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-   -   More Americans say they have no religion (http://www.lucasforums.com/showthread.php?t=196308)

mimartin 03-09-2009 12:44 PM

More Americans say they have no religion
 
For some reason while reading this article that old REM song "Losing My Religion" popped into my head.

More Americans say they have no religion by Rachel Zoll.

Thoughts?

Concerns?

mur'phon 03-09-2009 12:58 PM

Interesting, here's to hoping the increase will eventually mean less conflict betwen the religious and non-religious on your side of the pond.

SkinWalker 03-09-2009 02:25 PM

My area of specialty in anthropology and archaeology is religion and cult beliefs, particularly as seen in material record of ancient cultures. But I find it very important to stay abreast of modern religious studies in order to put human behavior in context (presumably, human physiology and neurology hasn't evolved from pre-historic to historic to modern times) and make predictions back and forth between periods.

For those that study religious trends as anthropological and sociological functions (scientific study is the only useful way to study religion) as well as the psychological functions, the trend cited above isn't surprising. This is the sort of thing that has been observed for some time now.

The extent to which religiosity is being reduced and adherence is becoming less stringent, may be debated somewhat though. There have been some recent papers that describe studies which examine the emergence of a "new axial age" in which major religions take a major turn to evolve with cultural progress (i.e. science) or where specific religious cults are abandoned and replaced with new religious thought.

Examples of these are the acknowledgment of biological evolution by the Catholic Church and the increased acceptance of "new age" spirituality.

The Catholic Church still has some progress to make, in my opinion, since there are still some very fundamental concepts this cult still adheres to like its resistance to birth control, etc.; but by and large, Catholics (particularly in the United States) are very liberal in their religious dogma and there seems to be a conscious effort to leverage change within cult doctrine in an effort to mirror secular progresses in science and ethics. Over the next few decades, I suspect we'll see the Catholic Church make advancements and strides in matching secular society in its social progress. Eventually, the Church will need to either loosen up on its dogmatic concepts (like birth control) or fail.

The other example of a "new axial age" is the increased adherence to "new age" spirituality -these are usually westernized eastern philosophies ranging from yoga to trantric meditation to pseudo-Native American practices.

For those curious, "new axial age" comes from the five stages of religious evolution as described by Robert Bellah (1964). In this paper, Bellah suggests that religions begin without hierarchy and priestly classes or even gods, but gradually evolve into cults where, first, gods are presented for worship then shamans as intermediaries then priests as guides and authorities. The cults evolve from primitive to archaic to historical to post-historical to modern, with historical being the first "axial" age where distinct trends in hierarchy and prescribed ritual are established and cult doctrine is established (with the advent of writing). This would be the transition point from an early Judaic to an Early Christian point, for instance.

The post-historical (or "early-modern" as, I believe, Bellah referred to it) would include the Protestant Reformation, leaving the modern stage as the current. In this fifth stage, Bellah suggests that there is a return to a non-world rejecting philosophy -which is seen in modern "new age" spirituality and other liberal religious thought (i.e. environmentalism, green movements, etc.). For this reason, I typically don't see a "new axial age" but, rather, just further definition of the modern stage (assuming that Bellah's model holds, and I think it does).

Incidentally, its at the historical age -the first axial age- where Bellah notes that the crucial characteristic is the rejection and devaluation of this world in favor of a "next world."

Notes: 1. If mimartin is okay with this, I'd like to keep this thread at a purely logical and scientific level, with a priori assumptions about the "truth" of any religious thought left out. In other words, this will be a secular thread. Religious believers, proponents and adherents are welcome to participate, but only to the extent to which they are willing to discuss religiosity from a scientific perspective. I'll PM mimartin to ensure he's okay with this since he started the thread.

2. My use of terms like "cult" are clinical and academic. From a scientific perspective, there is no difference between describing an ancient Sumerian or Peruvian cult center or a modern one. They are temples, places of worship, and ritual behavior. If this offends you or if you cannot accept it as rational and not pejorative, this might not be the thread for you to participate in.

3. The term "liberal" and, while not yet used, "conservative" in the context of the scientific examination of religiosity should not be equivocated with their namesakes used in modern political discourse. While there are some similarities, there are enough differences that the terms are not synonymous.

