Religion is a complex phenomenon, so there are many different factors that can explain the persistence of religious belief, but two factors are the lack of education and the lack of critical examination of religious beliefs. Regrettably, poor standards of education prevail in many parts of the world and questioning of religious beliefs remains taboo. There is no easy solution to these problems and, realistically, one cannot expect religious skepticism to increase in areas outside of the developed world, at least in the near term.
One implication of being nonreligious is that one accepts the contingencies of life. Our fate is not written in the stars or in God's mind. The future is uncertain. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to expect that in the economically advanced democracies, humanism is a life stance that will gain increased acceptance in the 21st century.
Ronald A. Lindsay is president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. He is both a lawyer and a philosopher, receiving his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University (with a concentration in bioethics). Prior to joining the Center for Inquiry in 2006, he practiced law in Washington, D.C. for twenty-six years with the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. Dr. Lindsay has authored a book, Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas, and numerous articles, and he blogs regularly on Free Thinking, the blog site for the Center for Inquiry.