Religion and science fiction are estranged, it is all too common for me to read in a book or story that the advent of some technology or social event (first contact) rendered all religion obsolete and that humanity discards it like it did thatched roofs, bi-planes and steam cars. I have read articles that state that the human condition is predisposed to believing in something greater than itself, IE religion/faith. Thusly, there is not going to be some technomagical event that is going to extinguish faith and it is more likely that the religion of the science fiction is the personal religion of the author. This is disappointing, as it does religion a disservice, as in the past it was the Church that carried on through the dark ages, and sponsored scientists, fostered agriculture, mathematics, astronomy, and other things that we consider secular and not at all religious. Also, on the list of organizations that have lasted longer than 1000 years, almost all of them are churches or universities.
Faith grows, it withers, it's changes, and it stays the same, and something like the changing of eras isn't going to change it.
The Big 3
The predominant Western religion of the Petroleum Era, Christianity went through a transformation in the Second Dark Age. The first Dark Age saw the schism between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. The newest branch of the religion is the Evangelist Church.
The Catholic Church, centered around the Vatican and the Pope remains alive and strong in the Cosmic Era. It is not associated with any specific world power, but is the predominant religion of the United States of South America, and there is a second, New Vatican City, in Brazil. Through the Resource Wars and Second Dark Age, the Catholic church returned to it's roots of preserving information, and protecting relics, and assembled a number of libraries, in hardcopy. This saw large amounts of information saved when the Hypernet collapsed and the Petroleum era ended. The church is a very strongly humanitarian organization as it is located in some of the worst afflicted parts of the world. The charity and industry demonstrated by the church, as well as it's funding and organization of paramilitary forces to combat the things that come from Dimensional Fatigue Events, turned back wasteland raiders, have earned it a strong support among the populace.
The Catholic Church of the Cosmic Era in many ways resembles the Church as depicted in Japanese Anime, possessing military equipment, prowess in battle, and occupying fortress like cathedrals. The carnage that permeates Europe and the Middle East has filled it's ranks with augmented veterans, cyborgs, and others who have found a greater purpose in serving God, the Church and humanity.
The Protestant Church, long the core of American values, fell on hard times through the Second Dark Age. While it prospered in the Resource Wars, it's hawkish nature, supporting troops and being involved in politics ended up hamstringing it when the superpowers fell. Already a fractured body, the Protestant church further fractured, with long established organizations collapsing. Once the Second Renaissance took hold, the Protestant Church re-emerged under organizations such as the Prosperity Convention, and the flagship Confederated Baptist Church, the theocratic leader of the Confederation of Southern States.
Plastic Christianity: Through the Petroleum Era, the Protestant factions of Christianity were confronted with secular and popular opinions taking sway over their doctrines. The ancient books were re-interpreted, re-translated, and updated with a social mindedness. The end result was a sort of secular religion, one that changed from decade to decade, embracing and rejecting fads on it's own internal whim. The end amalgamation of fluid doctrine, anything goes except the stuff we don't like, pro-military, anti-poor (against the poor, no for opposing their poverty), and other flexibilities saw the large scale collapse of such organizations. When forced to stand on their own, these plastic and artificial faiths buckled as they ultimately stood for nothing other than personal good feelings.
The Protestant branches have risen again, particularly in areas considered backwater in the Petroleum Era. Where the megachurches fell, the neighborhood churches, weekend preachers, and local outreach churches survived. These grew from grassroots, never having to pick up the pieces, because they never fell. In the Second Dark age, these churches became the new community centers, offering a central position for leadership and such in the absence of federal and state level leadership.
Evangelism was born with the 3rdNet, and flourished with the CogNet. While the definition of evangelism is to spread religious gospel by public speaking and personal witness, the new Evangelism uses the virtual world of the CogNet and immersion technology to create online evangelism. Born from the dormant seeds of the megachurches, the Evangelist churches are only online, their cathedrals are virtual, and places like Heaven and Hell are massive dedicated CogNet servers, places you can go and visit. The technophilic religion even 'saves' copies of people's memories and likenesses so that the deceased can be visited, even if they are in truth personalized synthetic intelligences running avatars. The organizations are funded by donations, and by members 'buying' a spot in the server so that when their time comes, they will live on in virtual form.
