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How Much Influence Will Religion Have in the 22nd Century To Build Healthy and Just Communities?


As we consider the potential impacts of religion in the 22nd century, it is necessary to recognize its complexities. Religion does not represent one entity but instead encompasses diverse beliefs, practices, and institutions that vary between cultures, regions, historical periods, and periods. Furthermore, it remains deeply entrenched within social, cultural, and political frameworks, and its impact changes according to new circumstances. Religion provides support and solutions to meet the challenges of 21st-century living. These include social justice promotion and equal treatment, environmental sustainability measures, interfaith dialogue or cooperation promotion, and engaging with ethical ramifications of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. At the same time, however, we must also remain mindful of the potential pitfalls associated with religion. Specifically, its potential risks include exclusivism, intolerance and prejudice, and co-optation by political or economic interests while acknowledging both religious disaffiliation trends and new forms of spirituality, such as secular humanism, that emerge today. Given these complexities, any assessment of religion’s role in the 22nd century must be complex and multidimensional. We should remain open to its potential benefits while remaining aware of its limitations or shortcomings. Ultimately its future is dictated by many social, cultural, and historical influences, and it would be reasonable to try to predict its trajectory with certainty. This essay explores the impact of religion in the 22nd century and ways in which it may provide support and solutions to anticipated problems. Our focus will be on core concepts from this course, such as its internal diversity, embeddedness within culture and history, and ever-evolved nature. Also considered are issues surrounding just and pluralistic communities versus racism, environmental sustainability, and artificial intelligence.

Internal Diversity of Religion

One key consideration when analyzing the potential influence of religion on society in the 22nd century is internal religious diversity. Religions do not operate like monoliths but as complex systems with beliefs, practices, and values which vary among communities and individuals (Monnot, Christophe, and Jörg Stolz, 141). This diversity can strengthen and challenge its potential influence in creating healthy and just communities.

On the one hand, religious diversity provides multiple viewpoints and approaches to solving social problems. Religious communities may bring unique insights and strategies relating to environmental sustainability based on their particular beliefs or practices (Monnot, Christophe, and Jörg Stolz, 147). Furthermore, this diversity fosters pluralism and inclusivity within society by opening up avenues of dialogue among various groups and leading them toward collaboration across borders.

Religion’s internal diversity can also create conflict and division within societies, particularly when religious groups hold incompatible beliefs and values. This manifests through social issues like racism. Religious groups may uphold discriminatory attitudes and practices by perpetuating or challenging discriminatory acts within religion, worsening existing problems rather than providing solutions (Monnot, Christophe, and Jörg Stolz, 149).

Embeddedness in Culture and History

As part of any consideration of religion’s influence in the 22nd century, one important aspect to bear in mind is how ingrained religious traditions are into culture and history. Religions do not simply exist as static concepts. Instead, they are dynamic systems that shape their context and adapt accordingly (Choi, 22).

Religion is enabling and counteracting in creating healthy and just communities, depending on its degree of embeddedness in them. On the one hand, religion provides continuity to cultural traditions, giving individuals and communities a sense of identity and belongingness, especially during social or cultural upheaval periods, when religion may provide stability and continuity for many individuals and families.

On the other hand, religion’s strong presence in culture and history may also contribute to perpetuating harmful attitudes and practices. For instance, religious traditions that historically promoted patriarchy or homophobia could continue these harmful beliefs into the 21st century despite changes to broader cultural or social norms (Choi, 26).

Ever-Evolving Nature of Religion

Finally, when considering religion’s impact in the 22nd century, it is essential to consider its ever-evolved nature. Religions do not remain static but constantly adapt and develop as societies change socially, culturally technologically (Coody, 65)

Religion plays an invaluable and counterproductive role in creating healthy and just communities proactively and reactively. On the one hand, religious traditions may adapt and evolve in response to social problems in the 22nd century. New forms of practice or belief might emerge that better suit addressing environmental sustainability or furthering social justice goals.

On the other hand, religion’s ever-evolving nature can result in its members distancing themselves and fragmenting religious communities. When new forms of belief and practice appear that diverge from mainstream forms of faith, potentially creating religious sects or fragmenting existing ones altogether (Coody, 68). This poses challenges when trying to build healthy and just communities when these newer forms involve extremist or radical beliefs or practices.

Religion and the Problem of Just and Pluralistic Communities versus Racism

Building just and inclusive communities while combatting racism and other forms of discrimination presents communities in the 22nd century with a serious challenge, where religion may play both positive and negative roles in dealing with this matter (Jackson, 34).

On the positive side, religious traditions often uphold values such as compassion, justice, and equality that support efforts to build just and inclusive communities. A central tenet in many religious traditions is respect and empathy towards others. The inherent dignity of all humans provides one such example. At the same time, religious communities often provide spaces for dialogue across diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups, facilitating pluralism and understanding between groups (Jackson, 38).

Religion-based communities often exhibit activism and advocacy for social justice causes, playing an active role in campaigns like civil rights movements. Religious leaders and groups were instrumental in advocating for equal rights for Black Americans during the US civil rights movement and similarly during anti-apartheid in South Africa – movements often guided by spiritual teachings that inspired people to act against injustice and discrimination.

Religion has often been used as an instrument of racism and other forms of discrimination, sometimes through internal diversity among religions that lead to extremist groups with discriminatory practices such as segregation or exclusion based on race, ethnicity, or religion, leading to marginalization within religious communities as well as society more widely (Jackson, 39). This phenomenon could stem from extremist and radical groups using religion to justify discriminatory beliefs and behaviors such as segregation or exclusion based on race, ethnicity religion. This often marginalizes groups within their respective religious communities and society more generally.