4. I always enjoy scientific and rational discussion of religion for the reasons I mentioned above. If I end up rambling and not citing a source for you and you'd like more information, please let me know either in-thread or via PM. In some cases I may even have PDF articles (where copyright permits) that I can share either in whole or part (vis a vis Fair Use).


Reference:

Bellah, R. N. (1964). Religious Evolution, American Sociological Review 29, 358-374

GarfieldJL 03-09-2009 04:12 PM

Have they taken into account the fact that many people that are religious are afraid to admit it for fear of persecution?

SkinWalker 03-09-2009 04:33 PM

That premise doesn't appear to hold any weight. The minority of the population of religious people, which are an overwhelming majority, are too tiny to skew results. If anything, there is more to be fear by those that are not religious who fear the bigotry and persecution of those deluded by religion.

Jae Onasi 03-09-2009 05:53 PM

This is perhaps a bit of a tangent, but it reminded me of what my adviser and history of medicine prof, Dr. John Burnham, had discussed in that class--the 'priesthood of medicine' in the mid 1900's as medicine took tremendous leaps in the treatment and prevention of acute disease. One of his many articles is here and starts on p. 284, though the priesthood aspect begins near the end of p. 287. You might find some interesting parallels to the discussion here.

SkinWalker 03-23-2009 08:17 PM

It just occurred to me that the number of non-religious people in the U.S. exceeds that of any other minority group. Its perhaps no wonder that Obama was forced to recognize the non-religious in his acceptance speech. To not do so would have been political suicide since we're a bigger minority than African Americans and Jews put together.

The non-religious make up about 24-33% depending upon how you read the numbers. That's about 73 million people.

Even if you just count atheists and agnostics, the number is about 37 million people!

Kain 03-23-2009 11:22 PM

The fall of morality in society begets the fall of religion in society.

As things long considered 'sin' by mainstream religion become accepted by society at large, mainstream religion takes the hit for being 'not with the times' and thus drives many away.

Not to mention the Christian church's long-time love affair with outting everyone 'different' from them - and that whole thing got old about 1000 years ago.

EnderWiggin 03-23-2009 11:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kain (Post 2605204)
The fall of morality in society begets the fall of religion in society.

Huh? I hope you're not implying that ethics are only present due to religion.

See: Divine Command Theory, and more specifically the naturalistic fallacies it commits while being mostly comprised of tautology.

_EW_

kipperthefrog 03-23-2009 11:52 PM

I think this is all good news. More people focusing on the real world.

GarfieldJL 03-24-2009 05:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kipperthefrog (Post 2605217)
I think this is all good news. More people focusing on the real world.

No, this is a bad thing because we're seeing a trend towards social apathy and not caring about doing the right thing that seems directly proportional to the increase in atheism.

True_Avery 03-24-2009 06:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GarfieldJL (Post 2605534)
No, this is a bad thing because we're seeing a trend towards social apathy and not caring about doing the right thing that seems directly proportional to the increase in atheism.

Source?

Seems like a stretch of an argument considering we seem, at a glance, to be a pretty peaceful world and nation as of now.

Also odd considering how many wars and genocides were performed in the name of religion. As far as I know, there have not been nearly as many wars enacted in the name of atheism.

GarfieldJL 03-24-2009 06:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery (Post 2605542)
Source?

Seems like a stretch of an argument considering we seem, at a glance, to be a pretty peaceful world and nation as of now.

Also odd considering how many wars and genocides were performed in the name of religion. As far as I know, there have not been nearly as many wars enacted in the name of atheism.

Actually there is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_H...igious_beliefs

http://newhumanist.org.uk/627

There is an argument that Hitler was an atheist as there are arguments that he was Christian.

You can also look at Joseph Stalin.

True_Avery 03-24-2009 07:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GarfieldJL (Post 2605552)
Actually there is:

Was not denying there weren't anyway. Was just saying that more blood has still been spilt over religion instead of non-belief.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GarfieldJL (Post 2605552)

While Adolf's true religion is debatable, he based his war and genocide upon religious beliefs. I'm going to stick with him primarily being "christian" from his words and justifications, however. Feel free to prove me otherwise, however.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GarfieldJL (Post 2605552)

Hm. You may want to re-read this article, as it does not really support your belief that atheists cause wars. It fact, it seems to be against that idea.

