Religion provides theories for morality, narratives for afterlife that continue conscious experience, and a sense of higher purpose (answers to the question of "why am I here?"). You can answer these questions using science, which is a tool to navigate uncertainty. Certainty isn't a state of mind, it is an emotional feeling. I can be certain that I think though.
If something is said clearly, that doesn't mean it is true. If something is vague or obscure it may indicate falsehood. If there is a contradiction, there is falsehood. That is how you approach Truth. The science community is the only one I know where you win status points for proving yourself wrong.
In a dogmatic religious setting, the person you are most afraid to contradict is yourself. Dogma depends on an "infallible leader" or an "infallible text." A source you are not allowed to challenge, or question. That is why it is called blind faith. Curiosity is a wondrous thing, and you should always question authority. I am a fallibilist.
All knowledge is theory. The common state of knowledge is error and is no shame. The theories we provisionally adopt are the ones that withstand the most rigorous criticism. You can't prove anything (outside of mathematics and logic philosophy). You can only prove something false. I believe objective truth exists, and although we can't pinpoint it– we can infinitely approach it by searching for Truth and finding contradictions. I build upon that and strive for the best explanations.
The future of religion will be decentralized because there can't be a one-size-fits all. Everyone should choose for themselves how they want to live, considering it doesn't harm others. Even still, morality boils down to theories about conscious experience. This is something we can now begin to quantify, visualize, and measure with modern brain science, and by checking physiological markers such as hormone levels in the blood.
Emotional and physical pain are reported to trigger the same regions and process similarly. From here people can hypothesize about and compare different states of being (i.e. suffering vs general wellbeing), examining how thoughts and actions affect themselves and those around them. Even lacking sophisticated instruments people can weigh themselves in the laboratory of their own minds, testing if certain claims to be true.
Traditions, Cultural Appropriation, & Ritual
The Four Agreements is a Toltec wisdom book about "the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering." The four agreements (listed above) require effort, self-reflection, and honesty. In the short essay Lying Sam Harris "argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie."
Complementing The Four Agreements (which I've heard humorously referred to as The Forrest Gump strategy), Create Your Own Religion is a "call-to-arms" which basically claims everyone does this already. The world's major religions have many branches, with subscribing individuals picking-and-choosing which texts to live by accordingly. By embracing appropriation, and considering human behavior in different cultures and traditions, we can learn to see doubt as a defense to dogma and uncertainty as an exciting and desirable feature of life.
Weighing pros and cons, people must decide for themselves how much they apply inclusiveness and exclusiveness policies. My belief is that on the whole openness is essential for a global civilization, and the only policy that would enable us to have one. But regarding smaller groups and communities such as friends, families, and clubs (what-have-you)– that should be left to the mutual discretion of the people maintaining the bonds.
Not believing in a monotheistic God shouldn't eliminate "God" from our vocabularies. Look at nature and see all existence and realize it is a manifestation of the same thing. Like Taoists who embrace paradox – an atheist can believe the universe, and all existence is God. You are a manifestation and expression of God. In that sense, like the Azteks believed, you are God.
Besides providing rituals and ordaining judgements to codify sexuality and community organization, most religions give answers about the afterlife, others don't. Those that don't, tell you to focus on maximizing your happiness in the present life (opposed to sacrificing for the afterlife). However, this causes deep conflicts for a lot of people due to the perceived inevitability of death.
There is serious hope though, the transhumanist movement wants to extend human life indefinitely. I've met Christian, Mormon, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim transhumanists.
Order and Chaos
Everything is random and Chaos. But order emerges from Chaos. Chaos theory shows randomness is not exactly random. For example, each Oak tree we plant will produce a random Oak tree. We won't be able to predict exactly what it looks like, but we will still have a close idea; we know it won't look like a person. The Mandlebrot set is the graph of randomness. People are often fooled by randomness. James Gleick's book Chaos: Making a New Science explains the significance of Chaos theory, and how it makes modern computers and eventually A.I. possible.
Truth be told, when I read God in a sentence, I often see it as a metaphor for the Chaos. Disorder unfurling to order.
