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Atheism Rising, But God Is Not Dead Yet: 10 Ways Religion Is Changing Around the World

Religion is alive and well in the 21st century -- but it also looks very different now.

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10. Technology Changes Everything -- Including Faith

Technology is already challenging our ideas of what it means to be human, to be alive, to be a spiritual being. Genetic engineering, cloning, nanotechnology, bionics, and computers that can outsmart us have been the stuff of science fiction for 60 years, but that future is now here, and it's going to be interesting to watch our current crop of religions wrestle with the new ethical and theological questions these technologies raise.

Probably unsurprisingly, the biggest breakthroughs on these fronts are being made in the very same countries that Pew found (back in item #1) to be the least religious. And yet the world's religions are going to have to find ways to deal with these changes. in fact, this rethinking of the whole human enterprise as we've understood it for the past couple of millennia may be the biggest challenge faced by all the world's faiths in the coming century.

If they do the job well,  I think we may end up with a far more expansive and inclusive sense of the sacred than we can possibly imagine right now. In fact, this century may be giving us the best chance humans have ever had to create a global spirituality built on enduring human values: compassion, justice, community, and the common drive to share and celebrate the wonder of our lives.

But if they do it poorly, religion may continue to be the biggest obstacle to taking the decisive steps we need to deal with our growing number of human-created crises.

Religion changes, and will continue to change. But if the last century didn't knock the religious impulse out of us, it may be time to accept that it's here to stay.

Sara Robinson, MS, APF is a social futurist and the editor of AlterNet's Vision page. Follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to AlterNet's Vision newsletter for weekly updates.

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