As a young Royal Air Force officer, Arthur C. Clarke helped develop a radar landing system as part of a team with Louis Alvarez, who then aided the Manhattan project, later helped determine when the three shots were fired at president Kennedy, and then proposed that a meteor impact wiped out the dinosaurs. Shortly after World War II, Clarke explained how satellites in geosynchronous orbit could be used for global communications. One of the most prominent hardcore science-fiction authors of the era, and always my favorite—I was lucky enough to have limited communication with him around the turn of the century—Clarke cocreated 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In the fifties and sixties, Clarke wrote a number of novels set on Earth during the late twentieth and/or twenty-first centuries, including Childhood’s End, The Deep Range, and Dolphin Island, that shared a common premise. A rational atheist, Clarke assumed that as modernity and middle-class prosperity at long last pervaded a peaceful world, deeply supernaturalistic faiths such as Abrahamism and Hinduism would finally fade away, leaving only atheism, along perhaps with the philosophical Buddhism for which Clarke maintained a fondness until the virulent strife that afflicted his beloved Sri Lanka.
Obviously that didn’t happen, although secularism has made remarkable strides and continues to do so in our time. Why is that?