Up until modern times, almost everyone experienced life in a way that was at least partly spiritual. Cultures settled on beliefs about the origins of the world, the purpose of life, and the causes and reasons for things beyond human control, and these beliefs underlay and reinforced general attitudes about the nature of the human condition. Then, with the Scientific Revolution science began to offer other explanations of phenomena beyond human control, such as the motion of the planets, and with the Industrial Revolution, the human condition itself was radically transformed by technology, as human control was extended into new realms. Scientific explanations met some of the needs that had been met by religion, and important changes in social conditions and economic lifeways undermined the appeal of religious traditions.
At the beginning of the 20'th century, many intellectuals thought that God had died and that religion would fade away, no longer being needed. Yet at the same time, there were many signs of ongoing belief in something beyond the merely physical. Especially in the U.S., Christianity adapted, changing emphasis and developing new beliefs and practices. Other movements such as Spiritualism could either complement traditional religions or stand on their own as partial answers. Then we saw the rise of religious fundamentalism and the New Age movement. Even if there weren't always the churches, theology and weekly meetings of traditional western religion, there was clearly no rush to embrace science as a source of life meaning.