We must change, or we will not survive.
We must be more inclusive and open minded.
We cannot remain the people who are intolerant of different faiths and beliefs.
We must embrace, not discriminate.
Our religion has a special place in our culture, our society and our lives.
We are a diverse people.
We have a history of sharing values with each other.
And we have a deep sense of belonging.
But we are also very different from other religions, and so we need to change our beliefs and our ways of life, says James Staggs, an atheist and professor of religion at the University of Cambridge.
“We must recognise the similarities in our religion and our way of life that can help us to better understand one another and our place in the world,” he says.
The world of religionsWe have very different experiences, he says, but they share a common history and they share the same fundamental beliefs.
The great faiths, he explains, “are about faith and hope, hope and hope again, hope in the future, and hope for our children, our grandchildren and the world.”
In the past, there were very few religions, but the modern world has seen a lot of them come and go.
There are now more than 3,000 religions, with about 100,000 believers in the United States alone.
Religion, though, is not a monolithic thing.
It is shaped by many influences, and these influences often have little to do with what we know as Christianity or Judaism.
“Religion is a mixture of the most diverse influences we can think of, but it is also influenced by the ideas of the past that shaped us, which in many cases were also influenced from the present,” says Stagg, a founding member of the Cambridge Society for Religious Studies.
Religious scholars and academics have been grappling with this problem for decades.
The Catholic church, for example, has been criticised for its approach to faith and its unwillingness to acknowledge new evidence about how religions differ.
“I’m not interested in trying to be a perfect science,” says Charles Sturtz, professor of comparative religion at Oxford University.
“The world has evolved and the future is very uncertain.
I think that if we are to understand the future then we need some scientific methodologies.””
I am not interested to know everything that God knows.
But I am interested to be able to do the science,” he adds.
Staggs says that the history of religion shows how many different religions were co-existing and interacting with each others, with some being more important than others.
He says the history also shows how religions can be very much about the past.
“In our own history, it is interesting that many of the more popular religions are those that were not very successful in creating a religion that was truly universal.
These are the ones that we have come to recognise today as being less religious than the others,” he explains.
The history of religions is a history that can be explored in the real world.
For instance, there is a fascinating new documentary about the history and evolution of the New Atheist movement that aired on the BBC.
The film, The Rise of the Atheists, was made by filmmakers Matt and Susan Hensley, and features interviews with scientists who have studied and researched atheism.
They tell a story of a movement of people who believe in a higher power that is very different to any other religious movement, and that includes some very big names in the history.
They include: Albert Einstein, the man who won the Nobel Prize for physics for his theory of relativity.
He was an atheist.
He founded a branch of Christianity, the Reformers, which grew into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The story is told through archival footage and interviews with prominent atheists and agnostics.
There is also a very good documentary, The Atheists: What We Believe, that examines what this movement has achieved in the last 20 years.
We know it is not universal, they say, because it is often based on religion, and there are very, very few examples of this.
But the atheists, the agnostics, believe in the power of reason and of evidence.
They do not claim to know all the answers.
The film, which also looks at other religions like Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism, also shows that some of the world’s greatest scientists are atheists, and many of them were once atheists themselves.
The Rise of Atheists is available to view online.