An offhand exchange with Skepchick reader and frequent commenter James Fox, along with Rebecca’s Travolta Tragedy thread, got me thinking about time lines and results for rationalist movements.
Many of us here spend a lot of time promoting skepticism in the hopes that good critical thinking skills will help people stay safe from scams, pseudoscience, ineffective alternative medicines, and any dangers to which irrational thinking (or zero thinking) can lead. And though we don’t really have deadlines or time lines for success, often we see results fairly quickly â€” the bereaved parent eschewing psychics after learning about cold reading and abysmal accuracy rates; regular people standing up so religious myths aren’t taught in science classes; even popular actresses speaking out in favor ofÂ scientifically soundÂ vaccines when many of her peers seem to be getting dumber.
We may or may not be the directly responsible for those things, but we see victories in them nonetheless. Hope for those types of outcomes are why rationalistsÂ act in the first place. They are why we even bother.
However, some battles are much bigger and victories take longer to attain. It may even seem like the battles will never be won.
For example, where we may not be anti-religious per se, it’s difficult toÂ instill aÂ wholly rational mindsetÂ in our religious friends and neighbors. It’s difficult enough thatÂ doing soÂ can be seen as a Sisyphean boulder to the skeptical activist; a task worth toiling over, but one that will never end.
But is it? Will we ever get the boulder to the top of the hill and have it stay there?
Will there ever be a complete integration of rational thinking into religious circles? Assuming continued success of rationalist movements, what will be the fate of religion, and how will its story play out?
Speculate about time frames, if you’d like. Also, feel free to speculate about the fate of religion assuming failures of rationalist movements.