Some people still believe the mind and soul are separate. All neuro-scientific evidence suggests they are the same. I believe my mind is my soul. You might believe there is an "unchanging soul" or essence in you– I do not believe that is so.
Buddism teaches "the self illusion," meaning there is no self. It doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it means it is not what it seems. There is no "you" inside of you. You are raw conscious experience. You are the story you tell yourself; you are what you think. The story you tell yourself depends on what you think, what you think others think, and what you think others think of you. Modern neuroscience validates millennia of Buddhist theory.
Individuals can customize lifestyles, and enjoy the psychological benefits of spirituality without faith in divine providence.
I'm an atheist (in the monotheistic sense), but technically agnostic. I think near-death experience survivors, people who've had good and bad trips on psychedelics, and conjectures— have collectively informed the legends we have about afterlife.
These are my thoughts on death. When we die we have a DMT trip, and that ride or show our brain experiences when we go out, will reflect whether we felt/or did create more heaven or hell on earth. I also don't think self delusion will be enough to tip the scale in your favor- it will be a genuine reflection of your internal experience and the experiences you gave to others. I don't believe in a literal heaven or hell, I see these as states of consciousness that exist in the real world.
I don't believe in an afterlife. I believe death is likely, but not inevitable (because of modern scientific advancements). I think if my life ends, my conscious experience ends. I am at peace with that, but I don't want it to happen! If I needed an afterlife narrative to cope with fear I would want a "scientific explanation" for heaven or reincarnation. Though I wouldn't want to dull Occam's razor: "among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected."
The "scientific" explanation for reincarnation is a theory our consciousness will return to an outside source then be recycled. People who've taken DMT commonly report seeing hyper advanced sentient beings at the end of the trip. Some people have interpreted this as a signal our consciousness exists outside our body and our minds are tuners that receive it. Many people interpret this as the message of psychedelic DMT trips (but good and bad DMT trips could easily be interpreted as peaks at heaven/hell afterlife).
There's also a chance we live in a "matrix" simulation like Elon Musk believes. So the "scientific" explanation for afterlife may be we currently live in a simulation- this theory proposes how it could exist. So while I think that is unsatisfactory and fails Occam's razor, there it is.
I interpret the reported sentience in DMT trips as our deepest subconscious, revealing a fractal blueprint and primordial existential desire. I believe it's our innermost soul that wants it to exist and an indication that information is driven to create that existence (through Chaos and the singularity). An outer sentience-for-us doesn't exist yet. We wish it did exist and people want to create it and become a part of it, symbiotically and as a whole.
Note: we are creatures of information. Our minds literally and physically emerge from the genetic code in our DNA; our minds emerge from and are guided by information. It's no coincidence we have memetic (ideas) and genetic (genes) evolution. Memes and genes are both made of information bits. This is why Kevin Kelly believes technology is emerging as the 7th kingdom of life.
So even as people may surf the singularity and strive to become superhuman and godlike, the Nordic version of the apocalypse, The Ragnorak, tells a legend where all gods die. Knowledge is power: reflect; it's better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war. Stories like this are designed to help us face death, in order to survive.
The big leap with transhumanism does eventually involve augmenting your brain with machines and technology. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - DARPA already invented the brain-to-machine interface. Mind you, I wouldn't want to do any of this stuff for a long time. Google is also working on the external neocortex (which would allow you to outsource higher level thinking, give you perfect memory, etc). It would "change" who you are in some sense, but you are changing all the time– "the same man never steps in the same river twice." The intent with augmenting your brain would be to evolve it, without ending your conscious experience. Because of neuroplasticity– the location of information in your brain can shift, it's wiring can shift, and your nervous system can link with machines.
There are a couple of theories, and time will tell which ones remain the most popular. The one I like is like the "Ship of Theseus." Gradually augmenting your brain, until less and less of it is organic, and eventually none of it is. Your mind is an emergent phenomenon from the genetic code in your DNA. If we create new wetware that is compatible and synced to an internet, the neuroplasticity will allow the locality of your brain to move from one region to another. The goal would be to eventually upload your mind in this way to a blockchain-type-server, through attrition and gradual replacement.