Infomorph: can a human being live on as a computer program, as a simulation in a machine? The answer is no. A human being is more than a collection of memories and preset behaviors. This is a convincing and soothing fiction, and it has made the evangelist churches wealthy. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. It is possible for a human being to functionally upload their soul into the CogNet, though this is difficult, and the thing that comes out on the other side is seldom recognizable as human. Infomorphs are the end result of a sentient or spiritual energy that becomes formatted into the CogNet, or is uploaded into it. Infomorphs are sentient, computer code is their DNA, and as living entities they grow, and in time will propagate. Behold, the conversion from a flesh and bone body to being an energy life form.
The precursor to Christianity, Judaism, takes a heavy hit during the Resource Wars and in the opening years of the Second Dark Age. The Jewish people survive and persevere, but it through a second Diaspora. Israel is classified as a red zone, contaminated by chemical, biological, and radioactive warfare. Most of the holy places in the Middle East have suffered this common fate. Tensions during the previous eras peaked with a limited nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran, and widespread ground wars that quickly turned very dirty. Judaism has become a minority religion, and is seen as an anachronism, and has been shackled with the deeds of Israel.
Anti-Semitism peaked during the Second Dark Age, forcing the surviving Jews either into protective enclaves, into hiding, or into parts of the world where their religion wasn't held against them. The largest Jew enclaves are found in the USSA and South African United Republics, Nippon, and the Commonwealth of New England.
Like Judaism, Islam took a severe beating during the Resource Wars and Second Dark Age. Most Islamic countries were oil producing, and were in the first rounds of the war, with some scholars pointing out that the Resource Wars started decades before the end of the Petroleum era as proxy wars between various Federal superstates and their regional allies. After military operations ceased in many of the Islamic countries, the various factions of Islam, Shiite and Sunni, were freed of outside intervention keeping the peace (and oil flowing) and quickly devolved into sectarian violence. This reached a crescendo in the Dark Age when full scale war erupted between Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The three-way conflict saw a dozen cities nuked, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tehran, Riyadh, and others. Holy sites were targets, and religious landmarks like the Dome of the Rock are now radioactive rubble.
Islam has survived into the Cosmic Era, and it is the tenacious faith of the Wastelands, and Arabic is the trade tongue of the Silk Road. The disenfranchised, and the downtrodden pushed out of Europe, Africa, and the non-Asian parts of the ACPS have found their way to Islam.
Chrislam is an emergent religion, and has separated itself from Islam in much the same way Protestants separated themselves from the Catholics centuries ago. Chrislam combines the language and practices of Islam with the secular attitudes and social views of typical Protestant Christianity. The religion is part syncretistic, part protestant. Most adherents of Chrislam wanted to distance themselves from the practitioners of Islam, as at the time of the schism, the public face of Islam was a bearded man with a machine gun, beheading people, suicide bomber, killing anyone and destroying everything in the name of the prophet. With the collapse of Globalism, large Muslim populations were isolated from their homelands, and eventually were assimilated into local cultures. Those in North America and the western parts of Europe adopted a fusion of Christianity and Islam to keep their faith without being tied to a group of people strongly blamed for the end of the Petroleum Era. The African branch of Chrislam is older, and closer to the original roots of Islam, and is considered by most the more conservative and traditional branch of the religion.
Author's Note: My treatment of Judaism is probably too short, but I have almost no experience with the subject matter, and the only people I know who identify as being of Jewish faith also identify as non-practicing. The section on Islam is longer, but only because I have read more about it and feel that it is something that is important to the Cosmic Era.
