Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

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Greyarcher
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Greyarcher » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:08 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:As I said before, atheism means different things to different people, and some do view it as a belief system. Here is a post by PZ Myers explaining why, to him, atheism is a belief system. Key quote:
Now I don't claim that my values are part of the definition of atheism — I just told you I hate those dictionary quoters — nor do I consider them universal to atheism. I've met plenty of atheists who are in our camp over issues of social justice — they see god-belief as a source of social evils, and that's why they reject it. That is valid and reasonable. There are atheists who consider human well-being as the metric to use, and we call them humanists; no problem. There are also atheists who are joining the game because their cool friends (or Daniel Radcliff) are atheists; that's a stupid reason, but they are atheists.

My point is that nobody becomes an atheist because of an absence of values, and no one becomes an atheist because the dictionary tells them they are. I think we also do a disservice to the movement when we pretend it's solely a mob of individuals who lack a belief, rather than an organization with positive goals and values.
I read that the opposite way: very few specific values have any necessary connection to atheism, and certainly not to the point that they form a belief system that could commonly be called "atheism" as opposed to more relevantly "humanism" or "empiricism" or whatever else the system is actually about.

That said, his post is pretty crappy.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby achan1058 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:13 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:As I said before, atheism means different things to different people, and some do view it as a belief system. Here is a post by PZ Myers explaining why, to him, atheism is a belief system. Key quote:
Now I don't claim that my values are part of the definition of atheism — I just told you I hate those dictionary quoters — nor do I consider them universal to atheism. I've met plenty of atheists who are in our camp over issues of social justice — they see god-belief as a source of social evils, and that's why they reject it. That is valid and reasonable. There are atheists who consider human well-being as the metric to use, and we call them humanists; no problem. There are also atheists who are joining the game because their cool friends (or Daniel Radcliff) are atheists; that's a stupid reason, but they are atheists.
How about those who see that the "usual" gods being simply absurd and inconsistent? I suppose you can call it a "belief", but it is just as much a belief as gravity is a belief.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby mike-l » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:36 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:And frankly if tis is a "Cause for concern" for you, I suggest you pay more attention to what is going on in the world and/or get a life. I'm concerned about our military involvement overseas. I'm concerned about Japans nuclear reactor and that one of the containment vessels may be breached. Last night I was concerned about a wildfire that was near where my parents live (70% contained as of this morning. Edit: 95 contained as of this afternoon] ).

Linguistic pedantry that has -NO F-ING BEARING ON THE POINT- is not all that concerning.


It's not linguistic pedantry, I said it's probably technically right.

The concern comes from the fact that when you say belief systems, and talk about religions, everything on the list except atheism is used by the people who follow them to justify some of their actions. These actions include blowing people up, or telling africans that condoms increase the chances of getting AIDS (which kills 1.8 million people a year)

If atheism is a belief system by whatever definition you use, it's out of place on the list because it's the unique one that isn't used in moral decision making. My concern isn't pedantic or linguistic.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:54 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:
Dauric wrote:And frankly if tis is a "Cause for concern" for you, I suggest you pay more attention to what is going on in the world and/or get a life. I'm concerned about our military involvement overseas. I'm concerned about Japans nuclear reactor and that one of the containment vessels may be breached. Last night I was concerned about a wildfire that was near where my parents live (70% contained as of this morning. Edit: 95 contained as of this afternoon] ).

Linguistic pedantry that has -NO F-ING BEARING ON THE POINT- is not all that concerning.


It's not linguistic pedantry, I said it's probably technically right.

The concern comes from the fact that when you say belief systems, and talk about religions, everything on the list except atheism is used by the people who follow them to justify some of their actions. These actions include blowing people up, or telling africans that condoms increase the chances of getting AIDS (which kills 1.8 million people a year)

If atheism is a belief system by whatever definition you use, it's out of place on the list because it's the unique one that isn't used in moral decision making. My concern isn't pedantic or linguistic.


But it's still -completely- irrelevant to the point I was making. Utterly and completely irrelevant. Now maybe you can afford to have a personal copy-editor copy-edit everything you post in a forum, but I'm just some random jackass on the internet and as long as my basic point can be comprehended I'm not going to worry about irrelevant minutiae.

