Here are some predictions for what will occur in the next century:
1) Artificial intelligence and materialistic neuroscience will lead to spiritual catastrophe – there will be a great spike in the number of people who do not believe in any metaphysics at all. The imitation of human consciousness by robots will make people assume that this disproves all notions of the soul.
2) Before this occurs, there will be a great spike in “new age” beliefs. I call people who hold new age beliefs “Spiriters.” At first, they will try to use AI and the new science as a metaphor or analogy for the spiritual world. Over time, these arguments will be found wanting.
3) The Spiriters and Atheists will at first form some sort of alliance via their common enemy – religion – and fight (violently? genocidally? employ re-education?) against the dogma of traditional religion.
4) Religion will be banned as it will be deemed a global menace, but spiritual belief in general will not be prohibited – at least initially. Atheists will allow the Spiriters to exist.
5) After religion is banned, the atheists (feeling empowered because of the awesome advances of AI and other sciences) – will turn their aggressive sights on the Spiriters.
5) The Spiriters believe in peace, love, and good will. Thus, they will also be congruent with some Atheists in that they will believe in utopia. Spiriters are mostly apolitical, have a natural tendency, given their orientation toward unconditional love, to adopt Marxist/Leftist economic plans. (Perhaps AI will preclude the severity and depravity of those systems in our age, but it is equally likely that things could be much worse for humans under new forms of central control.)
7) The Spiriters – running out of options – will have to become political to fight for their rights in an Atheist dominated world. When this happens you will see these spiritual people doing strange things in politics – believing, for instance, that words somehow change reality, that their thoughts of others will change the very character and personality of others. They may even simply envision these changes instead of doing things in the world to make alternations. Likewise, they may do this weird staring or gazing at their enemies (at this point, the Atheists) to try to get them to come to their side. These spiritual machinations will then be applied to entire nations. You will see spiritual practices applied to governance – chanting, auras, and so forth. Perhaps not blatantly, but in derivative forms of those things. This will go beyond euphemizing, it will give words enormous, supernatural power – they will act like wizards.
8) The Spiriters will turn violent – maybe murderously so – as they are unaware of the deep reservoirs of rage they have repressed. You will notice them swing back and forth, between being kind and petulant. There will be increasing battles between people of spiritual belief and those who have none.
9) History will be said to be able to be “re-made.” There will be some weird relationship to memory, a belief in the malleability of time.
9) Again, religions shall be banned (go underground?). But in the years preceding this ban, these institutions will make some progressive steps forward, seem to be “modern,” but then shall regress again, causing world conflict and war. Growing tired of this, there may be a religiocide by the Spiriters and Atheists.
10) The haughtiness of science shall increase, anyone who believes in metaphysics in any case will be shunned and ostracized. It will be a lopsided world, with the death of mystery, and the pride of a species who believes they are only matter.
11) In the future, some people will develop a new sort of mental and existential malady – there will be humans who are both perfectly happy and exquisitely tormented. Hedonism and suicide will increase in tandem. In the end, great massacres will transpire as seeing man as only a physical being makes him as easily killable as a tree. In that case, large swaths of these forests, as it were, shall disappear from earth.