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Why atheism will replace religion

Freeman
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5/28/2010 8:05:54 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
This was a pretty interesting article.

Why atheism will replace religion:
Why atheism grows faster than religion
Published on May 18, 2010

by Nigel Barber, Ph.D.

Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries, particularly the social democracies of Europe. In underdeveloped countries, there are virtually no atheists. Atheism is thus a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Why do modern conditions produce atheism?

First, as to the distribution of atheism in the world, a clear pattern can be discerned. In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (Zuckerman, 2007). Belief in God declines in more developed countries and is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.

The question of why economically developed countries turn to atheism has been batted around by anthropologists for about eighty years. Anthropologist James Fraser proposed that scientific prediction and control of nature supplants religion as a means of controlling uncertainty in our lives. This hunch is supported by data showing that the more educated countries have higher levels of non belief and there are strong correlations between atheism and intelligence (see my earlier post on this).

Atheists are more likely to be college-educated people who live in cities and they are highly concentrated in the social democracies of Europe. Atheism thus blossoms amid affluence where most people feel economically secure. But why?

It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives. In social democracies, there is less fear and uncertainty about the future because social welfare programs provide a safety net and better health care means that fewer people can expect to die young. People who are less vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature feel more in control of their lives and less in need of religion.

In addition to being the opium of the people (as Karl Marx contemptuously phrased it), religion may also promote fertility, particularly by promoting marriage, according to copious data reviewed by Sanderson (2008). Large families are preferred in agricultural countries as a source of free labor. In developed "atheist" countries, women have exceptionally small families and do not need religion helping them to raise large families.

Even the psychological functions of religion face stiff competition today. In modern societies, when people experience psychological difficulties they turn to their doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. They want a scientific fix and prefer the real psychotropic medicines dished out by physicians to the metaphorical opiates offered by religion.

Moreover, sport psychologists find that sports spectatorship provides much the same kind of social, and spiritual, benefits as people obtain from church membership. In a previous post, I made the case that sports is replacing religion. Precisely the same argument can be made for other forms of entertainment with which spectators become deeply involved. Indeed, religion is striking back by trying to compete in popular media, such as televangelism and Christian rock and by hosting live secular entertainment in church.

The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs.

References
Sanderson, S. K. (2008). Adaptation, evolution, and religion. Religion, 38, 141-156.
Zuckerman, P. (2007). Atheism: Contemporary numbers and patterns. In M. Martin (ed.), The Cambridge companion to atheism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This book is not held by any U.S. Library.

Original Article: http://www.psychologytoday.com...
Chancellor of Propaganda and Foreign Relations in the Franklin administration.

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good." -- Steven Wright
Volkov
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5/28/2010 8:17:35 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
It's an interesting, yet really unsubstantiated, and in some cases, downright deceptive.

In other words, I'm not so sure that correlation here = causation. They are certainly right that atheism and agnosticism is much more prevalent in industrialized countries, and, yes, in Europe's social democracies - yet I wouldn't exactly say that social democratic, welfare-supporting states push more people towards atheism. The conclusion, to me, seems to stem from the rational of early Russian communists; the fact that the state would start providing pretty much everything in life left no room for God. Yet we all know that the entire time, faith was bubbling right under the surface. Even today, Russia has a hefty social welfare program, yet you'll have to go to Utah before you find more fundamentalist a people. Don't forget the fact that half of the European social democracies are run by centre-right parties who ally themselves under the banner of Christian democracy/socialism.

I'd say atheism is more prevalent in industrialized countries because of better access to education, better living standards, and a more open society as a whole. I'd say the reason its even more prevalent in Europe is simply due to the age of the civilizations there, and the history it went through, including being the epicenter of the Enlightenment. I'd also say the anti-clergy activities of early liberals and socialists played a part.

But I wouldn't say welfare turns people atheists, lol.
TheSkeptic
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5/28/2010 8:53:28 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
But I wouldn't say welfare turns people atheists, lol.

It's probably a combination of a countries ability to produce intelligent, rational people and the welfare involved.

Countries found in Europe will likely have superior educational courses and programs than in comparison to areas in the sub-Saharan desert - this is uncontroversial. Thus, the smarter the people are the higher numbers of atheist (of course, I'm saying this from my perspective - a theist would likely figure something else :P).