-AGAIN- I dropped athiesm in that ever so short list because it is an option in the category of "what do you believe?", the point being that in the medieval period when Catholicism was at its height you didn't get the option to chose and continue breathing. They changed their process of confirming someone was a member of the Catholic faith at sometime around when their power was being challenged by various "Protest" movements, and the idea that someone could chose their belief was beginning to gain popularity.

Whether I lumped everything in to "Belief System" or decided to grammatically torture the sentence to explicitly separate atheism out should have had no effect on the ability to understand the point I was making, which has shit-all to do with your concern about religions being used to justify actions and atheism shouldn't be lumped in with that.

Again, I don't believe I have to explain this. It's basic context recognition.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Antimony-120 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:13 pm UTC

Back on topic, I find it interesting to see the groups of countries they refer to:

There's the three big dominions (Can, Aus, NZ) and three southern Germanic (Czech, Austria, Switzerland), and the oddballs Ireland and Finland. Interesting in that neither the UK nor Germany are on this list, as those would usually be considered the "centres" of those groups (the US as the centre of english speaking culture is also not on the list).

We have two countires (Ireland, Czech Rep.) That have seen major violence in the past half century, both with some religious overtones. But we also have four (Can, Aus, NZ, Switz) that haven't seen a major foreign action on their soil in this century at all, and have no major religious issues (Quebec may have some involving the Quiet Revolution but violence was not common). Suggests that religious violence is not the major component.

Immigration was cited earlier, but that doesn't match up with the immigration patterns, Switzerland, Australia and Canada have nearly 20% of their population as immigrants, NZ 15%, Austria 14%, Ireland 13%, Netherlands 10% and Finland a mere 2%, In shrot they're all over the map, although predominantly larger than the major countries (US, UK, Germany, France and Russia are all in the 8-12% range, China sits very low). However, for examples of both very high and very low immigration with strong religion, Saudi Arabia has nearly 25% immigrants, and India is barely 0.5%, both countries large enough that statistically they aren't irrelevant.

One thing to note is that they're all relatively affluent countries with some weight in regional affairs, but not considered any of the major players on the international stage. I suspect this actually has a lot to do with it, and might explain the absence of the UK and Germany (and the US), which have enough cultural clout that what is the norm stays the norm, wheras these more regional players are strong enough that they aren't forced to conform perfectly to the major powers, but they can also have their changes slip under the radar. If Australia was to shift from largely Protestant to Largely Catholic next week it would be an important regional shift, but unlikely to be the subject of intense debate throughout the world. They are, in a sense, more free to experiment culturally than the major players (bound by their own tendencies to preserve the status quo as major powers) or the minor players (culturally swamped by the major powers).

Of course that is merely a hypothosis.

Other things of note:

Australia has a SUDDEN apperance of "no religion" between the years 1966 and 1971, could someone check that this isn't merely the first time it appeared as an option on the form rather than a write in? If it isn't then one has to wonder what occured during those years.

Austria has the first inklings of decline in the same region, but the freefall appears to be in the 80's and 00's (although the 90's were also strongly declining), but the info I have from there is bad (these are all just quick wikis for info)

Canada is likely a byproduct of the Quiet Revolution, where Quebec went from one of the highest church attendences in the West to one of the lowest over the course of the 60's. Most Quebecois are still nominally catholic, but it made for quite the cultural shift, felt by the entire country, which became much more secular.

Czech Republic has a jump from 40% to 60% across the 90's, suggesting that the END of communism resulted in more non-religious people, rather than the communist rule itself. Given how strongly the Czechs opposed the communists this is likely a case where they no longer felt the need to "protect" their traditional religion against the outsiders, but anyone who knows more about the situation is free to correct me there.

Finland shows steady growth in atheism from 1950's onwards, of roughly 2% per decade, with a sudden jump of 5% in the last decade. Any Finns want to comment on that one?

