This guest post was submitted by a reader, who approved of David Gruber's column about intermarriage. S/he is not the same writer who is joining the blog later this month, nor has s/he written for DovBear before.
A prediction for the future based on the history of religion
Human beings at one time believed that inanimate objects held powers. They progressed toward a time when humans became capable of abstract thinking and symbolism. The human psyche then evolved further and became capable of developing the concept of monotheism. We (humans) are now in the midst of leaving monotheism behind, as CA wrote, agnostics may be the silent majority. Soon we will move toward atheism because we simply won't need to explain the working of the world and the meaning of life based on an omniscient parent figure that through setting rules and system of reward and punishment determines how we should live our lives. We will understand that through utilitarianism and humanism we can have a wonderful, productive and civilized society based on values, morals and ideas that come from within us and not from some external force. Of course the values, morals and ideas came from within us all along.
Kohlberg, who studied stages of moral development, talks about the same idea when explaining how children develop from wanting to avoid punishment and please the parent, to concern over the law of the land and then toward a development of a code of morality that is dependent on values from within (though he argues that most people never get there). See the Heinz Dilemma for some classic psychology research on the topic