Religion can also perpetuate harmful attitudes and practices through its permeation into culture and history, for instance, by including text that reinforces harmful stereotypes or discriminatory practices in its texts or traditions. This presents religious communities who wish to address issues related to racism or discrimination with an additional hurdle. Their legacy must also be dealt with.

Religion and the Problem of Environmental Sustainability

Environment sustainability remains an increasingly pressing challenge that will impact communities throughout the 22nd century due to increasing global population and resource demands. Religion may play an influential role in responding to this challenge both positively and negatively (Narayanan, 131).

On the upside, religious traditions offer valuable support in addressing environmental problems. One typical example is caretaking the natural world, an idea shared among various religious traditions that promote environmental responsibility by inspiring stewardship or caretaking behavior among its adherents. It can motivate people to protect it through action or advocacy efforts. Additionally, religious communities may provide spaces for collective action or advocacy on environmental issues (Narayanan, 133). For instance, religious organizations could advocate policies that support sustainable practices or work on increasing environmental awareness about our daily actions.

Due to internal religious diversity, religion can sometimes lead to anti-environmental attitudes and practices. For instance, different traditions emphasize human dominion over nature. In contrast, others emphasize its interconnectivity as living beings need the protection of their environment, creating tensions and challenges when addressing environmental problems.

Religion’s inherent place in culture and history may also perpetuate harmful environmental attitudes and practices, including traditional ones like deforestation or hunting which were justified previously on religious grounds, ye may now be perceived as detrimental to our planet (Narayanan, 136). Furthermore, some forms of worship contribute directly to environmental problems by using fossil fuels for pilgrimages or encouraging meat consumption for religious festivals.

Religion and the Problem (or Not) of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents communities in the 22nd century with unique challenges. AI could pote profound ramifications on society, the economy, and the environment. As we develop and deploy more AI systems, issues of ethics and religion’s role in their design and use are becoming ever more pressing (Gabriel, 89).

On the bright side, many religious traditions promote values relevant to ethical considerations surrounding AI development and use. nnnReligious communities frequently stress respecting human dignity and making morally sound decisions when using AI technologies in healthcare or criminal justice. Furthermore, religious communities provide spaces for dialogue and reflection about new technologies’ social and ethical implications while supporting thoughtful discussions surrounding complex matters like these.

Religion-affiliated organizations could influence public policy regarding AI development and use by advocating for ethical guidelines or regulations on areas like privacy, bias, or transparency involving its usage (Gabriel, 89). Furthermore, religious groups could foster interdepartmental collaborations among scientists, policymakers, and social and ethical experts in order to develop new technologies responsibly and ethically.

On the downside, however, religion may also foster anti-scientific or reactionary attitudes that inhibit progress in AI development and use. Some religious communities might view AI or new technologies as threats to human dignity or inherently immoral (Gabriel, 91). This creates difficulties when religious communities disagree on these matters and need collective action around AI development or use issues.

Religionist communities may hold different priorities and values than other stakeholders involved in discussions around AI. For instance, religious communities may prioritize protecting human life or maintaining social hierarchies over concerns over privacy or transparency. Such disparate priorities and values can create tensions or conflicts, which make reaching a collective agreement on developing or using AI more challenging.


Religion has played an invaluable role in shaping human societies for millennia. Religion provides moral guidance, fosters community unity, and offers strength during difficult times. As humanity faces complex social, environmental, and technological challenges in the 22nd century, religion may play an integral role in building healthy and equitable communities. Religion will likely remain influential on society into the 22nd century, and its impact will depend on many variables. Among these is internal religious diversity which will play a part. Religious communities generally share core beliefs and practices. However, they also exhibit significant variation within themselves. Religious practices vary across denominations, leading to differing interpretations that affect how it is applied in response to social, environmental, or technological challenges. For example, one religious group may embrace environmentalism as a core value, while another may consider environmental concerns secondary to others. Religion will continue to shape culture and history well into the 22nd century due to how deeply its traditions are embedded into culture and history. Religion has historically been embedded into various aspects of human culture, from politics and economics to sociological norms and norms of moral behavior. Religion’s impact can either reinforce existing power structures or challenge them altogether. As societies become ever-more interdependent and diverse in the 22nd century, religion’s place within culture and history will determine its impactful effect. Additionally, its ever-evolving nature will shape its role in this era of history. Religious traditions have continuously evolved in response to changing social, environmental, and technological contexts. With each new challenge in the 22nd century, traditional forms may adapt or emerge altogether in response to climate change, or new technologies or new religious movements emerge specifically addressing them.

Works Cited

Choi, Yoonjin, Paul Ingram, and Sang Won Han. “Cultural Breadth and Embeddedness: The Individual Adoption of Organizational Culture as a Determinant of Creativity.” Administrative Science Quarterly (2023): 00018392221146792.

Coody, Elizabeth Rae, Dan W. Clanton Jr, and Terry Ray Clark, eds. Understanding Religion and Popular Culture. Taylor & Francis, 2023.

Gabriel, Iason. “Artificial intelligence, values, and alignment.” Minds and Machines 30.3 (2020): 411–437.

Jackson, Robert. Rethinking religious education and plurality: Issues in diversity and pedagogy. Psychology Press, 2004.

Monnot, Christophe, and Jörg Stolz. “The diversity of religious diversity. Using census and NCS methodology in order to map and assess the religious diversity of a whole country.” Religious diversity and interreligious dialogue (2020): 133-151.

Narayanan, Yamini. “Religion and sustainable development: Analysing the connections.” Sustainable Development 21.2 (2013): 131-139.


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