a vast difference between religion and personal belief or faith. Scott prayer is often used to win the lottery, make a girl like me, get a hit in the big game, pass a test, etc ... I suggest that those attent to our worldly wants. Those should be seperated from our SPIRITUAL needs. When we attend to the needs of others we have fulfilled faith, hope, and charity. A selfless act is indeed a christian modeling the leadership of the Father.

        So is it in the "worshiping" of technology. That is keeping up with the Jones'. Much of this is pressure from your peer groups. I have a cell phone that sends and recieves calls ... my grandkids have cell phones that do everything but give birth. Our reasons for having a cell phone ar totally different. I socalize face to face with handshakes and hugs ... they text and send photos.

        Perhaps we should embrace the change and allow them to also have a glance of our lives. My parents "knew" that rock and roll would be the end of the world. Perhaps if we spent time with them and we came to enjoy the company of each other that there would be room for technology and religion. My e-book contains the scripture and background materials. Thats already a step in the marriage of the two. If I mess up on something electronic I call a 12 year old to help me. LOL

        Time is the biggest cure for these problems. To force a decision is almost always wrong. Love and patience rules the day.

        All the best. Bob.

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