But when we invent a real treatment for aging - when we can stop people from growing old, when we can rejuvenate ourselves at will - that will be the acid test of whether most religious people really believe what they say they do. Most religions teach that death is only the gateway into another realm of existence, one so blissful that we should envy the dead rather than mourn them. In a world where death is inevitable, that may be a comforting belief. But what happens when death is no longer inevitable? What will happen in a world where, barring rare accidents, people must choose to die? Will theists choose their faith in an afterlife over the certainty of an earthly life?
My guess is that when life-extending technology is invented, the clerics and fundamentalists - the people most invested in religious belief - will denounce it as the ultimate violation of God’s plan, and will probably outlaw it wherever they have the power; but the vast majority of ordinary people, religious or not, will be clamoring for it. And I think this may be the wedge that splits religion once and for all.
Past and present moral struggles, like the revolutions in women’s rights, racial justice and gay rights, have diminished the moral authority of the churches that resisted them. But the impact of this one will be far greater, because it affects everyone. Most churchgoers aren’t directly affected by issues of racial discrimination or marriage equality, so they can afford to ignore what their church teaches about them, but when your pastor tells you that you have to stop taking the medicine that’s keeping you alive, people tend to take that sort of thing personally. When you combine this with the observation that people with more secure, prosperous lives see less need for the consolations of religion - and people who have no fear of death are the logical culmination of this - the invention of an anti-aging therapy could well lead to a massive exodus from the churches.
Read the entire thing, it’s an interesting thought. I wouldn’t consider myself an atheist (I don’t consider myself anything) but if you’re in that lane, this article is definitely up your alley.