While the Eastern hemisphere suffered direly in the Resource Wars and the Second Dark age, it's struggles were of a less militaristic or religious nature. As such, the predominant religions of the East didn't change much. Tao, Shinto, and Buddhism remain in many ways the same.
Shinto and Shentechno
The animistic religion of Japan grew into the new religion of Nippon. The faith remains almost identical to it's roots, with the exception of the addition of technology, and technological animism. The techno-animism of Shentechno is common across the Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, especially in the Chinese satellites of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea. The introduction of CogNet technologies, arcanotech, and dimensional science were folded into Shinto and embraced as part of a meditative and inner focus faith.
Tech-Priests and Star Communications
A venerated position in the ACPS and Nippon is the Tech Priest. The Tech Priest is versed in traditional Shinto training, often with training in the I Ching, Feng Shue, and other esoteric topics as well as arcanotech, psychotronics, or whatever their field of application is. These men and women are more than just workers, engineers, and technicians, they are a bridge between technology and humanity. Some will say the increased efficiency of their works comes from their religious training, others will say that it comes from the methodical and patient manner in which they work.
The first megacorp to train and employ tech priests was Star Communications of Tokyo. Star Communications is a major telecom and CogNet provider and maintains a large number of relay stations, server nodes, and signal generators. This network was built and tended by the tech priests of the company. Rather than following the plans of surveyors and industrial planners, the Tech priests laid out the network for Star Communications, following old Dragon Tracks around the home island, and to outside islands and the Asian mainland. While the network went 45% over budget, it has one of the best service and coverage records of any Cog provider.
Buddhism has flourished in the Cosmic Era. It's teachings of community, ending suffering and cravings for material things, and focus on spirituality and the well being of others fits in well with the pragmatism and post-materialism of the Cosmic.
At the height of the Petroleum Era, the emergent religion was Atheism, the disbelief in religion. The Gas Powered Atheism was a new creature because it adopted the rituals and duties of religion, overseeing secular marriages and doing community outreach programs, caring for the poor and helping the local community, and it did this without spending millions on massive buildings, little central organization, and adopted a number of other causes under it's mantle, including environmental concerns, economic inequality, and social justice. While is generally seen in a positive light, the New Atheism was also an obsessively aggressive creature, and is intensely disliked any competition. If it helped with one hand, the other hand was striking. The most frequent targets of the group was religious organizations and institutions, which typically had the organization, resources, and internal support to withstand the social and economic attacks levered against them.
Organized Atheism suffered greatly during the Resource Wars and the Second Dark Age. When faced with the losses of life, and hardships that came with the war, with the natural disasters, and the lights going out, the Atheist faction had nothing to offer. After years of going after religious organizations, that was what most people remembered about the group. With more and more people turning to the comfort and guidance of religion, atheism fell in numbers.Cosmic Religions
The presence of things like Dimensional fatigue events, teratomorphs, and parapsychics has created a new pocket era of cults. These cults typically follow the traditional lay out of being highly secretive, hiding as members of the predominant faith in the region, while carrying out obscure and frequently obscene rites.
The Dimensional Cult is based around a stable dimensional fatigue event. These cults are typically found in the wastelands and are highlighted by barbarism and cosmic taint. The cult lasts only as long as the event remains stable, but also small enough to not draw larger attention. Large DFEs are hunted down and sealed by reflex and fast response teams. The cult is highly fixed in nature, and destroying the focus of their devotion is sufficient to destroy said cult.
The Teratomorph Cult worships giant monsters, and is considered an addle-brained and borderline suicidal faith. Adherents believe the titans to be divine and attempt to commune with them, which typically gets them arrested by the police at best, devoured by magnaspawn more frequently.
The Parapsychic Cult is typically the most destructive, as it is easy for a normal person with good speaking skills and charisma to gain a following. When that person can command the elements, or heal with a touch, or any of the other powers parapsychics can manifest, gaining a cult following is easy. This would be less of a deal, but the number of cosmically corrupted parapsychics and desolate ones with cults it truly frightening.