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Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:54 pm UTC
by Inglonias
<NOFLAMING>I'm not entirely sure how sensitive certain people are to religion around here, so please: No flaming.</NOFLAMING>

Source: BBC website

Study can be found here

Spoiler:
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Nonlinear dynamics is invoked to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.

One of the team, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University, put forth a similar model in 2003 to put a numerical basis behind the decline of lesser-spoken world languages.

At its heart is the competition between speakers of different languages, and the "utility" of speaking one instead of another.

"The idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona.

"It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.

"For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there's some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not."
A man fills in a census form Some of the census data the team used date from the 19th century

Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."

The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category.

They found, in a study published online, that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them.

And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.

However, Dr Wiener told the conference that the team was working to update the model with a "network structure" more representative of the one at work in the world.

"Obviously we don't really believe this is the network structure of a modern society, where each person is influenced equally by all the other people in society," he said.

However, he told BBC News that he thought it was "a suggestive result".

"It's interesting that a fairly simple model captures the data, and if those simple ideas are correct, it suggests where this might be going.

"Obviously much more complicated things are going on with any one individual, but maybe a lot of that averages out."

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:18 pm UTC
by Heisenberg
Inglonias wrote:the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."

The fact that we're barely one generation beyond communist rule might have some effect on this number.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:19 pm UTC
by Woofsie
Wow, Ireland is on the list? Awesome! :D

This is certainly a trend I've seen. The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so. The majority of my friends are atheists, although admittedly they are mostly university science students. I'm always a little shocked to hear about discrimination against atheists in the US, because around here atheism is normal. Even religious people don't have much of a problem with atheists, because there are so many around that they're used to us.

I've also noticed that most people who call themselves Catholic (in my generation at least) don't actually attend Mass or observe many practices of their faith. Most haven't read the bible, and aren't aware of a lot of Catholic dogma (have never heard of transubstatiation and think the whole body and blood of Christ thing is a metaphor). I think a lot of people just call themselves Catholic because that's the culture, and it's what their parents taught them, and they have some vague fuzzy notion of a God and an afterlife but wouldn't be able to defend or justify their beliefs if pressed on them.

It doesn't help that 90%+ of primary schools are run by the church and teach religion as part of the standard curriculum. Sacraments such as communion and confirmation are big school events, which everyone is expected to go to. It's not until teenage years that people start thinking that the whole thing may be bullshit.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:27 pm UTC
by Heisenberg
Woofsie wrote:The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so.

Doesn't this suggest to you that religiousness may be cyclical?

It seems to me like the researchers took one data point and tried to make a trend. "Grass is 3 feet high now, so next year, it'll be 6 feet high!"

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:32 pm UTC
by aleflamedyud
It is worth noting that those are 9 Euro-Christian-pagan countries. Other religions in other countries probably aren't following the same trend.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:33 pm UTC
by Greyarcher
Well, what I could understand of the paper was interesting, but the calculations were sadly beyond me.

Secular societies and the perceived utility of religious affiliation/non-affiliation as relative to the local majority, eh? Hmm.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:37 pm UTC
by Iulus Cofield
Woofsie wrote:Wow, Ireland is on the list? Awesome! :D

This is certainly a trend I've seen. The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so. The majority of my friends are atheists, although admittedly they are mostly university science students. I'm always a little shocked to hear about discrimination against atheists in the US, because around here atheism is normal. Even religious people don't have much of a problem with atheists, because there are so many around that they're used to us.

I've also noticed that most people who call themselves Catholic (in my generation at least) don't actually attend Mass or observe many practices of their faith. Most haven't read the bible, and aren't aware of a lot of Catholic dogma (have never heard of transubstatiation and think the whole body and blood of Christ thing is a metaphor). I think a lot of people just call themselves Catholic because that's the culture, and it's what their parents taught them, and they have some vague fuzzy notion of a God and an afterlife but wouldn't be able to defend or justify their beliefs if pressed on them.

