What is the possibility of a new major religion forming in the next few centuries?

A lot depends on geopolitics of the next few centuries of course, but it is definitely possible.

New religions grow mostly by playing the upgrade card (we are new and correct version of truth that is better than the old ones) or the underdog card (help help all these big and established old religions are beating up on us because they are threatened by us). A third way for them to emerge and prosper is by pretending to be an old religion which was lost and has now been found (Mormons[1] anyone?).

It is also possible that a new religion might emerge from the ashes of an old dead religion. There has been a rise in European paganism[2] for a number of years now powered mostly by an anti-Christian sentiment.

At the end of the day, how major a religion ends up being, depends on how close to power its adherents are. Islam’s power comes predominantly from Saudi influence. Christianity grew in power by attaching itself to imperial Rome.

Hinduism is to India what Christianity is to the world on the other side of the Mediterranean. It got to where it is today by becoming the shell that defined Indian-ness when religions of the faith arrived in the sub-continent. It was once a defence mechanism, now it is the whole machine.

Having said all this, it is also possible that the next few centuries will not be anything like the last few centuries. Perhaps large parts of the world will be forced to come to terms with the facts of life and growing secularism will engulf the nations of the world. Perhaps Islam will die in the fire it has started, perhaps Christianity will simply stop being relevant, perhaps Hinduism will no longer be a label people use to define themselves.

Footnotes

[1] Mormonism – Wikipedia

[2] Modern Paganism – Wikipedia

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