I have no history on non-religion in Ireland, because it's hard to find it amidst various other things talking about religion in Ireland. It is also at only 4% of the population, and given the complications in Ireland regarding religion a topic I won't even try to analyse.

The Netherlands shows pretty standard growth of atheism throughout the past few decades, larger than other countries, but steady. Cause unknown.

New Zealand shows an increase of 9% in 96-06 era, to a total of 48%, more history would be appreciated, since this could be a continuation of a general trend of 9% per decade, a sudden increase, any variety of things.

I again couldn't get any data on Switzleand, mostly because by this point I've spent a lot of time researching a topic which has no particular usefulness to me.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby mike-l » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:15 pm UTC

I understand it's irrelevant to your point, but I'm not the only one who took issue with it (just a quick browse shows at least 6 other people).

Your point was on Catholic practices, and noone I've seen is arguing with your conclusions (and I'm certainly not).

My only issue is your use of language, that when people (not just you) say things like atheism is a belief system, it's pretty close to saying 'atheism is just another religion'. I know that's not what you were saying, but there are people who feel that way, and people talking like that reinforces it.

Again, I'm not disagreeing with any of your opininos on anything, except that I'd prefer you phrase this one particular thing differently.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:20 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:Again, I'm not disagreeing with any of your opininos on anything, except that I'd prefer you phrase this one particular thing differently.


Then you and those six others can hire me a copy-editor to edit all my posts so they don't offend you. I didn't find my phrasing of that line particularly Nobel wining myself y'know, but as I have other things to attend to, and given that these boards are usually filled with intelligent people I didn't bother myself with wasting time racking my brains for a different wording, and figured my intent would be clear enough.

Until you hire me that copy-editor, realize that I'm just some random jackass on the internet commenting on a forum when I should probably be doing something else, and as just another random jackass yourself "You should really just relax."
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Woofsie » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:23 pm UTC

Yeah, the point has been clarified. We should really just let it go and get back on topic.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:24 pm UTC

Antimony-120 wrote:One thing to note is that they're all relatively affluent countries with some weight in regional affairs, but not considered any of the major players on the international stage. I suspect this actually has a lot to do with it, and might explain the absence of the UK and Germany (and the US), which have enough cultural clout that what is the norm stays the norm, wheras these more regional players are strong enough that they aren't forced to conform perfectly to the major powers, but they can also have their changes slip under the radar. If Australia was to shift from largely Protestant to Largely Catholic next week it would be an important regional shift, but unlikely to be the subject of intense debate throughout the world. They are, in a sense, more free to experiment culturally than the major players (bound by their own tendencies to preserve the status quo as major powers) or the minor players (culturally swamped by the major powers).


One difference between Canada and the U.S. is that up to Canada's Quiet Revolution it was the Catholic church that held strong political sway, where in the U.S. it's various flavors of protestant churches, which tend to be more locally-organized than the hierarchical Catholics. The Quiet Revolution and it's secular movement (to my understanding of the wikipedia article) was at least as much a response to the terrible mismanagement of education and health resources by the Catholic-based hierarchies that insisted to the government that they could do the job.

The conservative/religious branch in the U.S. isn't governed by as rigorous a hierarchy, so when/if (and I'm pulling statistics out of my @$$ here) high-density, cosmopolitan cities like L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, and New York city on the east coast all go majority secular it doesn't have any real impact on the influence of religion in the larger low-density urban(cities like Denver or Colorado Springs Co., Billings Mt.,)/suburban/rural areas since there's no real strong connection between churches in those areas, organizationally speaking.

Edit: This may also be a factor in why Ireland (historically catholic) shows up on the list and why England (historically protestant) does not.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Antimony-120 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:54 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
Antimony-120 wrote:One thing to note is that they're all relatively affluent countries with some weight in regional affairs, but not considered any of the major players on the international stage. I suspect this actually has a lot to do with it, and might explain the absence of the UK and Germany (and the US), which have enough cultural clout that what is the norm stays the norm, wheras these more regional players are strong enough that they aren't forced to conform perfectly to the major powers, but they can also have their changes slip under the radar. If Australia was to shift from largely Protestant to Largely Catholic next week it would be an important regional shift, but unlikely to be the subject of intense debate throughout the world. They are, in a sense, more free to experiment culturally than the major players (bound by their own tendencies to preserve the status quo as major powers) or the minor players (culturally swamped by the major powers).