It doesn't help that 90%+ of primary schools are run by the church and teach religion as part of the standard curriculum. Sacraments such as communion and confirmation are big school events, which everyone is expected to go to. It's not until teenage years that people start thinking that the whole thing may be bullshit.


Do they not go through the Catechumenate? I thought the whole point of that was to ensure Catholics had a pretty good understanding of their faith and dogma before being allowed to take communion.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:56 pm UTC
by Woofsie
Heisenberg wrote:
Woofsie wrote:The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so.

Doesn't this suggest to you that religiousness may be cyclical?

It seems to me like the researchers took one data point and tried to make a trend. "Grass is 3 feet high now, so next year, it'll be 6 feet high!"

I don't think so. Religion has been declining for quite a few years now. You can see it in church membership statistics and census information. If it was cyclic there wouldn't be such a consistent decrease.

Iulus Cofield wrote:Do they not go through the Catechumenate? I thought the whole point of that was to ensure Catholics had a pretty good understanding of their faith and dogma before being allowed to take communion.

Here, you take communion at 8. There's no testing of any kind before it, and the kids have about the same understanding of Catholic dogma you'd expect any 8 year-old to, ie none at all. They are taught a religion subject in school, which mostly focuses on Catholicism, but honestly it's been so long since I did it I can't remember the content at all.

Funnily enough, I was raised Catholic, and I have never heard of the Catechumenate before now.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:05 pm UTC
by Dauric
Unfortunately this study takes a census question about religious affiliation designed to get close to an accurate number to determine how the government should expect religious-based tax exemptions to work out, and fails to attempt to differentiate lack of faith or spirituality, or those who may be disenchanted by the organized bureaucracy but still believe in the mythology, or both or something else.

If it's faith and spirituality that's on the decline it's a different set of circumstances than people being disenchanted with labeled faith and finding their own spiritual beliefs, or believing in an established religion except being skeptical of the bureaucratic organization behind it.

This study may be a starting point for further research, but unfortunately (probably due to "Publish or Perish" and a bored article-writer looking desperately for something to write about) it's not really all that illuminating by itself.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:12 pm UTC
by bytbox
Heisenberg wrote:
Woofsie wrote:The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so.

Doesn't this suggest to you that religiousness may be cyclical?

It seems to me like the researchers took one data point and tried to make a trend. "Grass is 3 feet high now, so next year, it'll be 6 feet high!"


On a small scale, at least, religion does seem to be cyclical (at least in my experience). Strongly religious families (by which I mean, families that are strongly religious when compared to the local norm) tend to raise very weakly religious offspring, whereas kids raised without much religion being involved tend to be more religious than normal.

This sort of trend (if I'm not just imagining things) doesn't have any reason to apply on a larger scale.

Notice that these folks were studying the number of people counting themselves "unaffiliated". That doesn't necessarily mean atheistic, and it could be, say, part of a cyclic process driving the creation of new religions. (I'm sure if a similar study was conducted in the mid 1400s gauging "approval" of "the church" (or some other supposed measure of religiousness, there would have been a similar trend.)

EDIT: what Dauric said. Yeah.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:14 pm UTC
by podbaydoor
...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:19 pm UTC
by IcedT
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.
You know how it goes. "Organized religion shows steady long-term decline" fed through the media machine comes out as "Oh me yarm religion is going extinct!"

I was surprised to learn that nonaffiliation had gotten as high as 60% in some countries though.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:22 pm UTC
by sourmìlk
IcedT wrote:
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.
You know how it goes. "Organized religion shows steady long-term decline" fed through the media machine comes out as "Gee Willikers religion is going extinct!"


That's actually a surprisingly low amount of exaggeration coming from the media.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:25 pm UTC
by bytbox
IcedT wrote:
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.
You know how it goes. "Organized religion shows steady long-term decline" fed through the media machine comes out as "Gee Willikers religion is going extinct!"


More specifically, "shaky theory predicts steady long-term decline, using data that probably suck from a small subset of countries that are totally unrepresentative".

