Is it time we resurrected religion?

With the rise in AI and automation, the million-dollar question is ‘what will we do, if not work?’ Around the world, many people find their sense of purpose through work. People ask us ‘what do you do?’ and we answer only with our jobs, not our hobbies or anything else.

The psychological impact of loss of employment is of great concern. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates that we need self-actualisation to be fulfilled. Self-actualisation can encompass many things, including a sense of purpose. Psychologists have shown that a loss of purpose is one of the core elements leading to depression in unemployed individuals. Unemployment threatens Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from the top down: reducing self-esteem, straining relationships and threatening safety and basic physiological needs in the worst cases. Therefore, it is imperative that a sense of purpose is replaced in a post-work era. But where will we find this purpose?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates that we need self-actualisation to be fulfilled.
Brief explanation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs by Sprouts

Many have suggested finding people alternative means of employment - afterall perhaps even a pointless task is better than nothing. But the effects of this are unknown and may still result in depression caused by meaninglessness. Throughout history, until the early part of the last century, religion was an integral aspect of most people’s lives. Whilst in many countries, this is still the case, in the Western world, the importance of religion has been in decline.

Often we look at religion as a negative factor responsible for wars, conflict and prejudice, but perhaps we are unfair. Religion brings comfort to many, improves your life expectancy and often provides a good base set of morals to live by. But most importantly, religion also gives a great sense of purpose. Like many things, maybe religion is best in moderation. Most people would agree, that extremism in any form can be negative. Therefore, perhaps a return to a religion that gives purpose, community and morality is important in a post-work age. But it is up to the religious institutions of today to prepare themselves for that change. They must become an organisation that people can turn to, and they must foster an image of inclusivity and charity that will welcome the unemployed.

Like many things, maybe religion is best in moderation.

Comments

Religion is a product of history. Frankly, suggesting it may be a good idea to go back to religion is quite naive. People choose not to believe in religion because they feel god doesn't exist, and this skepticism emerges for a good reason. Are you suggesting religion could answers all of human's existential questions?

It's great to hear your feedback. I am not suggesting a return en-masse to orthodox religion or traditional religious doctrines necessarily. Rather I am suggesting that for some individuals, religion may offer the support they need. And if religion is prepared to adapt, to align more with science and modern ethical/moral codes it may be able to offer more value to more people. By that, I do not mean that all religious bodies do not consider science or modern ethical/moral codes, rather that there is room for more of this integration, if there is a market for it. You cannot force belief, but perhaps in times of existential challenge, more people may turn to the support that can be offered by religion. - Or maybe they wont, but I find it an interesting idea to consider. 

Per se, Religion may not be able to deliver what you wish from it. For most of history, religion was not sequestered from economics, social hierarchy or even politics. We can learn a lot from Religion; it may help with finding purpose, but in its historical sense, it may not be able to deliver what we want from it. To quote from your text, " People ask us ‘what do you do?’ and we answer only with our jobs, not our hobbies or anything else." We probably wouldn't want a strong religious identity as an answer to this. It would be interesting to see what place Religion would hold in an AI world of the future!

This is a really interesting point you have raised and I think you are quite right, we probably wouldn't want a strong religious identity as the answer to that. However, perhaps participating in religious practice and the religious community may help some people to find purpose, where they may feel that it is lacking in their lives. And perhaps if more people feel they lack purpose, more people may find help through religion. And if not religion, perhaps some more spiritual practices such as meditation or mindfulness, may see a further increase in popularity. I'm not sure what will happen, I like exploring ideas, more than making predictions, but as you say, "it would be interesting to see what place Religion would hold in an AI world".

Add new comment