Welfare can probably have the effect of psychologically priming people to be lenient to courses on rational thinking. If you've lived a harsh life in Africa, with no education, chances are you will believe stubbornly in several mystical beliefs. Further, any attempt to convince you otherwise will be quite difficult; the idea of faith will likely be deep-rooted. People are biased, and simply put an easy life often puts you in a better position to judge and evaluate religious claims.
Volkov
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5/28/2010 9:01:46 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/28/2010 8:53:28 PM, TheSkeptic wrote:
But I wouldn't say welfare turns people atheists, lol.

It's probably a combination of a countries ability to produce intelligent, rational people and the welfare involved.

Countries found in Europe will likely have superior educational courses and programs than in comparison to areas in the sub-Saharan desert - this is uncontroversial. Thus, the smarter the people are the higher numbers of atheist (of course, I'm saying this from my perspective - a theist would likely figure something else :P).

Welfare can probably have the effect of psychologically priming people to be lenient to courses on rational thinking. If you've lived a harsh life in Africa, with no education, chances are you will believe stubbornly in several mystical beliefs. Further, any attempt to convince you otherwise will be quite difficult; the idea of faith will likely be deep-rooted. People are biased, and simply put an easy life often puts you in a better position to judge and evaluate religious claims.

Oh, I agree, it would certainly be a factor, there's no doubt about that. But it seems to me the author of the article relies on it a bit too much.
Koopin
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5/28/2010 9:37:47 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I don't know about money turning people atheists, but don't worry, your hopes will come true. Even the bible speaks of it.
kfc
studentathletechristian8
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5/28/2010 9:42:21 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
People who suffer financially, emotionally, etc. will naturally turn to something for comfort. Many people choose God for comfort either because their families have done so in the past or it is more traditional to turn to God. People who have good amounts of money and general balance / happiness don't feel obligated to worship God or to even believe that there is one in the first place. It's all relative to one's present circumstance, past experiences, and hopes of the future.
Freeman
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5/28/2010 10:58:46 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/28/2010 9:42:21 PM, studentathletechristian8 wrote:
People who suffer financially, emotionally, etc. will naturally turn to something for comfort. Many people choose God for comfort either because their families have done so in the past or it is more traditional to turn to God. People who have good amounts of money and general balance / happiness don't feel obligated to worship God or to even believe that there is one in the first place. It's all relative to one's present circumstance, past experiences, and hopes of the future.

Wow... you really hit the nail on the head. That could have been something Marx said.
Chancellor of Propaganda and Foreign Relations in the Franklin administration.

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good." -- Steven Wright
JustCallMeTarzan
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5/28/2010 11:08:39 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/28/2010 8:17:35 PM, Volkov wrote:

But I wouldn't say welfare turns people atheists, lol.

This maybe an unwarranted generalization, but I would venture to say that most developed countries (take the G8 for example) are for all intents and purposes social democracies - even the US now with all this CHANGE crap that's come down since '08 =P. In any event, I didn't read the author as saying that socialism produces atheists - I read him as saying that development produces atheists, and the most developed nations have the most atheists... The political structure of the countries in question isn't relevant, and I don't think the author pretends it is...
Volkov
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5/28/2010 11:10:47 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/28/2010 11:08:39 PM, JustCallMeTarzan wrote:
This maybe an unwarranted generalization, but I would venture to say that most developed countries (take the G8 for example) are for all intents and purposes social democracies - even the US now with all this CHANGE crap that's come down since '08 =P. In any event, I didn't read the author as saying that socialism produces atheists - I read him as saying that development produces atheists, and the most developed nations have the most atheists... The political structure of the countries in question isn't relevant, and I don't think the author pretends it is...

We must've read differing interpretations, then, because I felt his emphasis on he ideology was enough to raise an eyebrow or two.
Freeman
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5/28/2010 11:14:32 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/28/2010 9:37:47 PM, Koopin wrote:
I don't know about money turning people atheists, but don't worry, your hopes will come true. Even the bible speaks of it.

You want to be part of the revolution? Anyone can join. ;)
Chancellor of Propaganda and Foreign Relations in the Franklin administration.

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good." -- Steven Wright
InsertNameHere
Posts: 15,699
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5/29/2010 2:35:39 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 2:27:16 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm pretty sure religion is growing.