I was surprised to learn that nonaffiliation had gotten as high as 60% in some countries though.


Well, the destruction of a lot of organized religious institutions not so long ago sure helps. ;P

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:27 pm UTC
by Dauric
IcedT wrote:
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.
You know how it goes. "Organized religion shows steady long-term decline" fed through the media machine comes out as "Gee Willikers religion is going extinct!"

I was surprised to learn that nonaffiliation had gotten as high as 60% in some countries though.


"...Steady long term decline in certain countries..." no less.

So does the imminent extinction of religion mean we need teams of Comparative Theologians roaming Australia and parts of Europe to tag and monitor the faithful, keep an eye on their migration patterns and mating behaviors? What about breeding in captivity? Does the presence of an endangered religious person mean we can't build near their habitat?

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:29 pm UTC
by sourmìlk
Dauric wrote:
IcedT wrote:
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.
You know how it goes. "Organized religion shows steady long-term decline" fed through the media machine comes out as "Gee Willikers religion is going extinct!"

I was surprised to learn that nonaffiliation had gotten as high as 60% in some countries though.


"...Steady long term decline in certain countries..." no less.

So does the imminent extinction of religion mean we need teams of Comparative Theologians roaming Australia and parts of Europe to tag and monitor the faithful, keep an eye on their migration patterns and mating behaviors? What about breeding in captivity? Does the presence of an endangered religious person mean we can't build near their habitat?


I'm inclined to treat religion more like a deadly virus, in that we don't mourn it's loss, and the vaccination is an education in critical thinking.

That said, I'm not necessarily against religion when used properly (a term which I can explain more upon request). However, it usually isn't used properly.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:06 pm UTC
by jesseewiak
Heisenberg wrote:
Woofsie wrote:The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so.

Doesn't this suggest to you that religiousness may be cyclical?

It seems to me like the researchers took one data point and tried to make a trend. "Grass is 3 feet high now, so next year, it'll be 6 feet high!"


In the case of Ireland, it was basically a Catholic-controlled state until that late 80's/early 90's so the collapse of organized religion in that country looks worse than say, in the UK where it's been in a steady decline since the 60's because the Church had such a strong influence over the country.

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

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:19 pm UTC
by Diadem
Well The Netherlands has certainly grown less and less religious over the years. Look at politics for example. The christian parties used to have a comfortable majority only a few decades back. And before world war two they often had 2/3rds majorities. These days they are very happy with a combined quarter of the vote.

But if I'm not mistaken, currently religion is actually on the rise here. Though this increase comes entirely from immigration. Maybe in due time those immigrants will start losing their religion too. I certainly hope so. But I don't think religion will disappear. Small groups generally do not go exist, they instead knit together more closely and shut out the outside world. Getting 4x as many kids as non-religious people helps as well - they can have a large percentage of their offspring lose the faifth and still maintain their numbers. It is the major mainstream dominations that are losing members, not the small more fundamentalist groups.

*Sigh* I really hope this article is current. I'm just very afraid it isn't. Looking at the current political climate it certainly doesn't seem that way.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:07 am UTC
by Coffee Stain
IcedT wrote:
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.
You know how it goes. "Organized religion shows steady long-term decline" fed through the media machine comes out as "Gee Willikers religion is going extinct!"

As it pertains to this BBC article, the gap is actually a bit wider. It is a good case study of the well-known problem that news-source-level articles based on journal-level articles overgeneralize the latter's conclusions. That this article appears at the top of BBC's "most read" list isn't surprising; it simply says more about the newness of supposed news than the inventiveness or insight of the research. But there isn't much about the statements in the BBC article that are actually wrong. They're just arranged and directed to make implications far beyond any of that insight.

Here's a few examples:

BBC wrote:The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

It did, but hardly to any extent that wasn't already shown extensively by the papers referenced. From the paper:
Paper wrote:For decades, authors have commented on the surprisingly rapid decline of organized religion in many regions of the world. The work we have presented does not exclude previous models, but provides a new framework for the understanding of di erent models of human behavior in majority/minority social systems in which groups compete for members.

