Religion has an endless future, as long as humans have the ability to think, reason, and come up with explanations for the those facts of life and nature that need convincing explanations. One of the first endeavors of mankind is to find meaning in our lives, or at least to make connections between the unexplained events that affect our lives and something that is beyond us.
Meaning and connections can be found by scientific methods, where there is proof of the immutable laws of nature and things.
But meaning is also be a construct of the human mind. Observations and experiences allow classification, identification, and generalizations which are subject to interpretation. In our major current religions, religious fact, historical testament, and meaning are of ancient origin and have been passed from generation to generation, either orally or in some written form. Some religions are brand new, declared within the last half century of mankind’s existence.
Some religions have reform or protest in their origins. When a major religion behaves in ways that cause dissatisfaction among it’s followers (and government support), wars, and more wars can result. Or, schisms and reorganizations can occur in relative peace.
Whether brand new or ancient, religions serve to introduce forms of social control and order through common belief in things that cannot be proven, or through explanations for things that cannot be contradicted. Religious charismatics have enormous potential power to influence anyone who hears or hears of them, and can create whole societal movements, amass great wealth and power, and cause massive changes in governmental and social order, as well as major changes in thinking and reasoning.
When a religion is already powerful, well financed, and entrenched, that religion can be considered to be a force that is, if not superior or equal, then equivalent in power to some governments. In some nations, such as Iran, the government answers to a selected religious authority, and not to the people of the nation. In those nations, the religion will be present as societal stability allows it to be.
Religion has no foreseeable decline in it’s power to cause wars to be fought, to individually influence the government and military forces that engage in the conduct of the wars, or to maintain influence over populations that support or protest the wars.
Even if a group of people were to be completely uneducated and isolated from all other human influence, someone would recognize that there is power in the ability to convince others to believe in their explanations for natural occurrences. Someone would realize that there is power in providing convincing explanations and engaging stories about reasons for existing, origins, nature, human interaction, society, and the existence of beings who, though invisible, manifest in natural phenomena.
The specific future of religion is as vast and varied as human ability to think and believe, and to influence others to join in their thinking and beliefs. The likely future of religion is assured for the duration of mankind’s existence.