Some religions, yes. Like I know Islam is due to the large number of conversions and I'm pretty sure Christianity is rapidly on the rise in Africa.
Kinesis
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5/29/2010 2:38:58 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 2:35:39 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:27:16 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm pretty sure religion is growing.

Some religions, yes. Like I know Islam is due to their large birth rate and I'm pretty sure Christianity is rapidly on the rise in Africa.
Kinesis
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5/29/2010 2:40:17 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 2:27:16 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm pretty sure religion is growing.

Hey, it's down from a couple of centuries ago. Where, like, the figure was about 100% religious.
InsertNameHere
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5/29/2010 2:43:25 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 2:38:58 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:35:39 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:27:16 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm pretty sure religion is growing.

Some religions, yes. Like I know Islam is due to their large birth rate and I'm pretty sure Christianity is rapidly on the rise in Africa.

Conversions too. I'm pretty sure Islam gets the highest number of converts.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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5/29/2010 2:52:34 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
http://en.wikipedia.org...
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Zetsubou
Posts: 4,933
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5/29/2010 2:53:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 2:43:25 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:38:58 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:35:39 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:27:16 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm pretty sure religion is growing.

Some religions, yes. Like I know Islam is due to their large birth rate and I'm pretty sure Christianity is rapidly on the rise in Africa.

Conversions too. I'm pretty sure Islam gets the highest number of converts.

Really? I doubt it. Christianity Prides it self for conversion rates(India).

Source please.
'sup DDO -- july 2013
Freeman
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5/29/2010 4:36:46 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 2:35:39 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:27:16 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm pretty sure religion is growing.

It's growing, slightly, in the impoverished third world.

Some religions, yes. Like I know Islam is [increasing] due to [Muslims having 7-8 children on average] and I'm pretty sure Christianity is rapidly on the rise in Africa.
Chancellor of Propaganda and Foreign Relations in the Franklin administration.

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good." -- Steven Wright
Freeman
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5/29/2010 4:37:25 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 2:38:58 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:35:39 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:27:16 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm pretty sure religion is growing.

Some religions, yes. Like I know Islam is due to their large birth rate and I'm pretty sure Christianity is rapidly on the rise in Africa.

Ugh... you beat me to it.
Chancellor of Propaganda and Foreign Relations in the Franklin administration.

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good." -- Steven Wright
GeoLaureate8
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5/29/2010 5:00:17 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
"deists grew at the rate of 717% between 1990 and 2001" - http://en.wikipedia.org...

LOL.

New Adherents Per Year:

Christianity: 25,210,195
Islam: 22,588,676
Hinduism: 12,533,734
Buddhism: 3,687,527
Sikhism: 392,638
Judaism: 124,515
Baha'i: 143,491
Confucianism: 44,305
Jainism: 34,951
Taoism: 25,242
Zoroastrianism: 58,471

-- http://en.wikipedia.org...

"The American Religious Identification Survey gave Non-Religious groups the largest gain in terms of absolute numbers - 14,300,000 (8.4% of the population) to 29,400,000 (14.1% of the population) for the period 1990 to 2001 in the USA." - http://en.wikipedia.org...
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Kinesis
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5/30/2010 1:24:42 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/29/2010 4:37:25 PM, Freeman wrote:
At 5/29/2010 2:38:58 PM, Kinesis wrote:

Ugh... you beat me to it.

You said it better. :)
innomen
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5/30/2010 2:31:52 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
There are those like me that believe there is a spiritual component to the individual. Whether it is nurtured or not, or whether it needs nurturing or not are options. Religion is a means to an end, but not an end in and by itself in the spiritual development of an individual. Many who still have the spiritual need find the religious attempt at filling it insufficient and incompatible with the other parts of who we have become.

However, there are many who live with a dark hole inside of them that is hungry for more. It can be filled with knowledge, sex, drugs, alcohol, and still it hungers for something more. It isn't until a full attempt at filling this hole with spiritual development that the individual can find peace. The hunger, the hole that needs to be fed is spiritual thirst, and you can go into any 12 step meeting place, any mission where there are volunteers, any number of places where people have found that there is a part of them that needs growth that can only be found in spirituality. This is who we are, and this is the way it will be.