One difference between Canada and the U.S. is that up to Canada's Quiet Revolution it was the Catholic church that held strong political sway, where in the U.S. it's various flavors of protestant churches, which tend to be more locally-organized than the hierarchical Catholics. The Quiet Revolution and it's secular movement (to my understanding of the wikipedia article) was at least as much a response to the terrible mismanagement of education and health resources by the Catholic-based hierarchies that insisted to the government that they could do the job.

The conservative/religious branch in the U.S. isn't governed by as rigorous a hierarchy, so when/if (and I'm pulling statistics out of my @$$ here) high-density, cosmopolitan cities like L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, and New York city on the east coast all go majority secular it doesn't have any real impact on the influence of religion in the larger low-density urban(cities like Denver or Colorado Springs Co., Billings Mt.,)/suburban/rural areas since there's no real strong connection between churches in those areas, organizationally speaking.

Edit: This may also be a factor in why Ireland (historically catholic) shows up on the list and why England (historically protestant) does not.


I was thinking on this, and I think I was wrong. The Quiet Revolution took place in Quebec (traditionally Catholic), but Quebec is not the main contributor to the rise in Canada. In fact, the provinces with the largest number of non-religious are Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, with Quebec in fourth despite having a much larger population than the two western provinces.

The other thing is that while Quebec had strong Catholic politics prior to the Quiet Revolution, the rest of Canada was Protestant (in fact a tradition of religious issues was one of the points of friction between Quebec and English Canada). It also fails the test in Finland, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, none of which are predominantly Catholic, and in the first three, aren't even co-dominantly catholic.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby hanecter » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:14 am UTC

Antimony-120 wrote:I was thinking on this, and I think I was wrong. The Quiet Revolution took place in Quebec (traditionally Catholic), but Quebec is not the main contributor to the rise in Canada. In fact, the provinces with the largest number of non-religious are Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, with Quebec in fourth despite having a much larger population than the two western provinces.

Just double-checking- you're looking at raw numbers, not percentages, right?

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Antimony-120 » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:18 am UTC

hanecter wrote:
Antimony-120 wrote:I was thinking on this, and I think I was wrong. The Quiet Revolution took place in Quebec (traditionally Catholic), but Quebec is not the main contributor to the rise in Canada. In fact, the provinces with the largest number of non-religious are Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, with Quebec in fourth despite having a much larger population than the two western provinces.

Just double-checking- you're looking at raw numbers, not percentages, right?


A little of both. The four I mentioned were the ones with the largest by raw numbers. My comment about the population sizes was to point out that Quebec doesn't have a particularly high percentage either.

By percentages The Yukon is the biggest contributor, but when the entire territory has the population of a small suburb it's not exactly relevant to the country as a whole. My point was simply that it wasn't that Quebec had made a huge swing, it was that Ontario had a moderate swing and BC and Alberta a larger one. Whereas if it was the Quiet revolution (as I had originally hypothosized) then one would expect it to be Quebec driving it, both by raw numbers and by percentage (Quebec is one of the biggest provinces population wise).
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Habz » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:20 pm UTC

Antimony-120 wrote:Finland shows steady growth in atheism from 1950's onwards, of roughly 2% per decade, with a sudden jump of 5% in the last decade. Any Finns want to comment on that one?

During the last ten years, the lutheran church in finland was forced to take a stance on some controversial issues, such as same-sex marriage, which resulted in a clash of the conservative and liberal wing and also people leaving the church in unseen numbers. Last year a television appearance of a politician of the christian democrat party resulted in nearly 1% of the members of the church leaving within a week from the said appearance, after she spouted some very conservative opinions about homosexuals.

As I said on the first page, atheism in Finland is much more widespread than the figures show. Now that the media has also taken keen interest on statements of the church and people representing it, many a Average Joe have also evaluated their relation to religion and the church.


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