An understanding, as it is, of an almost entirely mathematical variety. Readers must understand that the general motivating context for the contributions of the paper (a social understanding of where we are heading as an increasingly secular society) is less visible than the specific context of most similar research papers (a bit-by-bit formalization of poorly understood complex phenomena for the eventual hope that the sum contribution of those bits will achieve the former). In the end, the paper deals and contributes primarily in the realm of numerical models, perhaps with the hope that data driven application of those models will lead to better overall present explanation of that present data, without any silly notion of expecting to predict the future without future data.

To help conform the model to the data that was (apparently) newly collected by the authors, they propose a computational numerical experiment (tl;dr: they wrote a computer program) to test the introduction of a novel component into that model:
Paper wrote:We have thus far assumed that society is highly interconnected in the sense that individual bene fits stem from membership in the group that has an overall majority. For that reason, the model as written is best applied on a small spatial scale where interaction is more nearly all-to-all. We can generalize this model to include the e ffects of social networks: rather than an individual deriving benefi ts from membership in the global majority group, he or she will instead benefi t from belonging to the local majority among his or her social contacts.

Which is followed by the aforementioned formalization into a mathematical framework, and a description of the results of experimenting that formalization with a simulation. Explained in the language of a news article, this new paper theorizes and tests the effect of changing the common model of whole-population social interactions into one that includes the effects of separation (geographical or otherwise) of members of those populations. Not exactly a newsworthy or exciting headline, but that's the point.

Compared to the most technical language that the BBC article bothers to use, even that sounds banal:
BBC wrote:"It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.

It does posit those things, but merely in the introductory section explaining how such factors have already been analyzed and used to form models, and only before the main point of the paper which is to modify the model to account for a nuance to those factors. In the real world, we and the authors knew all along the obvious problems of using either the old or modified model to make any sort of overgeneralized implication. In fact, the only generalized point of the paper seems to be that the introduction of the "perturbations" only confirm that the models continue to be well-behaved. From the paper:
Paper wrote:According to our calculations, the steady-state predictions should remain valid under small perturbations to the all-to-all network structure that the model assumes, and, in fact, the all-to-all analysis remains applicable to networks very di fferent from all-to-all. Even an idealized highly polarized society with a two-clique network structure follows the dynamics of our all-to-all model closely, albeit with the introduction of a time delay. This perturbation analysis suggests why the simple all-to-all model ts data from societies that undoubtedly have more complex network structures.

This is a point extremely interesting in it's own right, and for those of us paying attention, really only useful there. Inside this computational realm, were new authors to attempt to create a model that accounted for all actual real-world factors, they would end up with one with very little stability, and hence very little predictive ability. In the language of the paper, their monotonically-increasing (over the domain of number of adherents) conversion probability function explicitly depends on a variable which they call perceived utility. What if we were to make this variable explicitly dependent on time (vastly complicating, incidentally, solving of the differential equation analytically), as it is in the case of the long term trend that the paper contributes to is helping to explain (that the perceived utility of religion has decreased in many countries in recent decades)? An interesting approach would be to generate various over-time noise functions (of varying temporal frequency) and apply them to that level of dependence. This might show how well-suited the model is to account for unexpected fluctuations in perceived utility, without providing a way to predict those fluctuations. As it is, the best method to discover what those fluctuations might look like would be data-driven. As data is in the past, that's where we'd probably find the most utility in using the model to explain actual phenomena.

But these are theoretical points. The real point is not to take the validity of these points to be confirmation or denial of the headline of the BBC article. Religion may be headed toward extinction, but then again, so is the human race.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:02 am UTC
by Jahoclave
For irony's sake, from an atheist: Hallelujah!

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:37 am UTC
by D.B.
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.


For anyone who missed it first time round, this is covered quite thoroughly here.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:28 pm UTC
by Habz
IcedT wrote:I was surprised to learn that nonaffiliation had gotten as high as 60% in some countries though.

I live in Finland and I'd be surprised if 20% of the populace actually affiliated themselves to a religion. Large majority of the people I know are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (according to wikipedia 78% of finns are), but large majority of those very same people dismiss the core tenets of the church or any religion without blinking an eye.

Sweden and Norway missing on the list of the study is surprising.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:14 pm UTC
by Sockmonkey
I'm going to break character and not go all cynical by saying "yay religion is dying", but rather yay religion is losing some of it's clout and will have to start playing nice.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:42 pm UTC
by podbaydoor
D.B. wrote:
podbaydoor wrote:...so basically, if you read the article all the way to the end, it doesn't say anything with the certainty that the headline seems to imply. How typical.


For anyone who missed it first time round, this is covered quite thoroughly here.

I used to work in the PR office of my university's engineering college. This comic is pretty much what happens. The problem, as always, is 1) press release/article writers not being scientists or engineers and sometimes mistranslating the jargon, and 2) even if they did understand the research, they still have to write for an audience made up of non-scientists. And that's not even taking into consideration Search Engine Optimization, which generates simplified/sensationalized headlines (which already had a trend of simplification anyway) in order to grab the attention of search engine bots.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:47 pm UTC
by cjmcjmcjmcjm
Heisenberg wrote:
Woofsie wrote:The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so.

Doesn't this suggest to you that religiousness may be cyclical?

It seems to me like the researchers took one data point and tried to make a trend. "Grass is 3 feet high now, so next year, it'll be 6 feet high!"

See http://xkcd.com/605/
Iulus Cofield wrote:
Woofsie wrote:Wow, Ireland is on the list? Awesome! :D

This is certainly a trend I've seen. The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so. The majority of my friends are atheists, although admittedly they are mostly university science students. I'm always a little shocked to hear about discrimination against atheists in the US, because around here atheism is normal. Even religious people don't have much of a problem with atheists, because there are so many around that they're used to us.

I've also noticed that most people who call themselves Catholic (in my generation at least) don't actually attend Mass or observe many practices of their faith. Most haven't read the bible, and aren't aware of a lot of Catholic dogma (have never heard of transubstatiation and think the whole body and blood of Christ thing is a metaphor). I think a lot of people just call themselves Catholic because that's the culture, and it's what their parents taught them, and they have some vague fuzzy notion of a God and an afterlife but wouldn't be able to defend or justify their beliefs if pressed on them.

It doesn't help that 90%+ of primary schools are run by the church and teach religion as part of the standard curriculum. Sacraments such as communion and confirmation are big school events, which everyone is expected to go to. It's not until teenage years that people start thinking that the whole thing may be bullshit.


Do they not go through the Catechumenate? I thought the whole point of that was to ensure Catholics had a pretty good understanding of their faith and dogma before being allowed to take communion.

Woofsie wrote:Here, you take communion at 8. There's no testing of any kind before it, and the kids have about the same understanding of Catholic dogma you'd expect any 8 year-old to, ie none at all. They are taught a religion subject in school, which mostly focuses on Catholicism, but honestly it's been so long since I did it I can't remember the content at all.

Funnily enough, I was raised Catholic, and I have never heard of the Catechumenate before now.


Sounds like the sunday school I went to. I still think at the time of our confirmation (at about 14 years of age), the person in our class who had the most faith and understanding of what really was happening was my friend who declined to go through the sacrament because he felt he wasn't ready for it.
I wonder if the non-education about our faith arose from the same genesis as infant baptism—we need to induct them young so that they can be saved. IIRC, people used to be confirmed, then baptized, then given communion way early in the Church's history. These days, the usual practice is baptism (while still too young to remember it/care about anything religious), communion (at a young age), and then confirmation.

@podbaydoor (got ninja'd): Ain't nothin' as useless as a PR office, especially for an engineering school

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:06 pm UTC
by Dauric
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote: IIRC, people used to be confirmed, then baptized, then given communion way early in the Church's history. These days, the usual practice is baptism (while still too young to remember it/care about anything religious), communion (at a young age), and then confirmation.


