Can States Exist Without Gods?

By Ronald A. Harris.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 24, 2016 $US5.00

This essay discusses possible future states of the world in which gods do not exist. Scientific ignorance among the masses prevents human progress by inhibiting reason. Throughout history, humans have sought to define a state of nature to excuse control over others. Hobbes said that humans created their gods out of fear. Fear of nature was then used to explain the state. Religion or ideology is a third-party enforcement mechanism. Religion is established in theocracy, accommodated in secularism, and replaced by ideology in state-atheism: Where the state is a jealous god. Bakunin said: “There is not, there cannot be, a State without religion.” Militant atheism has emerged to confront metamagical thinking among the religious. Foremost in attacking the human belief in gods are the four horsemen: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens said “religion poisons everything.” New Atheists are mostly concerned about society’s denial of human evolution and apocalyptic wars in the Middle East. Although human evolution is determined by individual selection, kin selection, and reciprocal altruism, Robert Sapolsky is less pessimistic about the future of humanity, because our primate relatives demonstrate cultural adaptation in the wild. These findings reveal that while the parasite-stress theory can explain the level of religiosity by geographic location, human development predicts the global decline in religiosity. Atheism increases as development increases; among 57 countries studied. Despite the rise of Islam, due to population growth and migration, increasing human development should spell the end of gods. Secular states should ultimately prevail over theocracies: But we have a natural tendency towards ideological beliefs and magical thinking that requires memes to supplant genes. Can states exist without gods? Yes!

Keywords: Religion, Politics, Religious Freedom, Ethics, Human Rights, Reconciliation

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.29-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 24, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 607.765KB)).

Dr. Ronald A. Harris

Associate Professor, Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration, School of Management, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA