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Thread: Less Religion - More Acceptance of Evolution?

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    Less Religion - More Acceptance of Evolution?

    Is there hope for atheism? by PZ Myers.
    Maybe. As disgusted as I am with the regressives making the most noise (and the most profit) in the current iteration of the atheosphere, there are some promising indicators. Gregory Paul has an encouraging article, The Great and Amazingly Rapid Secularization of the Increasingly Proevolution United States, that is full of surveys and graphs that show a steady, consistent trend: secularism is growing. Maybe not your usual aggressive atheists, but lots of people are fed up with the efforts of a minority to impose theocracy on us. The United States is a weird outlier with greater religiosity than other ‘first world’ nations, but we’re getting better.
    noting The Great and Amazingly Rapid Secularization of the Increasingly Proevolution United States
    Long claimed to be a permanently pious population, multiple surveys indicate that nontheists have been expanding by as much as a demographically maximal tenth of total Americans per decade since the turn of the century. Also rising is support for bioevolution over creationism. Why is this proscience secularization surge occurring, will it continue, and how should activist antisupernaturalism respond as America becomes a more normally irreligious, proevolution modern democracy?
    Why?
    It was widely assumed that the USA was in some way special, that unlike the rest of the west it was destined to forever remain highly religious. Perhaps because our atypical constitutional free market of religion encouraged the clergies to get out there and recruit and retain members, unlike those lazy state Eurochurches – a hypothesis based on faulty statistics, and obviously wrong seeing as how some of the most religious societies are single state religions, usually Islamic.
    Even within the US, it does not work very well, as Steve Bruce has noted in "God is Dead: Secularization in the West". He notes the existence of a "Christian everything" subculture that evangelicals can participate in. He also notes that cities are less religious than rural areas, despite having more opportunity for choice in religions and sects.

    Win-gallup International Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism-2012 | Gallup (Company) (5.6K views) - "They recorded that Americans who deemed themselves religious nosedived from 73% in 2005 to 60% in 2012 – ouch for the churches."

    Americans’ Belief in God, Miracles and Heaven Declines | The Harris Poll
    New York, N.Y. – December 16, 2013 – A new Harris Poll finds that while a strong majority (74%) of U.S. adults do believe in God, this belief is in decline when compared to previous years as just over four in five (82%) expressed a belief in God in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Also, while majorities also believe in miracles (72%, down from 79% in 2005), heaven (68%, down from 75%), that Jesus is God or the Son of God (68%, down from 72%), the resurrection of Jesus Christ (65%, down from 70%), the survival of the soul after death (64%, down from 69%), the devil, hell (both at 58%, down from 62%) and the Virgin birth (57%, down from 60%), these are all down from previous Harris Polls.

    Belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution, however, while well below levels recorded for belief in God, miracles and heaven, is up in comparison to 2005 findings (47%, up from 42%).
    Looking at the generations, younger people were less likely to believe in traditional Xian notions than older ones, and they were more likely to accept evolution -- and also accept paranormal notions like ghosts, astrology, the efficacy of sorcery, and reincarnation. Democrats and Independents are close to average, while Republicans are more likely to believe in Xian notions and less likely to accept evolution.

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    Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back | PRRI - slow at first, but faster after 1990. Here also, more younger Americans are unaffiliated than older ones.
    Not every religious community is equally successful in keeping members in the fold, and historically, Americans who were raised unaffiliated were among the most likely to switch their religious identity in adulthood. In the 1970s, only about one-third (34%) of Americans who were raised in religiously unaffiliated households were still unaffiliated as adults. By the 1990s, slightly more than half (53%) of Americans who were unaffiliated in childhood retained their religious identity in adulthood. Today, about two-thirds (66%) of Americans who report being raised outside a formal religious tradition remain unaffiliated as adults.
    Protestants decline, more have no religion in a sharply shifting religious landscape (POLL) - ABC News
    On average last year, 36 percent of Americans in ABC News/Washington Post polls identified themselves as members of a Protestant faith, extending a gradual trend down from 50 percent in 2003. That includes an 8-point drop in the number of evangelical white Protestants, an important political group.

    Reflecting the change among Protestants, the share of Christians overall has declined from 83 percent of the adult population in 2003 to 72 percent on average last year. In the same time, the number of Americans who say they have no religion has nearly doubled, to 21 percent.
    Others have remained roughly constant.

    Religion declining in importance for many Americans, especially for Millennials - Religion News Service As of 2018 Dec 10,
    1. Nones are now 35% of the population.
    2. But among younger Americans, Nones are inching close to half.
    3. Religion is less important than family when people explain what creates their identity.
    4. Religious Americans are likely to say marriage should come before sex—but they don’t always wait until marriage.
    5. Most people think it’s fine to marry someone outside their own religion.
    6. Republicans are getting more religious, Democrats less so.
    Back to Gregory Paul's paper. "For example, about 40% of respondents tell Gallup that they attend churches and the like regularly, but there are not enough pews to accommodate that many believing behinds, and technical studies show that the real figure can only be about half that. So it is likely that the above figures regarding those who tell pollsters they are not religious is significantly below the actual number of Americans who are."

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    What Should America Do With Its Empty Church Buildings? - The Atlantic

    U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades - from 70% to 50%.

    Gregory Paul concedes that counting atheists may have problems, because many agnostics are effectively atheists even if they don't want to call themselves atheists.

    Record Few Americans Believe Bible Is Literal Word of God
    Over 1976 to 2017, belief that the Bible is literally true fell from 38% to 24% and belief that it is purely human invention rose from 13% to 26%. Belief that it is inspired by God even if not necessarily literally true held approximately constant, from 45% to 47%.

    In U.S., Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low
    The two possibilities with God being involved stayed approximately equal, while God not being involved in humanity's emergence increased from 9% in 1981 to 19% in 2017. Those two possibilities are God poofing humanity's ancestors into existence less than 10,000 years ago and God directing humanity's emergence.

    Greater education, lack of affiliation, and lack of church attendance were all correlated with belief in humanity's emergence by purely natural processes.

    Evolution and Perceptions of Scientific Consensus | Pew Research Center - acceptance of human evolution is greater for younger people than for older people.

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    Looking at religiosity and various measures of social dysfunction, The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions -- there is an inverse correlation between religiosity and social success, among societies with bottom-up lack of religion as opposed to Communist societies' top-down lack of religion. "The secularization effect of running societies well works best in the hybrid capitalist/socialist countries that produce the best results, which is a key reason that the exceptionally dysfunctional, capitalism focused USA has lagged behind the rest of the more irreligious west."

    Gregory Paul then discussed how capitalism itself induces irreligious habits. "In practical financial terms, the last thing that corporate-consumer industrial scale capitalism needs is for the population to consist largely of pious, virtuous, spiritually oriented, frugal, tithing, and spending a lot of time at church people of God. What profit obsessed corporate-consumer industrial scale capitalism demands is that the population consist largely of hedonistic, materialistic, celebrity, sports, and sex obsessed consumers who are addicted to buying as much stuff and services as they can, preferably by going into the debt that generates additional income via interest, and who spend as little on noncommercial items such as non cash generating religion as possible."

    GP notes that "Not that all theists are so gullible – the Catholic Church has long warned of the dangers unrestrained capital poses to mass spirituality, and it is no accident that Islamic extremists want folks to live more like they did circa 1500 CE."

    Religious change preceded economic change in the 20th century | Science Advances
    The decline in the everyday importance of religion with economic development is a well-known correlation, but which phenomenon comes first? Using unsupervised factor analysis and a birth cohort approach to create a retrospective time series, we present 100-year time series of secularization in different nations, derived from recent global values surveys, which we compare by decade to historical gross domestic product figures in those nations. We find evidence that a rise in secularization generally has preceded economic growth over the past century. Our multilevel, time-lagged regressions also indicate that tolerance for individual rights predicted 20th century economic growth even better than secularization. These findings hold when we control for education and shared cultural heritage.
    Then such events as the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. "In God We Trust" was made an official motto of the US in response to Godless Communism, Communism suppressing religion as the Opium of the People. But Eastern European Communism fell over 1989-1991, with Albania the exception in 1992, After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, China became a capitalist roader, to use a Maoist insult, and the four other remaining Communist countries have creeping capitalism to China-style galloping capitalism.

    Looking at Europe, religious affiliation is going down dramatically there Europe's Young Adults and Religion and Muslims who move to Europe become much less observant Islam in Europe: EU: Muslims go to mosque less often thus becoming much like the people they live among. The "Eurabia" nightmare scenario is thus rather unlikely. Russians Return to Religion, But Not to Church | Pew Research Center -- many Russians now identify with the Russian Orthodox Church, even if not many of them are churchgoers. So it's a sort of nationalistic affiliation.

    The situation in China is interesting and disturbing. Even with significant growth of Christianity and especially Sinopaganism, RedC found that only one sixth are religious, and about half are convinced atheists – what is perturbing is that the officially atheist dictatorship with a Confuciusist veneer is constructing the closest thing to a 1984 style regime yet seen.

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    The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050 | Pew Research Center -- projects that religious people will outbreed nonreligious one, though Gregory Paul points out that it ignores the likelihood of continuing mass apostasy.

    Back to PZ, he notes The Pacific Northwest is the American religious future - Religion News Service by Mark Silk.
    Early in this century, the academic center that I direct undertook a research project to examine religion and region in American public life. Of the eight regions we divided the country into, the most distinctive was the Pacific Northwest (PNW)—Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

    The distinctiveness had everything to do with the region’s low degree of religious identification—something that had been the case ever since Anglo-Americans began settling the place in the 19th century. For that reason, we subtitled the volume dedicated to it “the None Zone.”

    ...
    The main avenue of religious common cause was environmentalism, which in our view had become the region’s dominant world view—its civil religion if you will. A gospel of sustainability and biodiversity was strongly in evidence in the Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, the non-Christian and New Age faiths, and among the Nones themselves. Yet the PNW also had its counterculture, located above all in its sizable evangelical community, where the region’s religious entrepreneurship was especially on display.

    As one would expect, PNW evangelicalism was ranged against the dominant culture on abortion and gay rights. Most strikingly, however, the PNW was the one region where a majority of evangelicals took a negative view of environmentalism. Clearly, in this regional version of the national culture war, environmentalism had become part of a spiritual ideology that evangelicals felt obliged to set themselves against.
    Some fundamentalists attack environmentalism as "The Green Dragon". PZ himself recalled:
    That brings back memories. There were people who hated environmental causes — loggers and ranchers, who were typically very conservative — against the majority I knew, who took it for granted that the natural beauty of the place needed to be cared for. I don’t recall associating the difference with degree of religiosity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a correlation.

    I really wouldn’t mind if the social attitudes of the whole USA became more like that of the Pacific Northwest…which also includes a nice chunk of Canada, don’t forget. It’s not perfect, but it would be better in many ways.
    PZ also suspects an affinity between Washington State, where he grew up, and Minnesota, where he now works. One of his commenters noted a strong similarity between Washington and British Columbia, complete with regressive elements in the inland areas.

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    One Nation, Divisible: How Regional Religious Differences Shape American Politics -- Mark Silk and Andrew Walsh
    This book discusses the US, region by region: New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the South (ex-Confederacy and nearby), the Southern Crossroads (Texas and nearby), the Pacific (California, Hawaii), the Pacific Northwest, the Mountain West, and the Midwest.

    Another PZ commenter:
    In my (surely limited) experience, many people in Germany are “functional” atheists, even if they would answer a poll about their believe in “God” with Yes. My parents and other family members etc. would do so, yet, they never pray, never go to church, never read the Bible, never listen to or read what the Pope, priests or preachers have to say. There is this great disinterest in religion. And all social strata are similar in this respect; the working class and the poor are also not religious. Good!

    Religion is arguably mostly irrelevant in modern life. If the U.S. and developing countries would get their social-economic problems in order, would decrease the wealth gap/lessen economic inequality, would provide a welfare state including healthcare – adherence to organised religion would drop drastically. That is my prediction.
    Or some kind of hobby interest, as PZ suggested, something like knitting or masturbation.

    Another one:
    Personally, I think blue state America gets this right. People of different religions can coexist. I have seen it myself. It helps, no doubt, that Christianity is not held zealously enough to feel overtly threatened by others, but I really believe it is possible to live together. I think it is also virtually impossible to take away “privileges” that are viewed as part of a long tradition. Though I would be happy to remove tax exempt status from all churches, for instance, it obviously cannot be denied to other religions (I would prefer to see Scientology redefined as an organized crime syndicate, but even that is tough). Most likely that does need to be extended. I also consider the outward display of religion (e.g. a Sikh wearing a dastar) to be a fundamental right, not a privilege at all.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    After this humongous digression about evidence of lack of religion, I return to acceptance of evolution.

    Level of support for evolution Acceptance of evolution by religious groups Creationism by country The first one notes Religious Differences on the Question of Evolution | Pew Research Center about the United States in 2007.

    Group Pct
    Buddhist 81%
    Hindu 80%
    Jewish 77%
    Unaffiliated 72%
    Catholic 58%
    Orthodox 54%
    Mainline Protestant 51%
    Muslim 45%
    Black Protestant 38%
    Evangelical Protestant 24%
    Mormon 22%
    Jehovah's WItnesses 8%
    US population 48%

    Views on Evolution - Level of support for evolution - Wikipedia -- the biggest evolution acceptors are northern Europeans and Japanese, with southern Europeans, then eastern Europeans, then the US, then Turkey.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    It seems that, in the presence of education, urbanization, and the absence of extreme hardship, religion can survive only if it is a defining element of identity in a widely recognized existential struggle.

    It collapsed in Europe as soon as people were wealthy enough and educated enough - basically once WWII was over and the economic hardships (including food rationing) were gone.

    It's collapsing in the USA now that the Godless Communists are no longer viewed as an existential threat; Though it is being propped up by two factors - the acceptance by many of the existence of an existential threat from the Islamic world, post 9-11; And the continuing abject poverty and economic hardship amongst the poorest Americans. In particular, even the lower Middle Class in the USA are subject to the whims of fate - in the rest of the developed world, losing your job, or being injured or sick, are annoyances, rather than disasters. People who have little control over their fundamental safety tend towards religion.

    Religion is likely always going to be popular in rural areas - the combination of having few neighbours with widely different worldviews, and of being directly beholden to the whims of the weather, tends to lead to religious belief.

    In the Islamic world, a combination of a lack of education, a lack of wealth, and the perception of an existential threat from the USA and her allies, prevents secularization from flourishing - although even in the Middle East, religiosity is far lower in urban, cosmopolitan, and educated places, such as the UAE and Kuwait, than it is in places such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, pre-war Iraq was in a similar situation, but has swung sharply to hard-line religion in the face of the threat of Americanization, and the destruction of the economic stability that was present under the Baathist regime.

    If you want to reduce religiosity, the best way to do it is to provide people with a dependable safety net, good education, diverse neighbours, and as little fear as possible. When people are fearful (justly or otherwise), ignorant, and living in a homogeneous community with few competing ideas, they become more religious.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    It seems that, in the presence of education, urbanization, and the absence of extreme hardship, religion can survive only if it is a defining element of identity in a widely recognized existential struggle.

    It collapsed in Europe as soon as people were wealthy enough and educated enough - basically once WWII was over and the economic hardships (including food rationing) were gone.

    It's collapsing in the USA now that the Godless Communists are no longer viewed as an existential threat; Though it is being propped up by two factors - the acceptance by many of the existence of an existential threat from the Islamic world, post 9-11; And the continuing abject poverty and economic hardship amongst the poorest Americans. In particular, even the lower Middle Class in the USA are subject to the whims of fate - in the rest of the developed world, losing your job, or being injured or sick, are annoyances, rather than disasters. People who have little control over their fundamental safety tend towards religion.

    Religion is likely always going to be popular in rural areas - the combination of having few neighbours with widely different worldviews, and of being directly beholden to the whims of the weather, tends to lead to religious belief.

    In the Islamic world, a combination of a lack of education, a lack of wealth, and the perception of an existential threat from the USA and her allies, prevents secularization from flourishing - although even in the Middle East, religiosity is far lower in urban, cosmopolitan, and educated places, such as the UAE and Kuwait, than it is in places such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, pre-war Iraq was in a similar situation, but has swung sharply to hard-line religion in the face of the threat of Americanization, and the destruction of the economic stability that was present under the Baathist regime.

    If you want to reduce religiosity, the best way to do it is to provide people with a dependable safety net, good education, diverse neighbours, and as little fear as possible. When people are fearful (justly or otherwise), ignorant, and living in a homogeneous community with few competing ideas, they become more religious.
    I think what you've just said is that for religious belief to be strong within a society it requires two things, a culture of fear and a culture of ignorance. Maybe I should add that it requires a high degree of emotion.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    It seems that, in the presence of education, urbanization, and the absence of extreme hardship, religion can survive only if it is a defining element of identity in a widely recognized existential struggle.

    It collapsed in Europe as soon as people were wealthy enough and educated enough - basically once WWII was over and the economic hardships (including food rationing) were gone.

    It's collapsing in the USA now that the Godless Communists are no longer viewed as an existential threat; Though it is being propped up by two factors - the acceptance by many of the existence of an existential threat from the Islamic world, post 9-11; And the continuing abject poverty and economic hardship amongst the poorest Americans. In particular, even the lower Middle Class in the USA are subject to the whims of fate - in the rest of the developed world, losing your job, or being injured or sick, are annoyances, rather than disasters. People who have little control over their fundamental safety tend towards religion.

    Religion is likely always going to be popular in rural areas - the combination of having few neighbours with widely different worldviews, and of being directly beholden to the whims of the weather, tends to lead to religious belief.

    In the Islamic world, a combination of a lack of education, a lack of wealth, and the perception of an existential threat from the USA and her allies, prevents secularization from flourishing - although even in the Middle East, religiosity is far lower in urban, cosmopolitan, and educated places, such as the UAE and Kuwait, than it is in places such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, pre-war Iraq was in a similar situation, but has swung sharply to hard-line religion in the face of the threat of Americanization, and the destruction of the economic stability that was present under the Baathist regime.

    If you want to reduce religiosity, the best way to do it is to provide people with a dependable safety net, good education, diverse neighbours, and as little fear as possible. When people are fearful (justly or otherwise), ignorant, and living in a homogeneous community with few competing ideas, they become more religious.
    I think what you've just said is that for religious belief to be strong within a society it requires two things, a culture of fear and a culture of ignorance. Maybe I should add that it requires a high degree of emotion.
    Sure; But humans being what they are, a high degree of emotion in any reasonably large population is a given.

    And while ignorance is never a good plan, there are many people whose lives make fear a perfectly justified position. If you live pay-check to pay-check, and your employer has the legal right to sack you without reason or notice, fear is certainly justified. That alone likely contributes significantly to the difference in religiosity between the USA and the rest of the developed world.

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