"Way Early" was before there were options and the Catholic Church was the de-facto ruling power of all Europe. Then these protesters and their protestant movement came along and offered -choices- eroding the Catholic power base. Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, wicans, atheism, Buddhists, etc. and in response the Catholic priests need to make people confirm their choice before they know they've got one.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:32 pm UTC
by nitePhyyre
Dauric wrote:Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, [...] atheism [...]

*facepalm*

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:40 pm UTC
by cjmcjmcjmcjm
Dauric wrote:
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote: IIRC, people used to be confirmed, then baptized, then given communion way early in the Church's history. These days, the usual practice is baptism (while still too young to remember it/care about anything religious), communion (at a young age), and then confirmation.


"Way Early" was before there were options and the Catholic Church was the de-facto ruling power of all Europe. Then these protesters and their protestant movement came along and offered -choices- eroding the Catholic power base. Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, wicans, atheism, Buddhists, etc. and in response the Catholic priests need to make people confirm their choice before they know they've got one.

I thought the infant baptism came before the Protest church got off the ground, although it could have been in response to a particularly popular heresy.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:52 pm UTC
by Adacore
When I first saw this article I figured it was extrapolating wildly from a basic trend, but (for some reason) I didn't make the logical link that it was a journalist wildly exaggerating the points made in the academic paper. I'm obviously not being media-critical enough, despite the fact that I read Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog on a regular basis (which has an example of this pretty much weekly). I guess I just like to trust the BBC, even if it is getting hard to ignore the fact that the quality of their journalism has declined over the last few years (imo, I have no cite).

nitePhyyre wrote:
Dauric wrote:Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, [...] atheism [...]

*facepalm*

Atheism is the belief that deities do not exist, right? Sounds like a belief system to me.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:09 pm UTC
by mmmcannibalism
Adacore wrote:When I first saw this article I figured it was extrapolating wildly from a basic trend, but (for some reason) I didn't make the logical link that it was a journalist wildly exaggerating the points made in the academic paper. I'm obviously not being media-critical enough, despite the fact that I read Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog on a regular basis (which has an example of this pretty much weekly). I guess I just like to trust the BBC, even if it is getting hard to ignore the fact that the quality of their journalism has declined over the last few years (imo, I have no cite).

nitePhyyre wrote:
Dauric wrote:Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, [...] atheism [...]

*facepalm*

Atheism is the belief that deities do not exist, right? Sounds like a belief system to me.


Depends on who you ask, simply not believing there is a god(perhaps with the condition of being aware of the question) is atheism.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:12 pm UTC
by sourmìlk
Adacore wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:
Dauric wrote:Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, [...] atheism [...]

*facepalm*

Atheism is the belief that deities do not exist, right? Sounds like a belief system to me.


Nope. Atheism is the lack of belief in deities.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:17 pm UTC
by Adacore
But... that's a belief. Belief of NOT(A) is exactly the same as NOT(belief of A). :?

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:21 pm UTC
by sourmìlk
Adacore wrote:But... that's a belief. Belief of NOT(A) is exactly the same as NOT(belief of A). :?


It's not "Belief = NOT(A)", nor is it "NOT(belief of A)". It's an absence of belief. To be an atheist is to make the statement "In the absence of evidence, I see no reason to believe."

One would make the same statement about bigfoot: you'd be an idiot to say "There is no bigfoot", but it would be absolutely sensible to say "I don't believe in bigfoot".


It's not binary.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:21 pm UTC
by Dauric
mmmcannibalism wrote:
Adacore wrote:When I first saw this article I figured it was extrapolating wildly from a basic trend, but (for some reason) I didn't make the logical link that it was a journalist wildly exaggerating the points made in the academic paper. I'm obviously not being media-critical enough, despite the fact that I read Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog on a regular basis (which has an example of this pretty much weekly). I guess I just like to trust the BBC, even if it is getting hard to ignore the fact that the quality of their journalism has declined over the last few years (imo, I have no cite).

nitePhyyre wrote:
Dauric wrote:Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, [...] atheism [...]

*facepalm*

Atheism is the belief that deities do not exist, right? Sounds like a belief system to me.


Depends on who you ask, simply not believing there is a god(perhaps with the condition of being aware of the question) is atheism.


Which is completely irrelevant to the point that I was making that not everyone is either Catholic or a smoldering corpse on a pyre.

I'm not entirely up on the date(s) of infant baptism, but the beginnings of the Protestant Revolution are fairly hazy date-wise. I've seen numbers from between 1200 AD to 1500 AD depending on what markers the historian was using. Most agree though that Martin Luther was already riding a growing wave of discontent in the Catholic church when he went public with his "95 theses..."

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:29 pm UTC
by Greyarcher
sourmìlk wrote:
Adacore wrote:But... that's a belief. Belief of NOT(A) is exactly the same as NOT(belief of A). :?
It's not "Belief = NOT(A)", nor is it "NOT(belief of A)". It's an absence of belief. To be an atheist is to make the statement "In the absence of evidence, I see no reason to believe."
Actually, it probably could be classified as "not belief of A". Because atheism is not having belief in theistic claims x, y, z, etc. But Adacore still makes a mistake in thinking that the two are equivalent.

Then again, maybe you and Adacore have a specific formal notation in mind, while I'm just using the plain language of "not belief of A" and "belief that not A" and noting that they're not equivalent.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:30 pm UTC
by david_g18
sourmìlk wrote:
Adacore wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:
Dauric wrote:Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, [...] atheism [...]

*facepalm*

Atheism is the belief that deities do not exist, right? Sounds like a belief system to me.


Nope. Atheism is the lack of belief in deities.



http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

athe·ism
noun \ˈā-thē-ˌi-zəm\
Definition of ATHEISM
1
archaic : ungodliness, wickedness
2
a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:34 pm UTC
by Dauric
I'm an apathetic agnostic, I don't know and I don't care.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:49 pm UTC
by Jahoclave
Greyarcher wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:
Adacore wrote:But... that's a belief. Belief of NOT(A) is exactly the same as NOT(belief of A). :?
It's not "Belief = NOT(A)", nor is it "NOT(belief of A)". It's an absence of belief. To be an atheist is to make the statement "In the absence of evidence, I see no reason to believe."
Actually, it probably could be classified as "not belief of A". Because atheism is not having belief in theistic claims x, y, z, etc. But Adacore still makes a mistake in thinking that the two are equivalent.

Then again, maybe you and Adacore have a specific formal notation in mind, while I'm just using the plain language of "not belief of A" and "belief that not A" and noting that they're not equivalent.

Even if you did grand them the same title it's not a semantic equivalency, especially if by belief system you're implying an organized dogma centered around that belief. Religions are proper nouns and there's a reason you don't capitalize atheism in a sentence.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:51 pm UTC
by Heisenberg
Jahoclave wrote:Even if you did grand them the same title it's not a semantic equivalency, especially if by belief system you're implying an organized dogma centered around that belief.
Really? Seems to me that Athiesm is about as organized as, say, Islam. Leaders, texts, symbols, sects, etc.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:26 pm UTC
by sourmìlk
Heisenberg wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Even if you did grand them the same title it's not a semantic equivalency, especially if by belief system you're implying an organized dogma centered around that belief.
Really? Seems to me that Athiesm is about as organized as, say, Islam.


We don't even have congregations.

Leaders,


Who?

texts,

Which?

symbols,


What?

sects,


I'm not aware of any.

You will not find any texts, ideas, symbols or leaders that all or even a plurality of atheists agree on. Muslims and Christians and such have congregations, specific leaders (and if not specific leaders, at least a hierarchy), a defined set of beliefs (rather than just a single instance of a lack of a belief), symbols fundamental to their religion, and extremely specific texts. There are a lot of texts written on computer programming, some of them being extremely popular amongst the majority of programmers, but you wouldn't call computer science a religion.