What the article does say, however, is that forcing atheism on the people could have horrific consequences. However, the religious have been forcing themselves on people for thousands of years and I believe the wars speak for themselves.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GarfieldJL (Post 2605552)
You can also look at Joseph Stalin.

Unfortunately, for this I will have to direct you back at your own article:
http://newhumanist.org.uk/627

Quote:

Originally Posted by newhumanist
However, the fact that the Soviet Union was atheist is no more reason to think that atheism is necessarily evil than the fact that Hitler was a vegetarian is a reason to suppose that all vegetarians are Nazis. It is certainly an historical refutation of the idea that atheism must always be benign, but it is a very na´ve atheist who thinks that it is impossible for atheists ever to do wrong. If the Soviet Union provides some kind of refutation of atheism, then atrocities such as the crusades or inquisitions would likewise refute Christianity.


SkinWalker 03-25-2009 12:57 AM

Ahh... the Joseph Stalin fallacy.

The argument being that atheism is bad because Stalin was an atheist who was a ruthless murderer. This would be like saying eating bread is bad because most people in prison eat bread and therefore they break the law and end up in prison.

If there were any credence to the Stalin fallacy, there would be a higher trend of atheists becoming ruthless murderers. Instead, what we find is quite the opposite. There is a direct and positive correlation between godlessness and immorality. Or, if you prefer, a negative correlation between religiosity and immorality.

I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment, but I'll be happy to detail this correlation further and provide data to support it should anyone request it.

But the thing that Stalin has in common with the ruthless murderers and amoral religionists in history who have used religion to "evil" ends is ideology. Religion is an ideology. Stalin's version of communism was an ideology. Indeed, Marx would not have approved of Stalin one bit since Stalin's ideology was the very epitome of the hegemony that Marx argued that the peasant class needed to overcome.

SkinWalker 03-25-2009 01:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GarfieldJL (Post 2605534)
No, this is a bad thing because we're seeing a trend towards social apathy and not caring about doing the right thing that seems directly proportional to the increase in atheism.

Quote:

Originally Posted by GarfieldJL (Post 2605552)
Actually there is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_H...igious_beliefs

http://newhumanist.org.uk/627

There is an argument that Hitler was an atheist as there are arguments that he was Christian.

You can also look at Joseph Stalin.

The links in your latter quote above are not sources to the claim you're making in the former. Please provide a valid source that presents data demonstrating a proportional correlation increase in atheism to the trends toward social apathy and amorality. This source should be one of scientifically verifiable data or at least inclusive of detailed analysis of such data.

Tyrion 03-25-2009 01:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker (Post 2605718)
But the thing that Stalin has in common with the ruthless murderers and amoral religionists in history who have used religion to "evil" ends is ideology. Religion is an ideology. Stalin's version of communism was an ideology. Indeed, Marx would not have approved of Stalin one bit since Stalin's ideology was the very epitome of the hegemony that Marx argued that the peasant class needed to overcome.

I'd argue that Stalin's communism was less atheistic and more centered on the cult of personality that proclaimed his infallibility.

GarfieldJL 03-25-2009 09:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery (Post 2605570)
Was not denying there weren't anyway. Was just saying that more blood has still been spilt over religion instead of non-belief.

Again, see Communism and Nazism.

Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery
While Adolf's true religion is debatable, he based his war and genocide upon religious beliefs. I'm going to stick with him primarily being "christian" from his words and justifications, however. Feel free to prove me otherwise, however.

Did he? Or was he just using it as an excuse to try to take over the world, that's the real issue, based on his "master race" comments it seems that he probably was an atheist and merely used religion as an excuse.

Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery
Hm. You may want to re-read this article, as it does not really support your belief that atheists cause wars. It fact, it seems to be against that idea.

I know, but both articles inadvertently provide evidence that debunks their own articles. It's kinda hard to find things online due to the left's stranglehold on Academia (and yes I'm accusing them of discrimination of Conservatives).

Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery
What the article does say, however, is that forcing atheism on the people could have horrific consequences. However, the religious have been forcing themselves on people for thousands of years and I believe the wars speak for themselves.

It isn't a could have horrific consequences, it's a does have horrific consequences.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1121/p09s01-coop.html

And I know the source would be biased but the article provides the other side of the argument quite well.

Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery
Unfortunately, for this I will have to direct you back at your own article:
http://newhumanist.org.uk/627


I was also pointing out what they left out. Such as the fact that there were elements of the Catholic Church that was helping Jewish people and others escape.

Ever seen the movie: The Sound of Music? That movie was based off of a true story.

Granted there were authority figures that were going along with the Nazis, but by the same token, their were others that did not in secret.


Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker
Ahh... the Joseph Stalin fallacy.

The argument being that atheism is bad because Stalin was an atheist who was a ruthless murderer. This would be like saying eating bread is bad because most people in prison eat bread and therefore they break the law and end up in prison.

He was an atheist though, as was Mao Zedong.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker
If there were any credence to the Stalin fallacy, there would be a higher trend of atheists becoming ruthless murderers. Instead, what we find is quite the opposite. There is a direct and positive correlation between godlessness and immorality. Or, if you prefer, a negative correlation between religiosity and immorality.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-h...e_b_53250.html

There are some comments here (from a far-left site) that throws your argument out the window.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker
I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment, but I'll be happy to detail this correlation further and provide data to support it should anyone request it.

Is this more data where the individuals doing research violated the scientific method (like the sources you used last time) or where they tainted the research data?

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker
But the thing that Stalin has in common with the ruthless murderers and amoral religionists in history who have used religion to "evil" ends is ideology. Religion is an ideology. Stalin's version of communism was an ideology. Indeed, Marx would not have approved of Stalin one bit since Stalin's ideology was the very epitome of the hegemony that Marx argued that the peasant class needed to overcome.

That's debatable, Communism is basically enforced Socialism, because let's face it, Marx's version of Socialism without it being forced on people doesn't work!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyrion
I'd argue that Stalin's communism was less atheistic and more centered on the cult of personality that proclaimed his infallibility.

Try Lenin then...

mur'phon 03-25-2009 10:35 AM

Quote:

Did he? Or was he just using it as an excuse to try to take over the world, that's the real issue, based on his "master race" comments it seems that he probably was an atheist and merely used religion as an excuse.
Why does a belief in a master race make him more likely to be an atheist? I'm asking because I have yet to see any corelation betwen racism and lack of belief.

Quote:

It isn't a could have horrific consequences, it's a does have horrific consequences.
Wonderfull, an oppinion piece.
While I have little love for Dawkins or Harris, this site seems to copy their way of presenting things (like mentioning the 10 000 deaths of the Spanish Inquisition while forgetting that most such killings weren't done by them). It also claims that Communism is a tool for atheists to remove its oponents, while neglecting that at its core Communism is not about removing God(s), it's about redistributing wealth and power, the church, unfourtantely, happened to have both an as such it was targeted.

Quote:

There are some comments here (from a far-left site) that throws your argument out the window.
Err, no another blog with about the same points. Again seems to go with the "if someone kills someone/orders someone dead, and is an Atheist, they kill, because they're atheists" idea.

SkinWalker 03-25-2009 08:22 PM

Wow. And is anyone surprised that Garfield sticks with his preconceived notion and seeks only that data which are confirming (a fallacy called confirmation bias)?

I'm not. Fallacious thinking only begets more fallacious thinking.

GarfieldJL 03-25-2009 08:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker (Post 2606173)
Wow. And is anyone surprised that Garfield sticks with his preconceived notion and seeks only that data which are confirming (a fallacy called confirmation bias)?

I'm not. Fallacious thinking only begets more fallacious thinking.

Interesting you should say that, considering you're the one that started doing it, or do you consider it factual because it supports your views that atheists are superior to everyone else.

SkinWalker 03-25-2009 08:38 PM

I noted the fallacy of the "Stalin argument" and demonstrated logically why it is. You simply restate the fallacy. My views are superior to yours not because I'm an atheist but because I'm clever and (apparently) better educated in logic and reason.

I note this not to be mean or condescending, but to show the flaws in your attempts at logic. Your thinking is muddled by preconceived ideas. My own world view is one of an open mind -indeed, I'm willing to revise any and all of my beliefs when good reason demands it.

