When religious doctrines lose credibility, chiefly because they do not seem relevant to current social conditions, there results a lack of moral guidance. Religious teaching may be seen as hypocritical, corrupt or intolerant and may lead to conflict and atrocities. One religion may therefore be rejected without another taking its place. Experimental and fragmented religious sects may attempt to fill a need without in fact doing so on a wide or lasting basis. Other non-theist ideologies may be adopted by individuals, or society as a whole may witness the ascent of nationalism combined with an evangelical but secular political creed of a new order. State dogmatism may replace multi-religious, pluralistic and liberal regimes, and racism may enter along with totalitarianism. Decadence, cynicism and apathy may eventuate in a culture still in search of coherent or persuasive statements concerning its goals.
Religious doctrine may be incompatible with trends in modern living, as exampled in birth control, agricultural development, alleviation of mass poverty and malnutrition. Religious pronouncements against war, intolerance, discrimination and exploitation appear to have little practical effect. Religious doctrine may conflict with national or international development programmes causing conflict, or regressive religious attitudes may be adopted by the national government.
The rise of the Third Reich, and the establishment of communism, for example, may be seen as the results of the failure of religion. Religion appears to be inadequate, particularly in the view of disadvantaged or intellectual people in highly industrialized and technically developed societies where conservatively interpreted religious doctrines may be in direct conflict with social progress. Newer or more liberal doctrines may be insufficient or lack credibility to replace them. In developing countries, religion may impede progress to an even greater extent by holding the allegiance of masses of poor and uneducated people whose main solace is in religious belief. Among indigenous populations, the influences of the large and unacculturated institutionalized religions may serve to hasten ethnic disintegration but not to fulfil the needs of such populations in transition to a different way of life.