The evolution of religion

We all know that things will change in the post apocalypse. Even if you’re living under a rock, that rock is going to change (and possibly disintegrate) after the world ends. Aspects of our lives will change. Politics, social structures—all that will change. And…religion will change too. (Possibly not for the better.)
You might be wondering why I’m thinking about religion. It’s because I’m currently taking a religious studies class, which is, unfortunately, full of the ultra-super-conservative types. Also unfortunately, they are driving me freaking insane. And even more unfortunately, it’s only been a week.
Since I had to…I don’t know, share my not-so ultra-super-conservative views with someone, I bugged Ann on Google Talk this morning. Not so she could feel the pain with me (though misery does love company), but so we could discuss how religion might evolve in a post-apocalyptic society.
Because we love you, dear readers, here is an excerpted (and grammatically cleaned up) version of our chat.
*Warning: The following conversation may be considered controversial. But that’s kinda the point.*

Ann and I started off with a basic discussion of how religion will evolve. You’ll notice Ann’s answering all the questions (which is usually what happens when we chat, hehe).

Char: Right now I’m wondering how well religions like Christianity will survive the apocalypse. Will there be bible thumpers then? Will bibles even make it?
Ann: The major religions will have survivors. The smaller ones, not so much. And I reckon over time the message will become a little… distorted. New ones will sprout of course.
Char: What about “alternative” religions like the Pagan religions? I wonder if the Christians who make it will become more fundamentalist. Will it shift in that direction? Or will people become more liberal?
Ann: As they’re based in personal interpretation so much more they’ll live but evolve in strange way.
Char: How so?
Ann: Well, religions of all kinds evolve in line with human development, right? Religions that are held on a deep personal level, rather than being dictated by a large organisation, will evolve and learn with a person’s experiences and personality. Modern Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all more modern faiths, if you ignore the frightening ones.
Char: The current incarnations of them are more modern, yes.
Ann: Post apocalypse, a lot of people will start thinking that God- whatever god is- took revenge.
Char: Like another Noah’s ark of sorts?
Ann: Yep. With the big religions, people will be able to find others of the same faith and gather.
Char: And form communities.
Ann: Yep. I think there could easily be a lot of religious communities, slowly but surely changing what the books say to fit in with the new world. And in some cases a charismatic con person COULD in theory take over and warp them.
Char: Well, it’s happened before.
Ann: But the more personal faiths won’t have that. They’ll have the mind of the person who believes them, and all sorts of fun could happen in there.
Char: I really wonder how the fundamentalists will handle it. More religious moderates will have an easier time adapting, I think. But I’m not sure about the very conservative.
Ann: The very conservative will go nuts. Not only will it prove them right, that god is vengeful, but they may consider themselves prophets.
Char: Hmmm you’ve got a good point there…the fire and brimstone type will feel validated.
Ann: But they also might feel abandoned by god. Were they not righteous enough to be saved? Could make for some fun mythology.
Char: I think some people might think the Rapture had happened.
Ann: Yeah, they would.
Char: And then they’ll be looking for the Antichrist.
Ann: Oh yeah. And it’ll be anyone they disliked beforehand.
Char: Hehe. Yeah, I could see that. I wonder if there’ll be a new kind of witch hunt… The hunt for the Antichrist? And they’ll be looking for anyone who ISN’T Christian.
Ann: Yep, it’s a worry.
Char: Especially if a large number of them survive.
Ann: Oh god. A lot of the preppers out there are super conservative Christians.
Char: Oy, then we’re doomed. Hmm… I remember in the Tudor era people converted to whatever religion the monarch was to stay alive. Think something like that could happen?
Ann: I would totally pay lip service in order to live, then teach my children about science in the dead of night.
Char: Me too. Haha, that’ll be us, giving science lessons at midnight by candlelight.

And then we started speculating about what we’d actually say to our children during these dead-of-night science lessons. (Assuming, of course, that fundamentalists have taken over the post-apocalyptic world.)

Ann: “No, sweetie, it’s evolution that made the animals. They changed to suit their environment over millions of years. Everything is made of chemicals. The universe was made by a big bang. We aren’t the only planet out there. But don’t tell anyone.”
Char: “We evolved from apes.”
Ann: “Shh. This is an important one. You can’t say something’s true without evidence. You need proof and a double blind study with at least 100 participants, preferably 1000 or your results can’t be held to be accurate.”
Char: “And it must be repeatable with the same or similar results.”
Char: “AND DON’T WRITE IT DOWN. What if they find it?!”
Ann: “If you must write it down, write it in code. And when there are enough of us, SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION. Also, your quest is to find the abandoned laboratories and rediscover their research. Shouldn’t be too hard.”
Char: “But make sure no one sees you or knows what you’re really trying to do.”
Ann: “Mama, I’m five!”
Char: “That doesn’t matter, sweetie. We need to find the labs before the Christians blow them all up. Now sleep tight. Don’t forget, keep this to yourself, or the Christians will kill you. Good night, sweetie. I love you.”
(As a total aside, yes, I’m Christian.)
Now, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to join Ann’s and my conversation. (And join it NOW. You know you want to.) In your opinion, how will religion evolve? Will every religion evolve in a similar way? And if, God forbid, the fundamentalists DO take over the post-apocalyptic world, would you “convert” to stay alive? If you do, would you teach your children about science and evolution at midnight by candlelight? What would you say?

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