EnderWiggin 03-25-2009 08:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker (Post 2606184)
I noted the fallacy of the "Stalin argument" and demonstrated logically why it is. You simply restate the fallacy. My views are superior to yours not because I'm an atheist but because I'm clever and (apparently) better educated in logic and reason.

I note this not to be mean or condescending, but to show the flaws in your attempts at logic. Your thinking is muddled by preconceived ideas. My own world view is one of an open mind -indeed, I'm willing to revise any and all of my beliefs when good reason demands it.

We're rather recent acquaintances, but I'm still going to respond to this with a <3 :p

_EW_

Q 03-26-2009 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery (Post 2605570)
While Adolf's true religion is debatable, he based his war and genocide upon religious beliefs.

Have you a source to back up this claim? I was under the impression that his inspiration for genocide was acute racism-based eugenics, and that the war was simply revenge for the Versailles Treaty.
Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery
I'm going to stick with him primarily being "christian" from his words and justifications, however.

He used any excuse available to justify his actions, and none of them were genuine. He was constantly at odds with Church leaders in Germany and all over Europe, for that matter, and put several of them in concentration camps.
Quote:

Originally Posted by True_Avery
Feel free to prove me otherwise, however.

No. You made the claim; the burden of proof is on you.

SkinWalker 03-26-2009 11:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Qliveur (Post 2606770)
Have you a source to back up this claim? I was under the impression that his inspiration for genocide was acute racism-based eugenics, and that the war was simply revenge for the Versailles Treaty.

I hope you don't mind me replying:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adolf_Hitler
"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

"Even today I am not ashamed to say that, overpowered by stormy enthusiasm, I fell down on my knees and thanked Heaven from an overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted to live at this time." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 5

"What we have to fight for is the necessary security for the existence and increase of our race and people, the subsistence of its children and the maintenance of our racial stock unmixed, the freedom and independence of the Fatherland; so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 8

In addition, this is the belt buckle worn by Nazi soldiers in WWII:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...it_uns_1WK.jpg

The translation is "God With Us."

Whether he ultimately used religion for selfish means or not, its clear that the views above were meaningful enough for him to include in his autobiography.

Q 03-26-2009 11:30 PM

Meaningful for him, or for potential readers of his manifesto? Germany was a very religious nation at that time, and Hitler used any religious symbolism that he thought would help his cause. The only higher power that he believed in was himself.

SkinWalker 03-26-2009 11:35 PM

He was indoctrinated with Catholic beliefs and superstitions. I see no good reason to believe he didn't continue to harbor those beliefs. Indeed, I would not be surprised if he genuinely thought he was doing God's work.

I can see, however, why Christians, particularly Catholics, would want to distance themselves from him. Still, his genocide was biblical when you look at mythical sources like the book of 1 Samuel. Those poor Amelekites. Psychologically, it would seem that he really did think he was doing God's work.

Q 03-27-2009 12:08 AM

By wiping out "God's chosen people?" It would be hard to biblically justify that, though if someone is insane enough they can justify anything through rationalization.

SkinWalker 03-27-2009 12:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Qliveur (Post 2606813)
By wiping out "God's chosen people?" It would be hard to biblically justify that, though if someone is insane enough they can justify anything through rationalization.

LOL, I'm not defending Hitler or his actions. Nor am I arguing that he wasn't mentally disturbed. People are fallible and subject to mental defects. If a mother can sever the arms of her child because God whispered the instruction in her ear (which happened a few years ago near my city), then I've no doubt a monomaniacal dictator can work out in his warped mind that God wanted him to kill the Jews and that his "Aryan" race was the actual chosen people. His writings in Mein Kampf seem to indicate this belief.

Q 03-27-2009 12:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkinWalker (Post 2606818)
LOL, I'm not defending Hitler or his actions.

I know you're not. Neither would I try to justify the slaughter of the Amalekites. The only thing that I was objecting to, really, was the placing of Hitler in the same boat with people like John Paul II. ;)

Tommycat 03-27-2009 12:46 AM

Um... back on track? It isn't surprising that people would be dropping "traditional" religions. As times change, religions change. Either the religion itself adapts, or people take up a new religion.

I'd say that nowadays, we have religions that don't want to admit they are religions, just because they don't have a supreme being involved. You see the same religious devotion to environmentalism, for instance, as any devout Christian. They're just opposed to admitting it is religious devotion.


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