For the good, everything about us as individuals and as people is about growth. Our understanding of, concept of religion will too grow. We are better people for having a power greater than ourselves in our lives.
Kinesis
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5/30/2010 2:55:29 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 2:31:52 AM, innomen wrote:
There are those like me that believe there is a spiritual component to the individual. Whether it is nurtured or not, or whether it needs nurturing or not are options. Religion is a means to an end, but not an end in and by itself in the spiritual development of an individual. Many who still have the spiritual need find the religious attempt at filling it insufficient and incompatible with the other parts of who we have become.

However, there are many who live with a dark hole inside of them that is hungry for more. It can be filled with knowledge, sex, drugs, alcohol, and still it hungers for something more. It isn't until a full attempt at filling this hole with spiritual development that the individual can find peace. The hunger, the hole that needs to be fed is spiritual thirst, and you can go into any 12 step meeting place, any mission where there are volunteers, any number of places where people have found that there is a part of them that needs growth that can only be found in spirituality. This is who we are, and this is the way it will be.

For the good, everything about us as individuals and as people is about growth. Our understanding of, concept of religion will too grow. We are better people for having a power greater than ourselves in our lives.

Sounds like metaphysical nonsense to me.
innomen
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5/30/2010 3:13:31 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 2:55:29 AM, Kinesis wrote:


Sounds like metaphysical nonsense to me.

Yes, i can understand where you may have some difficulty with it.
Kinesis
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5/30/2010 3:15:56 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 3:13:31 AM, innomen wrote:
At 5/30/2010 2:55:29 AM, Kinesis wrote:


Sounds like metaphysical nonsense to me.

Yes, i can understand where you may have some difficulty with it.

?
innomen
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5/30/2010 3:26:20 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 3:15:56 AM, Kinesis wrote:
At 5/30/2010 3:13:31 AM, innomen wrote:
At 5/30/2010 2:55:29 AM, Kinesis wrote:


Sounds like metaphysical nonsense to me.

Yes, i can understand where you may have some difficulty with it.

?

You would take it personally, and i would not mean to put it in such a context, so i will leave it alone, but i will tell you that i was once as you are now, and it took me twice your years of existence to get my arms around just the bare basics of what i have come to comprehend now.
GeoLaureate8
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5/30/2010 3:31:45 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 3:26:20 AM, innomen wrote:
You would take it personally, and i would not mean to put it in such a context, so i will leave it alone, but i will tell you that i was once as you are now, and it took me twice your years of existence to get my arms around just the bare basics of what i have come to comprehend now.

Which doesn't make it the standard for everyone. I was once where you are, 4 years ago, as a Catholic (for 17 years). What say you to people like Dawkins who have been Atheist for over 20 years? Length of time on Earth is no indication of one's level of understanding. In fact, I'd argue that today's youth are smarter than the majority of adults.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
GeoLaureate8
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5/30/2010 3:32:33 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 2:55:29 AM, Kinesis wrote:
Sounds like metaphysical nonsense to me.

Why do you dismiss metaphysics? And aren't you an Agnostic anyway? You haven't made up your mind either way.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Kinesis
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5/30/2010 3:36:49 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 3:26:20 AM, innomen wrote:
At 5/30/2010 3:15:56 AM, Kinesis wrote:
At 5/30/2010 3:13:31 AM, innomen wrote:
At 5/30/2010 2:55:29 AM, Kinesis wrote:


Sounds like metaphysical nonsense to me.

Yes, i can understand where you may have some difficulty with it.

?

You would take it personally, and i would not mean to put it in such a context, so i will leave it alone, but i will tell you that i was once as you are now, and it took me twice your years of existence to get my arms around just the bare basics of what i have come to comprehend now.

Sigh...if I could be hurt emotionally by people over the internet, I would be a wreck of insecurity. Tell me what you mean. Am I spiritually dead? Intellectually void? Dogmatically unbelieving? What?

Claiming wisdom because of your age seems like some kind of reverse ad-hominem to me. I don't care how old you are. What matters is whether you have cogent reasons for your beliefs.
Puck
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5/30/2010 3:37:40 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/30/2010 3:32:33 AM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 5/30/2010 2:55:29 AM, Kinesis wrote:
Sounds like metaphysical nonsense to me.

Why do you dismiss metaphysics? And aren't you an Agnostic anyway? You haven't made up your mind either way.

He wasn't dismissing metaphysics, merely a specific claim of one. The notion that one is incomplete without spirituality is an often pandered one. See the countless pity statements related to atheism and 'oh you must feel like life is meaningless'.